Australia in the 1830s

Female migration to Australia

In the 1830s, with high unemployment in England and the need for labour in the Australian colony, the colonial government decided to sell land and use the proceeds to subsidise migration to Australia. Migration had to be subsidised because the cost of travelling to Australia was much higher than travelling to America as the distance was so much greater.

Apart from the convicts, the earlier migrants were mainly men and this resulted in a significant imbalance between the number of men and women in the colony. In England at the time there were more women than men. The gap was not as great as in New South Wales where men outnumbered women. The Emigration Commission of 1831–32 was established to assist female emigration. In 1832, the Red Rover sailed from Ireland to Sydney and the Princess Royal sailed from London to Hobart Town. Together they carried 400 single women who were between 15 and 30 years of age, single or widowed. The government paid for their fare but didn't assist them to get employment when they arrived.

Groups of women from cities, towns and villages responded to advertisements encouraging them to emigrate. Those who were skilled in agricultural work, sewing and specific domestic tasks as well as general household work were preferred. Some young women were educated and were employed as governesses. Some were semiliterate. They represented a significant increase in the population of the two eastern colonies. In 1833, the Bussorah Merchant was one of the first ships sent by the London Emigration Committee with more than 200 young single women.

Female emigration to Australia_1830

A snapshot of 1838

  • January
    • John Pascoe Fawkner (1792–1869) founded the Melbourne Advertiser, the first weekly newspaper published in Melbourne. It was originally handwritten on four pages until a press and type arrived from Tasmania.
    • The 50th anniversary of the colony of New South Wales was held.

  • June
    • The Myall Creek massacre of 28 Aboriginal men, women and children occurred.

  • November
    • Pastor Kavel brought about 200 German dissenters escaping religious persecution in their own country to South Australia.
    • The Melbourne Cricket Club was founded.

  • December
    • Melbourne's first school opened at Batman's Hill.
    • The Jenolan Caves were discovered.


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