By Averil Staunton
In 1849 a scheme was devised by Henry George Grey, 3rd Earl Grey (1802-1894), British Secretary of State for the Colonies, to relieve overcrowding in the Workhouses. Also to meet the demand for domestic labourers and single young women in the new colonies. This scheme was also devised to address the gender imbalance in Australia, where there was a shortage of women of child-bearing age, in a population where there were eight men to one woman. It would also help reduce the rising maintenance costs of the Workhouses. To the British Government it seemed like a clever solution to all their problems!