Caroline Chisholm

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Caroline Chisholm
Caroline Chisholm by Claudet.jpg
Caroline Chisholm, after a daguerreotype by Antoine Claudet (1853)
Caroline Jones

(1808-05-30)30 May 1808
Northampton, England
Died25 March 1877(1877-03-25) (aged 68)
Highgate, London [1]
OccupationHumanitarian work
Known forHumanitarian work, immigration reform, assisting the local Aboriginal communities
Home townNorthampton, England
Spouse(s)Archibald Chisholm [1]
Children8 children (including Caroline Agnes Gray)
Parent(s)Caroline Jones, William Jones

Caroline Chisholm (30 May 1808 – 25 March 1877 [1] ) was a progressive 19th-century English humanitarian known mostly for her involvement with female immigrant welfare in Australia. She is commemorated on 16 May in the Calendar of saints of the Church of England. There have been proposals for the Catholic Church to also recognise her as a saint. [2]

The Church of England commemorates many of the same saints as those in the General Roman Calendar, mostly on the same days, but also commemorates various notable Christians who have not been canonised by Rome, with a particular though not exclusive emphasis on those of English origin. There are differences in the calendars of other churches of the Anglican Communion.

Church of England Anglican church in England, by law established

The Church of England is the established church of England. The Archbishop of Canterbury is the most senior cleric, although the monarch is the supreme governor. The Church of England is also the mother church of the international Anglican Communion. It traces its history to the Christian church recorded as existing in the Roman province of Britain by the third century, and to the 6th-century Gregorian mission to Kent led by Augustine of Canterbury.

Catholic Church Christian church led by the Bishop of Rome

The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2017. As the world's "oldest continuously functioning international institution", it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. The church is headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the pope. Its central administration, the Holy See, is in the Vatican City, an enclave within the city of Rome in Italy.


Early life

Caroline Jones was born in Northampton and lived with her family at 11 Mayorhold. She came from a large family. Her father, William Jones, had married four times. His first three wives had died in childbirth and from illness. Caroline was William's sixteenth and last child. Her mother had seven children. William, who was born in Wootton, Northamptonshire, was a pig dealer who bought in and fattened pigs and sold them on. When he died in 1814, when Caroline was only six, he was able to leave his wife £500 and to leave several properties to his twelve surviving children. When Caroline was a young child, her father brought a poor maimed soldier into the house. He pointed out the children's obligations to the man who had fought for them.

Northampton county town of Northamptonshire, England

Northampton is the county town of Northamptonshire in the East Midlands of England. It lies on the River Nene, about 60 miles (97 km) north-west of London and 45 miles (72 km) south-east of Birmingham. It is one of the largest towns in the UK. Northampton had a population of 212,100 in the 2011 census.

Wootton, Northamptonshire suburb of Northampton, Northamptonshire, England

Wootton is a former village about 3 miles (4.8 km) south of Northampton town centre that is now part of the Northampton Borough Council area.

In 1830, Caroline, then 22, married Archibald Chisholm, a Roman Catholic ten years her senior; he was an officer serving with the East India Company's Madras Army. Her husband's religion may have influenced her decision around this time to convert to his faith. [3] They were married at The Holy Sepulchre, Northampton, a Church of England church. Roman Catholic clergy could not perform recognised weddings until the Marriage Act 1836. [4]

East India Company 16th through 19th-century British trading company

The East India Company (EIC), also known as the Honourable East India Company (HEIC) or the British East India Company and informally as John Company, Company Bahadur, or simply The Company, was an English and later British joint-stock company. It was formed to trade in the Indian Ocean region, initially with Mughal India and the East Indies, and later with Qing China. The company ended up seizing control over large parts of the Indian subcontinent, colonised parts of Southeast Asia, and colonised Hong Kong after a war with Qing China.

Madras Army army of the British Empire

The Madras Army was the army of the Presidency of Madras, one of the three presidencies of British India within the British Empire.

The Holy Sepulchre, Northampton Grade I listed building in the United Kingdom

The Holy Sepulchre is a Norman round church in Sheep Street, Northampton, England. It is a Grade I listed building. Dating from circa 1100, it was probably built by Simon de Senlis, Earl of Northampton.

Madras, India

Chisholm's husband returned to his regiment in Madras in January 1832. She joined him there 18 months later. Chisholm became aware that the young girls in the barracks were picking up the bad behaviour of the soldiers. In 1834 she founded the Female School of Industry for the Daughters of European Soldiers that provided a practical education for the girls. They were given instruction in reading, writing and religion, cooking, housekeeping and nursing. It was not long before the soldiers asked that their wives could also attend the school. Chisholm gave birth to two sons, Archibald and William, as well as following her husband around the Indian subcontinent. [5]

Chennai Megacity in Tamil Nadu, India

Chennai is the capital of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Located on the Coromandel Coast off the Bay of Bengal, it is the biggest cultural, economic and educational centre of south India. According to the 2011 Indian census, it is the sixth-most populous city and fourth-most populous urban agglomeration in India. The city together with the adjoining regions constitute the Chennai Metropolitan Area, which is the 36th-largest urban area by population in the world. Chennai is among the most-visited Indian cities by foreign tourists. It was ranked the 43rd-most visited city in the world for the year 2015. The Quality of Living Survey rated Chennai as the safest city in India. Chennai attracts 45 percent of health tourists visiting India, and 30 to 40 percent of domestic health tourists. As such, it is termed "India's health capital". As a growing metropolitan city in a developing country, Chennai confronts substantial pollution and other logistical and socio-economic problems.

