Jane was born in 1806 in Redruth, which is a mining town some 15 km northeast of Falmouth in Cornwall. Her parents were George Richards and Judith Hawk.
Jane married at the age of 19, and by the 1841 census had 6 sons and 1 daughter. At the 1851 census, she had 9 sons and 2 daughters. All her children survived until adulthood.
Two years after her husband and older children emigrated to Australia, Jane followed with her five younger sons. They travelled on the 'Stebonheath', sailing from Portsmouth on 30 September 1857 with 354 immigrants on board, 110 male adults, 174 female adults, 35 male children, 27 female children and 8 infants. The 'Stebonheath' was a three master of 926 tons, built in Hull in 1842-3 and was 151 ft in length, 36 ft 7 ins in breadth and had a depth of 23 ft. Jane and the boys came out as government assisted immigrants, being among 'wives and families of persons resident in Australia', and their passage was paid in Sydney by Richard Thomas. The ship arrived in Sydney on 22 February 1858, after a long 150 day voyage.
The voyage of the 'Stebonheath' has been well-documented, due to an inquest into one of the passengers, Ann Cox, who died just after the ship berthed in Sydney. There is no doubt that the voyage must have been extremely unpleasant for the 52 year old Jane and her children. Crossing the Bay of Biscay on 6 October, just one week into the journey, the 'Stebonheath' was caught in a terrific hurricane and while laying-to, a heavy sea broke on board. Due to the damage sustained, the captain was compelled to bear up to the nearest port, Pauillac, a small sea town near Bordeaux. After repairs were completed, the ship set sail again on 1 November 1857.
Several weeks before arriving in Sydney, a young lady, Ann Cox, appararently fell down a hatchway and the hatchcover fell on her wrist severely injuring it. Unattended, the wound turned septic and, despite superficial treatment by the doctor, she was delirious and in a desperate state by the time the ship arrived in Sydney and had to be carried ashore to the hospital where she died the next day. The Coroner found that she had died from an "irritative fever" brought on by the injury to the wrist; and that she was recently pregnant. At the inquest, the ship's matron Jane Chase, attempting to justify her and the doctor's disregard for the passengers' wellbeing during the voyage, gave slanderous testimony alleging all sorts of misconduct between the single females and the males on board.
In 1866, Jane was living at 26 Campbell St, Sydney and by 1868 she had moved to 27 Hill St, East Sydney.
Jane died at the age of 75 of 'old age'. At the time of her death she was living in Chapel Lane Woolloomooloo. She was buried on 30 Apr 1881 at Rookwood Cemetery in Sydney.
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