Kingsley Ogilvie Fairbridge

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Kingsley Ogilvie Fairbridge

Birthdate: (39)
Birthplace: Grahamstown, EC, South Africa
Death: July 19, 1924 (39)
Perth, WA, Australia
Immediate Family:

Son of Rhys Seymour Fairbridge and Rosalie Helen Fairbridge
Husband of Ruby Ethel Fairbridge
Brother of Hilda Seymour Fairbridge; Francis Seymour Nendrick Fairbridge and Helen Ogilvie Trail Fairbridge

Managed by: Patricia Ann Seaton
Last Updated:

About Kingsley Ogilvie Fairbridge

Kinglsey Ogilvie Fairbridge (5 May 1885 – 19 July 1924) was the founder of a child emigration scheme to British colonies and the Fairbridge Schools. His life work was the founding of the "Society for the Furtherance of Child Emigration to the Colonies", which was afterwards incorporated as the "Child Emigration Society" and ultimately the "Fairbridge Society". Fairbridge was born in Grahamstown, South Africa and educated at St Andrew's College, Grahamstown until the age of 11, when the family moved to Rhodesia. His father was a surveyor in Umtali (the present day Mutare, Zimbabwe).[1] He had no further schooling until he prepared to enter Oxford University in 1908 at the age of 23. At 13 he became a clerk in the Standard Bank of South Africa at Umtali, and two years later tried to enlist for the Boer War, failing because of malaria which he had contracted in Mashonaland. Fairbridge then took up market gardening and early in 1903 visited his grandmother in England for about 12 months. The visit deeply affected him, as he observed the contrast of malnourished and impoverished children living in the London slums against the under-populated open spaces of Rhodesia. On his return to Africa, Fairbridge worked for two and a half years for a Mr Freeman who was recruiting locals to work in gold mines near Johannesburg. During this time Fairbridge started developing the idea of a scheme to bring poor children from London to South Africa where they could be trained as farmers.[2] “ I saw great Colleges of Agriculture (not workhouses) springing up in every man-hungry corner of the Empire. I saw children shedding the bondage of bitter circumstances and stretching their legs and minds amid the thousand interests of the farm. I saw waste turned to providence, the waste of un-needed humanity converted to the husbandry of unpeopled acres. ” Fairbridge applied to the Rhodes trustees for a scholarship, feeling that once in England he would find ways of developing his scheme. He was informed by the Rhodes trustees that if he passed the Oxford entrance examination his application would be favourably considered, and in 1906 he went to England to be privately coached. After his fourth attempt, he succeeded in passing the required examination. In October 1908 Fairbridge entered Exeter College, Oxford, with a Rhodes Scholarship. In 1909 he published an anthology of poetry entitled Veld Verse and Other Lines. He began to write on child emigration until he was advised by a friend that speaking would be more effective. Faribridge was rebuffed by the British South Africa Company, which informed him that they considered Rhodesia too young a country in which to start child emigration.[1] The Premier of Newfoundland, however, provided support for the concept.[3] On 19 October 1909, Fairbridge addressed a meeting of 49 fellow undergraduates at the Colonial Club at Oxford, and at the end of the meeting a motion was carried that those present should form themselves into a society for the furtherance of child emigration to the colonies. They formed the "Society for the Furtherance of Child Emigration to the Colonies", which later became the Fairbridge Society. The next two years were spent trying to interest people in the project and raising funds. He obtained a diploma in forestry in 1911, and in December of that year married a former nurse, Ruby Ethel Whitmore, who had been encouraging and helping him for some time.[3] In March 1912 the Fairbridges sailed for Western Australia aboard the Afric, arriving at Albany on 15 April 1912 with capital of £2000. After several months of searching for suitable properties around Albany, Denmark and the Warren River near Manjimup, a property of 160 acres (0.65 km2) was located and purchased near Pinjarra about 60 miles (97 km) south of Perth, with the Western Australian government agreeing to pay £6 for each child towards the cost of the passage money.[3] After several months of frantic clearing of the run-down property as well as building basic accommodation (mainly tents) for the expected arrivals, the first party of 13 boys aged between 7 and 13 arrived on board the Australind at Fremantle in January 1913. In July they were followed by a second party of 22 boys. They endured hardship over the first few years but fell into severe financial difficulties during World War I until the government provided a grant which tided the school over the war period. In August 1919 Fairbridge went to England on the Ormonde and managed to raise a sum of £27,000 for the development of the school. £20,000 was provided by the British Government's Overseas Settlement Committee, provided that the Western Australian Government continued its grant of 6 shillings per week per child.[3] A larger property of 3,200 acres (13 km²) of uncleared land was purchased north of Pinjarra and new buildings including cottages to house the children, a dining hall, a house for his own family and farm buildings were erected. Assistance from the Australian Government was also provided. Fairbridge had however, suffered considerably from malaria, sciatica and lumbago and the last few years of his life endured pain and general ill-health. At the stroke of midnight on 19 July 1924 in Perth, Fairbridge died of a lymphatic tumour at the age of 39 whilst recuperating from a minor operation. He was buried at Pinjarra and survived by his wife Ruby (d. 1966) and their two sons and two daughters. [edit]Legacy

