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 became a saint on 16 May in the Calendar of saints of the Church of England.

Early life[change | change source]

Caroline Jones came from a very large family. Her father, William Jones, had been married four times. All his previous wives had died at childbirth. Caroline was William’s sixteenth and last child of seven children. William died when Caroline was only six. His death left the family with little money. Caroline was born in Northampton, England. She lived with her family at 11 Mayorhold. Caroline was 22 in 1830 when she married Archibald Chisholm. Archibald was a Roman Catholic. He was ten years her senior. 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 1832–1877.

India[change | change source]

Archibald returned to his regiment in Madras, India in January 1832. Caroline joined him there 18 months later. When she saw the bad behaviour of some of the girls, she appealed to the Governor of Madras for assistance in establishing a school. In 1834 Caroline founded the Female School of Industry for the Daughters of European Soldiers that 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, as well as following her husband around in his travels.

Australia[change | change source]

In 1838 Archibald became ill. Rather than going back to England, they decided the Australian climate would be better. They set sail for Sydney. They arrived there in October 1838. They settled at Windsor. On trips to Sydney, Caroline and Archibald became aware of the difficult conditions that faced 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 the streets to make ends meet. Archibald returned to his regiment in 1840. He encouraged his wife to continue her philanthropic efforts.

Helping the needy[change | change source]

Caroline originally set up a home in Sydney for the young women, and organised other homes in several rural centres. The home was soon extended to help families and young men. During the seven years Caroline was in Australia, she placed over 11,000 people in homes and jobs. She became a very well-known woman who was very much admired. She was requested to give evidence before two Legislative Council Committees. Caroline carried out her work in New South Wales without accepting money from individuals or individual organisations, as she wanted to act independently and did not want to be dependent upon any religious or political body. 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 invalided out of the Army 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 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 to 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. Caroline continued to make significant changes in conditions of living for the poor, mainly around Ballarat and the goldfields. But 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 accompanied the younger children back to England in 1865. Archibald junior accompanied his mother back home in 1866. Caroline died on March 25, 1877, in Highgate, United Kingdom.[2] Archibald died in the 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]