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Sophia’s Rajah Quilt

She wanted it badly

a trinket, largely worthless

but it wasn’t hers to take.

She almost hanged for wanting

to rise above her lot.

Instead they shipped her

much against her will 

to a place across the ocean.


In the sordid southern port 

she slipped into a way of life

that meant survival,

offering only what she could 

in free exchange.

Catching a disease 

she didn’t know existed,

her future clouded by the knowledge

that one day it would take her

over the edge

into madness


But in those years in between

she gave a fledgling country

so much more

than it gave her.

Her name is not remembered 

in the towns she helped create.


She’s forgotten, 

her memory lost, 

her story barely known

to anyone

save for a fragile quilt

more valuable than anything 

her small hands ever stitched.


Now a national icon

the Rajah quilt holds stories

that we will never know

except that our Sophia’s clever fingers 

once worked upon the cloth.


Judith Masters

© 2009

More Information

For more information about the RAJAH QUILT, go directly to this link to the National Gallery of Australia

My convict ancestor Sophia Grantham


My relationship to Sophia Grantham: I am directly related to Sophia through my mother.


My maternal great grandmother (my mother’s grandmother), Keziah Jane Ryan (nee Eyles) was Sophia Grantham’s (later Kezia Tregilgus’) granddaughter.

The descent is via Sophia Grantham's one surviving child, her daughter Ruth.

There is a book about Sophia's life, written by my late relative Barry Allan. For more information, go to this link

Sophia Grantham by Barry Allan
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