Early Migration Schemes

15 February, 2009

Patrick Duggan Irish migrant with Family c. 1915
Patrick Duggan Irish migrant with Family c. 1915
Source: Private collection: April Huxley

Question: What was the Earl Grey Scheme?

Answer: The Great Famine in Ireland in the 1840s was a time of great change for the people of Ireland. The population of Ireland reduced significantly during this time with many people making the voyage to Australia.

Among those making the journey were approximately 4000 Irish female orphans under the Earl Grey Scheme. The immigration scheme was the brain-child of Earl Grey. He was the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and designed the program to meet an Australian demand for domestic servants and marriageable young women. It would also serve to reduce overcrowding in Irish workhouses.

In the late 1840s many ships came to Australia bringing young girls travelling alone. Ships carrying orphan girls included the William Stewart in May 1848 with 51 aboard, followed by the Mahomed Shah in July 1848 with 12 orphan girls. The largest number of orphans arrived on the Pemberton in May 1849 as part of the Earl Grey Scheme. 305 orphans disembarked from this ship after a voyage of 113 days.

The orphans arrived in Sydney, Adelaide, Hobart and Port Phillip and from these ports were spread across eastern Australia. Many suffered at the hands of their employers and husbands with beatings and violence. Others found their experience in Australia to be prosperous. Many married successful gold miners, landowners, farmers and shop keepers and led happy and fulfilling lives in Australia.

The scheme was relatively short-lived and only lasted two years as many ‘anti’ groups saw Australia being flooded with Irish immigrants. These young women were condemned in local newspapers as being unskilled, untrained and useless, and a financial strain on Australia. The Earl Grey scheme, although the brain-child of the Irish Secretary of State for the Colonies, was funded by the Australian people. In May 1850 the scheme was suspended. With the beginning of the gold rush, discussions surrounding assisted immigration passages were dropped as many migrants were now willing to pay for their own journey in the hope of making it big on the gold fields of Australia.

Comments (127)

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trevor mcclaughin 13 May, 2009 09:44
Interesting site. But where does your information about the william Stewart and the Mahomed Shah come from? The Earl Grey scheme did not get under way that early? I can give you the British PArliamentary paper reference if you wish.
Margaret Sermon 16 June, 2014 16:07
Is there a record of the names of the Women who came to SA on these 3 Vessels ? I have been researching for many years a Mary Casey who married a Thomas Reynolds in Adelaide in 1849
Discovery Centre 14 May, 2009 12:24
Trevor - part of the material used to research this article came from Michael Cannon's book entitled Perilous Journeys to the New Land. Please refer to chapter 14 of this book for more information about the two ships you mention.
trevor mcclaughlin 11 June, 2009 12:35
Please refer to http://www.irishfaminememorial.org/history/earl-grey-scheme/ for more information about the Earl Grey scheme.
E Wright 18 June, 2009 18:14
I have an ancestor who I believe was part of this scheme - an young woman on the Diadem. Do you have any information on a Mutual Cooperation Scheme mentioned as part of the entries re the Minerva 1850.
Dee Harris 26 June, 2009 10:34
I also had an ancestor who arrived on the Diadem and I have been trying to find out if she boarded the ship in England or New York as that is where she was born and she was the only girl onboard from the USA.
Perry McIntyre 16 August, 2016 10:32
All 20 of the ships which brought girls from the Irish workhouses in 1848-50 to Sydney, Port Phillip and Adelaide sailed from Plymouth
Discovery Centre 26 June, 2009 11:21

A great source of information about Irish orphans in Australia is this printed resource, available in the Immigration Discovery Centre. It has a great deal of information about individual migrants and the conditions under which they travelled to Australia.

Síle Murphy 13 March, 2010 10:41
I am trying to find descendants of some girls from Dunmanway, Co. Cork who left Ireland in late 1849 and arrived in Australia on the Eliza Caroline ship. If you have any information on descendants it would be fantastic.
Steve Green 17 November, 2013 19:51
Hi, I have been researching Denis O'Mahony (born Mahony)and his family from Dunmanway that I think may be part of the family of Mary and Honora Mahony,(mahoney)that came to Port Phillip on the Eliza Caroline in 1850. I was wondering if you are still doing research on them and if we could exchange information. Regards from Steve Green...Victoria.
Kathleen Newman 3 December, 2013 08:55
Sile - I've found some more information about Eliza and Ellen Minihan from Dunmanway who arrived on the Eliza Caroline, including Ellen's baptism.
Discovery Centre 15 March, 2010 12:50

Hi Síle – The Irish Famine Memorial website contains some very helpful information about the Earl Grey Scheme and includes passenger lists of the various ships that came out to Australia as part of the scheme. Official passenger lists for the Eliza Caroline can be obtained through State Records New South Wales. Another great source of information about Irish orphans in Australia is this printed resource, available in the Immigration Discovery Centre. It has a great deal of information about individual migrants and the conditions under which they travelled to Australia.

