Caroline Chisholm went to Madras in India in July 1833 after her husband was recalled to duty by the East India Company.
During her stay there she appealed to the Governor of Madras for setting up a school inside the barracks for young girls going astray but was refused permission.
She founded the ‘Female School of Industry for the Daughters of European Soldiers’ in 1834 which provided practical education like housekeeping, cooking, nursing, reading and writing to the soldiers’ daughters and later on to their wives.
In October 1838 Caroline accompanied her husband Archibald to Sydney, Australia, on a two-year furlough.
They settled in Windsor but soon found out the hardships faced by the immigrant’s, especially friendless, moneyless and jobless young women.
Though Archibald was recalled for duty in 1840, she stayed back to set up a home for these women in Sydney and organized other homes in the rural areas for them which also included families and young men later.
She stayed in Australia for the next seven years and helped more than 11,000 people get shelter and jobs. The ‘Female Immigrant Home’ founded by her helped more than 40,000 people during the next 38 years.
She deposed before two ‘Legislative Council Committees’ about the condition of the immigrants but never took any financial help from the government or financial institutions to run her homes.
She raised the money to help families and people irrespective of their various religious backgrounds by taking subscriptions.
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Archibald was released from active duty by the Army on grounds of ill-health in 1845 and he joined Caroline in Australia.
Caroline and Archibald toured the whole are of New South Wales with their own money and collected more than 600 statements from people settled in NSW to encourage fresh immigrants.
She returned to England with her husband in 1846. She published some of these statements in a pamphlet called ‘Comfort for the poor – Met Three times a Day’.
She gave evidence before two ‘House of lords Select Committees’ and was successful in getting government support for some of her endeavors.
Her efforts made the passage to Australia free for the families of convicts and for the emigrants’ children who had been left behind.
She founded the ‘Family Colonization Loan Society’ at her home in Charlton Crescent, Islington, with the help of Sir Sydney Herbert, Lord Shaftesbury and Wyndham Harding FRS in 1849.
In 1851 Archibald returned to Australia to become the ‘Honorary Colonial Agent’ to help the immigrants and collect the repayment of the loans provided by the society while Caroline stayed back in England to carry out her work there.
With the help of this society she got accommodation for the emigrants on ships on their way to Australia which numbered more than 3,000 by 1854. Her insistence on better travelling conditions on ships helped to upgrade the ‘Passenger Act’.
During her stay in England, she toured the whole of Britain, France and Italy and met Pope Pius IX.
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In 1854 Caroline went back to Australia and found the condition of the prospectors and their families working in the Victorian gold fields appalling. She helped to build shelters on the route to the goldfields where the prospectors could get rest and some food.
Caroline shuttled between her work in Melbourne and her home and store in Kyneton but had to return to Sydney in 1858 due to growing illness.
By the end of 1859 and the start of 1860 her health had improved and she gave lectures on freeing more land for small farmers.
Archibald went back to England with their younger children in 1865 while Caroline also returned to England with her eldest son in 1866.
Personal Life & Legacy
She got married to Archibald Chisholm, who was more than ten years her senior, when she was 22-year-old.
She had eight children from the marriage.
A large number of educational institutions, suburbs, government departments in England and Australia bear her name.
Caroline Jones Chisholm died on March 25, 1877 in England. She was survived by five children.