Family Colonization Loan Society – Article 3

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, Friday, October 11, 1850.



Sir—Perhaps you will permit me, on the present occasion, a small space in your columns. The Slains Castle, the first ship of the above society, has, as you are aware, sailed for Australia with about 200 emigrants. Were I to follow the dictates of my own feelings, I would prefer remaining silent at this particular juncture, but there are obligations and duties paramount to private considerations. In succeeding thus far in carrying out the plan of the family colonization, which I lately ventured to submit to the public, I feel that I stand under the deepest obligations to the gentlemen who so kindly formed themselves into a committee, and I am anxious thus publicly to express to them my grateful thanks in my own name, and in that of the family groups who have just left our shores for Australia. In the countenance and support which some of these gentlemen gave to the plan in its first stage, there was a magnanimity shown which ennobles them even more than their rank. For one to have a plan of a similar tendency, and yet to enter with zeal in carrying out another’s views, is one of those generous traits which do honour to human nature. I must here observe that if all the gentlemen of the committee could not, from having to attend to other business, make it convenient to see the ship off, and attend the farewell group meeting, I have had the benefit of their aid and advice by communication. The Right Hon. Vernon Smith, who was nearest to London, acted for the others: he visited the Slains Castle to inspect the arrangements (as did also Mr. Neison); and to show how much his heart was in the work, he managed to attend the group meeting in the evening, though on the morning of that day he had to preside at a large agricultural meeting in his own county. The grateful thanks of the family groups, as well as my own, are due to those generous individuals who so kindly came forward with their contributions to meet the wants of the people. It must be truly gratifying to them to reflect that they have been instrumental in sending so many struggling families and individuals to a country in which they have every reasonable prospect of improving their circumstances, and that others, through the same means, are preparing to follow them.

Notwithstanding, however, the aid of the benevolent (for the contributions received have been strictly confined to the payment of passages) many of the poor people had to struggle hard to be enabled to go by the Slains Castle; and were it not for the mutual help the emigrants afforded to each other, I verily believe some of them would not have been enabled to have gone by this opportunity. Some days previous to their departure several had to give up their homes; my small Emigrant’s Home was crowded. Lodgings were therefore to be procured for them, for some had no money—had expended their all on their passages and outfits: the temporary wants, as to lodgings, &c., have been met by the kind generosity of Mr. F. Pigou. An inmate of “the Home,” finding a friend would give him a lodging, recommended to me one worse off than himself to take his place. In fact, I found the struggles of the people had the effect of awakening and bringing forth the kindliest feelings even in the roughest bosoms. The lumpers, who were rendering me assistance at the docks, refused to take payment for their services, saying, “We’ll put it down to the orphans and the widows, and shall have as good a bit of beef at Christmas as if we had the money;” while a hackney coachman presented me with a shilling to help a party on. I cannot help expressing how much the society feels indebted to Mr. Robert Lowe, late of New South Wales, and W. Pringle, Esq., who kindly gave me their professional and gratuitous assistance in drawing out agreements for the people; and the latter gentleman further furnished additional clerical aid, at his own expense, to help on the work.

It may be desirable that I should here offer a few observations on the grouping system pursued by me with the emigrants on board the Slains Castle. Being in communication with most of the families previous to their embarkation, I was enabled to make more definite arrangements than I otherwise could have done, to consider the due proportioning of the physical force and moral influence of parties in arranging for the comfort of the whole. I first took the single young men, who were divided into four parties. Several of the youths had received a good education, and I deemed it best to place some of those who had not similar advantages amongst them. It was also my endeavour to place the weakest under the care of the strongest, fearing that if all the rough and the strong were in one compartment they might make a formidable party; and again, if those were kept together who had received a superior education, they might become puffed up with self-conceit. My object, therefore, was, that each should feel an interest in his neighbour, and that they might mutually aid each other, for it is most desirable to combine educational knowledge, and manual or mechanical experience, in carrying out a system of colonization. I consider that it is as necessary in looking to the satisfactory emigration of young men as well as of young females, to attend to what may benefit them in a moral and social capacity, for many of these youths are the propping hopes of the family. Mothers, sisters, and younger brothers depend upon their first step; many of them are the sole hope of widows. I long then for the day when I can return to Australia in the hope that I may be of service to youths thus situated.