Lyne Walker 5 June, 2010 18:31
My G G Grandmother Bridget McCarthy aged 17 from County Cork was one of the orphans on the 'Pemberton' which sailed from Plymouth in Jan.1849, and arrived in Melbourne in Nay 1849 under the Earl Grey Scheme. Thanks for thr link to the Immigration Discovery Centre.
Kerry Hann 5 July, 2010 23:23
My GGG Grandmother Jane Stafford Irish orphan girl has a history. I found it tonight by chance. Thank you to everyone who shares this information.
Keryn Rivett 13 December, 2010 12:40
My GGGGrandmother, Jane Hutchinson, was part of the Earl Grey Scheme and came to Port Phillip aboard the "Derwent". She married Thomas Buckler and they went on to have twelve children - from all accounts they were happy.
Marie Neilson 14 April, 2014 21:10
Hi Keryn Rivett I believe my late husband is also descended from Jane Hutchinson, through her daughter Georgina, who married Charles Neilson. I'm still putting together information and confirming it, so not totally sure, but working on it!
Keryn Rivett 20 December, 2014 23:08
Yes, one of their daughters did marry a Neilson - your hubby and I are related!
Raewynne Vermeulen 26 August, 2016 06:50
Hi Keryn I am also related to Jane Hutchinson. My Gt Grandmother was Georgina Buckler. who married Charles Neilson from Denmark. I am haveing a terrible job of trying to find out when he came to Australia and if he came on his own. Have you dont any research of any of the Buckler family. Do you know if Matilda Buckler who married Charles Lacy ever came to NZ to live.
Jeanette Brown 4 January, 2011 22:18
My relatives came out to Australia in 1851 part of the Earl Grey Scheme. The ship was called the Earl Grey. I can not find a picture of the ship and I have searched. I have seen the ships list but no pictures of the ship. They landed in Sydney - can you help
Discovery Centre 5 January, 2011 10:20
Hi Jeannette, unfortunately we weren't able to locate any images of the Earl Grey either online or in any of our references in the Discovery Centre. But you could do a more comprehensive search both online and in libraries, using the excellent list of shipping image resources provided by the State Library of Queensland and/or Coraweb.
Wayne Reardon 27 January, 2011 10:23
My Ggrandmother Mary Rooney came to Adelaide on the INCONSTANT in 1849 and married Michael Reardon in 1852. She was an Irish orphan and that is all I know at this stage. Does anyone have anymore information? Regards, Wayne
Discovery Centre 28 January, 2011 11:51
Hello Wayne - For more information on the Irish orphans, you could look at this printed resource, available in the Immigration Discovery Centre. For more information about your great-grandmother's arrival and life in Adelaide, I would suggest that you start with the State Records of South Australia.
John McKay 6 February, 2011 17:59
Jane McCabe was an 18 y.o. orphan who came out on the DIADEM and within 3 months was married to a man twice her age. She died in Jan 1885 in Geelong after 6 children (which suggests she was really 15 years old on arrival). Any idea where I might find an image of the DIADEM?
Discovery Centre 9 February, 2011 12:06
Hi John, please see our answer to Jeannette on 5 January about resources for ship images. If you haven't already, you might be curious to see an index of the Diadem passenger list on the website of the Irish Famine Memorial in Sydney.
MIke Francis 14 February, 2011 16:23
Good site. My wife has a gt gt gt grandmother Mary Carden who came out on the Lady Kennaway. Unfortunely all we knows is she married a Robert Heaton ex convict in Melbourne on the 13th December 1851.
rose palmer 20 February, 2011 18:36
I am trying to locate the passenger list of Mahomed Shah arrived Pt Phillip, Vic., Australia 5th July 1848. I am interested in Mary Ann Jones, age - 14 years, & described as childs maid.
Frederick Smith 21 February, 2011 11:50
Great site with revealing info. Now found evidence of Mary Acheson and friend Mary Burns who sailed on Diadem 1850. M. Acheson married John Smith in Portland (1851), with M. Burns & Charles Smith as witnesses. However John's arrival to Victoria is unknown. Can you assist?.
Discovery Centre 21 February, 2011 16:14
Hi Frederick, glad to hear you found the Mary's! John should either be listed on the Public Record Office of Victoria Assisted Passenger list if he had his fare paid or, if he paid his own way, he will be on the Unassisted Passenger lists that are held by State Records NSW. You may need to contact SRNSW for further advice if you have no luck.
Norma Baker 21 February, 2011 14:04
Is it possible to contact John McKay who wrote about Jane McCabe who came here via the Earl Gray Scheme and married George Knight(s). From a well-known book on the subject, I believe she came from the Workhouse, Ennikillen, Co Fermanagh. I could not find her on the Diadem via the site linked with the museum but she is listed in the Assisted British Immigration 1839-1871, arriving January 1850 on the Diadem, age 18.
Discovery Centre 21 February, 2011 16:23
Hi Rose, Mary Ann is on the passenger list of this ship, which is held by the Public Record Office of Victoria. To see the full passenger list go to the Register of Assisted British Immigrants 1839 - 1871, type in the ship's name, then select the month and the year from the appropriate drop downs.
Discovery Centre 21 February, 2011 16:31
Hi Norma, we will pass on your details to John and ask if he'd like to get in contact. We've just had another look and Jane is definitely on the Diadem list on the Irish Famine Memorial website. If you go to the Victorian list of ships and search the name 'McCabe' she will be the first result. These lists are based on research done by Trevor McClaughlin and published in his book Barefoot & Pregnant? Irish Famine Orphans in Australia.
Graeme Cameron 13 March, 2011 21:06
Hi Could someone tell me where the Famine Rock on Williamstown Beach is please ?
Discovery Centre 15 March, 2011 11:01
Hi Graeme! It is off The Strand in Williamstown, within the Burgoyne Reserve. There are a few green spaces and reserves along there, but an internet map search will help you find the location.
S Smith 19 March, 2011 22:24
How interesting to see that the Mahomed Shah brought some orphans. My 3x great grandparents arrived as emigrants on that 1848 voyage; their son married the daughter of one of the Irish orphan girls from the Eliza Caroline (1850)
Síle Murphy 7 February, 2013 21:38
Hi there, just seen this comment. Do you know where your ancestor on the Eliza Caroline was from? If you do I'd love to hear from you. I'm rearching women from this ship.
Brooke Fergusson 7 August, 2013 21:25
Sile, my GGG Grandmother arrived on the Eliza Caroline. Her name is Eliza Sullivan (O'Sullivan). she is listed as being from Kilkenny. I cannot find any information about her before arriving in Australia and would love to know if you have come across any? Visited the Immigration Museum for an excursion with my class recently, wish I had had the chance to explore this further, will have to visit again. :-)
Sharne Kershaw 1 April, 2011 14:55
My ancestor Ellen Dooley [ g g grandmother ] came out on The John Knox's in 1850 as one of the Irish Orphan's, and she married a James Harrison,but nothing is known of her whereabouts from 1850-1855[the year she married]. Do you know where I can find the info from if any.Good to see story's on the other Orphan's.
Discovery Centre 9 April, 2011 11:10
Hi Sharne, there's a little bit on Ellen in Trevor McClaughlin's book Barefoot & Pregnant on p258, with the information that she arrived on the John Knox, which arrived in Sydney from Plymouth on 29 April 1850. You should access a copy of the original passenger list to see what further information it contains about her. You can order this through State Records NSW or your nearest local or state library may have them on microfiche. McClaughlin also reveals that there is a little more information about her in the Register & Application for Orphans 'which gives information about the orphans' early days in Australia' (McClaughlin, p140). Register 2, No 1347 mentions her and her employer (?). This register is also available through State Records NSW. Ordering these documents may give further details about and leads to her early life in Australia. Good luck!
Virginia Stokes 28 May, 2011 18:43
Ihave a copy of Trevor's book . Great reaource for all descendants of Irish Famine Immigrants! I am wondering if someone can tell me why my gg grandmother, Elizabeth Wray reached Port Phillip Bay on 25 February , 1850 on the Derwent and then according to the immigration records on Ancestry dot com dot au, sailed for Geelong on the same ship arriving there on 4 March 1850. According to her entry in Trevors's book she was sent to work for a Mary Richardson , widow in Collins Street, Melbourn so why would she go to Geelong? By October 1853 she was back in Melbourne working as a servant in Elizabeth Street before she married my gg grandfather. Just a quick belated thank you to Earl Grey for organising scheme!!
Vivienne Szakacs 6 June, 2011 00:04
I am looking for info on my GG grandmother, Ellen Regan, who I believe was a passenger on the Mahomed Shah arriving Port Philip Bay 1848. When I click on the link that the Discover Centre gave for Rose Palmer (Register of Assisted British Immigrants) I can find no info on ships at all, even after typing in the ship's name.
Discovery Centre 10 June, 2011 14:22

