Book Review: The Tin Ticket – The Heroic Journey of Australia’s Convict Women, by Deborah J. Swiss

Chapter 3: The Angel of Newgate

Chapter 3 is something of a departure from the main narrative of The Tin Ticket to this point, however the new character introduced into the plot plays an important role in the further development and future of the lives of both Agnes McMillan and Janet Houston, who were to be sent to Van Dieman’s Land (now Tasmania). Their destiny was a direct consequence of the activities of this new player in The Tin Ticket – Elizabeth Fry.

‘The Angel of Newgate’ tells the story of how Elizabeth Fry, a Quaker, was determined to minister to the poor of London and the destitute women of Newgate Prison. Elizabeth Fry and her generous assistants and helpers, transformed the lives of the incarcerated women of Newgate Prison. These poor women, poor in more ways than one, passed their days in terrible conditions at Newgate. The description given in The Tin Ticket is heart-wrenching stuff. Elizabeth Fry most certainly moved outside of her comfort zone to minister to these desperate women and offer compassion to those that society had cast aside. What a remarkable woman, who was not afraid to face ridicule in her efforts to ameliorate the condition of the female and young prisoners of Newgate.

Chapter 3 of The Tin Ticket continues to paint a most depressing picture of society in early 19th century England and London in particular. The dreadful reality of life in the early industrial age of Great Britain is presented front and center in this chapter. Yet it is the deplorable attitude of those that held the power and the better places in society that truly mark out this period in the history of Great Britain as one of the most disgraceful. It is only the rare examples of compassion, godliness and humanity as shown in Elizabeth Fry and others of her ilk, that mitigate this period of English history. One cannot imagine the plight of female and young convicts of this era if there had been no social conscience within society at that time.

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‘Reformers and Their Stepchildren,’ by Leonard Verduin – An Update


As visitors to ‘At the BookShelf’ would know, I have been reading ‘Reformers and Their Stepchildren,’ by Leonard Verduin. I have now started chapter four and progress through the book may appear slow and you may think this is a reflection on the quality of the book. That would be a mistaken assumption however.

In reality I am finding the book a brilliant treatment of the differences between the ‘partial reformers’ (such as Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, etc) and the more ‘radical reformer’ who sought a complete transformation of the church to that which more accurately reflected the New Testament model.

The ‘slowness’ of my reading is more a reflection of my reading half a dozen or so books at the same time. Reading so many books at any given time is fairly normal for me – in fact, I would call normal (for me) reading far more books at any given time, but I am trying to reign myself in a little here. I just love reading – I am a bibliophile and bookworm remember 🙂

The third chapter of Verduin’s work has to do with the lack of true church discipline in the churches of the Reformers and their indifference (generally speaking) to ungodliness in the church (remembering that their churches basically included all in a given location or region).

The third chapter presents a very clear case of the real time contradiction of the Reformers and the reform they were bringing to bear on such places as Geneva, Zurich, etc. To a large extent their work of reform didn’t go anywhere near far enough to satisfy their ‘stepchildren,’ who when they tried to go further were branded as heretics, with their efforts at a more thorough reform being identified by the reformers as evidence of their heresy.

It is a very engaging chapter I believe and one that is helpful for shedding light on Christianity even to this day.