The school continued under a principal. At the time of his death, 200 children were at the school and this was gradually raised to a peak of 400. After his death a total of six other schools were established by the Child Emigration Society including the Prince of Wales Fairbridge Farm School at Cowichan Station, near Duncan on Vancouver Island, Canada in 1935 as well as schools in Australia at Bacchus Marsh, Victoria, and Molong, New South Wales in 1937. Towards the end of the Second World War, many Dutch children from Indonesia and Singapore moved to the Pinjarra school, after having been interened in Japanese prisoner of war camps.[4] But by the 1970s however, only the original school at Pinjarra had survived, a result of reduced demand through improved economic and social conditions in Britain and changed laws which had reduced the flow of unaccompanied children. During World War II, a ship carrying child emigrants from England to Canada had been torpedoed with large loss of life, and this in part had caused the British Government to start bringing the practice to an end. The society then moved to provide Fairbridge Scholarships for British students to attend universities throughout the Commonwealth. With the establishment of the University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (UCRN) in 1957, the Kingsley Fairbridge Trust set up a bursary fund to provide finance for suitably qualified students to attend the college. In 1958 three British students were awarded bursaries and thereafter the number was increased to four per year. This continued up until 1965 when Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) declared Independence and the scheme was terminated. In 1981, the Pinjarra school closed. A total of 1,195 children had come to Pinjarra and were housed and educated under the scheme between 1913 and 1981. Unlike some other schools, Fairbridge had both male and female staff and students and abuses associated with some child migration and orphanage schemes were generally avoided. The "Kingsley Fairbridge Child Development Unit" was established in Adelaide at the Women's and Children's Hospital in 1981 also. As well as his autobiography (published posthumously in 1927) and his anthology of poetry, Fairbridge wrote an unpublished novel called The Afrikander. [edit]British Parliamentary Committee on Child Migration

Margaret Humphreys' research began in 1986 when, as a social worker, she received a letter from a woman in Australia who said that, at the age of four, she had been sent on a boat from the UK to a children's home in Australia, and who was looking for help in tracing her parents in Britain. Humphrey's research led to the exposure of the child migration scheme and to the establishment of the Child Migrants Trust, initially financed by Nottingham City Council, and later by the British and Australian governments. The aim of the trust is to reunite child migrants with their parents. In 1998, a British Parliamentary Committee on Child Migration began an inquiry into the policy, and published a report in August that year, which criticised the policy in general, and particularly certain Roman Catholic institutions in Western Australia and Queensland where child migrants were housed, and where they were allegedly abused. The Western Australian Legislative Assembly passed a motion on 13 August 1998 apologising to former child migrants.

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Kingsley Ogilvie Fairbridge's Timeline

May 2, 1885
Grahamstown, EC, South Africa
July 19, 1924
Age 39
Perth, WA, Australia