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, Wednesday, November 27, 1850.
THE EMIGRANT NEEDLEWOMEN.
We informed our readers a few days ago of the arrival in Australia of the first two parties of Female Emigrants sent out in the ships Culloden and Duke of Portland, under the auspices of Mr. Sidney Herbert’s Emigration Fund Society. We then stated, in general terms, that the most favourable testimony was borne by those entrusted with the charge of these young women to the propriety of their conduct during the voyage, and also that the reception which they had met with in the colony had been such as amply to realize the anticipations which originally prompted this benevolent enterprise. It is now in our power to publish some fuller details with reference to the present position of those whom the philanthropic exertions of the supporters of the Fund have rescued from misery and destitution, and placed in circumstances of comfort, respectability, and self-supporting industry. Before, however, proceeding to give the subjoined particulars respecting the occupations and wages of the emigrants, we will quote the following interesting and gratifying statement with regard to their general deportment and their prospects in the colony, contained in a letter written by the Bishop of Melbourne—merely observing that other letters from persons of the highest character in the colony amply corroborate his Lordship’s testimony. His Lordship says:—
“The accounts of your philanthropic plan for promoting the emigration of a number of those poor women in England who could be so well spared by their native land, and would be so great a boon to this new country, were received here not only with deep interest, but with general thankfulness. I confess, however, that I felt myself some apprehension lest the needlewomen should be a class of females altogether unsuited for such a colony as this, where there is particularly required energy and hardihood, and where every person should either possess capital for investment, or be skilled in some trade suitable to the place, or be able to do household or other laborious work.
“Your letter removed my fears on this point; and the young women who have since arrived have, so far as I have heard, confirmed your assurance that your committee would select those only who were suited for the colony. The testimony of all who have visited the Immigrant Depôt, where they were received on landing, concurred in representing them as by far the most promising company of females which had yet been landed here. The fact that all, with the exception of two out of three sisters wishing for places as nursery governesses, have been hired within two days of their arrival, shows them also to have been well chosen with respect to the wants of the colony. The continued introduction from time to time of a number, not too large, of the same class, would prove very beneficial to us; and I think the parties sent over would not in general repent the step which they had taken. I would have you, however, have a care not to overstock the market, but let us feel our want a little while before we obtain a supply—otherwise the immigrants may find a difficulty in obtaining suitable situations, and then you would have the most bitter complaints from them. I would also recommend that you are very careful to adhere to the rule which you have laid down respecting the character and suitableness of those whom you select, so that the emigrants sent out by your Committee may be depended upon. If this be done, they will be sure of places in the best families.”
From the following account which has been furnished to us of the present circumstances of the emigrants by the Culloden, most of whom are now settled in Melbourne and its vicinity, it will be seen how wide is the contrast between the wretchedness of their former lot and their condition and prospects in their new home—where, in addition to the wages which they have obtained, they are provided with an abundant supply of the necessaries and comforts of life. The annexed table is, it will be perceived, arranged with reference to the metropolitan districts from which the young women were respectively selected. For obvious reasons we only give the initials of their names.
holborn and westminster districts. Name. Description at home. Employment obtained in Australia. M. L. … Infant-school mistress, no earnings Engaged by Major Newman, J.P., of South Yarra, at 20l. a year. M. H. … Needlewoman, 1s. per day Living with their mother at Melbourne. J. H. … Needlewoman, 1s. per day B. H. … A Child. E. F. … Needlewoman, 3s. 6d. a week. Engaged by Mr. Bell, of Melbourne, at 14l. a year. A. F. … Needlewoman, young. Engaged by Mr. Larrydon, of Luddon River, at 7l. a year. M. W. … Servant, occasional employment, earning about 10s. a week. Engaged by Mr. Pohlman, of Richmond, at 16l. a year. E. W. … Servant. Engaged by the same, at the same rate. He promises she shall have a situation near her sister. C. S. … Needlewoman, 5s. to 