Your wine talks back

There is an app that makes your wine label talk, named ‘Living Wine Labels’. I used it on the 19 Crimes bottles. If you hold your phone in front of the label, the face on this label with start to talk and tell you his or her story.

It’s the Industrial Revolution, people were increasingly moving to cities, prisons were overcrowded and petty crime was on the rise. As of 1776 it was no longer possible to transport people to America. So Queen Victoria decided banishment to Australia would solve these problems.

There was a list of 19 crimes. If you committed one or more of these, you would not face death penalty but punishment by ‘transportation’. In total 165.000 convicts were deported and not all of them made it to shore. For those who did, a new world awaited. From criminals they turned into colonists, they forged a new country and new lives.

If you look at the list you could be send away for ‘impersonating an Egyptian or cutting clothes…’. On the bottle I drink is the label of Jane Castings, a 33 year old mom of four, married and employed as a housemaid. In 1856 she was sentenced to 7 years of transportation for ‘receiving cheese and bacon knowing the same to have been stolen’. She claims she bought the goods not knowing they were stolen and asked for mercy but did not get it. Jane had long been ‘suspected’ as being a fagin, meaning she trained and paid a group of teenage boys to steal the goods that she requested, but worse was that she was the cause of six young boys being transported ‘beyond the seas’. She herself left on May 8th and arrived 16 weeks later in Tasmania. She served her 7 years, was granted her Certificate-of-Freedom, and in 1853 she married ex-convict David Hayes in Hobart and had a daughter, Maria. Jane is buried in the Swansea Cemetery, Tasmania.

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