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Family Colonisation Loan Society

Source: The Illustrated London News, Feb.28, 1852


Meeting of the Family Colonisation Loan Society.

Our Engraving represents a great meeting of this society, which took place on the 18th instant, in the British Institution, Tabernacle-row, City-road. More than 2500 persons were present; every corner, every rafter that could be reached was crowded, and the great hall, viewed from the platform, presented an undulating sea of faces, all deeply intent on the business of the evening. The flags of all nations ornamented the bare walls. At the end of the room, opposite the chairman, in huge letters, the mottoes "Advance Australia," "Speed the Plough," and an initial monogram of F. C. L. S. on the blue flag of the ship about to sail, were displayed. The Earl of Shaftesbury, who took the chair, had Mrs. Chisholm on his right hand, and on his left the Right Hon. Sidney and Mrs. Herbert, with a party of their friends; Messrs. Gone, William Jackson, James Levick, M'Clellan, and others engaged in the Australian trade; and Messrs. Stanley Carr, S. Devonport, M'Nab, Churnside, Russell, and other Australian colonists were among the parties who crowded the platform.

The Earl of Shaftesbury, in opening the business of the meeting, pointed out the advantages of this system of emigration, by which families were transplanted in their entirety. He had seen in the last ship a family which included a child six weeks old, and a grandmother who had attained eighty-four years." He passed a high eulogy on the talents and self-denial of Mrs. Chishoim, saying, "The children shall arise, and call her blessed."

Mr. Samuel Sidney (in the absence of the honorary secretary, Captain Chisholm, who was at Port Phillip, engaged, at his own expense, in carrying out Mrs. Chisholm's philanthropic plans) gave a detailed account of the origin, progress, and results of the society, of which the following is an abstract:—The society was projected by Mrs. Chisholm in 1847, on her return from Australia, after successfully working at colonisation for seven years. By the end of 1849 she had collected some two hundred parties, who, by small installments, had paid nearly two-thirds of their passage-money. In 1850 she procured the patronage of her first committee, including the noble chairman, Mr. Sidney Herbert, Mr. Vernon Smith, Mr. Wyndham Harding, and Mr. Tidd Pratt. A small sum of money was subscribed, towards which the Countess of Pembroke gave £250. The society was brought before the public in May, 1850; in September, 1850, the first ship, the Slains Castle, was despatched with 189 statute emigrants, or about 250 men, women, and children. Towards their passages the emigrants paid, by instalments, £1403. The society lent £865, to be repaid in two years by earnings in the colony. Mr. Sidney Herbert, in his speech, announced that he had already received part of this debt. The second ship, the Blundell, sailed in May, 1851, with 215 adult emigrants, who paid £1942, and borrowed £674 from the society. The third ship, the Athenian, sailed in September, 1851, with 209 emigrants, who paid £1942, and borrowed £524. Thus, in twelve months, during a period that the Government had been unable to fill several of their ships with emigrants to whom they gave a free passage, and when filled had only been able to obtain a class whom Earl Grey termed the refuse of workhouses, inferior to convicts. Mrs. Chisholm had been able to collect families of the most industrious and frugal class, numbering one thousand souls, and contributing £5287. Since dispatching the Athenian, £2100 more had been paid in by the working classes for the same purpose, and the Mariner was about to sail with a full cargo of passengers, who had contributed a greater proportion toward their passage than their predecessors. All this had been done without the usual expensive machinery of colonising companies. Mrs. Chisholm and her family gave up their time gratuitously to the work, with the aid of one clerk, and one old woman to open the door to the enquirers who knocked from morning to night. She had received eighty letters and forty calls on the subject of emigration in one day. Mrs. Chisholm's success was owing not less to her common sense, her business-like habits and experience, than to her energetic philanthropy. Her plan was extremely simple. Every Monday evening she held meetings of intending emigrants at her small house, No. 3, Charlton Crescent, Islington, where they obtained information, and made acquaintance with each other. Groups were formed of from three to eight families, who co-operated for mutual assistance on the voyage. These groups each elected a representative, and these formed committees for a variety of useful objects on board. Installments were taken as low as one shilling a week. When a sufficient number had paid up to justify the society in taking a ship, an economy was effected in the passage-money, while the best provisions, good ventilation, enclosed berths, and superior arrangement for the decent comfort of families and the protection of single girls and friendless children were secured. Every ship was an improvement on the preceding one; and the society aimed not only at assisting as many emigrants as possible, but at affording an example of model emigration. The success of the society was founded on the eleven years' experience of Mrs. Chisholm, of which he gave a rapid sketch.

In acknowledging a vote of thanks which was moved by Captain Carr, of Port Phillip, and Samuel Devonport, of South Australia, Mr. Sidney Herbert stated that already all the theoretical objections to the working of the Society had proved unfounded He had that morning received by post remittances on account of the loan to the emigrants by the Slains Castle. The accession of the Australian city merchants to the committee would, by additional funds, largely increase the usefulness of the society.

With a vote of thanks to Lord Shaftesbury, and three cheers for Mrs. Chisholm, one of the most numerous and enthusiastic meetings on the subject of emigration ever held in the country separated.

The street was crowded with parties unable to obtain admission About £4000 has been subscribed this week, to be advanced in loans to intending emigrants. Three ladies, who conceal their names, subscribed £300.