The Rajah Quilt

The Rajah Quilt

Friday, January 28, 2011

Elizabeth Fry

The story of the Rajah Quilt would not be possible without Elizabeth Fry.  Elizabeth was born in 1780 to a Quaker family.  Elizabeth took a great interest in the welfare of others, and after visitng Newgate Prison encouraged others to join her in helping to reform the women in gaols. She began a system of supervision and required the women to sew and to read the Bible. In 1817 she helped found the Association for the Reformation of the Female Prisoners in Newgate. This led to the eventual creation of the British Ladies' Society for Promoting the Reformation of Female Prisoners, widely described by biographers and historians as constituting the first "nationwide" women's organization in Britain.

The sewing supplies that the women on the Rajah were given, came from Elizabeth Fry's association.  From these supplies they made a quilt, during their voyage, and embroidered it with a message.  The inscription reads: TO THE LADIES of the Convict ship committee. This quilt worked by the Convicts of the ship Rajah during their voyage to van Diemans Land is presented as a testimony to the gratitude with which they remember their exertions for their welfare while in England and during their passage and also as proof that they have not neglected the Ladies kind admonition of being industrious. June 1841.

Grace was one of these convicts.  I have no way of knowing if she worked on the quilt, but I like to think she did.



  1. Hi Bernadette, greetings from Ramsgate in England. I'm doing a bit of internet research about Elizabeth Fry and stumbled over your blog. I still can't quite get over the idea of a 'female factory'.. I wonder if she personally met your ancestor on the Rajar.

    As you might know, Elizabeth Fry died in Ramsgate in 1845, still concerned about the needs of the local sailors to the end despite her health.

    I must read more of your website, what a fascinating story. The wonders of the internet ;)

  2. Thank you for your comment. I have read on another website that every female convict was given a parcel containing wool, fabric, needles, thread, scissors, a comb, and some other items, from Elizabeth Fry's ladies. I do wonder if there are any other fabric relics out there that were made from these donations.