Between 1801 and 1811, Margaret Catchpole wrote a series of letters to her connections in England, including her former employer, Elizabeth Cobbold, in Ipswich. The letters constitute one of the earliest surviving, and most extensive, collections of correspondence written by an Australian convict.
Catchpole first letter from New South Wales, written to her former employer and patron Elizabeth Cobbold a month after landing, describes the country, the productions of the colony, and the varying forms of convict life and penal discipline. She longed to send her patron one of the local parrots "for they are very Buttefull But i see so maney dy on Board it mak me so verry unwilling to send you one But if i should Contiuneu Long in this Countrey i suarteneley will send you sumethg out of this wicked Countrey for i must say this is the wickedes places i ever was in all my Life." The attached letter to Dr [George] Stebbin is a series of short correspondences headed "Dear Sir," or "Sir," on different topics. The first details a gruesome encounter where "the Blackes the natives of this places kild and wounded 8 men and women and children." The second details Catchpole's journey, her landing at Sydney, the Aborigines, and other Suffolk women convicts. The third mainly details commodity prices in the colony, and the fourth a wish that Dr Stebbin might address her a letter at an address in the Brickfields, Sydney.