Copyright Grey Gypsies Australia 2009
Female Factory
Like most Midlands towns, Ross ‘s first  working class was artificially constructed  from the assigned convict labour force that worked for the farmers and commercial class in the town. Settlers had first been granted land  around the town between  1822 to 1824 and had established mixed farms with sheep farming quickly becoming their major income earner. During this early period Ross was a way stop on the main road between Hobart and Launceston  with a ford over the Macquarie River, a government farm and a crude hut that offered accommodation to travellers. By 1836 it was the neat town, with a convict built bridge, that is still seen today in the historic stone cottages and business premises in the main street and surrounds.  By 1840 its period of expansion largely ceased and the town didn’t grow, but district farms consolidated and continued to be profitable enough to support the town. A small middle class farming elite existed, supported by local trades and business enterprises, many of which were increasingly run by former convicts who put the work and business skills they had acquired to good use. Many former convicts also worked around the district as farm labourers, supplemented by more recently arrived convicts on parole, but still under sentence during the Probation System. The population mix of free and bonded people continued for a number of years after the cessation of transportation in 1850, as prisoners gradually worked their way towards parole then freedom. By the mid 1870s an uneasy melding of the former bond and free population had taken place, with intermarriage, denial of origins and the destruction of much of  the convict infrastructure of prisons, penal stations and police outstations taking place. Some of this has survived in Ross, where more substantial stone buildings were erected.
Grey Gypsies of Australia Tasmania
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