Hi Vivienne, unfortunately PROV changed their website since we wrote that answer, so the link broke. The new link can be found here. We looked at the passenger list for the Mahomed Shah but no Ellen Regan is listed. There is someone with that name on the Thames in 1853 however.

Gary Newman 17 June, 2011 13:51
For Trevor Mcclaughin 13 May 2009. Those ships did come. Look on this site for a big list of migrant ships from 1839-1851 and more. http://members.iinet.net.au/~perthdps/shipping/mig-vic.htm
Trevor McClaughlin 30 June, 2011 19:02
Hi Gary, Not sure what you are referring to. I don't think anyone is denying the Mahomet Shah ,Wm Stewart and eg the Subraon (to NSw) did come. They did carry some Irish orphans but they were from Foundling Hospitals in Dublin and Cork not from recently built workhouses across Ireland. The Earl Grey scheme only brought orphans from workhouses
Dawn Ralfe 6 July, 2011 17:58
Onn our tree we have a Catherine Bracken who we believe was on the Inconstant. She married a William Robinson, who was murdered, perhaps by Malachi Martin, who Catherine married soon after the murder. Malachi was hung in Adelaide 1862. Catherine later married a George Ingham. My question is: in an article by Mark Staniforth "The Inconstant Girls" there is an article on a Catherine Bracken who married a William Robinson - on the same date - but they remained married with Catherine dying aged 52, and william aged 81. Is this info incorrect, or do I have the wrong Catherine & William?? Regards Dawn
Carol Robinson Pearson 27 January, 2013 21:07
Hi Dawn. I too am a descendent of Catherine and William. I have just begun researching my father's family tree and found details of the Salt Creek murder story. (Horrible!) Anyway, I'd love to connect if you are interested.
Anna (Robinson) Compt 15 May, 2013 21:01
Hi Dawn (and Carol) I too am a decendent of William and Nellie (Catherine). I've not seen the article you are referring too (but will now look into it!) but maybe it is somehow referencing/confusing William and Nellie's son William (who married Ellen Morphett in 1883, deceased 1933).
Brian Robinson 16 February, 2016 14:21
Hi, I have just looked into this recently and was wondering if we are related as well. My gran just passed away in meningie and her name is Barbara Robinson (Mason). She was born in Salt Creek around 1920.
Discovery Centre 15 July, 2011 15:42
Hi Dawn, what an interesting story! There was indeed a Catherine Brackin on the Inconstant according to Trevor McClaughlin's Barefoot and Pregnant? Volume 2, p399. Richards & Herraman in their article "Irish Women in colonial South Australia" in Irish women in colonial Australia, equate this Catherine Brackin with the Catherine (Nellie) Bracken whose husband William was killed by Martin Malachi (pp100-101). Mark Staniforth seems to have a different idea of the fate of the Catherine Bracken on the Inconstant. I'm not sure that we can shed any further light, so you may wish to contact him through Flinders University as he may be able to help you out further with the differences in the stories. You might also be interested in a story on the Adelaide Gaol website, which discusses the case of Malachi.
trevor mcclaughlin 29 July, 2011 20:26
Hi Discovery centre, Just to let you know the "Trevor McLaughlin" you keep referring to, spells his name with an extra 'c' ie Trevor McClaughlin, cheers, trevor
Discovery Centre 30 July, 2011 10:36
Oh dear, sorry Trevor! We've fixed this up now. Thanks for letting us know.
noelene marshall 16 September, 2011 02:33
HI Sharne, Did you ever find the informatiion that you were looking for, I am seeking the same info.my g.grandmother came out on the same ship and I cannot locate herfrom the time she landed in April 1850 till 1852. Did you find records of were they went and if you did could you please let me know. thankyou Her namewas Mary Walsh,came from cork, could not read or write and she was a true orphan, her parents Maurice and Joannah both deceased.
Discovery Centre 17 September, 2011 10:59
Hi Noeleen, if your ancestor is listed on the Hyde Park Barracks Memorial then she definitely went there. As we stated in our answer to Sharne, all the records for the Irish Famine Orphans are held by State Records NSW & you should contact them for further information (the link is in this answer). They also have records of indentures - ie where the orphans at HPB were contracted to work for a certain period, often one to two years and, although many went through Sydney, they ended up much further afield. You therefore may find her whereabouts between 1850 and 1852 in these types of records.
Mia Carlsson 8 October, 2011 13:00
I am trying to find the papers on Bounty immigrants, I believe gggrandfather John Thomas McDermott was one, arriving on the John Knox at Geelong in 1851, but I cannot be sure, needing all information before I can make a possitive assumpton. I seem to be having no luck in finding this information on the net. Help please.
Discovery Centre 10 October, 2011 10:08

