Degree Name

Master of Arts


Department of History


For most middle class women who migrated, Australia was a 'promised land' as far as employment prospects were concerned. The colonies offered an opportunity for well-paid employment, better prospects for finding a job, and the chance to live an independent and satisfying life in a society where women were in the minority, cind generally treated well as a result. Some immigrants married, but not enough to declare the colonies a 'promised land' in terms of marriage prospects. No women admitted to migrating in search of a husband, but a number of English writers extolled the marital opportunities which the colonies offered, with their oversupply of unmarried men, so that marriage was a likely hidden motive for migration. Colonial life presented an attractive alternative to the life which many English women were forced to lead. Middle class women of the nineteenth century were expected to marry, and were regarded as failures if they did not. 'Redundant women', or those who failed to find a husband, could either remain in their families and hope to be supported, or they could seek employment, usually as governesses, one of the few occupations considered suitable for gentlewomen. Salaries were low, and employment difficult to obtain because of the many women in the same situation. As a result, adventurous women contemplated migration, but they heeded assistance to make such a drastic change in their lives.