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Thousands of women migrated to the Australian colonies from Great Britain and Ireland during the nineteenth century. This mass movement of women commenced with the processes devised by the Emigration Commission of 1831-1832, followed by the work of the London Emigration Committee of 1833-1836 and continued throughout the century through a number of schemes funded both by the British government and private organisations to encourage women to emigrate.

Liz Rushen’s work focuses on the mass migration of women to the Australian colonies in the 1830s. This was a time in which decisive changes took place in the demography of the eastern colonies of Australia. Potential emigrants were attracted to the British government’s schemes, but there were long-lasting tensions between the government’s commitment to imperialism and the wishes of influential colonists for self-determination. The women were caught in the middle. Immigration to Australia is a process which is on-going and as contentious today as it was in colonial times.

Read Liz Rushen's accounts of four women's stories

Nichola Cooke

Nichola Cooke: Port Phillip District's First Headmistress, Provenance Journal of Public Record Office Victoria, No. 8, 2009

Bridget Delaney

What happened to Nancy Delaney of Moneygall?, Offaly History Blog, 15 July 2017

Abigail Glover

Emigration and the Foundling Hospital, London Metropolitan Archives, Issue 31, No. 4, December 2017

Eliza Wallace

William Vincent Wallace: celebrated Irish composer, Tipperary Studies Blog, 8 August 2018


The Bussorah Merchant


Hear what it would be like to be a passenger on a female emigrant ship in the 1830s.

The Good Girl Song Project