Hi Mia,

According to the PROV’s online index Assisted (or Bounty) British Migrations 1839-1871, three John McDermotts arrived on the ship John Knox on the 30 July 1851. You can view the original microfiche of these records at the State Library or Public Records Office in North Melbourne; the Book numbers are 5A and page numbers 147, 132 and 335.

Sean Hants 27 December, 2011 01:35
my g.g.grandmother Mary McDonald came out on the Pemberton,1849, to Melbourne, an 18yr old housemaid. How can I find out if she was an orphan? Would it be fair to assume so? She was fro Kilrush co. clare
Discovery Centre 1 January, 2012 15:47

Hi Sean, thanks for the enquiry.  We have sent you an email with some links and information.


Cathy Dowden 8 February, 2012 17:36
I recently discovered my namesake Catherine Dowden arrived in Sydney on the John Knox in 1850. I've found her listed in Trevor McClaughlin's book. (Thanks SO much for writing this Trevor) My problem is I can't locate the Register & Application for Orphans 'which gives information about the orphans' early days in Australia' (McClaughlin, p140). I'm looking for Register 2, No 697 but can't find this on State Records NSW's website. How can I take this further?
trevor mcclaughlin 3 September, 2012 13:44
Hi Cathy, p.140 of vol 2 of Barefoot refers you to State Records of NSW(SRNSW) 4/4715-4717 ie vols 1,2, and 3. Vol 2 would be 4/4716. You may need to check with SRNSW in case they've changed the system.
Discovery Centre 10 February, 2012 16:11

Hi Cathy,

We have found http://api.records.nsw.gov.au/series/5240 held at the Western Sydney Records Centre (no digital copies) but we are not sure this is what you are looking for. You may have to contact the State Records Authority of NSW directly for further information.

ronald parker 5 March, 2012 14:55
hi, I am searching for my ggg ,mary keating,an irish orphan. arrived ,brisbane 29/4/1850, aboard the john knox,
Discovery Centre 5 March, 2012 15:08
Hi there Ronald. Most of the resources that you need to do your search are mentioned on the page or in the comments above. The John Knox actually came into Sydney not Brisbane. None of the Earl Grey Ships came to Brisbane but some of the girls that landed in Sydney (and possibly Melbourne or Adelaide) later made their way to Brisbane. Mary's name is one the John Knox passenger list at State Records NSW and she would be mentioned in Trevor McClaughlin's book that we've discussed above a number of times. She would have gone through the Hyde Park Barracks in Sydney where the girls who were part of the Earl Grey Scheme that arrived in that city were housed. The Irish Famine Memorial located at Hyde Park Barracks has a great website with a database of the orphans. They are currently adding the John Knox orphans to the database but are not up to K yet! Mary does not appear on the list of orphans on the memorial but only a small number do.
Susan Banks 11 March, 2012 16:17
I have information that my ggg grandmother arrived in 1851 in Hobart on the Calcutta as an Orphan from the Corofin Workhouse as one of the female orphan immigrants transported to Hobart. Was this ship part of the Earl Grey Scheme. The Calcutta departed in 1850 and arrived in 1850. If so how do I find the passenger records for this ship and why is the Calcutta never listed as one of the ships under the Scheme.
Discovery Centre 16 March, 2012 14:16

Hello Susan,


I have done a search on the Tasmanian Archives for the ship Calcutta and have come up with these results. I suggest contacting the Tasmanian Archives to find out if they have any further information on your relative. A great source of information about Irish orphans in Australia is this printed resource, available in the Immigration Discovery Centre. It has a great deal of information about individual migrants and the conditions under which they travelled to Australia.

