Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas 1856 Arrival - Emma Jane Weston 1839-1914

Emma Jane Weston
It was the 23 December 1856 when the the "Kate" arrived into Sydney after the long journey from Plymouth under the command of Captain Davidson.* Emma Jane Weston and her sister Mary Anne Weston had left Plymouth on the Kate on 7 September 1856. They were 18 and 19 years old (respectively) when they arrived as assisted immigrants under the guardianship of their Uncle Alfred Weston.  Alfred had immigrated to Australia as an assisted immigrant with his wife Maria in the previous year (13 January 1855) on the Bangalore.* The immigration record for Emma and Jane state that he was living in Wollongong at the time of their arrival. 

These two young sisters were listed as being house maids from London, who had journeyed to Australia as part of Government assisted immigration program to provide relief to the colonies labour shortage.

An article published in the Sydney Morning Herald on the 27 December 1856, describes this situation.


The arrival of the Kate, from Plymouth, with government immigrants, will afford a temporary relief to the late very great scarcity of country labour.  The immigrants are classified as follows: 49 married couples, 109 single men, 62 single women and 17 children. In the early part of the week the rates going were, in some cases, slightly in advance of the previous week.

OLIVER STAINS, British Foreign Labour Agent, December 26th. 73, Corner of King and Castlereagh Streets."

Under this notice a further article goes on to describe the shortages of labour, especially of female servants.

St Marylebone
"Engagements have been limited in consequence of it being a holiday week.  Orders for country servants are plentiful. There has been one arrival (The Kate) with 300 immigrants of a mixed class.  The harvest now drawing to a close will cause reaction in the supply of labour.  The inhabitants of Sydney have seen much inconvenience in regard to female servants. The demand is great and those for hire are few.  Wages remain firm if quoted rite.  

J.C. GLUE, Labour Agent, December 26, 48 Pitt Street North."

These few articles give you an idea of what greeted my Great Great Grandmother Emma Jane Weston and her elder sister Mary Anne when they arrived in Australia to seek their fortune in a new land.

 Emma and Mary Anne were the daughters of William Weston (abt 1816-1867) and Mary Ann Rolf (abt 1816-1896).  Mary and William were married at St Marylebone, an Anglican Church on the Marylebone Rd, London on the 3 October 1835.

Emma was born on the 25 June 1839 at 9.00am in the family home at 21 Edwards Street Regents Park. Her father's occupation was listed as House Painter.

Birth Certificate - Emma Jane Weston 25 June 1839
What was in store for Emma and her sister Mary Anne once they disembarked from the Kate, in Sydney?  Would they find employment or perhaps a husband? You have to reflect on how foreign life in the new colony would have been to the two young sisters who had been brought up in London. Imagine how different it was to celebrate Christmas on the other side of the world!

* New South Wales, Australia, Assisted Immigrant Passenger Lists, 1828-1896