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Earl Grey Irish Female Orphans in Australia

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  • Ann Wescombe (O'Leary) {Australian Immigrant} (1833 - 1897)
    GEDCOM Note John Wescombe's first wife Amelia Whittaker bore him three sons, but "left home" some time before the 25thFebruary 1853. According to discussion on the Geni genealogy website about his seco...
  • Jane Hart - Constable, Free Settler “Eliza Caroline” 1850 (c.1836 - 1914)
    At the age of 16 (or 18) Jane Leary was an Irish famine orphan from Skibbereen Ireland, She arrived in Australia on the Eliza Caroline at Port Phillip, Victoria on 31 March, 1850. She served as a maid ...
  • Jane Reid (1824 - 1858)
    Jane was part of the Earl Grey orphan emigration scheme from Ireland to Australia and arrived in Australia in July 1843 on board the Earl Grey. Jane married Thomas Reid on the 10th January 1849 and die...
  • Elizabeth Neligan (1831 - 1874)
    Elizabeth or as she was called Eliza was born in New Street Doneraile co Cork, Eliza and her sister Anne both became part of the Earl Grey female orphan emigration scheme from Ireland to Australia. Eli...

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 With thanks to Trevor for his ongoing supply of information in our Facebook group The Earl Gray female orphans

Sources used to trace the orphans:

  • Irish Famine Memorial Sydney website
  • Northern Ireland Record Office