Caroline Chisholm

Caroline Chisholm (1808 – 1877) philanthropist
“Caroline Chisholm was a member of the Roman Catholic Church, with a tolerance so wide, and her love of humanity so strong she gave of her best to all who asked her help no matter to what class or creed they belonged.”

Caroline Chisholm was born at Northampton, 30 May 1808, and died in London, 25 March 1877, and yet regarded Australia as her adopted land.

She eased the path of thousands of migrants in this their new homeland. Her special concern for homeless girls and poor families during Australia’s formative years caused her contemporaries to see her as ‘the indispensable woman of the time’.

In Victoria her Shelter Sheds provided cheap and safe accommodation on the road to the Castlemaine Goldfields.

Caroline Chisholm may be described as a Christian humanist. She was inspired at once by the command ‘Love thy neighbour’ and the warm human sympathy of her own nature. Her sense of the worth of every human being prevented any trace of condescension or discrimination in her work. Charity, she said, should reach out to all creatures, ‘as long as they bear the stamp of humanity.’

She felt her work had been given her to do ‘by One who never allows his servants to stand still for want of materials’. To it she brought all her gifts of heart and intellect, and earned the gratitude of the Australian people.

For thirty years she worked to assist single women and families to migrate and settle in Australia. The idealistic and religious fervour for which she is now admired made her then a target for sectarian suspicion which added to the many difficulties she had to overcome.

She had to contend with the primitive conditions of a colonial society and a bitter religious controversy. She was handicapped by lack of material resources, but she had great personal assets. She had energy, human sympathy, administrative ability of a high order, personal charm and dignity, a husband unobtrusively devoted to her work, and undying faith in the cause to which she had so unselfishly put her hand.

Caroline Chisholm was a great pioneer, the greatest of women pioneers in the history of Australia and yet she died in poverty and obscurity.

Source :
Further :

Mrs Chisholm convinced the Victorian Government to build the Shelter Sheds in 1855.
The ten Sheds or Shakedowns were established along the road to the Bendigo gold mining region. The first was in Essendon and then the second in Keilor. The distances advertised between the ‘Stations’ and the ‘Miles from town, about’, in the Government Gazette of 24 April, 1855 were 5 miles to Essendon, 10 miles to Keilor, 16 miles to Robertsons, 25 miles to The Gap, 34 miles to Gisborne, 40 miles to The Black Forest, 47 miles to Woodend, 54 miles to Carlsruhe, 63 miles to Malmsbury and 71 miles to Elphinstone.

Caroline Chisholm had originally wanted 16 sheds but settled for 10. She travelled to view her sheds being built. That was typical of her ability and will to follow through and pay attention to all of the projects she undertook.

Argus advertisement, 1855.
Shelter Sheds. Originated by Mrs Chisholm. Shilling Tickets: entitling holders to a night’s shelter for each ticket in the sheds on the line of road to Castlemaine, are now on sale by Mrs Chisholm: Mr Walsh, Bookseller, Elizabeth Street North: and Mr Reid office of this paper.”


Have you ever wondered about the woman on the old five dollar note? For 30 years she helped Australian immigrants. Her name – Caroline Chisholm and she was known as the immigrants’ friend. What was she like?

Caroline Chisholm and Mary MacKillop :

Caroline Chisholm and the Sisters of Charity :

Influential Australian Christians depicted on Australian notes and coins
Leave a Reply, comments are welcome.

One thought on “Caroline Chisholm”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.