The Emigrants' Friend - more

Written on 10/18/2022
Robert Williams

Charlton Place is an attractive street near the popular Camden Passage market area, where stalls and small shops sell clothes, trinkets and antiques. It is a pleasant area for you to wander around, do some shopping, and have a bite to eat. At number 32 Charlton Place a blue plaque marks the residence of ‘The Emigrant’s Friend’. Caroline's story is interesting in that her focus was to support women, and particularly young girls, who arrived in the colony with no money, friends or prospects. Her efforts, both in Australia and England, improved the conditions for the migration of free settlers.

From this house in 1849 Caroline founded the Family Colonisation Loan. 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. She held regular meetings here giving practical and supportive advice to emigrants. Initially accommodation was secured on board emigrant ships, but later its own ships were chartered. Archibald Chisholm returned to Australia in 1851 as a Colonial Agent but also supported the newly arrived emigrants and collected loan repayments. By 1854, the Society had assisted more than 3000 people to travel to Australia. Caroline gave emigration lectures throughout Britain and toured France and Italy.

While in Australia, Caroline had collected statements from many migrants who she had assisted and compiled them into a pamphlet – ‘Comfort for the Poor – Meat Three Times a Day’. She believed that the best way to convince new migrants was to relay positive comments from those who had made the journey before.

On one of her trips into the interior, Caroline was confronted by a male settler and she asked him what he wanted:

“Want, want! Why what every single man wants when he sees Mrs be a mother to me, and give me a wife!”

Though she wasn’t in the business of matchmaking, she certainly received many requests!