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Maria Rye

Maria Susan Rye, (31 March 1829 12 November 1903), was an English social reformer and a promoter of emigration, especially of young women living in Liverpool workhouses. She was the daughter of solicitor Edward Rye and Maria Tuppen.


Rye began her emigration work by transporting adult middle-class women to Australia and New Zealand. In 1861 she set up the Female Middle Class Emigration Society (1861 1908), supported by many of the ladies of Langham Place. The society provided interest-free loans repayable over a period of two years and four months, to enable educated women to emigrate. It also established and maintained correspondents at most colonial ports to which female emigrants might travel. In 1862, Rye sail to New Zealand with the first party sent out by the Society. Miss Rye went on to Australia and did not return to England until 1865. The society was most active between 1861 and 1867 when Rye was actively involved with the running of the society.[1]

From 1865 onwards, Rye turned her attention to the rescue of poorhouse and orphaned children. This effort is the work for which she is best known in Canada. Between 1869 and 1896, 3623 female children were transferred from England to Canada. She made many trips herself, placing these children at her reception centres at Niagara-on-the-Lake and Peckham, Ontario. Most of the emigrants were wards of the English Poor Law unions.

By 1895, Miss Rye transferred her reception centres to the Church of England Waifs and Strays Society and retired.

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Maria moved to Canada where she died of tropical diseases


  1. The First Report of the FMCES, May 1862 Oct 1862; The Second Report of the FMCES, 1 Nov 1862-1 Jul 1872, The Women's Library, London

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