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Caroline Chisholm

1808-1877

 


Born Caroline Chisholm was born 30 May 1808 in Wootton, close to Northampton.
Early Life

Her father, William Jones, was a land owner and pig farmer.

She was the youngest of a large family and was educated by a governess, excelling in mathematics and French.
When still a child, her father took into his house a poor maimed soldier.

He pointed out the children's obligations to the man who had fought for them.

There is little doubt this led to was the developed the sense of responsibility that was the basis of Mrs Chisholm's life work.

At the age of 22, Caroline married Captain Archibald Chisholm, of the East India Company, thirteen years her senior.

The Chisholms were married in the Church of England, but Caroline converted to her husband's religion, Roman Catholicism, at about this time.

India

Eventually Archibald was called back to India and shortly afterwards Caroline joined him in Madras.

India was even then one of the world’s most poor countries.

Caroline realised there was a shocking difference between the life of the poor and the life she had suddenly been thrust into.

She attended many tea parties and regimental balls with the other officers’ wives.

She was on a path devoted to social life and the other necessities of an officer’s wife yet she could never walk down a street without arms for the poor reaching out to beg.

She could never turn a corner without facing the sight of children sleeping in doorways.

One day with a shock she realised the some of these children were the daughters of British soldiers.

Devastating questions ran through Caroline's head. “ Did not the Army authorities care that their soldiers’ children were beggin on the streets?”.The answer to this was no.

Caroline decided that it was God's plan for her to start a school for these girls.

When Caroline told Archibald of her idea he was worried that they would become social outcasts by following this plan.

Australia

In 1838, Captain Chisholm was granted leave, and the Chisholm family moved to Sydney in the colony of New South Wales.

The family settled at Windsor, and Chisholm and the children remained there while her husband was away in Sydney.

She personally accompanied parties of women travelling to take up their new positions and established employment agencies in rural centres.

In 1842 she was able to close the Female Immigrants Home because of her success in finding work for unemployed immigrants.

Chisholm later extended her work to include families as well as single women, and between 1841 and 1844 assisted 14,000 people to settle in New South Wales.

Goldfields

Caroline Chisholm returned to Australia aboard the Ballarat in 1854 and toured the Victorian goldfields where she proposed the construction of shelters for people travelling to the goldfields, a project which received support from the government.

Chisholm also campaigned for land to be made available so that migrant families could establish small farms.greater stability in the colonies.

Children

In May 1838 Caroline gave birth to a son, christened with the name of his father.

The following year she bore William, her second son and at the end of her life she had 3 stillborn and 6 children.

Death The Chisholm family moved to Sydney in 1857, and back to England in 1866. Caroline Chisholm died in 1877


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