The Parramatta Female Factory is the largest and oldest surviving convict women’s site in Australia. Built by convict men, this multipurpose institution served the Colony of New South Wales between January 1821 to c.1848 as a refuge for women, children, elderly and sick women; a marriage bureau; a place of assignment and moral reform; a penitentiary; a women’s hospital for the convicted as well as the free; and a workhouse all rolled into one. This was the second Female Factory established at Parramatta, but the first purpose-built factory and the one on which all other Australian Female Factories were based. It is located within the Fleet Street Heritage Precinct, three kilometres north of the Parramatta CBD on 56 acres (approximately 23 hectares) of land currently occupied by Cumberland Hospital. The factory’s surviving buildings are found off Greenup Drive and Fleet Street, North Parramatta, just five minutes walking distance from Parramatta Gaol with which it shares a long history.
The Female Factory Online is the Parramatta Female Factory’s searchable database of the convicted and free individuals who were associated with this historic institution. Where available, the profile pages of individual convict women in this database include reports of criminal proceedings, fully transcribed. However, convict women were not the only people who spent time at this multi-purpose government institution between 1821 and c.1848. The young children of these convict women were born and, in many cases, died here, so they are also included in this database. Some free women who were patients in the Female Factory’s “lying in” hospital are likewise found among the fragmentary records of the Female Factory, as are the people who worked at the Female Factory.