Thursday 3 November 2022

The Immigrants Home mystery

 For some time now we have been researching the old “Immigrants Home” in Campbelltown, which was part of Caroline Chisholm’s scheme for placing new immigrant women into situations in the country where they would not fall prey to the temptations and poor conditions rife in Sydney for single women. 

The home in Campbelltown was a stopover for further travels into the “interior”. Similar homes were created in Goulburn, Maitland, and other locations. 

The good citizens of Campbelltown held a public meeting on the 5th February 1842, and resolved to “form a home for Immigrants in Campbelltown upon the plan adopted by Mrs Chisholm.” They felt that “it would afford great facilities to the settlers in the district, besides being attended with numerous advantages to the Immigrants themselves”. The home would be funded by public subscription. 

It was noted that the meeting was held at the Roman Catholic School House, which was what is now known as Quondong, the Visitor Information Centre. 

There has been some dispute as to where exactly the Immigrants Home was, but we believe we have solved the mystery.  We have a very poor photo of the “Old Immigrants Home” from the Town and Country Journal with a small accompanying article. The image was taken by P.C. Marlow. Many people believed Quondong was the immigrants’ home, but the article and photo in the Journal does not bear this out. We have tracked down a couple of sources that place it on the opposite side of the road to Quondong, on a block that ran between the convergence of Old Menangle Road and Appin Road. Where these two roads came to a point was where the house was. (1979 Aileen Hayden Oral History). 

In the obituary of John Hurley, it was noted that “Mr Hurley came to her (Mrs Chisholm) and besides materially helping her by his influence and purse in her admirable scheme he gave her a large house in which the immigrants could find a home whilst awaiting a situation.” This makes complete sense, as the block on which the old house stood was originally John Bolger’s grant, which had been sold to James Meehan, and eventually leased by John Hurley in around 1833, and known as Hurley’s Farm. 

Written by Claire Lynch

Sources - Trove, Oral Histories

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