This benevolent society came about in response to the plight of the needlewomen of London and was supported by Caroline Chisholm, Sidney Herbert and Lord Ashley amongst others.
We have transcribed eight corresponding articles that were 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, Monday, March 11, 1850.
FEMALE EMIGRATION FUND.
The Executive Committee of the Female Emigration Fund have presented their Report, No. 3, to the General Committee, in which, after stating that the first party of emigrants are now on their voyage to Australia, they go into the following interesting particulars:—
On the 25th of February thirty-nine young women were despatched to Port Phillip in the ship Culloden, a first-class vessel of 1,000 tons burden, chartered by Messrs. Fry and Davidson, of Leadenhall-street.
Acting upon the recommendations contained in their two previous reports, the Executive Committee proceeded to organise district committees in different parts of the metropolis, to which candidates for emigration might in the first instance apply. These committees have been already formed in the following districts, and it is intended to extend their number as opportunities offer themselves for so doing:—
For Holborn and Bloomsbury.—At 20, Red Lion-square, on Tuesday and Friday evenings, at six o’clock.
For Westminster and Pimlico.—At the Working Man’s Institution, Pear-street, Westminster, on Monday evenings, at six o’clock.
For Southwark and Lambeth.—At Surrey Chapel School-rooms, on Tuesday evenings, at half-past eight o’clock.
For St. George’s in the East.—At Christ Church Schools, on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday evenings, at six o’clock.
For Shadwell and Limehouse.—At the Infant School-room, Shadwell, on Monday and Thursday evenings, from seven to nine o’clock.
Every applicant, in the first instance, applies to the district committee nearest her own abode, and receives a paper of queries to be answered, and of certificates to be obtained. Upon its return careful inquiries are instituted by the district committee concerning the truth of these answers, and concerning the respectability and fitness of the applicant for emigration.
The arrangements respecting the Home have been completed, and a superintendent temporarily engaged, who had previously acted as superintendent of the model lodging-house for females belonging to the Labourers’ Friend Society. She has, however, displayed so much method and tact in the management of the inmates, and has hitherto shown herself so fully competent to the duties which devolve upon her, that the committee propose to continue her, permanently, in her office.
Great advantage has been derived from the operation of the Home. Both as a test of character, and as affording an opportunity for moral and industrial training, it has, as yet, fully answered the expectations of the committee. It has likewise given facilities for dividing the inmates into messes, and forming habits of regularity and method, which it is hoped will prove conducive to discipline during the voyage.
The Home Committee report, that the expenses of the establishment hitherto have been within the estimate laid before the General Committee.
Considerable pains were taken in the selection of the party of emigrants who sailed in the Culloden. It comprised a large majority of needlewomen, no less than twenty-eight in number, all of whom, at some period of their lives, had been servants, or had become acquainted with some branches of household or farm service. The remainder consisted of two teachers, who are acting as sub-matrons, of char-women, and of servants of all-work, out of place. Some have friends and relatives at Port Phillip, and several are without parents or natural protectors at home; all were suffering greatly from poverty. A considerable number of these resided in the Home for some weeks prior to their departure, and, during their stay, most satisfactorily discharged all the domestic duties of the Home, including cooking, washing, &c., and by their good and orderly conduct earned the approbation of the superintendent and the ladies who are so good as to assist in the management of the establishment.
A few others were received for a time into tradesmen’s families, to whom the thanks of the committee are due, and who reported of them most favourably, as orderly and diligent servants.
The Executive Committee believe that they have taken every possible precaution to secure for the emigrants due protection during their voyage to Australia.
The Culloden, sailing direct from Gravesend, did not touch at any port in the Channel. Her captain, himself the owner of the ship, enjoys a well-established character, as a good officer and strict disciplinarian.
The various communications which the committee have had with the surgeon of the Culloden, and the personal inquiries which they have been enabled to make respecting him, from persons of respectability who have been long acquainted with him, have satisfied them that he is an intelligent and respectable person.
The immediate charge of the emigrants has been entrusted to a matron strongly recommended to the committee by the British Ladies’ Emigration Society. This person, the widow of a tradesman, was in very distressed circumstances, and having failed in the attempt to support herself and her daughters by needlework, was desirous of emigrating, but was totally without means to defray the expense of the passage. The committee, therefore, assigned a passage to her daughters, and employed her services as matron, her own passage-money being provided through the intervention of some charitable persons interested in her case. She appears from her age and disposition to be most competent for the task she has undertaken. She will receive a small gratuity at the end of the voyage, in the event of her duties being properly performed.
Two of the emigrants were selected to act as her assistants, and as female teachers during the voyage. They had been qualified for the latter duty, one in the Home and Colonial and the other in an infant school.
The cabins assigned to the emigrants, which are in the after part of the vessel, were fitted-up under the inspection of the shipping committee, and are completely separated by a bulkhead from the other berths.
Every reasonable arrangement was made prior to embarkation for their health and comfort during the voyage; their outfits were all examined and completed by the superintendent and the ladies at the Home, and some additional comforts were provided for them through the kindness of individual members of the committee. Each girl received a Bible and prayer-book for her private use, and a little library was collected for their amusement and instruction, chiefly consisting of books relating to colonies and to colonial life.
A quantity of materials for clothing was also placed on board, in charge of the matron, with a view of affording occupation to the emigrants during their voyage, as well as holding out to them some incentive to industry and good conduct, by a prospect of sharing, on their arrival, a portion of the proceeds of the sale of the articles thus manufactured, which was consigned to a respectable firm at Port Phillip. Some members of the committee accompanied the emigrants to Gravesend, and were much gratified by the excellent feeling shown by these young women on their departure.
A second party of emigrants is now in process of preparation, many of them being actually residents in the Home; and the committee trust to be able shortly to report further progress in the task they have undertaken.
The Morning Chronicle, Monday, March 11, 1850.