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

Chapter 4: Sweet Sixteen

Having introduced Elizabeth Fry to the narrative in the previous chapter, chapter 4 sees the paths of Agnes McMillan and Janet Houston cross with that of Elizabeth Fry. It is a crossing of paths that lifts the quality of life that would otherwise have been for the two young convicts as they arrive at Newgate Prison and then prepare for their departure to Van Dieman’s Land aboard the Westmoreland at anchor in the Thames at Woolwich. The conditions in which the the two young girls find themselves in both places having been ameliorated through the constant and industrious efforts of Elizabeth Fry and the Quakers.

It is in this chapter that the reasoning behind the title of the book becomes apparent, as Agnes McMillan is issued with a Tin Ticket with #253 stamped onto it. Her friend Janet was issued a tin ticket with #284 stamped onto it. These two numbers identified the two girls aboard the ship and they accompanied them in everything that they did and in everything that was recorded regarding them on the way to the Cascades Female Factory in Van Dieman’s Land.

With the full compliment of convicts, the Westmoreland weighed anchor in the early hours of the morning of August 12, 1836. Sailing down the Thames and through the Channel, the Westmoreland, her crew and convict cargo were on their way to Van Dieman’s Land. The remainder of the chapter provides a description of the journey to Hobart Town in Van Dieman’s Land, complete with a colourful description of life aboard a prison hulk in its journey to the other side of the world. The chapter ends as the Westmoreland arrives at Hobart Town on December 3, 1836 and the beginning of a new life beckoning in the penal colony of Van Dieman’s Land.

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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.