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    Caroline Chisholm, 1 September 1852, by Thomas Fairland, courtesy of National Library of Australia.

Chisholm, Caroline (1808 - 1877)

Northampton, United Kingdom
25 March 1877
London, United Kingdom

The philanthropist Caroline Chisholm, her husband Captain Archibald Chisholm and their three sons arrived in Australia in 1838. During the depression years of the 1840s, Caroline Chisholm helped numerous assisted immigrants who were arriving in New South Wales in great numbers but unable to find work. Chisholm founded an Female Immigrants’ Home in Sydney, and went on to run family emigration schemes from Britain to Australia, through the Family Colonization Loan Society, established in 1849.

Driven by a belief in the civilising influence of women on the predominantly male population, Caroline Chisholm strived to give dignity to women and family in an often harsh colonial society. Following the discovery of gold in Victoria in 1851, Chisholm became concerned by the effects of the goldrushes on colonial society. In October 1854 she toured the Victorian goldfields, and at a meeting in Melbourne in November proposed a series of shelter sheds along the routes to the diggings to help make travelling conditions more comfortable for goldseekers; with some government help ten were under construction by the end of 1855.

In the aftermath of the Eureka Rebellion, Chisholm wrote to the Editor of The Argus, ‘Gold lies at our feet, and yet with all these advantages we are on the verge of national insolvency, and the hands of our people are stained with blood’ (7 December 1854).

Cate Elkner

Iltis, Judith, 'Chisholm, Caroline (1808 - 1877)', in Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 1, Melbourne University Press, 1966, pp. 221-223. Details