Maria Susan Rye

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Maria Susan Rye

Birthdate: (74)
Birthplace: London, England
Death: November 12, 1903 (74)
Hemel Hempstead
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Edward Rye and Maria Rye
Sister of Elizabeth Rye; Edward Caldwell Rye; George Rye; Mary Ann Cubitt Rye; Charles Rye and 3 others

Occupation: English social reformer and a promoter of emigration
Managed by: Kevin Lawrence Hanit
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Maria Susan Rye

Maria Susan Rye, (31 March 1829 – 12 November 1903), was an English social reformer and a promoter of emigration, especially of young women living in Liverpool workhouses. She was the daughter of solicitor Edward Rye and Maria Tuppen.

Rye began her emigration work by transporting adult middle-class women to Australia and New Zealand. In 1861 she set up the Female Middle Class Emigration Society (1861–1908), supported by many of the ladies of Langham Place. The society provided interest-free loans repayable over a period of two years and four months, to enable educated women to emigrate. It also established and maintained correspondents at most colonial ports to which female emigrants might travel.

In 1862, Rye sailed to New Zealand with the first party sent out by the Society. Miss Rye went on to Australia and did not return to England until 1865. The society was most active between 1861 and 1867 when Rye was actively involved with the running of the society.

From 1865 onwards, Rye turned her attention to the rescue of poorhouse and orphaned children. This effort is the work for which she is best known in Canada. Between 1869 and 1896, 3623 female children were transferred from England to Canada. She made many trips herself, placing these children at her reception centres at Niagara-on-the-Lake and Peckham, Ontario. Most of the emigrants were wards of the English Poor Law unions. By 1895, Miss Rye had transferred her reception centres to the Church of England Waifs and Strays Society and had retired.

Maria Rye opened the Peckham Home for Little Girls around 1867 using funds raised through an appeal in the Times. In 1869, she established a reception house for emigrated children in the old court-house of Niagara-on-the-Lake in Ontario, Canada, calling it ’Our Western Home’. The first party of children, 65 girls and 3 boys from the Kirkdale Industrial School, left for Canada in the company of Miss Rye in October 1869 on the SS Hibernian.


- The Golden Bridge: Young Immigrants to Canada 1833-1939 (Paperback) By (author) Marjorie Kohli, Foreword by J.A.David Lorente

-Emigration and Empire: The Life of Maria S. Rye (Literature & Society in Victorian Britain) by Marion Diamond (22 Jul 1999)

Maria S. Rye, a woman motivated by both feminist and philanthropic ideals, devoted her life to the migration of women and girls out of England. This biography gives an account of Rye's activities from her early engagement with liberal feminism through her association with the "Langham Place group" in the 1850s, her work as a journalist and with the Society for Promoting Women's Employment, through to her efforts in women's and children's emigration

Between 1861 and 1896, Maria S. Rye sent many hundreds of single women out to Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, and more than four thousand children to Canada, all with the promise of a better life in the British colonies than they could expect at home in England. Like many nineteenth century advocates of emigration, she saw it as a panacea for many social ills, taking people from impoverishment in the old world to the hope of better prospects in the new. Unlike other advocates, she linked this enthusiasm for emigration with the ideals of liberal feminism, arguing that women and girls should share the opportunities for advancement that the colonies offered to men and boys

Rye played a central role in developing organizations to facilitate the migration of women and girls, starting with the Female Middle Class Emigration Society in 1861. After 1869 she concentrated on the migration of so-called "gutter-children" to Canada, where her pioneering efforts were followed by numerous other philanthropic associates, such as Barnardo

This biography analyzes how feminism and philanthropy intertwined in her activities, and how her early concerns with the rights of women to economic opportunity came to be over-ridden by an authoritarian streak that led to the tragic excesses of her work in juvenile migration.

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Maria Susan Rye's Timeline

March 31, 1829
London, England
November 12, 1903
Age 74
Hemel Hempstead