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So That's A No, Then?

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From the minutes of the 1 Nov, 1852, meeting of the Church Penitentiary Association Council. The committee has written to the Lord Bishop of Melbourne, asking about the feasibility of sending penitents (fallen women/prostitutes who have been deemed “reformed”) to Australia to start up new lives:


This to acknowledge your letter of the 7th April, relative to the sending out female penitents to this colony. The subject is as you observe one of great importance; and I am very glad that you have written to me respecting it before you have taken any steps towards carrying the plan into execution. It is very natural that the Committee should regard the colonies where there is so great a want of domestic servants, and also so great a disproportion between the sexes, as presenting to this class of persons great advantages for recovering their character and leading a respectable life. And so they certainly do in some respects; but in others, this Colony–I would speak now only of it–is a very unfit place for young women of blemished reputation, and not-established principles. For first, the long sea voyage, if they be nto very prudent and careful to avoid transportation, is likely to revive former evil associations, and lead to the formation of bad habits.

It is too probable, also, that they might upon their first arrival fall into the hands of designing persons and so be placed in circumstances of very great trial; for the large number of female emigrants at the present time makes it impossible to give them effectual protection against this danger.

Then again, respectable families here will seldom if ever engage them (as I found in the case of some women of this class, whom a benevolent lady sent some years ago) if they are acquainted with the circumstances under which they came out; and the Committee very properly say that they could be no parties to any system of concealment or deception in this matter.

But the chief hope cherished by the Committee probably is, that those whom they sent out would soon be married, and thus obtain a respectable settlement; and this hope might in many instances be realized, and the objects of their solicitude might be raised from poverty and degradation to a position of comfort–and wealth. There is however much uncertainty and risk attending such marriages; for those who would be most likely to take these young women as wives are for the most part men of depraved character and habits, and their houses are not therefore likely to prove happy and virtuous homes.

Upon the whole my opinion is against the plan proposed by the committee, so far at least as this colony is concerned; because reformed females would probably be exposed, both on the voyage out and for some time at least after their arrival, to great tribulations, and be in much danger of relapsing into sin; and secondly, even if they should be preserved, or recovered again, from a life of open profligacy, and marry and enjoy comparative wealth, they would still be placed in circumstances very unpropitious to their establishment in the faith and love of the Saviour, and to real reformation of conduct.

It may be observed that much of what I have said might be urged against the emigration of all young women—and so it certainly might—and and I think it very dangerous for young women to emigrate, except with their parents or natural guardians. But the class of which I have been speaking will be exposed to greater danger than others; first, as having formerly fallen from virtue, and so become more liable to fall again; and, secondly, because as I have said, they cannot obtain situations in respectable families, and are therefore compelled to accept a home, wherever they can find one.

I have expressed my own sentiments to the Committee, but others may perhaps view the matter differently.

That the Lord may make your Institution the means of bringing away lost sheep unto His fold is the earnest prayer of Gentlemen, and very faithfully,

signed L. Melbourne”

I guess that’s a pretty firm “no” on the plan?


Written by srogers

May 12, 2011 at 7:57 am

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. Long-winded chap, no? He could have just said “I’m afraid they’d fall into the hands of some of the pimps we already have here. Don’t send ’em.”


    May 13, 2011 at 11:31 pm

  2. Read between the lines: his real problem is that the few European women they already had in Australia were themselves Fallen. There are, still, entire websites devoted to how Fallen Australian women are (particularly the youngish ones). Oh, so very naturally Fallen. Or so I’ve been led to believe.


    May 14, 2011 at 10:48 pm

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