Most convicts arriving in New South Wales didn't expect to make their fortunes. Some went on to great success, but countless convicts and free migrants struggled with limited prospects, discrimination and misfortune. Many desperate people turned to The Benevolent Society, Australia's first charity founded in 1813, for assistance and sustenance.
In this rich and revealing book, Tanya Evans collaborates with family historians to present the everyday lives of these people. We see many families who have fallen on hard times because of drink, unwanted pregnancy, violence, unemployment or plain bad luck, seeking help and often shunted from asylums or institutions. In the careful tracing of families, we see the way in which disadvantage can be passed down from one generation to the next.
The extensive archives of The Benevolent Society allow us to reclaim these unknown lives and understand our history better, not to mention the often random nature of betterment and progress.