Trevor McClaughlin 29 August, 2012 14:29
Hi Susan, Been a while since i visited last. Glad to see the site is flourishing and the Centre so helpful. Oops I've just noticed they refer you to vol 2 of Barefoot which includes the Calcutta women. P.403 says more about the Beulah and Calcutta which will be of interest, including a reference to an article by Michael McMahon. best wishes in your search. You've probably seen all this already.
Ian Beard 28 August, 2013 10:02
My gg grandmother was also sent to Tasmania as part of what I call "the other Earl Grey Scheme". This consisted of two shiploads of Famine Orphans aboard the "Beulah" and the "Calcutta". It was not part of the Earl Gray Scheme which was the brain child of the second Earl, Charles Grey, but was administered by his son, the third Earl, Henry Grey who was secretary of state for war and the colonies from 1846–52. I have transcribed the Passenger Lists of both the Beulah and Calcutta and have donated them along with the story of my g g grandmother to the Clare Library in Ireland and you can find them on their website.
(sorry, I want to keep my name private pls) 27 March, 2012 16:10
I think I may have located my g g grandmother Susan Gilfoyle coming to Australia on the 'Pemberton' in May 1849. She travelled with 2 others, Catherine and Eliza Gilfoyle. As yet these names mean nothing to me. Where can I find out more information about this ship and indeed because she was on it, does it mean that she was an orphan? Also this ship is listed as a 'bounty' ship so where can I find out more about it and where she may of worked as a house servant? Thks for a great site.
Discovery Centre 28 March, 2012 11:29
Hi there, Susan is listed both in the database of the Irish Famine Memorial (linked at left) and in Trevor McClaughlin's book mentioned above on p.327, with the employer to whom she was indentured listed. Of the two women she was travelling with, one came from the same town, Rosscrea, while the other came from Nenagh, both being in Tipperary. Travelling together doesn't necessarily mean they were related but they might have been. The original passenger list, the microfiche of which can be viewed at the Public Record Office of Victoria, might reveal more, although it's unusual for McClaughlin not to say so in his book this if so. The girls that were on the Earl Grey ships were dubbed orphans but, of course, not all were. The Famine meant that many families lived in great poverty and their parent's simply were not able to feed everyone. Some of these girls therefore went to workhouses and thence to Australia. There is an interesting bit of information on the Pemberton and it's orphans in the history of the Royal Hibernian Military School but plenty more can be found by doing an online search. This link indicates that Susan would have come from the Poor Law Union in Rosscrea. We hope this helps!
MM 9 April, 2012 07:49
Hi, I would like to find more details on Elizabeth Blackburn(Connolly - why are 2 names given?) who arrived Sydney on the Lismoyne in 1849. I have her immigration record and the details on the Irish Famine Memorial site. Would her employment details be available at NSW State Records? There is a note that she was going to her Aunt/Uncle Holmes so maybe she was going to work with them? Thanks
Discovery Centre 9 April, 2012 13:57
Hi MM, have you looked at Trevor McClaughlin's book Barefoot and pregnant? It discusses Eliza Blackburn/Connelly on p 216. If she was indentured her records would be with SRNSW but looking at the book it doesn't look like she was, as McClaughlin would normally mention it. Nevertheless it might be worth looking. The entry lists ALL her relations in the colony including her father Michael Blackburn, uncles Thomas and Richard and cousin Thomas, living in Sydney. She went to her aunt Ellen who's husband was Inspector Holmes, who also lived in Sydney and possibly she did some sort of household duties for them. Because her uncle was a police inspector, SRNSW may have correspondence relating to the Inspector himself. He seems to be referred to in the newspapers and you can search these for further mentions on the Trove website. Her parents are listed as Michael Blackburn and Ellen Connelly, indicating that she was possibly known by her mother's name and thus suggests that her parents may not have been married.
Lee-Ann 14 April, 2012 09:43
I am searching for information on Margaret Stewart who arrived in Melbourne on the Diadem in 1850. She was on orphan from Invermore, Antrim, Ireland. Wondering if you have any family details or information for Margaret. She moved to Inglewood Victoria and married William Fabry in 1853
Discovery Centre 16 April, 2012 12:02
Hi Lee-Ann, it sounds like you have already consulted the resources mentioned in the article and comments above and know a bit of information. The museum doesn't hold records here so to discover more you'll need to consult some other resources both in Australia and Ireland. You may want to obtain birth, death & marriage records for her and other members of her family; consult wills & probates and other archival material (such as mining licenses - Inglewood was a gold rush town at the time she was there) at the Public Record Office of Victoria; search online newspapers for mention of them. For research into her and her ancestors' lives in Ireland you might want to get some ideas from the National Museum of Australia's excellent site on Irish family history research.
Kaye 16 November, 2012 19:37
My g.g.g. grandmother Margaret Galvin came out on the Pemberton, I have found the reference to her in 'Barefoot and Pregnant" but wonder is there any info on which workhouses these girls came from, I'd love a bit more info on Margaret!
Discovery Centre 18 November, 2012 14:19

Hi Kaye 

To find more information on workhouses, there are number of resources you can consult. There is some information at the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland, accessed here. These workhouses were a last resort for the destitute, those worst affected by unemployment and the famine. They were overcrowded and unsanitary, with “inmates” separated on the basis of gender and age. This Irish Family Research website also has some essential information. For more general historical research, we also have a great Reference Sheet, here.

Ian Granland 24 December, 2012 21:46
My g g grandmother came out on the Pemberton. Trevor has her listed as Catherine Curley and in our family BDM records she is down as Gurley, Gourley & Gourlay (take your pick). I have a photograph of her. I would love more info if possible. Her subsequent husband, Isaac Fry was supposedly ships carpenter on the Pemberton and jumped ship when it got to Portland (or was it Melb.) then later married her in abt 1853. She had lots of kids. Also chasing another g g grandmother, I think it is Catherine Magee, although have corrupted versions of MacKie, MacKee. Have a marriage cert. where her husband had a different name but lots of info on other docs. Am pretty sure she was a famine victim too. From Longford in Ireland. Any help here?
Discovery Centre 27 December, 2012 14:05

Hi Ian,

Museum Victoria does not hold any records that could help you. Please refer to the Related Resources and External Links at the top right hand side of this page. If you read through other responses from the Discovery Centre, you will find more resources.

Kelly Harris 12 January, 2013 11:47
Hi, I have been researching a relative also who came to Australia as part of this scheme. I am trying to understand if she was infact an orphan or if she was just a lucky one who managed to get a ticket on the ship?? Her name was Rosetta Ashmore -Shiplist Inconstant - Departed Plymouth 5/2/1849 Are you able to provide me with any further insights? She is listed in the book barefoot and pregnant but stories are inconsistent and i am trying to work out who she really was. Any help would be fantastic. Kelly
trevor mcclaughlin 5 February, 2013 18:20
Hi Kelly, There's a v.useful article by Mark Staniforth of Flinders Uni on "The Inconstant Girls..." Googling this should bring you to it.
Discovery Centre 14 January, 2013 15:15

Hi Kelly,

Please visit the the following South Australian Shipping List for the Inconstant.  This lists an ASHMERE / ASHMORE, Rose - orphan (parents were John Ross and Margaret O'Donnell) travelling on the ship which you may find useful.  There is also a number of links to various websites associated with Irish Orphan girls that may give you an insight to her past.

