The primary document in question is a page of The Daily Colonist from September 1862. I chose this document because the page has three different articles on the women and their situation. The article “The Arrival of the Tynemouth” reads almost like an advertisement for the women. The Anglican Church was a leading factor in bringing these women over; they wanted the women to marry and create a Protestant community. Therefore an advertisement for the women as marriage candidates would make sense. The article “Wouldn’t Let them Aboard” tells a story about men trying to meet these ladies. Finally the article “Our London Letter” informs the people about the financial crisis in England and other information on why these women came.
Primary Document Analysis: Women immigrants in British Columbia
The Tynemouth was an iron steamboat consigned to Dickson, Campbell and co. The ship was sent from London stopping at various destinations before arriving at its final destination Victoria. The boat had 242 passengers, 62 of them female. These women were coming to marry men chosen for them by the Victoria government. Both the men and women were desperate for a new life and marrying each other gave them that opportunity. The women from London were desperate for a new home and life that would provide prosperity. The men wanted European women that could take care of a family and a home. Articles in the paper called “The Daily British Colonist” show the men in British Columbia and Tynemouth women needed each other to achieve their goals.
The 62 women who came on the Tynemouth were aged 14 and up. It appears these women were all from England, as quite a few of them were sponsored by the London Female Emigration society and were referred to in the paper as “English Beauties”. The reporter stated, “They were mostly cleanly, well built, pretty looking young women . . . most appear well raised and generally they seem a superior lot to the women usually met with on emigrant vessels.” (1) The reporter is trying to get the men to want one of these brides to be. The part of the article that talks about the women reads almost like an advertisement. The article explains where the women will be housed, at the “Royal Marine Barracks in James Bay.” This tells the men they are nice brides and where to get them. The article is on page 3 of the paper and is surrounded by shipping and livestock statements therefor the whole page is targeted for men looking to settle down.
England’s economical state at this time was not all it’s best. The women who came over on the Tynemouth did so because it was better than working in a dangerous factory or not working at all. There were many unmarried women working in these factories and many who were unemployed. At this time in England a family could not afford to have a wife or even an eldest daughter not making an income. The economical state was in ruins and people were losing jobs. The paper stated, “Now that two thirds of the mills have stopped working altogether and the remining one-third work short time you can easily imagine the amount of distress that prevails.” (2) The solution: leave the county and restart with a new life. This was a very brave thing to do; leave your family, friends, and everything you know to go marry some miner in this unknown Northern land. The sail over was not easy either. Some of the women died, among them was a widow named Elisabeth Buchman. Despite the odds these women were determined to make a better life for themselves.
The men who were seeking these brides were either looking to settle down or looking for a wife to take care of their already existing family. The article seems to be targeting miners and men who have already established an income. Many men traveled from all over the colony to see these “English Beauties” and get a chance of marrying one. They would put on the best clothes and try to board the vessel with little success. The fight for securing a one of these women was fairly harsh. After all there were only 62 of them. One man who succeeded in boarding the boat seems to have lied to keep the other men off the ship saying, “That steady looking old gent Is the worst in the crowd.” (3) but the reporter knew him as a family man, so he was probably just looking for a wife to take care of his children.
The reason these men were so eager to marry these women is because they were lonely. They needed companionship and they wanted something familiar. They either wanted to settle down and start families or they needed someone to take care of their children from a late wife. The problem was in the colony the population was mostly men so there were very little options when looking for a bride. When the women on the Tynemouth came there was hope. So, men trekked to Esquimalt harbor to get a chance with these women. Many men would hire a boatman to take them to the ship. Some men succeeded in boarding the ship while some men were told to leave. The paper “The daily Colonist” has a whole article titled “Wouldn’t Let them Aboard” about these men who tried to see the Tynemouth women only to be turned away by the vessels crew. The men were desperate for companionship and determined to achieve their goal of finding a wife.
Both the men in British Columbia and the women from England needed each other for a better life. The women were escaping the downhill economic situation in England. Even though they had no idea who their husband would be it was still a better option than working in the factories. The men wanted wives and families but because of such a low female population it was unrealistic for every man to get a wife. Women who were fleeing the bad economic situation in England boosted the female population in British Columbia and made it more realistic for some men to achieve their goal of getting married. The women are now in a place with a more stable economic situation and don’t have to worry about the dangers of working in a factory. The articles show these people needed each other to achieve a better quality of life.
(1) Unknown author, “The Arrival of the Tynemouth” The Daily Colonist, September 19, 1862, vol. 8, 3
(2) Unknown author, “Our London Letter” The Daily Colonist, September 19, 1862, vol. 8, 3
(3) Unknown author, “Wouldn’t Let them Aboard” The Daily Colonist, September 19, 1862, vol. 8, 3