Sydney, New South Wales

Caroline Chisholm Caroline Chisholm.jpg
Caroline Chisholm

In 1838 Captain Chisholm was granted a two-year furlough on the grounds of ill health. Rather than return to England, the family decided the climate in Australia would be better for his health. They set sail for Sydney, New South Wales, aboard the Emerald Isle, arriving there in October 1838. The family settled at nearby Windsor. [3] On trips to Sydney, Chisholm and her husband became aware of the difficult conditions that faced immigrants arriving in the colony. They were particularly concerned for the young women who were arriving without any money, friends or family or jobs to go to, and many ended up turning to prostitution to make ends meet. Captain Chisholm returned to his regiment in 1840, but encouraged his wife to continue her philanthropic efforts. She originally set up a home in Sydney for young women, and organised other homes in several rural centres. The home was soon extended to help families and young men.

Leave (military) Extended period of leave from military service or imprisonment to return home

In military forces, leave is a permission to be away from one's unit, either for a specified or unspecified period of time.

Australia Country in Oceania

Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania and numerous smaller islands. It is the largest country in Oceania and the world's sixth-largest country by total area. The neighbouring countries are Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and East Timor to the north; the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east. The population of 25 million is highly urbanised and heavily concentrated on the eastern seaboard. Australia's capital is Canberra, and its largest city is Sydney. The country's other major metropolitan areas are Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.

Sydney City in New South Wales, Australia

Sydney is the state capital of New South Wales and the most populous city in Australia and Oceania. Located on Australia's east coast, the metropolis surrounds Port Jackson and extends about 70 km (43.5 mi) on its periphery towards the Blue Mountains to the west, Hawkesbury to the north, the Royal National Park to the south and Macarthur to the south-west. Sydney is made up of 658 suburbs, 40 local government areas and 15 contiguous regions. Residents of the city are known as "Sydneysiders". As of June 2017, Sydney's estimated metropolitan population was 5,230,330 and is home to approximately 65% of the state's population.

The East Maitland Heritage Walk takes in 28 sites of historical interest, including Caroline Chisholm Cottage. In 1842 Chisholm rented two terraces and converted them into a single cottage to shelter homeless immigrants in the district. It is the only surviving building in NSW so directly associated with Chisholm. Built in the 1830s, the cottage offers a rare example of early working-class housing in New South Wales.

East Maitland, New South Wales Suburb of Maitland, New South Wales, Australia

East Maitland is a suburb in the City of Maitland, New South Wales, Australia. It is on the New England Highway and it has two railway stations, Victoria Street and East Maitland. Both stations are served by NSW TrainLink's Hunter Line. Hunter Valley Buses provides bus service.

During the seven years Chisholm was in Australia she placed over 11,000 people in homes and jobs. She became a well-known woman and much admired. She was requested to give evidence before two Legislative Council Committees. Chisholm 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 Chisholm helped came from different backgrounds and held different religious beliefs. Money was raised for the homes through subscription. Her husband was invalided out of the Army and returned to Australia in 1845. [6]

Migration reforms and the Family Colonisation Loan Society

Before Chisholm and her husband returned to England in 1846, they toured the colony, at their own expense, collecting over 600 statements from those who had already settled in NSW. [3] Chisholm believed the only way to encourage emigration was for prospective emigrants to read letters from those already living in the colony. In England the couple published some of these statements in a pamphlet Comfort for the Poor – Meat Three Times a Day. Charles Dickens also used some of the statements in his then-new magazine called Household Words . One of their daughters, Caroline Agnes, was born during the couple's time in London.

Chisholm gave evidence before two House of Lords select committees and gained support for some of her initiatives, including free passage to Australia for the wives and children of former convicts, and for the children that through necessity emigrants had left behind in England.

In 1849, with the support of Lord Shaftesbury, Sir Sidney Herbert and Wyndham Harding FRS, Chisholm founded the Family Colonisation Loan Society from her home in Charlton Crescent in Islington. 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. Chisholm held regular meetings at Charlton Crescent giving practical advice to emigrants.The Society initially found accommodation on board emigrant ships, and then chartered its own ships to transport the emigrants. It was Chisholm's insistence that the Society's ships have better accommodation that led to the upgrading of the Passenger Acts. Archibald Chisholm returned to Australia in 1851 to act as Honorary Colonial Agent to help newly arrived emigrants and to collect repayment of loans. By 1854 the Society had assisted more than 3,000 people to travel to Australia. Chisholm gave emigration lectures throughout Britain, and toured France and Italy, where she collected her son William from the Propaganda College; he had been studying to become a priest. Chisholm had an audience with Pope Pius IX, who gave her a Papal Medal and bust of herself.

