THE PIONEER EMIGRATION AGENT.
In a book entitled ‘Pioneer Women in \ icloria’s Reign, being Short Histories of Great Movements,’ by Edwin A. Pratt', recently published in London by George N owner, Limited, an account is given, among other things, of the work done for emigration by Miss Maria S. Rye. It. is stated that in May, ISG2, Miss Rye, who had then already been the means of sending a number of women to the colonies, formed the Female Middle Class Emigration Society in London in the interests of young women of the governess class, but in the following October she resolved to make a tour of the colonies to see for herself what the prospects they offered really were. She first visited New Zealand, then Brisbane and Sydney, and afterwards Victoria. On this point the author says : After Sydney came Melbourne, and there the chief thing that Miss Rye did was to get the Government to make some fresh arrangements with respect to women emigrants. Some years previously they had voted a considerable sum of money, which they put in the hands of the Park street Commissioners in London, for the purpose of sending out young women to Victoria, and they could not understand how it was that while Miss Rye had been inundated with applications from would-be emigrants very few were taking advantage of the fund in question. Miss Rye was able to solve themystery. She explained that the working of the fund in London was left mainly hands of a' staff of young men clerks, before whom the women had to go to make their applications, and some of these clerks possessed a sense of humor which led them to address to the candidates such remarks as “Going out to get a husband?” It amused the young men but annoyed the young women ; and Miss Rye suggested that it would be better if the selection of the emigrants were put into the hands of women, although the fund still remained in the hands of the Commissioners. The Victorian Government decided to adopt this course. They undertook to pay the rent of an office in London, the salary of a secretary, and the cost of postage, Miss Rye agreeing to give her own services, in addition, free.
, This office was duly opened on Miss Rye’s return to London in 1866, and the work was carried on for about three years, young women emigrants being sent out by Miss Rye to Victoria at the rate of 300 a year. But several difficulties arose, one of which is thus sketched by Mr Pratt
In the next place, there was a little conflict with the Park street Commi-sioners. Miss Rye had given only verbal instead of written notice that another party of a hundred girls for Victoria would be ready by a certain date, and she left the Commissioners, as usual, to make the shipping arrangements. But when, not long before the day for starting, alio asked which ship the girls were to go in, she was told that, as no "official” notice had been given, no arrangements bad been made, and the ship the girls should have gone in was full. Miss Kye was thus left with a hundred girls on her hands, and with practically no means of supporting them. The prospect was alarming. But Miss Rye was a woman of resource. She went to Liverpool by the midnight train, sawa shipowner whom she know, and persuaded him to take the whole hundred girls to Melbourne without any payment whatever in advance, and simply on the strength of a letter from herself to the Victorian Government telling them the circumstances and begging them to recoup the shipowner. It is needless to say that the Victorian Government complied with her request, and the shipowner lost nothing by his kindness; but Miss Rye clearly saw that after all this it would be useless for her to think of working with the Park street Commissioners any longer.
In the result Miss Rye decided to leave the emigration of young women to others, and she started in 1860 that system of sending waifs and strays to Canada which has since been taken up by other agencies, and has led to over 30,000 girls and boys being sent to the Dominion from the great towns of England. Miss Rye, who had herself dealt with 4,000 of such children, finally retired from the work at the end of last year. ■
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THE PIONEER EMIGRATION AGENT., Evening Star, Issue 10430, 27 September 1897
THE PIONEER EMIGRATION AGENT. Evening Star, Issue 10430, 27 September 1897
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