A Place For The Friendless Female

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With convict transportation to New South Wales ending in 1840 and the Superintendent of Convicts having fewer convicts to supervise, the remaining convicts lodged at Hyde Park Barracks were moved to Cockatoo Island in January 1848. The Barracks was then handed over to the Immigration Department and reconfigured in readiness for the arrival of the Depot’s first occupants arriving aboard the Earl Grey in October 1848 – Irish orphan girls – orphaned due to the Great Irish Famine in the mid 1840s.

The Female Immigration Depot housed at Hyde Park Barracks from 1848 to 1886 received thousands of young, free, government-assisted, working class, Irish, English and Scottish female migrants to New South Wales during its 38 years of operation. It was the primary reception and hiring depot in Sydney for ‘unprotected’ females whether single or married with or without children. The women were normally hired as domestic servants.

The Migration Heritage Centre formed a partnership with the Hyde Park Barracks Museum, a property of the Historic Houses Trust of NSW, for an exhibition entitled A Place for the Friendless Female: Sydney’s Female Immigration Depot.

Curated by Bridget Berry, an online version is now featured on the Migration Heritage Centre’s website. An associated room brochure is for sale at Hyde Park Barracks Museum.

The Hyde Park Barracks Museum also wrote ten statements of cultural heritage significance for female immigration depot artefacts and conserved its nationally significant collection with support from the Centre.

Hyde Park Barracks Museum
Historic Houses Trust of NSW


Queens Square, Macquarie Street, Sydney

Tel: 02 8239 2311
Email: bridgetb@hht.net.au