6s. a week Engaged by Mrs. Mackenzie, of Collingwood, at 12l. a year. L. E. … Servant, out of place Engaged by Mr. Fytte, of Melbourne, at 12l. a year. J. H. … Servant, out of place Engaged by Mr. Westley, of Melbourne, at 12l. a year. E. B. … Needlewoman, 2s. to 5s. per week Engaged at 25l. a year. M. B. … Needlewoman, 2s. to 5s. per week Engaged at 25l. a year. E. B. … Needlewoman, 2s. to 5s. a week Engaged by Mr. Bell, auctioneer, Melbourne, at 25l. a year. E. T. … Waistcoat-maker, 4s. to 6s. a week Engaged by Mr. Beer, of Richmond, at 20l. a year. A. C. … Braider, 6s. a week At depôt. Since engaged, particulars not known. E. C. … Braider, 6s. a week Engaged by Mr. Brodie, of Richmond, at 16l. a year. A. F. … Needlewoman, out of work, two months Engaged by Mr. Foxton, of Melbourne, at 14l. a year. E. F. … Needlewoman, 3s. a week Engaged by W. Smith, Esq., of South Yarra, at 14l. a year. E. E. … Lace-transferrer, only occasionally employed, utmost earnings 5s. a week Proceeds to Sydney, where she has relations. southwark district. C. T., widow Tailoress, 4s. a week Engaged on board the ship Culloden as stewardess, to wait on the ladies, at 21l. a year. E. R. … Servant, paid part of her passage money Engaged by Mrs. Butterfield, of Melbourne, at 14l. a year. R. C. … Servant, 9l. a year. Engaged by John Orr, Esq., of Melbourne, at 18l. a year. C. A. P. Belt-stitcher, 3s. to 5s. a week Proceeds to Port Stevens, viâ Sydney, to join friends there. F. H. … Servant, out of place. Engaged by Mrs. Simmons, of Melbourne, at 10l. a year. shadwell district. E. H. … Servant out of place Engaged by Mr. Palmer, of Melbourne, at 12l. a year. E. J. … Shirtmaker, 2s. to 2s. 6d. a week Engaged by Mr. Bickerton, a passenger (with his family) in the ship Culloden; wages not stated. st. george’s, east, district. E. K. C. Bootbinder, 2s. a week Engaged by McKenzie of Collingwood, at 10l. a year. M. S. R. Servant, mother a needlewoman Engaged at Club Hotel, Melbourne; wages not known. M. T. … Needlewoman without work Engaged by Mr. Larrydon, of Loddon River, at 12l. a year. J. H. … (widow) Shirtmaker, 2s. 6d. a week Engaged by Francis Waidley, Esq., of Melbourne, at 15l. a year. J. W. … Weekly governess, 5s. a week Engaged by Mr. Murchison (J.P.), of Goulburne River, at 16l. a year. E. B. … Stockmaker Engaged by J. A. Henriquies, Esq., at 16l. a year. C. D. … Collar stitcher, 4s. a week Married at Melbourne, to Mr. Walford, an intermediate passenger by the Culloden, who is about to proceed to Hobart Town. J. S. … Servant, out of place Engaged by the family of Mr. Palmer, a passenger by Culloden; wages not known. C. P. … Needlewoman Engaged by Mr. Angel, of Melbourne, at 10l. a year. E. M. … Needlewoman, 5s. a week Engaged by Mr. Walters, of Melbourne, at 9l. a year. R. S. … Servant, out of place Engaged by Mr. McMullane, of Melbourne, at 12l. a year. J. L. … Housemaid, out of place; mother a laceworker Engaged by John Orr, Esq., of Melbourne, at 18l. a year.
Such are the first fruits of this great and beneficent undertaking; and with reference to the party of emigrants who sailed for Port Phillip in the Duke of Portland, we learn by the latest accounts that she had landed a portion of them in health and safety at Adelaide, before proceeding to Port Phillip, her eventual destination. We rejoice to be enabled to assure our readers that the work thus auspiciously commenced is still advancing, under circumstances which justify the fullest confidence that the future results will be equally satisfactory and cheering. The thoughtful suggestion of the Bishop of Melbourne, with respect to the desirableness of varying the destination of different parties of the emigrants had been already anticipated in the plans of the Society; and it was decided at an early period that Canada and the Cape should share in the benefits of the emigration. In the former colony, the admirable arrangements effected by Mr. à Court, who has spent a considerable period at Toronto in making the requisite preparations for the arrival of the young women, have ensured to those already sent there, and to those who may follow, a reception commensurate with the wishes and hopes of the supporters of the fund; and at the Cape likewise—which combines the advantages of an ample and reliable demand for the emigrants’ services, with the obvious recommendation of easy accessibility and a comparatively short voyage—immediate employment, at good wages, has been secured for every young person whom the society is able to send thither. We shall continue to watch with the liveliest interest the progress of this beneficent scheme—one of the very few charitable enterprises whose good effects are unalloyed with any mixture of evil—and we confidently trust to be enabled, at no distant date, to present our readers with a further report of its successful operation in raising the victims of penury and wretchedness to a position of prosperous industry and comfortable self-support.
The Morning Chronicle, Wednesday, November 27, 1850.