John McKay 23 January, 2013 12:38
I have to record my considerable appreciation to the staff at the Discovery Centre, not only for this site but also their supportive and encouraging responses to queries. These are all interesting to read. I'd also like to acknowledge Trevor McClaughlin for his wonderful book resulting from exhausting research I imagine. We can count ourselves lucky in many respects and thanks to all - you are appreciated!
Stephen McCartney 3 February, 2013 21:19
Chasing information on an Anne Jane Knight who supposedly arrived on the Pemberton into Port Phillip in May 1849. She was supposedly from Gloucestershire England and borne in about 1832
Discovery Centre 4 February, 2013 15:51
Hello Stephen - for arrivals prior to 1923, all passenger lists and immigration records are held by the PROV. You might also like to do a Trove search for any mention of her in state newspaper or picture records.
Avis Smith 9 March, 2013 10:22
By my gr. grandmothers death notice Ellen Walsh later Lawrence in 1897 in Echuca , Victoria ,says, she arrived in the colony in 1839, born circa 1825 , at County Cork , Ireland. Are there indexes of passengers about 1839. She married in Melbourne in 1844, she was of Richmond, Vic. when she married to Thomas Lawrence of Echuca, born 15 Dec. 1820, at Newcastle, Limerick, Ireland, his parents John Lawrence & Mary, maiden name not known, or date of arrival.
Barbara 3 April, 2013 04:10
Hi Avis, I am related to the Lambert family from North Yorkshire/Pateley Bridge areas of the UK and my uncle (Ron) has a cousin, called Avis Merle Smith, living in Victoria, who has done many years research on the family history. I have been trying to make contact. Could you be the cousin Avis who I am looking for?
Simon Linnell, KENMARE CHRONICLE 2 May, 2013 07:52
Hi, we are trying to trace descendents of the 25 orphans from Kenmare, co. kerry, ireland that arrived in sydney on the John Knox in 1850. we have the list of names and what to find out what happened to them once they arrived. Our research is available on the facebook page of Kenmare Chronicle.
Wilf Morley 20 July, 2013 05:54
Hi: I've notice that some of your ancestor's cam over on the Inconstant. My great great grandfather built the Inconstant in Big Bras D'Or, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. I met (via email) a great, great granddaughter of Mary Taafe and also the great,great grandson of the Inconstant's master Captain Culton. I do have the list of all the passengers if any one is interested.
Andy Marshall 31 August, 2013 12:41
My G.Grandmother Eliza Farrell arrived on the Eliza Caroline in 1850. NSW Assisted Immigrant Passenger Lists states that her native place & County was Tulla, Carlow. The dilemma I have is there is a Tulla located in County Clare & a Tullow in County Carlow. Which is correct & can anybody assist please? Secondly from where did the Eliza Caroline sail/
Michael Phillips 5 September, 2013 12:02
My g g grandmother Margaret Britt arrived on the Eliza Caroline in 1850. Her parents were John Britt and Bridget Dwyer although I have no information to say whether they were dead and Margaret was an orphan. Her native place is listed as Carrick on Suir, Tipperary, so I presume she was in the Carrick on Suir Workhouse. The interesting thing about her story is that she met her husband to be on the ship. Robert Parry was a seaman on the Eliza Caroline and the story is that he used to climb down a rope over the side of the ship to converse with her during the voyage. He jumped ship and they were married in June 1850 and had a successful life.
Narelle 23 November, 2014 18:44
Hi Michael. I was wondering where you got the information about Robert Parry being a seaman on the Eliza Caroline. I too have heard a similar story but have never been able to find a crew list....Could you tell me if you have a copy of the crew list for the Eliza Caroline ?
Michael Phillips 24 November, 2014 12:48
Hi Narelle. I have a family history written by a granddaughter of Robert Parry and Margaret Britt. She knew her grandmother, Margaret who died at 80 years old, so I presume the story about Robert Parry being a seaman on the ship was passed down directly to other family members. The family history claims that Robert Parry was 25 and had been a seaman for many years and joined the Eliza Caroline in London.The history says the master of the ship was Captain Owen Evans but other than that I don't have any information regarding the crew of the Eliza Caroline.
Tom Parry 20 January, 2017 08:01
Gday Michael Our family has the same copy of the family history about Robert Parry and Margaret Britt. We must be distant cousins! I was wondering if you have gained any further information, as I believe the family history that we share was written in the 60's. Look forward to your reply. Tom Parry
Elizabeth Hoy 5 April, 2014 23:09
An ancestor I'm having trouble tracing called Catherine Brennan could be one of two teenage orphans on the ship Panama. In 1850 from memory. Does anyone know how to trace their lives after they arrived in Sydney? If one turns out to be a positive lead I'll want to race her back too.
David John 8 April, 2014 17:39
Could you tell me if there is a Irish Orphans Memorial located in Williamstown Vic If so where can I find it
Discovery Centre 9 April, 2014 11:55
Hi David, the "Famine Rock" memorial is off The Strand in Williamstown, within the Burgoyne Reserve. There are a few green spaces and reserves along there, but an internet map search will help you find the location.
Narelle 15 May, 2014 10:07
I too have an ancestor who came per the John Knox 1850, however someone provided information that can not possibly be confirmed. I believe the information provided was for a different girl with the same name but from a different ship. Trouble is NO ONE WILL RECTIFY the misinformation or at least admit there could be a mistaken identity. Grrrrr
trevor mcclaughlin 21 August, 2014 11:38
Am having a go at a wordpress blog on earl grey's Irish female orphans. It's at http://wp.me/p4SlVj-Z for anyone who is interested
trevor mcclaughlin 21 August, 2014 11:50
Gosh did i give you the link to my first post on the Earl Grey irish famine orphan scheme blog ? It's http://wp.me/p4SlVj-3
Robyne Needham 25 October, 2014 17:53
Can you tell me please if Vol 2 of Trevor McClaughlin's Barefoot and Pregnant is second chapter or is it just an update on Vol 1. If I get Vol 2 will I be getting everything or just a follow on of the history/story. Thanks
Miss Turner 10 November, 2014 17:48
Mary Canavan (often cited Calavan/Kanavaghn)arrived Portland via the Raven - as per Dr McClaughlin's research. Her parents were farmers - Stephen Canavan and Bridget Redmond (per Death Certificate), from Kilvan near Gorey. No photos exist that I am aware of, and note that Mary was not the only New Liverpool Girl who came to Portland. I hope in the future that this connection may reveal more information about her, in addition to the sources and links which so far exist.
margaret flood / Richard rose 16 November, 2014 14:48
My mothers name is rose now barrass I am having trouble finding family my whole life has been a lie .her mother was margaret rose maiden name flood
Dr Richard Reid 17 December, 2014 14:09
I think you'll find Earl Grey was not Irish. The title goes back to his grandfather from Nothumberland in England. The Earl Grey here is Henry 3rd Earl Grey, Secretary of State for War and the Colonies in the British cabinet of Lord John Russell from 1846-1852. The orphan scheme, usually attributed to Earl Grey but which may have had as much to do with his officials in the Land and Emigration Commission of the Colonial Office, had three purposes - to address the problem of the large number of orphan children in Irish workhouses as a result of the Famine; to help redress the numerical imbalance between males and females in the Australian colonies; and to provide female domestic servants. While there was undoubtedly an anti-Irish (better still an anti-Irish Catholic) element in the opposition to the scheme there was also a growing dislike in the colonies against the Imperial government sending out so-called 'pauper emigrants' from institutions such as workhouses wherever they came from in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. When the the orphan scheme was in full swing in 1849 the British government made an attempt to re-introduce a modified form of convict transportation to Sydney.This led to a popular outcry against such sources of emigration and, to some extent, the dislike of the orphan scheme was part of the colonists' desire to control, or certainly to have a much greater say in, who came to Australia at government expense.
Discovery Centre 17 June, 2015 10:39
Hi Dr. Reid,

