The female emigrants of the Canterbury Association and their role in Wakefield's theory of "systematic colonization".
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
This study identifies and investigates the female emigrants who came to Canterbury on board ships chartered by the Canterbury Association between 1850 and 1853. Particular emphasis is given to the ways in which these women conformed to Wakefield's notion of an 'ideal' female emigrant. In order that his scheme be translated into reality as faithfully as possible, Wakefield set forth his ideas regarding emigrant selection, and also the preferred personal qualities and characteristics of female emigrants. This study analyzes, and assesses the validity of Wakefield's theory in terms of the selection of female emigrants. The official Canterbury Association passenger lists and the writings of Edward Gibbon Wakefield are the primary source materials on which this study is based. Chapter One introduces Wakefieldian theory and examines its position relative to the other theories and practices of colonization which had been made by the British government before 1830. A discussion of contemporary British society analyzes the religious, political, economic and social climate which induced Wakefield to view a reformed colonial policy as the best means of reducing the ' excessive competition', which he believed to be the chief cause of heightened social tensions. The main economic and social points of 'systematic colonization' are presented, including Wakefield's intention of transplanting to the colonies the socio-sexual hierarchy which existed in England. In Chapter Two, attention is given to contemporary British thought on women and society. A more specific discussion of Wakefield's attitudes to women is presented, as well as his perception of their role during the emigration and colonization process. Chapter Three examines the attempt by the Canterbury Association to translate Wakefield's ideas and goals regarding female emigrants into reality. The difficulties encountered in this attempt, and the resultant deviations from Wakefieldian theory are also discussed. Chapter Four discusses the nature and characteristics of the group of female emigrants who traveled on Canterbury Association ships. The degree of conformity between these women and the Wakefieldian ideal is assessed. In Chapter Five, the accounts of three women who traveled to Canterbury on board the Charlotte Jane are presented and analyzed in terms of Wakefieldian theory and the Canterbury Association's emigrant regulations. Finally, a detailed assessment is made of the validity of those aspects of Wakefieldian theory which deal with the issue of female emigration and colonization.