Report on Female Factory

Evidence Type: Newspaper Report
22 September 1837


To the Editor of the Australian

SIR,—At a time when the attention of the Colonists is so much engrossed in devising schemes whereby to supply the present alarming want of labour, and secure themselves against the future occurrence of a similar predicament, I trust you will excuse the intrusion I make on the columns of your Journal, it being, in my opinion, the duty of every individual in the community, having the interest of the Colony at heart, to offer such suggestions as may be likely to promote the accomplishment of the above objects.

The first aim is, I conceive, to fill up as soon as possible the present deficiency in the amount of labour required, which must be done, of course, by some immediate plan of Immigration. The accomplishment of the second object requires more extended views.

While sheep, cattle, horses, &c., are allowed to increase (ad infinitum,) without restriction, Man alone is prevented by his fellow man, from obeying the voice of his Creator “Increase and multiply,” the absurdity and mischief of which, in a new and extensive country, where a scarcity of labour must be more or less felt for centuries to come, must be obvious to every thinking man.

In the first place let the freedom of the marriage laws be extended to the convict population; and not only that, but let every healthy young man assigned from Hyde Park Barracks be sent to the female factory to choose a wife, previous to his being forwarded to his master—let those who have been already assigned throughout the Country be allowed to take a rib from that Seminary or elsewhere—at least let a license to get married be one of the indulgences granted by masters for good conduct—the women and children would be found useful on all extensive farms and the expences [sic] of their support would be inconsiderable. There being infinitely more male than female prisoners in the Colony, sufficient single men would be left for such small settlers as could not well afford to support women and children. Married men on farms would be found more settled, more moral, and consequently more useful than unmarried men, a great portion of whose time is spent annually in Hospitals, from the effects of disease. By the adoption of such a system as I have described, that public nuisance the Factory, would soon loose [sic] its existence — the fertile source of crime, shocking to the mind to contemplate would in a great measure be removed; and hundreds of little natives would be seen springing up like corn stalks in every part of the Colony.

It appears to me to have been a great want of judgment, in the friends of Emigration, not to have taken more pains to send out young married people in preference to all others. Agents should be dispatched through the country parts of Great Britain and Ireland holding out every inducement to young lovers to get united and try their fortune on the fertile plains of Australia; and the most effectual mode of accomplishing such an object would be, in addition to a free passage, to enter into a written agreement with them, for one or two years’ employment after landing, at remunerating wages. Every body knows that the majority of single females, without the protection of parents or brothers, degenerate in morals and industry after living any considerable time in this land of allurements; and that the single men spend at least the first two years, after their arrival, sighing for “The Girls they left behind them,” and are ever wishing to return to the “darlin jewels”; whereas if they were only married, previous to their setting out, they would carry with them a circle of sunshine and happiness wherever they might happen to be placed, and in whatever circumstances; and with the certainty of employment, as I have just mentioned, could hardly fail to become contented and happy in this Colony. Let marriage be facilitated and encouraged among all grades of society as has been done by every wise ruler in new or thinly populated countries, which, undoubtedly, is the most permanent and certain means of peopling the deserts.

Another great check to the increase of population is the reluctance with which the wealthy join in marriage with any but the wealthy; which is certainly, in a new Colony like this, a great error of judgment, it being quite a sufficient introduction to independence that one of the parties be possessed of fortune. The several men in this Colony of boundless wealth and not of first rate respectability, ought to strain every nerve to get their sons married to young ladies of taste and education, from the mother country, but without fortune; and in like manner their daughters to young men possessed of all the requisites of a gentleman but money; and who, could they but once make a start, would soon stand forward in the first ranks of Colonial respectability. This would infinitely increase the number of marriages in the Colony, and render such an article as an old maid or an old bachelor almost unknown in the community. Many of the present customs of our society, in the foregoing relations are really absurd—for instance, the unreasonable opposition those who wish to marry for love only meet with from parents, thereby, not unfrequently, destroying their happiness in this world, and perhaps in the next; Also after a young man has gained the affections of her whom he wishes to make his bride, and she is perfectly satisfied with him as her protector through life, he has to court the Father, Mother, Brothers, Uncles, Aunts, and a whole tribe of relations; and to crown the whole to be called three Sundays in the parish church, unless he chooses to take out a special licence! What man of spirits likes to go through such an ordeal — and what must the feelings of the fair one be while “the case is pending?” Such a round of preliminaries is really a great bar to the progress of matrimony.

Self interest, the main spring of all industry, calls aloud on the respectable settlers to take active measures to cause a proportionate increase of the human species, to the increase of their flocks and herds; otherwise it is evident they will be always in want of “more men from England.”

I am Sir, &c.,


September 4th 1837.

See Original: “MARRIAGE AND IMMIGRATION. To the Editor of the Australian,” The Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 – 1848), Friday 22 September 1837, p.3