Caroline Chisholm

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Caroline Chisholm (May 30, 1808 - March 25, 1877) was an English humanitarian.[1] She was known for her involvement with female immigrant welfare in Australia. She was named a saint of the Church of England. Her day is May 16 in the Calendar of saints.

Early life[change | change source]

Caroline Jones was born in Northampton, England. She came from a very large family. Her father, William Jones, had been married four times. All his previous wives had died in childbirth. Caroline was William's sixteenth child and the youngest of the seven who lived. William died when Caroline was six years old. His death left the family with little money. She lived with her family at 11 Mayorhold. In 1822, when Caroline was 22, she married Archibald Chisholm. Archibald was a Roman Catholic. He was ten years older than she was. He served with East India Company Army. It is believed that Caroline converted to her husband's faith at this time. They were married at the Anglican Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Northampton. They were married from 1832 to 1877.

India[change | change source]

Archibald returned to his regiment in Madras, India in January 1832. Caroline joined him 18 months later. When she saw the bad behaviour of some of the girls, she asked the Governor of Madras to help her set up a school. In 1834, Caroline founded the Female School of Industry for the Daughters of European Soldiers. The school provided a practical education for the girls. They were taught to read and write and about religion, cooking, housekeeping, and nursing. Caroline gave birth to two sons, Archibald and William, and she followed her husband around in his travels.

Australia[change | change source]

In 1838, Archibald became sick. Rather than go back to England, they moved to Australia because they thought the weather would be good for his health. They sailed for Sydney. They arrived there in October 1838. They settled at Windsor. On trips to Sydney, Caroline and Archibald learned about the hard lives of emigrants arriving in the colony. They were particularly concerned for the young women who were arriving without any money. The women did not have any friends or family or jobs to go to. Many women ended up working as prostitutes. Archibald returned to his regiment in 1840. He encouraged his wife to continue her philanthropic efforts.

Helping the needy[change | change source]

Chisholm originally set up a home for young women in Sydney, and she organised other homes in several rural centres. These places soon started to help families and young men. During the seven years Caroline was in Australia, she placed over 11,000 people in homes and jobs. People came to see her as a very good person. Two Legislative Council Committees asked her to give evidence for them. Caroline carried out her work in New South Wales without taking money from individuals or individual organisations because she wanted to act independently and did not want to be dependent upon any religious or political group. The girls and families Caroline helped came from different backgrounds and held different religious beliefs. Money was raised for the homes through subscription. Archibald was released from the Army because of his poor health and returned to Australia in 1845.

In 1849, with the support of a few important people, Caroline founded the Family Colonization Loan Society from her home. The Society's aim was to lend people who wanted to go to Australia half the cost of the fare, the emigrant finding the other half of the cost, which was to be refunded after two years in Australia. By 1854, the Society had helped more than 3,000 people travel to Australia. Caroline had an audience with Pope Pius IX, who gave her a Papal Medal and bust of herself.

Later years[change | change source]

The family moved to Victoria. Chisholm continued to help the poor, mainly around Ballarat and the Goldfields. After some time, she became very ill and the family had to move back to Sydney in 1858. Her health improved at the end of 1859.

Archibald senior took the younger children back to England in 1865. Archibald junior went with his mother back home in 1866. Caroline died on March 25, 1877, in Highgate, United Kingdom.[2] Archibald died in August of that year. Five of their eight children survived.

References[change | change source]

  1. Biography - Caroline Chisholm - Australian Dictionary of Biography
  2. Iltis, Judith (1966). "Chisolm, Caroline (1808-1877)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Retrieved 27 April 2016.

Other websites[change | change source]