For four years during the Pre-Separation years, over two hundred Irish orphan girls brought to New South Wales under the Earl Grey scheme were diverted to the northern settlements at Moreton Bay, mainly Brisbane and Ipswich. Here they were ensured instant employment by local businessmen, starting with Police Magistrate, Captain John Wickham. Although several masters came to regret their entanglement with these erratic servants, few remained free for any time as so many of them married as soon as they could.
Jennifer Harrison will explore the stories of some of these young Hibernians, concentrating particularly on their main two roles in their adopted country: their employment possibilities and their attraction as marriage partners. They became country and city wives, mothers of dozens of children, and they lived different lives to that expected in Ireland.
This photograph shows Steele Rudd’s cottage. Steele Rudd, the pseudonym of Arthur Hoey Davis, was the Queensland author of the Dad and Dave characters in On Our Selection. His mother was Mary Green, an Irish orphan girl from Tuam in County Galway, who arrived in NSW in February 1849 on the Inchinnan, married Thomas Davis at Drayton in 1852 and had thirteen children, the eighth being Arthur Hoey Davis.
(Picture: Replica of Steele Rudd's childhood home, courtesy of Lyndal Cosgrove)