Saturday, September 25, 2010

Caroline Chisholm (1807-1877)

"The Emigrant's Friend"

Caroline was born near Northampton, England, the daughter of a farmer. Aged 22yo, Caroline married Captain Archibald Chisholm of the East India Company - she married him on the condition that her philanthropic work should continue. He was transferred to Madras (1832) - here Caroline founded the Female School of Industry for the Daughters of European Soldiers.

Caroline Chisholm arrived in Sydney Australia (1838) from India with her husband Archibald. She had neither means nor training but was a woman of immense courage and integrity and possessed great love for suffering humanity. Caroline decided to go to the aid of immigrants when she observed single girls being dumped on the wharves with nowhere to go She found a group of 64 girls sheltering in the Rocks area with only 14s 3d amongst them. Caroline set up the Female Immigrants Home with the support of the clergy, then the Governor's wife and finally the Governor himself.

Through her work at the Female Immigrant Home, Caroline gave protection and shelter to hundreds of young women, some of whom she accompanied into the country areas where she found employment for them - this often being followed by marriage. Caroline soon became concerned for families (c.1842) who having migrated in the hope of better things found themselves destitute.

Caroline returned to England (1846) and became the publicist for Australia. She formed a society to send out groups of families to Australia and succeeded in dispatching some 3000 persons in 5 years. Caroline agitated for and achieved better conditions on the vessels carrying the immigrants. As well as free passages for emigrants wives and children, she established the Family Colonisation Loan Society. When she first chartered a ship "Slains Castle" which sailed (1850) from England to Australia, she personally supervised the embarkation and appointed a reliable surgeon to control rations. Two more ships followed.

Caroline's plans for the new families alarmed the established farmers and squatters in Australia who felt threatened by the successes in farming achieved by the new arrivals. Caroline's Catholic faith and the possibility of her bringing Irish Catholics to Australia alarmed the mainly Scottish Presbytarians, including the New South Wales Governor John Dunmore Lang.

In 6 years Caroline assisted 11000 people to settle as servants, farmers, and wives in New South Wales (Australia) whilst her criticism, energy and experience contributed to the changes in the selection of migrants, their treatment on the voyage out and their reception in the colony.

In England Caroline maintained her work of assisting migrants. She was not impressed by the news of the gold discoveries, which stimulated emigration, as she feared that they would cause instability in the fragile society. Caroline's husband Archibald went to Australia (1851) to work as her colonial agent while she kept sending out families and girls from the British Isles, including a party of Jewish girls. In England, Caroline continued to agitate for lower colonial postal rates, for the introduction of colonial money orders and for better shipboard conditions. To this end, she ensured the passing of the Passenger Act (1852).

Now famous and supported by many powerful figures, including the writer Charles Dickins, Caroline returned to Australia (1854) - she was imbued with the optimistic but never proven idea that the wealth of a society lay in the settling of many small farmers and she worked for the unlocking of the lands.

Caroline continued to work despite illness and needy circumstances. She and her husband lived on a pension in Liverpool (1866) and then in Highgate, London. Caroline died in poverty and obscurity in England (1877) - the inscription on her grave at Northampton reads "The emigrant's friend". There was no mention of her husband who not only shared her grave but also her work.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

it wasn't very interesting and needs a little bit of work I couldn't get much information of it maybe try a different choice of words!