Family Colonization Loan Society – Article 1

This society, founded by Caroline Chisholm, encouraged the emigration of families rather than individuals and provided loans to assist in their passage and settlement. Emigration of family members together was considered to have a better chance of success, reducing any feelings of homesickness which sometimes crept in. For some who had emigrated and settled already it facilitated the reunification of parents with their children and brothers with sisters.

We have transcribed the three-article series that was published in The Morning Chronicle in connection with the “Labour and the Poor” letters which you can find below. Each article has links to the other articles at the top and bottom of the page.

The Morning Chronicle, Tuesday, September 24, 1850.


It may be remembered that in the latter part of 1848 a line of packets to Australia was established, on the improved principles of accommodation on ship-board for emigrants, which had been laid down by Mrs. Chisholm. Since that period, and under the new system, fourteen vessels, fitted up expressly for passengers, with enclosed cabins—each family or married couple having a separate cabin—have sailed for Australia with emigrants. These vessels were intended for the advantage of respectable persons who were unable or unwilling to incur the expense of a chief cabin passage, and at the same time did not wish to be ranked as intermediate or steerage passengers; and, therefore, neither of those classes were carried; but the accommodations on board were adapted for the one class only, and they had the full range of the ships. The rate of passage is twenty guineas for each adult, including provisions, bedding, and mess utensils. Letters and testimonials have been received by Messrs. Hall, Brothers, by Mr. T. B. Mallet, and others connected with the undertaking, and published in their prospectus, expressing “their appreciation of the good faith kept, and the excellent quality of the provisions that had been provided for them.”

The Family Colonization Loan Society was originated by Mrs. Chisholm, and the principle is thus described by herself:—“Parties contribute towards their own passage half or more of their passage money, according to eligibility and circumstances, the balance being lent to them by the society, such parties agreeing to refund the amount to the society through agents appointed in the colonies within two years from the date of their arrival in Australia. Sums thus repaid will in like manner be re-lent to others; those refunding the loans having the privilege to nominate for a passage their own relatives or friends.”

The Slains Castle, a vessel belonging to Messrs. Wigram, of Blackwall (class A 1, 504 tons register, 768 burthen), is now lying in the East India Export Docks, and is under process of fitting out under the management of Messrs. Hall, Brothers, for the reception of the first party of emigrants to be sent out to Australia on Mrs. Chisholm’s new system of “Family Groups.” The passengers are all to be embarked by twelve o’clock on the morning of the 28th of the present month, in order that they may be inspected by the Government officer; and the ship is to sail from Gravesend on Monday, the 30th inst.

Mrs. Chisholm has announced her intention of being on board every day, Sunday excepted, up to the 27th inst., from eleven till two o’clock, when she will be happy to give information to persons who are concerned in obtaining it.

We visited this vessel yesterday, and found Mrs. Chisholm in active and evidently very efficient personal superintendence of the arrangements that were going on, even to the smallest details. The anxious desire she expressed, and which she has fully testified by her admirable conduct, was to provide not for the physical comforts only of the emigrants, but also for their moral advantage by the provisions to be made for a proper classification, or separation according to sex, and the condition of being married or single. This lady informed us that the number of persons of both sexes about to proceed by this vessel amounted to 191. There were 41 families, 34 single men, and 42 single women, the difference forming the total being constituted by children. Some of the intending passengers were present, and those with whom we conversed expressed entire satisfaction with the arrangements, especially as regarded sleeping accommodation. Those arrangements are not yet completed, and the ship was of course seen to disadvantage in a state of confusion caused by the unfinished operations of the workmen. The forwardness was, however, sufficient to convey a general idea of the plan of the cabins and berths, and it appeared extremely well calculated to enable Mrs. Chisholm to establish practically her system of “groups,” to describe which we will employ her own language:⁠—

“These family groups consist chiefly of families who have near relatives before them in the colonies, the society being particularly anxious to promote the reunion of families. There are now going, or about to proceed, by the second ship of the society, twenty-one parents who have children before them in the colonies, with ready-prepared homes. Forty-eight brothers and sisters will thus be reunited. Ten wives, with their children, are about leaving to join their husbands in Australia. In all, 210 souls are now preparing, through the auspices of the society, to join their relations in these colonies, besides numerous families and individuals of the industrious classes who are anxious to emigrate in order to better their circumstances.

“The fittings on board this ship have been so arranged that each family will be provided with an enclosed cabin, so that the objectionable system hitherto adopted in the emigration of the working classes, of men, women, and children having to dress and undress in the same compartment will be avoided. Single females will also be furnished with enclosed berths, no more than six sleeping in one cabin, and similar arrangements will be adhered to as far as practicable as regards the accommodation of the single men. At the same time the range of the quarter-deck and the poop, which hitherto used to be reserved for cabin passengers, will be thrown open to the emigrants of this society, only the emigrants must comply with such regulations with respect to the liberty of walking on the poop as the captain commanding may suggest and the society approve of.

“Friendless young females and young men are placed under the guardianship of the families, and who have pledged themselves to afford them protection: for instance, one father of a family going has four grown up daughters; these girls will be placed with friendless young women in two or three cabins, thus the man and his wife affording a sort of parental protection to all these girls. In like manner the sons of parents on board will be messed and associated with friendless youths.

“For the moral improvement and rational amusement of the emigrants it is proposed to establish a library on board, and for which contributions are respectfully requested. These books will be afterwards applied to the formation of Shepherds’ Libraries, in the Bush of Australia.”

We will only add that some of the single young men are going out to join their betrothed, who are already with their families in the colony; and also that one young couple, who have taken passage in this ship, are to be united in the holy bands of matrimony before their embarkation.

The Morning Chronicle, Tuesday, September 24, 1850.