Thank you for the information, we will update the site post-haste!
Lynne S 6 January, 2015 10:31
Many thanks to all, for all of the interesting information that I located today! I am a descendant of Sarah Arbuckle (my Great great grandmother)who arrived on the ship. The Derwent in 1850 with her sisters, Mary and Ann. Just wondering if you have any more information about sarah and her sisters?
sophie 30 January, 2015 21:53
Hi I don't know if anyone can help me. I am look for a Daniel Harrison and his brother James Harrison. They both sailed from Glasgow to Geelong on the Mahomet Shah in 1849. I can't find them anywhere !! Thank you
Merrilyn 16 February, 2015 08:57
My gr gr grandmother I believe came out on the Mahommed Shah in 1848. Anne Wilkinson listed under the orphan girls from Cork. I have the passenger list but would love to know more about what happened to her after she landed in Melbourne, is this information available in any of the books mentioned already? Also are there any records from either here or Cork about parents or circumstances? Thanks for any help!
Wayne Reardon 26 March, 2015 12:53
Looking for members of the Edward Chapman family, who came to Port Adelaide on the ship Warren Hastings in 1855. Wife Elizabeth (Steward) arr. age 40 (b c1815) and Edward age 45 (b c1810)with children Louisa, Elizabeth, Edward, Amelia and Alfred. Birth dates do not match up with UK records? They settled at Littlehampton SA. Thanks
Joanne Egan 5 November, 2015 16:22
I am a descendant of Edward and Elizabeth. Unfortunately I don't have a lot of information on them, but what I do have is available on Wikitree at http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Chapman-7533
Perry McIntyre 14 April, 2015 13:22
I would be very pleased to hear from anyone who has a girl who came to Sydney, Melbourne or Adelaide as a workhouse orphan between 1848-1850. Check www.irishfaminememorial.org
Eileen O'Brien 1 June, 2015 18:05
My husband, Jim O'Brien, is descended from Ellen Murphy, a famine "orphan" who came out on the Lismoyne from the Kilkenny Workhouse in 1849. She married Michael Green and had a large family in Victoria. Looking for others researching this family.
Anne Sheldrick 22 August, 2015 21:39
Does anyone have any information on my great, great grandmother, Catherine Manning who came to Australia aged 18 from Kenmare on the John Knox in 1850? I think that she married Ralph Cooper in Ipswich.
Ray Debnam 24 May, 2017 07:31
Catherine is believed to have travelled to Moreton Bay on 4 June 1850 aboard the steamer Eagle. Queensland state archives show she was engaged by an Edward Parker in Brisbane on 18 June 1850. She married Ralph Cooper in the Ipswich Catholic church on 5 August 1852. These are the NSW and QLD registration numbers (NSW V1852596 98/1852) (QLD 1854/BMA493). NSW online records show seven children, all born at Patricks Plains. I don't have a death record for Ralph, but a Catherine Cooper married a Timothy Hogan at Patricks Plains in 1875 (NSW 3773/1875). I would appreciate any info you may have.
Mog 15 November, 2015 11:36
Hi, can any one help me with my ancestor question: My GG Grandfather was a Peter Mathews, who was living in Port Phillip (Melb) in 1850 as I have his marriage record...but no background details on it...He's apparently from Ireland (so his death cert said- '46 years in the Colony" which means he must have arrived in the 1840s... Does anyone know how I can find him? Shipwright, born abt 1826 (Ireland, apparently) , lived in Brighton St., Richmond, Vic. Kthxbai :)
Discovery Centre 16 November, 2015 14:34
Hi there - the Public Records Office of Victoria's index to Assisted British Immigration appears to list someone matching those details. You might like to check that index, and then access the relevant passenger list at their Archives Centre or at the State Library to confirm.
Greg Nichols 7 May, 2016 12:16
I am a descendant of Ellen Hurley from Dunmanway, Cork, who arrived in Victoria aboard the "Eliza Caroline" in 1850 apart of the Earl Grey scheme. She married her Employer John Flanagan in 1850, his 1st wife Bridget (Biddy) Keating having died around the same time Ellen departed England. Ellen married Frederick Daniel Miller (Prussia) in 1867 after John's death. Would love to hear from anyone with links
Gaele whitehouse 12 June, 2016 22:08
Hi I am researching my gg grandmother Mary Ann mcCready who married Thomas Milsom and lived in the Kilmore area and had 15 children. I have found a Mary Ann McCready on the ship Derwent arriving in Vic in 1850 but how do I find out if it is the same person? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks Gaele
Discovery Centre 13 June, 2016 12:53
Hello Gaele - as you've discovered, connecting records to individuals can often be tricky, and sometimes you need to work from "best guesses" based on the likelihood of there being anyone else with the same name in the same place at the same time! You might like to explore historic births, deaths and marriage data (available to browse at the State Library of Victoria's genealogy centre), or look in historic newspapers online on Trove, to start making some of those social connections that will allow you to build a picture of your ancestor's life, and from there, confirm her arrival.
