Rye, Maria Susan
b. 1829-03-31
d. 1903-11-12
On March 31, 1829, Maria Susan Rye was born in London, England, to Edward Rye and Maria Tuppen.1 She was educated at home and began her social work at St. Luke’s, Chelsea, where she was encouraged to take Christianity into the world at the age of sixteen.2 She was engaged with the women’s movement, writing articles under the initials M.S.R., never using her full name, to defend, and stir up support for, the Married Women's Property Bill (brought forward in 1856) and her later emigration initiatives.3
In May 1862, Rye and a few other women established the Female Middle-Class Emigration Society, which helped unmarried, middle-class women—ineligible for government sponsorship programs—emigrate to the British Colonies of New Zealand and Australia.4 To reduce the cost of resettling women abroad, Rye began helping women emigrate to Canada, where they would find jobs as teachers, nurses, and governesses, in 1868.5 She was briefly engaged with the Columbia Emigration Society, which sought to bring working-class women to Western Canada.6 However, her efforts to assist middle-class women find new life, and achieve economic independence, in Canada, were heavily criticized by contemporaries who accused her of being nothing more than a marriage broker.7
Shortly after receiving negative press attention, she shifted her attention to assisting British gutter children emigrate to Canada, where they could be employed on farms and assist with domestic work.8 By 1896, her initiative helped approximately 5,000 children emigrate to Canada, 3,623 of which were female.9 But, again, this initiative was subject to great controversy as contemporary critics accused Rye of operating a profitable business behind a charitable façade.10
After spending the latter half of her life assisting middle-class women and orphaned children with the process of emigrating from Britain to the colonies, Rye retired to Norfolk county where she died of cancer in 1903.11
  • 1. Joy Parr, Rye, Maria Susan, Dictionary of Canadian Biography.
  • 2. Charlotte Macdonald, Rye, Maria Susan, Dictionary of New Zealand Biography.
  • 3. Marjorie Kholi, The Golden Bridge: Young Immigrants to Canada, 1833-1939 (Toronto: Natural Heritage Books, 2003), 71.
  • 4. Kholi, The Golden Bridge, 319.
  • 5. Ibid., 308.
  • 6. Ibid., 319.
  • 7. Ibid., 319. & Parr, Rye, Maria Susan, Dictionary of Canadian Biography.
  • 8. Kholi, The Golden Bridge, 71.
  • 9. Parr, Rye, Maria Susan, Dictionary of Canadian Biography.
  • 10. Macdonald, Rye, Maria Susan, Dictionary of New Zealand Biography.
  • 11. Parr, Rye, Maria Susan, Dictionary of Canadian Biography.
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The Colonial Despatches Team. Rye, Maria Susan. The Colonial Despatches of Vancouver Island and British Columbia 1846-1871, Edition 2.2, ed. The Colonial Despatches Team. Victoria, B.C.: University of Victoria. https://bcgenesis.uvic.ca/rye.html.

Last modified: 2020-12-02 13:40:34 -0800 (Wed, 02 Dec 2020) (SVN revision: 5008)