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Barefoot and Pregnant? Female Orphans who Emigrated from Irish Workhouses to Australia, 1848-50

by Familia Ulster Genealogical Review: No. 03, 1987


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By Trevor McClaughlin

"One of the subjects neglected by family historians and historians of emigration is the role played by Irish women who went to settle in Australia in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Part of the problem is that so many sources were written by and concerned with men rather than women: it requires a real act of historical imagination to view things from the vantage point of the females themselves and to understand them on their own terms.

How many readers, for example, know of Earl Grey's scheme whereby over 4000 young adult women were sent from Irish workhouses to Australia, at the end of the Great Famine?

The author is at present preparing a detailed monographic study of the emigration and settlement of these female orphans but is happy to share with the reader the results of some of his research to date."

This article looks at Earl Grey's scheme that sent over 4000 young women from Irish workhouses to Australia between 1848 and 1850.

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