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Earl Grey Irish Female Orphans in Australia

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  • Mary Anne Kranz (1847 - 1899)
    Immigration : The INCONSTANT the Voyage - 1849 On 15 February 1849 the INCONSTANT commanded by Captain Patrick Culliton, sailed from Plymouth for Adelaide in South Australia. On board were 209 Irish fe...
  • Mary Barrow (1833 - d.)
    Orphan from an Irish workhouse sent to Australia with the Earl Grey Orphan emigration scheme from Ireland. Arrived in Australia in 1849 onboard ship the Pemberton
  • Elizabeth Upton (1833 - d.)
    Earl Grey orphan from Mallow poorhouse, was sent to Australia age 15. Arrival Date: 26 May 1849 Arrival Port: Geelong, Australia Ship: Pemberton
  • Catherine Dillon (c.1832 - 1865)
    Shipping records show that Catherine Dolan arrived in Sydney on 14 April 1849 on board the "Digby". Aged 17, from "Killeshandry" Co Cavan. Parents Thomas and Jane, both dead. She could neither read, no...
  • Bridget Meagher (1832 - d.)
    Bridget Meagher Earl grey orphan girl Surname : Meagher First Name : Bridget Age on arrival : 17 Native Place : Templemore, Tipperary Parents : Patrick & Bridget (both dead) Religion : ...

Earl Grey famine female orphan emigration scheme


The scope of this project is to identify the girls and the families of the orphan girls who were part of the Earl Grey emigration scheme to Australia between 1848 and 1850.

Explanation of Earl Grey’s Famine Orphan Scheme

The Orphan Emigration Scheme commenced in October 1848 and when it was wound up due to opposition from the Australian colonists in August 1850, 4,175 young girls had been sent from Irish workhouses to Australia. Many of the Irish workhouses participated in the scheme

A large number of those workhouse inmates were children. Many were orphans, or alternatively had been abandoned by fathers and mothers no longer able to feed them. While they remained in the local workhouse they were a charge on the landowners of the area where they previously resided. No wonder then that Earl Grey, the British Secretary of State for the Colonies received much support from Irish landlords for his Orphan Emigration Scheme under which young girls from the Irish workhouses were to be sent to Australia. The scheme was designed to fulfill the two-fold purpose of helping to resolve Australia’s chronic shortage of female labour, while at the same time reducing the serious overcrowding in Irish workhouses. Not only that but the Irish landlords who financed the workhouse system also hoped to reduce their own financial burden by transferring as many orphan girls as possible out of the workhouse system.

Ships and passengers

  • Earl Grey departure 6 October 1848 arrived in Sydney 3 June 1848
  • Roman Emperor departure 27 July 1848 arrived 23 October 1848 in Adelaide
  • Lady Kennaway departure 11 September 1848 arrived 6 December 1848 Port Philip
  • Inchinnan departure 4 November 1848 arrived 13 February 1849 Sydney
  • Digby departure 16 December 1848 arrived 4 April 1849 Sydney
  • Pemberton departure 29 January 1849 arrived 14 May 1849 in Port Philip
  • Inconstant departure 15 February 1849 arrived 7 June 1849 in Adelaide
  • Lady Peel departure 14 March 1849 arrived 3 July 1849 in Sydney
  • New Liverpool departure 25 April 1849 arrived 9 August 1849 in Port Philip
  • Elgin departure 31 May 1849 arrived 12 September 1849 in Adelaide
  • William & Mary departure 25 July 1849 arrived 21 November 1849 in Sydney
  • Lismoyne departure 22 August 1849 arrived 29 November 1849 in Sydney
  • Diadem departure 13 October 1849 arrived 10 January 1850 in Port Philip
  • Panama departure 6 October 1849 arrived 12 January 1850 in Sydney
  • Thomas Arbuthnot departure 28 October 1849 arrived 3 February 1850 in Sydney
  • Derwent departure 9 November 1849 arrived 25 February 1850 in Port Philip
  • Eliza Caroline departure 31 December 1849 arrived 31 March 1850 in Port Philip
  • John Knox departure 6 December 1849 arrived 29 April 1850 in Sydney
  • Maria departure 7 March 1850 arrived 29 June 1850 in Sydney
  • Tippoo Saib departure 8 April 1850 arrived 30 July 1850 in Sydney

Sources :


Compiled initially from article by Trevor McClaughlin, 'Barefoot and Pregnant?Female Orphans who emigrated from Irish Workhouses to Australia, 1848-1850', in Familia: Ulster Genealogical Review, incorporating Ulster Genealogical & Historical Guild 'Newsletter', Vol.2, No.3, 1987, pp.31-36 and updated from shipping lists in New South Wales and South Australia

Sources used to trace the orphans:

  • Irish Famine Memorial Sydney website
  • Northern Ireland Record Office