National Library of Australia

Alfred Ducôte’s E-migration, or, A Flight of Fair Game

Alfred Ducôte (active 1832–1843)Alfred Ducôte’s E-Migration, or, A Flight of Fair Game

London: Thos. McLean, 1832

hand-coloured lithograph; 27.1 x 39.9cm

Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts, State Library of Tasmania
Alfred Ducôte’s E-Migration, or, A Flight of Fair Game

In 1831, the British Government subsidised the migration of free settlers to New South Wales, biased heavily in favour of single women aged between 18 and 30.

This attractive and witty lithograph by Alfred Ducôte (flourished 1832–43) appeared in response to this drive, and is based on an original work by John Doyle (1797–1868).

Eighty years of male-dominated transportation, along with a flood of single men emigrating to seek their fortunes, left the colony critically short of women.

Despite the lure of free passage, women were reluctant to emigrate—after all, Australia was hardly a desirable destination. Its distance and reputation as a convict colony were not huge attractions and life for the new arrivals would have been hard.

There was another problem. Most colonial men viewed women disparagingly, since nearly all the women who arrived in the first 20 years were convicts, many of them prostitutes.

But perceptions softened as free settlers began to outnumber convicts.

By the turn of the century, the gender balance was almost equal. Even then, the ratio of 1.11 men to every woman was one of the highest in the world.