In the end I decided to go to Northampton to visit the grave of Caroline Chisholm. Caroline is known as the immigrant's friend. She was a well known social reformer of her day.
Why is Caroline significant to me and my family? You may recall that Caroline Chisholm was on the original $5 note in Australia. As well as her image there was a picture of a ship. That ship was the Waverley.
Caroline agitated at the Home Office to reunite the wives and families of convicts with their husbands and fathers. On 22 June 1847 she wrote that she ‘had just left the Home Office and had obtained a passage per Waverley for forty-nine souls.’ SMH 9 August 1847, extract from letter 30 March 1847.
My great great grandmother Matilda Agnew, her older siblings James, John and Rosanna and their mother Ellen (Alicia on Irish records) were on the Waverley. Caroline Chisholm organised their journey to Australia to be reunited with their father and husband James Agnew.
Her letter went on to say that one of the families had been ill with fever and she requested that they not be permitted to travel until later. That family was related to mine. They were Matilda's cousins Adam, Edward and James along with their mother Catherine. They had to wait until the following year. This must have been very difficult for them.
Back to the present. Caroline Chisholm is buried at Billing Road Cemetery in Northampton, less than an hour's train ride north of London. The cemetery is quite close to the centre of town. I came armed with information about how to locate the headstone - it was at the far end of the cemetery.
Unfortunately my definition of far end differed from the information I had. I walked to the very far end and could not find it. However, I finally located the headstone at what I would have called the right hand side, quite close to the front and the side wall of the cemetery. Enter from the main gate, follow the path to the right and when the path veers to the left, leave the path and continue walking straight ahead. If it's springtime you will be fortunate to see daffodils surrounding the grave as I did.
My great great grandmother Matilda was born a few months after her father was sent to Australia, so by the time she first met him she was 11 years old. Without assistance from Caroline Chisholm she may never had met him.
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