Family Names

Friday, 7 April 2017

A to Z Challenge - F is for Fremantle

Snippets from the life of Martha Sarah Ellis.


Truly, a peculiar reception

Martha arrived in Fremantle on the 8th October 1889 aboard the SS Nairnshire. But before she and the other girls could go ashore the “[o]fficer of Health came on board and inspected the women. Once this formality was over they were able to disembark.”[1]  Martha must have felt excited and somewhat overwhelmed by the chaotic proceedings but arrangements for their arrival were less than adequate.

Figure 1 189?,  Early Fremantle harbour [picture] / Shaw Brothers, photographers, Leederville, W.A  http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-143445880

The experience of girls arriving was vividly described in a local paper. “On the wharf, a crowd of men stood waiting to stare at us, as if we were prize cattle. I never saw a shabbier collection of men before (that's quits, anyhow), and the remarks some of them made about us caused my ears to tingle. Then a gruff official ordered us to get into order, and off we were marched in charge of a couple of policemen, like prisoners, the crowd following to gaze at us.”[2]

The girls were taken to the immigration depot. “The building at present in use as a Depot at Fremantle is quite unsuitable. It is exactly opposite to a public-house and too much exposed to observation. There does not appear to be any possibility of keeping the girls inside the enclosure (I do not think there are even gates which could be locked); nor do the caretaker and his wife seem to be vested with sufficient authority to compel obedience to rules.”[3]

It caused such an uproar that the “Associates of the Girls' Friendly Society ... made urgent representations to the Colonial Secretary to make better arrangements for the reception of the expected immigrant girls.”[4]  Most of the newly arriving girls were relatively young and many had never been away from parental protection, or adult supervision. “The girls have been inveigled into public houses, they have been known to drink both wine and spirits there to excess, nor has the depot been sacred from the intrusion of drunken sailors, who refuse to depart.”[5]

I wonder what Sarah and her sister Kate wrote home to their parents about their experiences on the ship and arriving in Fremantle ... 

To Read more about Martha's life for articles previously posted for the A to Z Challenges click the Letters below:-


A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

Sources



[1] ERICKSON, R. (1992). The bride ships: experiences of immigrants arriving in Western Australia, 1849-1889. Carlisle, W.A., Hesperian Press.
[2] Anon, 'THE GOLDEN WEST.', The Inquirer and Commercial News, 29 May 1896, p. 12. [ http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article66532077  , viewed 11 Feb 2017]
[3] Anon, 'THE CARE OF FEMALE IMMIGRANTS.', 17 December 1889, p. 3, Col.4. [http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3130616, viewed 12 Feb 2017]
[4] 1891 'ST. GEORGE'S CATHEDRAL PARISH.', The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 - 1954), 11 April, p. 3. , viewed 14 Mar 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3141885
[56] F. Goldsmith, ‘CORRESPONDENCE. FEMALE IMMIGRANTS. To THE EDITOR.’ The West Australian, Saturday 28 February 1891 p 3

23 comments:

  1. Where was Caroline Chisholm when you needed her? ;-)

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    1. Probably working too hard without much support! Girls' Friendly Society tried to help but when the majority of the population was male it was probably an uphill battle.

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  2. If I got off a boat and had a bunch of guys make comments at me, I'd want to get right back on that boat and go home!

    ~Patricia Lynne aka Patricia Josephine~
    Story Dam
    Patricia Lynne, Indie Author

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    1. I think for these girls there wasn't too much to go home too. The poverty back home in England for working class was pretty awful.

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  3. It's kind of weird, the way they were to see that group of men standing there to get an eyeful.
    ---------

    VINODINI

    http://ifsbutsandsetcs.com


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    1. Thanks for dropping by VINODINI I have just popped over to your blog and can highly recommend it. A wonderful read.

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  4. I wonder the kind of emotions that must have run in those girls minds....

    jaishwrites - F for??? (flashfiction)

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    1. Wouldn't it be wonderful to know what was on their minds. Thanks for dropping by. BTW I loved your flsh fiction piece.

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  5. Girls in the 19th century had to grow up way too fast!

    Also wanted to say thanks for your help re pasting in clicky link at the A-Z blog!

    Nilanjana
    Madly-in-Verse

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    Replies
    1. Nilanjana, glad I was able to help. I almost went tropo trying to figure out what was srong when it happened to me, so I felt your pain. Thanks for dropping by.

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  6. History is so interesting to read about, and it can bring forth such powerful emotions. I really enjoyed reading your post, thank you for sharing. As for Sarah and her sister Kate’s letter home I can see a jump off point for a story or memoir piece built into the contents of that letter!

    F for Farts

    Shari

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  7. Reading what people went through even until the early 20th century is mind-boggling.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment Denise, my kids think the same about my early years. Everything I suppose is a matter of perspective I suppose, some people are still going through these things depending on what country you live in.

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  8. Immigrants and girls, this combination itself is deadly enough! Trauma of leaving cozy protection and waking up to piercing eyes must have occupied the every chunk of emotional sphere for both the sisters!
    ---------------
    Team MocktailMommies
    https://mocktailmommies.blogspot.com

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    1. Anagha, I think your right it's something hard to image from the cosy home in Australia.
      Thanks for dropping by.

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  9. Hard to fathom what that must have been like. Just looking at the photo of the harbor conjures up the challenging circumstances you describe. It takes a special kind of bravery for a young woman to make it through all of that!

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    1. Hi Molly, Bravery and perhaps few other choices for a better life. It certainly would have been character building.

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  10. what an interesting story. My family history is very similar to yours.. all from England to Australia - and mostly from the southern parts of England at that! My husband has some Irish in him (via England) and I have Welsh if you go back far enough. I do enjoy a bit of family history!

    Philipa (Ozzypip)
    Quilter and blogger
    Blogging her way through an A to Z quilt
    Ozzypip Quilts

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    1. I think the story of immigration is common to a lot of Australians. For the first Australians it happened such a long time ago it's been lost in time, but for us more newly arrived it's much easier to find.

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  11. Interesting story! To find the sources for the original is quite a find.

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  12. I wouldn't want to be a woman in the 19th Century. We are so lucky to live where we live and in a time where poverty and sickness are not so prevalent.

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    1. Hi Linda, I couldn't agree more however I think there is lot of poverty and sickness that we don't just see as it's hidden from view (and the cameras. I sometimes wonder however when I look at the news if we have come all that far ...

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