Family Colonization Loan Society – Article 2

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, Saturday, September 28, 1850.


A “farewell group meeting” of the emigrants connected with the above society, who are to sail from Gravesend in the Slains Castle on the 30th instant, was held yesterday evening, at eight o’clock, in the Royal British Institution, Tabernacle-row, in the City-road. The large room was well filled.

Mrs. Chisholm appeared on the platform, and was hailed with repeated cheers. She took a seat at the table, and the ceremony of electing a chairman was dispensed with.

One principal purpose for which the meeting was held was to make the objects of the society more extensively known to the public, and to raise by subscription the sum of 600l., which would enable them to despatch a second ship with emigrants to Australia shortly after the departure of the Slains Castle.

Mr. Wyndham Harding came forward, and said he had been requested to give an account of an undertaking, the object and leading principle of which was to make emigration self-supporting, so that the working classes, instead of being dependent upon the parish rates and upon eleemosynary subscriptions for the means of emigrating, should be enabled, if of good character, to obtain sufficient credit for those means of removing their capital, which was their labour, to a field where it would be properly rewarded [hear, hear]. Their only capital was their labour, and it was the object of the society to endeavour to mitigate the hard condition which arose from the superabundance of that labour. When a working man came to that society and gave ample testimony of good character and skill in his trade, the society felt justified in telling him that if he could raise a certain part—say half—of the expense of conveying himself and his family to Australia, they would try if they could lend him the other half [hear, hear]. If it were asked what security the society had for the return of the advance, as he had no property—the answer was that there was the security of his character and of his family ties, which distance strengthened; and he would refer as an example to the almost incredible sums sent over here by Irish emigrants to carry out to them their friends and relations. It had been proved that more than 500,000l. had been so sent over by those poor people. Mrs. Chisholm, whose experience was so great, felt satisfied that as long as the society had the security of the power of sending out a man’s family to him they had ample guarantee for the return of the money they might advance to him for his own passage. Therefore they said to him, that when he had paid the money it would not be lost to him, for they would lend it again to take out some of his relations, and so on in succession. This society had been formed in October, 1849, by Mrs. Chisholm. He (Mr. Harding) had at that time made some progress himself in a project of a similar kind, but when he heard that Mrs. Chisholm was in the field he at once gave it up. That lady had received the assistance of a committee remarkable for the high character and great abilities of the gentlemen who composed it; and no men were more honourably known in the country than Mr. Sidney Herbert and Mr. Vernon Smith [hear, hear]. It then became necessary to form a society among the emigrants themselves, and at the first meeting above 100 persons were in communication with Mrs. Chisholm, all anxious to join the society. Some of these, however, were objectionable in point of character, and the means of others were too limited to allow them to join. The result, however, now was, that above 400 persons had enrolled themselves members of the society [hear, hear], every one of whom had contributed more or less for the purpose of emigration. They were from all parts of the country, belonging to every trade and occupation, and to almost every persuasion, and were all persons of good character and able to work well. He believed that there were about 90 children and about 50 families going in the first band by the Slains Castle, and by the arrangements of the society every person going out singly, unaccompanied by any relations, would group himself or herself with some one or other of the families in the ship. Upwards of 40 young girls who were going out, would thus be taken in the care of respectable families [hear]. The 400 persons belonging to the society had scraped together and subscribed about 1,600l. of their own towards the expenses of the voyage, and of this 1,400l. had been subscribed by those on board. The sum of 600l. more was wanted to complete the arrangements for sending out a second ship, and, with the money they had in hand, a subscription to that amount would enable the society to do so. The emigrants to be sent out were English people of excellent character—good working men—the majority, he believed, belonging to the church of England, but certainly persons of other persuasions also. Mr. Harding then proceeded to impress upon the emigrants—admitting, however, that he thought it superfluous to do so, for he had confidence in them—the obligation they were under to return punctually the advances that were made to them. He put it to them on the ground of honour—that honour which was commonly but erroneously ascribed only to persons of rank and wealth, but which he believed existed in the working classes as much [cheers], and he felt assured of the return of this money. If they did not return it—which he could not suppose—then they would not only carry a sting in their own consciences, but they would create a general impression that after all nothing could be done for the working classes of this country with any reliance upon their gratitude and honour [hear, hear]. But, on the other hand, if they did pay, as they would pay, they would not only have done their plain duty, but they would have repaid twice over every member of the committee, and would have rendered to Mrs. Chisholm, the only return they could possibly make to her for the unceasing and wonderful exertions she had made on their behalf [loud cheering].