Return to Australia and later life

In 1854 Chisholm returned to Australia aboard the Ballarat. She toured the Victorian goldfields and was appalled by the conditions en route. She proposed the construction of shelter sheds about a day's walk apart for prospectors and their families to travel to the goldfields, a project that received support from the government. Chisholm continued to work in Melbourne travelling to and from the home and store the Chisholms had purchased in Kyneton. She joined the family there three years later. Archibald was a magistrate during his time in Kyneton and the two elder sons helped him run the store.

Due to Chisholm’s ill health the family moved back to Sydney in 1858. Her health improved and at the end of 1859 and beginning of 1860 Chisholm gave four political lectures in which she called for land to be made available so that migrant families could establish small farms, a move she saw as providing greater stability in the colonies. Chisholm also wrote a novelette Little Joe that was serialised in the local paper. [7]

Archibald senior accompanied the younger children back to England in 1865. Archibald junior accompanied his mother back home in 1866. Chisholm died on 25 March 1877 and her husband died in August that year. Five of their eight children survived their parents.

Chisholm died in London and her body was brought to her home town, Northampton, where it rested overnight in the Cathedral of Our Lady and St Thomas. She and her husband are buried in the same grave in Billing Road Cemetery.


1967 Australian five-dollar note reverse featuring Chisholm Australian $5 note paper back.jpg
1967 Australian five-dollar note reverse featuring Chisholm
Plaque at 32 Charlton Place, Islington, London ChisholmPlaque.jpg
Plaque at 32 Charlton Place, Islington, London

A number of educational facilities in Australia and England have been named after Chisholm, [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] as well as a suburb of Canberra [14] and a federal electoral division. [15] The Federal Government Department of Human Services' headquarters, located in Tuggeranong (ACT), is named after her (the building is known as the CCC, i.e. Caroline Chisholm Centre). Chisholm has also appeared on Australian stamps [16] and banknotes; [17] she appeared on the $5 note, 1967–91. [18]

In Charles Dickens's novel Bleak House the character of Mrs Jellyby is said to be an amalgamation of three women of the period, including Chisholm. [19]

Caroline , a musical about her time in Australia by Peter N. Pinne and Don Battye, premiered in Melbourne in 1971. [20] There is also the novel Streets of dust: a novel based on the life of Caroline Chisholm (1993) by Lola Irish, Kirribilli, N.S.W: Eldorado. ISBN   1-86412-001-0.

On the front of 32 Charlton Place, Islington, London, a blue plaque commemorating Chisholm living there, was erected in 1983 by Greater London Council. [21]

See also

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  1. 1 2 3 "TIME-LINE — CAROLINE AND ARCHIBALD CHISHOLM" (PDF). April 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 November 2008. Retrieved 24 August 2009.
  2. The Age: Chisholm's supporters push for sainthood 24 October 2007 Retrieved on 2008-05-28
  3. 1 2 3 Iltis, Judith. "Chisholm, Caroline (1808–1877)", Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, published first in hardcopy 1966
  4. Walker, Carole, A Saviour of Living Cargoes – The Life and Work of Caroline Chisholm, (first published in Australia in 2009 by Australia Scholarly Publishing; republished in Australia 2011 by Connor Court Publishing; UK edition published by Wolds Publishing, 2010: ISBN   978-0956472403)
  5. Walker, Carole, See Chapter on India and Appendix 5 for Rules and Regulations of the Female School of Industry
  6. O.M. Flynn, Caroline Chisholm, the emigrants' friend, Journal of the Australian Catholic Historical Society 3 (2) (1970), 1-7.
  7. Chisholm, Caroline, ed. by John Moran, Radical in Bonnet and Shawl: Four Political Lectures; and Little Joe. (Australia: Preferential Publications, 1994 and 1991)
  8. Chisholm Catholic College. Retrieved on 2011-09-22.
  9. Caroline Chisholm College. (2011-08-23). Retrieved on 2011-09-22.
  10. Caroline Chisholm School. Retrieved on 2011-09-22.
  11. Chisholm College – La Trobe University. Retrieved on 2011-09-22.
  12. Chisholm Institute of TAFE Archived 28 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine . Retrieved on 2011-09-22.
  13. Caroline Chisholm Education Foundation. (2011-08-03). Retrieved on 2011-09-22.
  14. Place name search Archived 27 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine .
  15. 2007 Election:Profile of the Electoral division of Chisholm. (2010-10-07). Retrieved on 2011-09-22.
  16. Australian Stamp Bulletin No 277, Oct–Dec 2004, p. 21. Retrieved on 2011-09-22.
  17. Museum of Australian Currency Notes: Australia's First Decimal Currency Notes Archived 22 August 2005 at the Wayback Machine . (1966-02-14). Retrieved on 2011-09-22.
  18. - R202
  19. Walker, Carole, A Saviour of Living Cargoes, see pages 104-6
  20. "Concerning the lady on the $5 note". The Canberra Times . 45, (12, 766). Australian Capital Territory, Australia. 23 March 1971. p. 17. Retrieved 10 May 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  21. "A-Z of Islington's Plaques". Islington Council. Archived from the original on 22 October 2014. Retrieved 22 October 2014.

Further reading