Pincushion made by Mathinna


Derbyshire Record Office

Derbyshire Record Office
Matlock, United Kingdom

This pincushion has had a label attached to it which reads 'Pincushion made by METHINNA a Tamanian girl.' The label uses the spelling 'Methinna' but the name is now commonly spelled Mathinna.

Mathinna (1835-?1852) was born to the chief of the Lowreenne tribe, Towgerer, and his wife Wongerneep. In 1833, the tribe had been rounded up and settled on Flinders Island, following conflicts between settlers and the indigenous people. Originally named Mary, she was given the more 'exotic' sounding name of Mathinna at around the age of six and was adopted by then governor of Van Diemen's Land, Sir John Franklin, and his wife Jane, Lady Franklin. The Franklins brought her up with Sir John Franklin's daughter by his first wife, Eleanor (born 1824).

Mathinna lived with the Franklins until Sir John was recalled to England in 1843. Having been advised that Mathinna would not survive the British climate, the Franklins left her at the Orphan School and she was later returned to Flinders Island. Abandoned to a life of poverty, she lived at Oyster Cove, south of Hobart and died at a young age, the precise date of which is unknown.

Little survives of Mathinna's life, so this pin cushion is a rare keepsake, kept by Lady Franklin or Eleanor.

The pincushion is made from wadding sandwiched between two circular disks of dark brown silk, with a thin (5mm) red fabric band (probably cotton) forming the circumference between the disks. There are pins inserted in the red fabric.


  • Title: Pincushion made by Mathinna
  • Creator: Mathinna
  • Date Created: 1840/1843
  • Location Created: Tasmania, Australia
  • Physical Dimensions: 5cm x 1cm
  • Provenance: Gell family of Hopton Hall (D8760/F/OBJ/14)
  • Subject Keywords: Indigenous peoples, Aborigines, Australia, Sewing, Crafts
  • Medium: Silk and cotton

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