Guide to the Papers of Margaret Catchpole (as filmed by the AJCP)



National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Created: 2019

Collection Summary

Catchpole, Margaret
Papers of Margaret Catchpole (as filmed by the AJCP)
Date Range
29 March 1800 - 1967
Collection Number
49 items
Language of Materials
Australian Joint Copying Project
The Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP) online portal was created with the assistance of the Australian Public Service Modernisation Fund, 2017-2020. The National Library of Australia gratefully acknowledges the contribution of the other foundation AJCP partners, the State Library of New South Wales and The National Archives of the UK, and all other organisations which supported the work of the AJCP, the world's most extensive collaborative copying project, operating from 1948 to 1997.


Scope and Contents

Clyde collection: newspaper cuttings 1845 on Rev. Richard Cobbold's book The History of Margaret Catchpole (London, 1845).

Woolnough collection: Vol.1: Letters 1908-11 relating to Margaret Catchpole, documents and photographs, including a letter from Gregory M. Mathews and a handbill and cuttings regarding a production of the play Margaret Catchpole starring Laurence Irving at Ipswich; Vol. 2: Transcript of article in the Ipswich Journal 1800 recording her escape from prison; an article on the Cobbold house at Ipswich; certificate of burial of Margaret Catchpole; correspondence and notes 1914-18 on material in the Mitchell Library; typed transcripts of letters by Margaret Catchpole 1803-11; pamphlet by F.J. Foakes Jackson 1916 on Rev. Richard Cobbold; and cuttings from English newspapers 1915, 1932-65 on Margaret Catchpole.

Conditions Governing Access

Available for Access.

Conditions Governing Use

Many of the records digitised as part of the AJCP are still in copyright. Readers wishing to publish or reproduce documents should seek permission, in the first instance, from the owner of the original material.

Preferred Citation

Acknowledgement of use of this material should refer to the location of the original material and to the Australian Joint Copying Project.

Citation items from this collection should include references to the location of the original material and to the AJCP nla.obj number, which serves as the online identifier for the digital copy.

Example: M Series: Journal of Capt. James Cook, 18 February 1770, British Library Add. MS 27885 (AJCP ref:

Archival History

Filmed at the Central Library, East Suffolk, as part of the Australian Joint Copying Project, 1976 (AJCP Reel: 944). Original microfilm digitised as part of the NLA AJCP Online Delivery Project, 2017-2020.

Existence and Location of Originals

Ipswich Record Office as part of a collection of Ipswich Museum documents (ref HD1). For more information see Maragret Catchpole [].

Existence and Location of Copies

The original AJCP microfilm of the records filmed from this collection is available at the National Library of Australia [] as well as other institutions holding AJCP microfilm.

Finding-aid Notes

This finding aid is a revised online version of the original finding aid prepared by the Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP), published by the National Library of Australia in 2019. The original AJCP finding aids were unpublished typescripts or photocopies available from libraries that held copies of the original microfilm.

Dates used in this finding aid refer to the date range of the records selected for filming rather than to the date range of the Series or Files.


Australia; Catchpole, Margaret; Cobbold, Richard, Rev.; Convicts: New South Wales; Great Britain; Ipswich Journal, newspaper; Ipswich, England; Irving, Laurence; Jackson F.J. Foakes; Mathews, Gregory M.; Mitchell Library, Sydney; Nile, convict ship; Palmer, John (Sydney); Photographs; Richmond, New South Wales; Rouse Family; Salvin, Osbert


Originally cited in Australian Joint Copying Project Handbook. Part 8: Miscellaneous (M) Series. Third Edition, published 1998. Entry 93, pp32-33.

Biographical / Historical

Margaret Catchpole (1772-1819) was born in Suffolk, the illegitimate daughter of Elizabeth Catchpole and a farm labourer. She spent her early life on farms and had little education. She worked as a servant for families and was a nurse and under-cook in the household of John Cobbold, an Ipswich brewer. She learnt to read and write while living with the Cobbolds.

In 1797, after being unemployed for several months, Catchpole stole the coach gelding of John Cobbold and rode to London. She was caught and sentenced to death at the Suffolk Assizes. The sentence was commuted to transportation for seven years. In March 1800 she escaped from Ipswich Gaol, but she was again caught and sentenced to death. The sentence was subsequently commuted to transportation for life and she was sent to New South Wales on the Nilein 1801.

Catchpole worked for the commissary, John Palmer, for eighteen months and subsequently worked for a succession of families, including the Faithfuls and Rouses. She was well regarded by her employers and was left alone by the Rouses as the overseer of their property at Richmond. She was pardoned in 1814, but did not return to England. She remained at Richmond, managing a small store and acting as a midwife and nurse. Her letters to the Cobbolds and others in England are one of the finest sources on life in Sydney at the beginning of the nineteenth century. They formed the basis of the biography by Richard Cobbold, the son of John Cobbold, which in turn was the source for many stories, plays and books.

Item Descriptions

Fonds. Glyde Collection, 1845 - 1861

1 item

Series. Newspaper cuttings relating to Margaret Catchpole and Rev. Richard Cobbold (Wortham), 1845 - 1861

The cuttings appear to have mostly been taken from the Suffolk Chronicle.