Mr. Robert Lowe, who was introduced as lately a member of the Legislative Council of New South Wales, moved the first resolution as follows:—“That the warmest thanks of the emigrants proceeding by the Slains Castle to Australia, and of all interested in emigration, are due to Mrs. Chisholm and her family, for their patient, disinterested, and successful efforts for establishing family colonization.” He had known Mrs. Chisholm before she commenced her brilliant and useful career. He had known her in Australia, and had witnessed her exertions there—smaller, indeed, in scale, but equal in practical usefulness—and where her personal sacrifices were as great as those she had since undergone in England in the cause of the working-classes. In Australia Mrs. Chisholm had been the friend and guardian of the working-classes who arrived there, and who, he was deeply sorry to say, used to be left by the Government in an entirely unprotected condition [hear, hear, hear]. But this lady interfered, and she placed herself in a position something like that of a person who kept a register office for servants—with this exception, that she performed the disagreeable labour gratuitously [cheers]. She obtained a room from the Government, which few of the “lower classes” would have occupied, and in this room she lived for months, in order to be a protector and guardian to the female emigrants [cheers], and if some of those were now settled in Australia in good situations, it was to the untiring exertions of Mrs. Chisholm that they owed their good fortune. The capabilities of the colony to absorb labour had been exaggerated, and the consequence was, an influx of emigrants. But many who arrived lingered at Sydney, fearing to penetrate into the interior of the country, as they had none to help them; none in whom they could place confidence. The officers of the Government did what the officers of government usually do—enough to avoid censure from their superiors, and there stopped. But Mrs. Chisholm took up the evil with zeal and determination, and in a short time provided those emigrants with the means of going up the country in safety and confidence to places where they might bring their labour to a good market, instead of loitering and dissipating in a town in which there was no demand for it [hear, hear]. That lady herself conducted many caravans of emigrants into the interior, and had undergone many difficulties and dangers, which he described, in leading those expeditions. She stood as a mediator between the emigrant and those who would hire his labour, and made honest terms for him with his master, and thus she won the confidence of the emigrant. To her was due the honour of preventing those persons from becoming a pauperised class in a place where their labour was not in demand, while she supplied with labour the distant parts of the colony where labour was wanted, and thus she had cleared the colony from the reproach that there was no employment for the labourer in Australia. He wished to record his admiration of the excellent scheme Mrs. Chisholm had promulgated. He had been a member of the Legislature in Australia, and nothing had engaged the attention of that Legislature more than the question of relieving the colony from the enormous pressure of labour going out at that time. He disclaimed the notion of importing merely labourers in a colony. He wished to import citizens. He believed that Mrs. Chisholm had hit upon the natural mode of emigration and colonization. The society did not propose to take fathers from their wives and children, merely for the sake of their labour. They did not wish merely to find labour for a number of capitalists, but they wished to import into the colony English feelings, English ties, English institutions, and English principles [hear, hear, hear]. That could not be done if they began by severing the links which bound mankind together. He thought that Mrs. Chisholm’s was not only the most humane and natural plan, but that it would be the most successful. He was sure the English working man would not forfeit the confidence about to be reposed in him, or deprive others to come, of opportunities from which he had himself so largely benefited. The principle was not eleemosynary, but that of sending out the emigrants at their own expense, and for that he admired it, because it would work out and demonstrate the enormous power of co-operation, and show how it could be made to work out any good object that was required. Not a shilling was asked to be given to the society; but what was wanted was a floating capital, which might be contributed by the upper classes, which, being returned, should afford the means of at once relieving the labour market of this country, and of enabling the working classes to find remunerated labour and happy homes in the colonies. The emigrants who were going out now were not doing so only to better their condition, but also as the pioneers of a great principle, and upon their conduct depended the destinies of hundreds and thousands of men hereafter. If they returned the money advanced to them it would be proved that the working classes were worthy of confidence; the system would progress; and the money returned would be the means of sending out others, and continuing the working of the principle. But, if the money should not be returned, the consequence would be most disasterous, and a noble principle would be crushed. Mr. Lowe then bestowed some wholesome advice upon the emigrants, relative to the conduct they should pursue when arrived in the colony; to avoid the temptations that would surround them, and shun bad company. He then pronounced a glowing eulogium upon Mrs. Chisholm. If this glorious scheme, he asked, were carried, which offered to every honest man the means of bettering his condition, to whom under Providence should the honour and the credit be ascribed, if not to the benevolent lady for whom he was now asking the thanks of the society [cheers]. And it was not merely for her genius, or for the industry with which she had laboured in the cause, or for her entire pecuniary disinterestedness [hear, hear], but for the principle which lay at the bottom of all—the deep fountain of untiring benevolence which had enabled her and would enable her to labour to the end of her career, for no other object than the benefit and happiness of her fellow-creatures [cheers]. He prophesied that the result of this society’s exertions would be success—that the upper classes would not hesitate to support it, and he confidently predicted that Mrs. Chisholm would leave a name that would be long remembered by posterity [cheers].

