The Female Emigration Society – Article 4

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, Thursday, June 27, 1850.


A large party—amounting to sixty-one—of the young females being sent out to Australia under the auspices of Mr. Sidney Herbert’s society, embarked yesterday on board the fine ship Northumberland, a teak built Indiaman, forming one of Mr. Green’s fleet, and bound on the present occasion for Port Phillip.

Arrangements are, we understand, pending for directing this stream of female emigration upon other quarters as well as upon the Australian colonies. Mr. A’Court, a relative of Mr. Sidney Herbert, has proceeded specially to Canada, where he is rapidly organizing committees of ladies and gentlemen in the most suitable towns, and whither it is in contemplation to despatch a small party during the present season. Letters have also been received from the Cape of Good Hope, begging that that part of the world may not be forgotten in the operations of the society. It is possible, therefore, that a party may also be sent out to South Africa; but with the exception of a few young women who will probably proceed to Port Phillip, we believe, under the auspices of the society, no further Australian Emigration will take place until accounts be received of the reception and the fortunes of the first detachment, who are, ere this, if the Culloden has had a prosperous passage, safely landed at the antipodes.

At the present time, we are informed, the committee find the desire to emigrate to be by no means so general as it was a few months ago, the applications made to them being fewer and less pressing. This is easily accounted for by the fact that there is at present, during the height of the season, a plentiful supply of needlework and similar branches of female employment—that food is cheap—and that the expenses of living are diminished by the length of the days and the heat of the weather enabling the poor to dispense with the use of coals and candles. There is no doubt, also, but that the balmy and sunny atmosphere with which we are now favoured tends to heighten the pleasures and alleviate the drawbacks of ordinary everyday existence.

Yesterday’s party consisted almost entirely of young females, who have been earning such a scanty livelihood as the needle can procure. In some respects, however, they were better off than several batches of their predecessors. The committee had less than usual in the way of outfit to provide, and a fair proportion of the girls were characterised by a neatness of taste in dress and a quiet grace of demeanour, which betoken a certain degree of cultivation and educated sense of feminine propriety. Among the rest there were three who had paid for their passage out, but who proceeded under the care and prestige of the society. The party will be superintended as usual by a matron, whose husband is likewise to act as schoolmaster on board, and by two under matrons. The greater proportion of the young women have been inmates of the “Home,” and as such received certificates of good conduct during the period in which they were domiciled in Hatton-garden. The party was organized under the active superintendence of the Hon. Mrs. Stuart Wortley, who was unremitting yesterday in attentions to her grateful protégées.

The party who proceeded along with the emigrants to Gravesend included the usual active working members of the committee. Mr. Sidney Herbert, however, was, much to his regret, prevented from being present. Mr. Arthur Kinnaird took general charge of the expedition in his absence. Besides Mrs. Stuart Wortley, there were present the Marquess and Marchioness of Drogheda, Lady Wenlock, Lord Wharncliffe, Mr. Henry Tufnell, the Rev. Mr. Quekett, the Rev. Dr. Brown, Rev. Mr. Sanger, and the Rev. Mr. Shearman, Mr. and Miss Dee, and Mrs. Zetterquust. Dr. Sparke, the Government Emigration Inspector, was also one of the party.

The Northumberland is a handsome full-rigged ship, built of teak in the old East Indian fashion, with cuddy and poop. Between decks she is over six feet from floor to beam. The emigrants are, as before, isolated from the other passengers. On this occasion, however, they have the central section of the ship; and as the Northumberland is a vessel of goodly beam, the cabin appropriated to them is much broader, and has therefore a roomier and more cheerful appearance than the quarters allotted to the society’s protégées on board previous vessels. The hatchway opens nearly in the centre of the compartment, which is therefore pleasantly light and airy. The berths are arranged as usual, in two double tiers, along the sides of the ship; and ample room is provided for the reception of all necessary stores and baggage.

The girls having been mustered, were presented with their credentials, with copies of the rules of the ship, and those instructions and hints for their future conduct, drawn up on the part of the society, which we have already upon a similar occasion printed. The former arrangements as to needlework and instruction will be observed, and a supply of little articles of luxury, such as preserved milk, &c., similar to that provided on board the other ships, has been duly laid in.

After the berths had been taken possession of, Mr. Kinnaird addressed the emigrants in a few words of affectionate exhortation and farewell. And the Rev. Mr. Quekett, who accompanies the Northumberland round to the Downs, impressed upon them the necessity of order, cheerfulness, command of temper, and general amiability of demeanour, earnestly exhorting them not to forget that they had envelopes in their possession addressed to the ladies of the committee, who would be most anxious to be made aware of the fortunes of the party in the new world, whither they were bound.

Most of the girls were vividly and deeply affected, but they soon recovered their cheerfulness, smiles succeeding very speedily to tears. Altogether, both as regards the accommodation for the voyage, and the appearance and character of the girls themselves, we believe that the expedition will sail under most favouring omens. The Northumberland—the Custom-house permitting—will trip her anchor today and proceed down Channel.

A whimsical piece of folly came to light during the muster. One girl was absent, and on her name being repeatedly called, a companion of hers, also an emigrant, came forward and informed the committee that although her friend had quite made up her mind to go, and although she had herself provided and packed her outfit, yet that at Blackwall she had changed her mind, because—the noise of the steamer frightened her! It is to be hoped that this timorous damsel will brace up her nerves and dare a river steamboat ere the Northumberland be out of hail.

Mrs. Chisholm.—We understand the object of Mrs. Chisholm’s visit to Liverpool was to establish a committee for the purpose of affording information to those who wish to emigrate to Australia. Mrs. Chisholm has organized a system by which families are enabled to emigrate in groups, so that not only members of the same family, but neighbours may all go out together, and thus may be avoided the pang which is caused by separation from dear children or beloved friends—the severest trial of the emigrant. So many persons have gone up to London from this neighbourhood to consult Mrs. Chisholm, and have thus incurred an expense amounting to nearly one-third of what would be necessary to take them out to Australia, that she thought it desirable to make such arrangements as would save them this trouble and expense. The emigrant has seldom money to spare, and if he has, he can employ it better in assisting his friends to emigrate than in wasting it in unnecessary travelling expenses. Mrs. Chisholm is also desirous of arranging for emigrants on the family group system, to go direct from this port, and so escape the trouble and expense of going up to London for embarkation, as they do at present. Mrs. Chisholm intends visiting Liverpool at short intervals, in order to assist personally in carrying out her benevolent intentions.—Liverpool Mercury.

The Morning Chronicle, Thursday, June 27, 1850.