Biographical / Historical

Richard Cobbold (1797-1877) was the author of The history of Margaret Catchpole: a Suffolk girl (1845).

Fonds. Woolnough Collection, 1800 - 1967

46 items

Biographical / Historical

Frank Woolnough (1845-1930) was the curator of the Ipswich Museum from 1893 to 1920.

Series Vol. 135. Margaret Catchpole, 4 March 1909 - 1913

9 items
Hobson Bocock (?) (Mablethorpe, Lincolnshire) to [Frank Woolnough], 4 March 1909 (File)
G.C. Johnson (Sydney) to Frank Woolnough, 1 July 1912 (File)
Newspaper cuttings about Margaret Catchpole (File)
Newspaper cuttings about Laurence Irving and the costume drama 'Margaret Catchpole', 1910 (File)
Poster offering a reward for the capture of Margaret Catchpole, who escaped from the County Gaol, Ipswich (File)
Photographs of Cliff House, the Old Priory Farm and the Old Manor House, Ipswich (File)
Photograph of a lyre bird sent home by Margaret Catchpole and displayed in the Ipswich Museum (File)
Photograph of alleged portrait of Margaret Catchpole (File)
Newspaper cuttings on Margaret Catchpole, 1910 - 1913 (File)

Series Vol. 136. Margaret Catchpole, 9 May 1908 - 10 June 1922

10 items
George Hunt (Orford) to Frank Woolnough, 9 May 1908 - 17 May 1908 (File)

Three letters

John Booth (London) to Frank Woolnough, 3 May 1911 (File)
Gregory Mathews (Watford) to [Frank Woolnough], 16 December 1910 (File)
M.L. Emden (?) to Frank Woolnough, 26 May 1911 (File)
Arthur Sherington (London) to Frank Woolnough, 10 June 1922 (File)
A. George Foster (Sydney) to Arthur Sherington, 1 February 1922 (File)
Play list of the costume drama by Walter Frith, 'Margaret Catchpole', Ipswich Lyceum, October 1910 (File)
Reviews of Laurence Irving in the play 'Margaret Catchpole' (File)
Photographs of Laurence Irving and Mabel Hackney (File)
Obituaries of Laurence Irving and Mabel Hackney, 1914 (File)

Series FS.98. Letters, newspaper cuttings etc. relating to Margaret Catchpole, 29 March 1800 - 16 October 1915

13 items
Extracts from the Ipswich Journal (typescript copies), 29 March 1800 - 5 April 1800 (File)
Letter to Rev. Richard Cobbold, n.d. (File)
Physical Description Note

Newspaper cutting

K.C. Hinckson (London) to Frank Woolnough, 4 July 1910 (File)

Laurence Irving requests a photograph of a portrait of Margaret Catchpole.

Photograph of Laurence Irving (File)
Laurence Irving. Introduction to Walter Frith, Margaret Catchpole (File)
Amy Astbury. St Margaret's Manor House, Ipswich, and Margaret Catchpole, The Country Home, n.d. (File)
Gregory Mathews (Watford) to [Frank Woolnough], 15 October 1913 (File)
Stanley Best (Richmond, NSW) to H.B. Matthews, 6 November 1913 (File)
Gregory Mathews (Watford) to [Frank Woolnough], 15 November 1913 (File)
Gregory Mathews (Watford) to [Frank Woolnough], 30 December 1913 (File)
Hugh Wright (Mitchell Library, Sydney) to J. Leigh Jones, 8 December 1914 (File)
J. Leigh Jones (London) to Frank Woolnough, 30 April 1915 (File)
J. Leigh Jones (Sydney) to Frank Woolnough, 16 October 1915 (File)

Series L92. Local pamphlets. Margaret Catchpole, 2 May 1803 - 1967

14 items
F.J. Foakes-Jackson. St Luke and a modern writer: a study in criticism (Cambridge), 1916 (File)
J. Leigh Jones (Sydney) to Mayor of Ipswich, 27 May 1917 (File)
A. George Foster (Sydney) to Frank Woolnough, 27 July 1917 (File)
A. George Foster (Sydney) to Frank Woolnough, 3 August 1917 (File)
J. Leigh Jones (Sydney) to Frank Woolnough, 9 October 1917 (File)
J. Leigh Jones. Notes from the Mitchell Library, Sydney (File)
Letter to J. Leigh Jones (Sydney), n.d. (File)
Hugh Wright (Mitchell Library, Sydney) to Frank Woolnough, 21 May 1918 (File)

Sends copies of letters of Catchpole.

Margaret Catchpole to her uncle William Howes, 2 May 1803 (File)
Margaret Catchpole to William Howes (Typescript copy), 8 October 1806 (File)
Margaret Catchpole to William Howes (Typescript copy), 28 January 1807 (File)
Margaret Catchpole (Richmond, NSW) to William Howes (typescript copy), 2 September 1811 (File)
Newspaper cuttings about Margaret Catchpole, 1931 - 1965 (File)
Note on a reference to Catchpole in George Caley. Reflections on the colony of New South Wales, edited by J.E.B. Currey (typescript, 1p), 1967 (File)