Mr. Vernon Smith expressed his cordial concurrence in all the approbation which had been bestowed upon Mrs. Chisholm, for he had been a witness of her untiring exertions. Why, if the present scheme, as far as it had gone, had been carried out under other management, it would have required an establishment of clerks, and a whole array of machinery; but it assumed its present shape solely by her personal efforts [hear, hear, hear]. It being a farewell meeting of the groups, he was unwilling that it should take place without some member of the committee being present, and he being nearer town than Lord Ashley or Mr. Sidney Herbert, who were in Scotland, he had come from the county in which he resided to attend it [hear, hear]. He had joined the committee because he saw nothing in the scheme that savoured of exaggeration, or that held out false hopes. Mrs. Chisholm did not tell them that they would make rapid fortunes in Australia, but only that they would find adequate means for the support of themselves and their families. No expectation had been held out that they would pick up gold, but merely that they would attain that reasonable and certain fortune which would certainly be denied to them if they stopped in this country [hear, hear]. They must not hope to become rich men in two or three years; but he would advise them, after determining to what occupation they would betake themselves, to become steady and useful settlers, and not to think of returning to this country. The colony, they would remember, was not uncivilised or foreign, but full of British people, and guided by British institutions. He remembered that when he was endeavouring in the House of Commons to improve the Australian Constitution Bill, an honourable friend of his had asked him why he took so much trouble in making a constitution for convicts and kangaroos, for there was nothing but convicts and kangaroos in the colony [laughter]? The hon. gentleman here praised the arrangements of the vessel, and its provisions for separation. The arrangements of the committee had been made with one of the most honourable and responsible houses in the country, Messrs. Hall, Brothers; the ship was by one of the best builders in the country, Mr. Wigram; and there was every security for them that human power could extend to them. They were starting with every prospect of success, which he sincerely hoped they would attain. He next alluded to the loan to the emigrants, which, when returned, was not to be put again in the pockets of the subscribers, but applied again to the same purposes as the first. It was painful to him to say farewell; but as he felt a real cordial interest in their welfare he would bid them a cheerful farewell, and, if ever they required assistance or redress in this country, he hoped they would remember that he was upon their committee, and that they would be assured, if he still had a voice in the legislature he would not fail to raise it on their behalf. He should watch with the greatest interest the progress of the Slains Castle, and should hear with the greatest pleasure of its safe arrival. Their friend Lord Ashley had told them on the last occasion he had been informed that a person in Australia having raised a flock, had called his great ram after Lord Ashley [a laugh]. He could not hope for so high an honour as the great ram being called after him, but he wished them to remember him, and would petition any of them who reared a pet lamb among the flock they would call it Vernon Smith [laughter]. He could only in conclusion pray God to speed their journey, and say farewell [cheers].

The vote was then carried by acclamation.

Lord Lilford, in a few words expressing his cordial concurrence with the objects of the society, moved a vote of thanks to the members of the committee for the liberal and earnest manner in which they had come forward to establish the association, and enable 200 souls to emigrate under such favourable auspices.

Mr. Sydney seconded the resolution. He briefly described the colony and the mode of farming there. He eulogized Mrs. Chisholm’s active and benevolent exertions, and gave another short exposition of her plan, and expressed his satisfaction that those violations of decency which it had been lamentable to see in other ships, had been removed by the arrangements of the vessel. This society had not been forced into public notice by dint of advertising, for the whole expenses of the society for meetings, printing, and advertising, had not exceeded 100l. [hear]. It was satisfactory to know that the society was genuine, and that their money was not jobbed away to provide places and patronage for anybody [hear, hear]. There was no exclusiveness on the score of religion; all that was required was that the emigrant should be of a good and honest character. It had been asked why Australia only had been chosen for their emigration. Because colonization was a practical thing, like farming or a trade; and Mrs. Chisholm thoroughly knew Australia, and had been instrumental in settling 11,000 persons there [hear, hear], and was it likely she had settled persons who were disreputable. There was no fear of contamination in going out there. After some further remarks, Mr. Sydney concluded by expressing the hope that this was but the commencement of a stream of emigration which would for ever flow on.

Resolution carried unanimously.

Mr. Mosman, a gentleman lately arrived from the colony, joined in the praises that had been pronounced upon Mrs. Chisholm, who, he said, had left good behind her wherever she had been. He expressed his approval of the plan. He described the colony, in which he had resided ten years, to the meeting, and the difference there of the scenery and of the agricultural proceedings. He was a naturalist, and had travelled all over these colonies, and he described the beauty of the climate. Port Philip, he thought, was the garden of Australia. He had always met with a hospitable reception from the colonists there; he thought they were excellent people, and worthy of receiving the best classes that could be sent from this country [hear, hear].

Mr. Neison returned thanks.

Mr. Harding announced that divine service would be performed on Sunday, on board the ship, off Gravesend, by the Rev. Edward Bullock, and arrangements had also been made for the celebration of the Catholic and Wesleyan forms of worship. He then called attention to a flag embroidered with Mrs. Chisholm’s initials, and hung in the room. It had been presented to her by some ladies, and he trusted it would wave not only over that ship, but others that should take out ill-paid labour to a place where it would be better acknowledged. He then called for three cheers for Mrs. Chisholm, which were heartily given, and that lady made her obeisance in acknowledgment.

The meeting then separated.

The Morning Chronicle, Saturday, September 28, 1850.