Volume 1: Sydney Female Refuge Society meeting minutes, 15 February 1864 - 30 December 1864

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In 1848 the Sydney Female Refuge Society was established to provide a home for women escaping from prostitution and for young unmarried girls who fell pregnant. This collection includes the digitised pages of three 'minute books' from the Society records. The refuge was established on 21 August 1848 by those concerned at the level of pregnancies outside marriage and resulting from prostitution. The Committee which set up the refuge made it clear that Sydney was no worse than other cities around the world but that it did have unique problems.

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At a meeting of the Ladies General Committee held at the Refuge on Friday 1st July 1864.

Present Mrs Allen Mrs Tucker Mrs Mills .. Robinson & the Secretary.

The Report of the Sub Committee of the Gentlemen was read and much concern was expressed at the mention made of the bad conduct of the paid servants of this Institution and the Ladies expressed their approval of Fanny's dismissal from the Refuge.

Mrs Anderson applied for the situation of Servant & Laundress and as there was not a quorum present the Ladies determined that the engagement should stand over till Tuesday however Mr Caldwell having called the matter was referred to him and after some discussion it was resolved to offer the situation to Mrs Anderson for 12/ per week during the first [crossed out - months] quarter but she refused to undertake the duties for less than 14/ per week and it was finally arranged that she got 12/ a week for the first month and if she remained longer her wages were then to be 14/ weekly.

The meeting was then adjourned till the following Tuesday - 5th July when the following Ladies were present

Mrs Braillat Mrs Robinson Mrs Joseph Thompson Mrs John Dawson Mrs Smith & the Secretary

The Secretary proposed that Mrs Marks be engaged to remain in the Institution from ten o'clock A. M. to 7 oclock P. M. from ten to three sitting with the Needlewomen and from three to half past four all the girls under twenty are to attend

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School often the last named [indecipherable] with instructions all the older women. This was agreed to

The Secretary was requested to acknowledge the Sub Committee Report and also acquaint the Gentlemen that Mrs Marks had been engaged by the Ladies to devote the greater part of the day to the Inmates.

At a meeting of the Ladies General Committee of the Sydney Female Refuge held on Friday the 6th of August 1864.

Present Mrs Hay , Mrs Tucker Mrs Murnin , Mrs Joy Mrs Wise , Mrs Bickford Mrs Smith , Mrs Reives Mrs Joseph Thompson , Mrs Spier Mrs Reed , & The Secretary

The Secretary mentioned that Mrs Marks had stated that she could not devote so many hours per day to the Inmates for less than 18 / per week & that the Secretary had arranged that Mrs M should have that sum till the Institutions were again in working order.

The Matron stated that she would not comply with the instructions of the Gentlemens Committee by that "Fanny was not to visit her at the Refuge & if such a resolution be still demanded she must resign her situation

The Ladies thought that considering the circumstances under which Fanny was dis - missed it was quite necessary that the orders

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of the Gentlemen's Committee be adhered to but as they were not empowered to accept Mrs Baker's resignation the Secretary was requested to write to the Gentlemen on the subject.

At the Meeting of the Ladies General Committee of the Sydney Female Refuge held on Friday the 2nd of September 1864.

Present Mrs Foss Mrs Joy Mrs Hay Mrs Robinson Mrs Allen Mrs Jo.. Thompson Mrs Breillat Mrs Bickford Mrs Tucker Mrs Mills and the Secretary.

Minutes of previous meeting read also the Sub Committee Report and the Tabular Report 17 Inmates in the house.

The Secretary mentioned that there was no daily journal the Matron not having received a new book and the old one being filled.

The Matron stated that she wished to leave the Institution on Tuesday next having taken a house which required her immediate superintendance.

Resolved that the Secretary write to the Gentlemen acquainting them of the fact & suggesting that they call a special meeting at once to determine what is to be done with a view to selecting a Matron in place of Mrs Baker.

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At a special meeting of the Ladies General Committee of the Sydney Female Refuge held on Friday the 30th Septbr [September] 1864.

Present Mrs Allen Mrs Smith - the Secretary.

The Secretary mentioned that the meeting had been called to give an opinion as to which of the four candidates chosen selected by the Gentlemen was the most desirable. The candidates were Mrs Nixon Mrs Williams Mrs [Blea?] & Mrs Roberts.

The Weather was very stormy and there not being a quorum present - nothing was done except seeing the candidates and afterwards the Ladies were unanimous in their opinion as to Mrs Roberts being the most desirable & she was accordingly elected by the Gentlemen.

At a meeting of the Ladies General Committee of the Sydney Female Refuge held on Friday the 4th Novbr [November] 1864.

Present Mrs Tucker Mrs Foss Mrs Joy Mrs Joseph Thompson Mrs Wiser Mrs Bickford Mrs Smith Mrs Dawson Mrs Reed Mrs Speer & the Secretary.

The minutes of former meeting read also the Daily Journal & Tabular Report & the Report of the

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Sub Committee Inmates in the Houses

The Matron mentioned having received from Mr Beam from Mr J Thompson 30 pounds of tea also a bag of potatoes from Mr Curtis.

Margaret Hogg having been reprimanded for improper conduct by Mrs Anderson demanded to be allowed to leave the Institution. The Ladies reasoned with her & advised her to remain which she consented to most unwillingly.

Alice Grey applied for readmission for the fifth time and after some consultation on the subject it was finally resolved to admit her she having on former occasion proved very idle & troublesome

Then Matron suggested that some lattice boards be procured for the women in the laundry to stand on & also asked for a cupboard with a lock & key.

Resolved that the Secretary write to the Gentlemen on the subject.

Mrs Bird was spoken to having it would appeared deceived this Committee about her stepdaughter they resolved that in future she should not be permitted to visit Marion at the Refuge. She promised a donation towards the funds of the Institution.

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