Fiona Errington 19 June, 2016 21:49
My ancestor was Mary Ann BYRNES (BURNS) who married in Victoria in 1850. According to her death certificate she arrived in 1848/9. The only person I can find in passenger lists that matches this is Mary Byrnes aged 16 on the William Stewart whose native place is stated as "Cork (foundling)". But on Mary's children's birth certificates when Mary herself is the informant, she gives her place of birth as Dunleer, co Louth. All the sources I read say that the WilliamStewart had 51 "famine orphans (actually young women between 16-21) but that's not clear from my reading of the passenger list. There are 12 girls whose native place is "Cork (foundling)". Can anyone shed any light on this? Would the workhouse in Louth sent girls down to Cork? Or if the Mary on the Wilaim Stewart just not "my" Mary? Thanks for any help.
Discovery Centre 22 June, 2016 14:23
Hello Fiona - it will be difficult to determine if that is the correct Mary Byrne, but for early arrivals, you might like to check the State Records Authority of NSW, as many early Victorian records also reside there. Dr Trevor McClaughlin's book "Barefoot and Pregnant? Irish Famine Orphans in Australia" might also be of assistance in providing a browseable list of the girls who came over (which might help you spot other spelling variations that a web search will miss). All the best with your research!
Theresa may 5 August, 2016 07:58
I am trying to find where the parents of orphaned bridget penrose who came from wicklow in Ireland who was on the earl grey ship came from in wicklow. Some records say barneybrook but there is no such place but I understand that accents proved difficult to understand at that time. Can you help please? Bridget came to Sydney as an orphan with her two sisters and later married James cupitt.
Discovery Centre 5 August, 2016 11:14
Hello Theresa,
Whilst we don't keep records such as the ones you're seeking, you might find contacting local history specialists in Co. Wicklow helpful, as they might know if the placename you have is a corrupted form of a real place.
Pauline Griffiths 7 February, 2017 12:30
My G.g.mother came on the Derwent which arrived 25-2-1850.She worked in a brewery for Peter Gay in Great Collins Street.She was part of the Earl Grey scheme.She received 8 pounds per annum.She departed Newery county Down on the9-11-1849.Her name was Brigid Eliza Murray I would love some more information
Marion Campbell 2 March, 2017 13:00
Thanks for your excellent site. I am researching Catherine Downey who arrived on the John Knox. Am I correct in understanding she arrived in Sydney in April 1850 and was then sent to Moreton Bay in October. Her name doesn't appear on the monument. Was she sent to Moreton Bay because she was difficult to manage? What was the Moreton Bay destination and would it be possible to access more information from there.
Discovery Centre 2 March, 2017 15:06
Hello Marion - We do not hold archives here at the Immigration Museum, so do not have additional information on individual women from this scheme, I'm afraid. However, whilst the monument does not list every name, there is a good explanation of where the archival information and documentation came from on their site. You might find it worthwhile to chase up the various files and correspondence mentioned on their About page. All the best with your research!
Ray Debnam 23 May, 2017 08:58
Hi Marion, Catherine Downey sailed from Sydney for Moreton Bay on board the steamer Eagle on 2 September 1850. I have not found any NSW or QLD marriage record for her but believe she married a Samuel Leman in Ipswich on 27 August 1851. Her name was recorded as Downing and these are the NSW and QLD marriage record numbers (QLD 1854/BMA151) (NSW V1851737 37B/1851)
allan 24 March, 2017 11:36
Ellen Murphy ,parents Denis & Mary arrived on Tippoo Sahib in 1850. Sent to work for Mr.W. Anderson .Indentures cancelled 1851. After this I can't find residence, marriage, death or anything.Can anyone help, please.
Discovery Centre 24 March, 2017 12:02
Hi Allan - Whilst we do not hold records or archives here at the Immigration Museum, you might like to try the family history and reading room at the State Library of Victoria - they hold some indexes of historic births, deaths and marriage data, which are not readily available online. You might also like to try the Trove service, for any mentions of your relative in family or social notices in their historic newspaper index.
Erica 6 June, 2017 21:16
Thanks for the info. I've had a look at the famine memorial site too, I am trying to gain information about what the boats/journey to Melbourne was like for the girls and specifically what happened once they arrived- where did they stay until they were employed? How were employers selected? What was a typical job they undertook (Housemaids?) Is there any information detailing what the role looked like? Thanks so much!
Discovery Centre 7 June, 2017 12:51
Hi Erica, Check out Trevor McClaughlin's book Barefoot and Pregnant?, plus his interesting blog here. You might also enjoy Perilous Voyages to the New Land, for details about what shipboard conditions were like in that period. All the best with your research!
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