In the distribution of the young females, six only sleeping in one cabin, I endeavoured to place an aged matron in each cabin to give a degree of gravity to youth; for I had widows and grandmothers going to partake of the comforts of their children’s homes in Australia, some 60 and 70 years of age; I situated also the strong and the able where, I thought, they might be of most use, and those who could read with those who could not. Weak families, again, and wives with young children, going to join their husbands—and there were several of those—I arranged next to strong and able-bodied families, where they might have instant help in case of need. Those families, again, who I found had been accustomed to have family prayers, I situated in those parts of the ship where I thought their example might have most influence. I kept in view the same object in the placing of some teetotallers I found amongst the emigrants, and I was glad to learn before I left the ship at Gravesend that two had been influenced by their example, and had taken the pledge. Want of means prevented my being able to carry out the system of self-improvement amongst the emigrants to the extent I wished, such as providing children and youths with books, &c., for educational purposes, and a library for the people. Books thus contributed, I proposed should be applied afterwards to the formation of Shepherds’ Libraries in the Bush of Australia. I am now induced to offer these observations to satisfy the anxious inquiries of parties who may be at present contemplating their emigration to these colonies.

I hope I may now be permitted to draw attention to the fact, that a number of deserving, industrious families and single individuals are at this time exerting themselves to raise the necessary sum for their emigration—anxious to follow in the track of the Slains Castle. Some are trying to accomplish this by weekly and monthly payments, while a few can manage to effect their passages by paying the proportions required. Need I tell the public that the fulfilment of their hopes depends upon the good feeling and aid of the benevolent. It is most desirable that such parties should leave before the winter sets in. About 600l., with what balance there may remain after paying for the emigrants’ passages by the Slains Castle, will enable the society to send off a second ship. It may be gratifying to numbers who are separated from their relatives and friends, some being in Australia and others in England, to be informed that my husband, Captain Chisholm, purposes shortly to proceed to the Australian colonies, with the view of aiding in organizing a system for the re-union of separated members of families; and I intend to follow him next year with the design of establishing a system of female protection in the interior, and procuring employment for them. The re-union of families and relatives may be promoted and carried out by parties in both hemispheres anxious to be re-united, by their making weekly and monthly payments through the agency of the society; or, as a poor woman with a family remarked to me last evening, when I was reading a letter to her from her relatives at Adelaide, who promised her assistance, “Why (she said), with God’s blessing, and a good pull on both sides, we can emigrate without a shilling from the parish.” While she was with me three married men called to enter their names as members of the society, neither of whom expect by the most pinching economy to effect the emigration of their families, even with the aid of the society, in less than two years. Watching the feelings of these people, and knowing their circumstances well, I am encouraged to exertion by seeing the great moral good that may be effected by giving honest men a chance of being transported to a colony in which they may hope of improving their condition, and of securing to their children a competency, unaccompanied by disgrace, remorse, and crime.

Yours respectfully,


Islington, Oct. 9.


Sir—I write to say, the following persons may emigrate to this colony with great benefit to themselves and families—namely, farm-labourers, carpenters, bricklayers, brickmakers, wheelwrights, blacksmiths, gardeners, and sawyers. But I wish you to insert a paragraph in the columns of your valuable journal, to inform the British public that the following class of persons must not emigrate to South Australia, viz.:—Clerks, artists, weavers, musicians, school-masters, &c., as we have numbers of these unfortunate persons wandering in the streets of Adelaide without food, raiment, or lodging.⁠—

Yours, respectfully,


Adelaide, South Australia, May 22.

The Morning Chronicle, Friday, October 11, 1850.