THE first female Welsh Australian has been brought to life by Flintshire schoolchildren.

Convict Frances Williams, from Whitford near Holywell, was shipped to New South Wales after being found guilty of stealing clothing and cloth valued at one pound, 17 shillings and five pence.

She appeared before the courts in Mold in 1783 accused of stealing the items belonging to Moses Griffith – a painter from Whitford.

She was originally sentenced to death by magistrate Thomas Pennant – the famous scientific and travel writer – but this was later reduced to seven years transportation.

She languished in the Flint Goal until 1787 when she was ordered to board the prison ship Prince of Wales, which docked at Portsmouth and was bound for Botany Bay.

It was a 334-tonne ship and was one of the six convict transports to sail in 1787 as part of the first fleet bound for Botany Bay – a journey that would take eight months.

While on board Williams met Irish marine Robert Ryan, of the Royal Marines 32nd Portsmouth Company. The pair struck up a relationship and soon after Williams gave birth to a daughter Sarah.

Williams and Ryan later settled on Norfolk Island after arriving aboard the HMS Sirius in 1790.

Now Williams’ life has been celebrated by artistic children at Sealand Primary School, Queensferry Primary School and Taliesin Junior School in Shotton as part of a project funded by the Arts Council of Wales centered around stories from the coast.

The pupils have been working alongside professional textile artist Cefyn Burgess, from Bethesda, to design and create material collages representing her story.

Mr Burgess said: “I wanted to do something factual and the story of Frances Williams is brilliant.

“She was a Flintshire girl who landed up being the first Welsh Australian.

“The story is so interesting and factual for the kids and there are three characters to play with – Frances, Thomas Pennant and Moses Griffith.

“Thomas Pennant was this highly respectable man, but then you find out he was the one who sentenced her to be hanged and Moses worked for Pennant and illustrated his books.”

Christine Taylor, a teacher at Queensferry Primary School, said: “The children enjoyed taking part in painting pictures that told the story of Frances Williams. They had lots of fun.”

An exhibition of the children’s work will be on display at Clwyd Theatr Cymru until November 21.