• Entry type: Person
  • Entry ID: AWE3711

Litchfield, Jessie Sinclair

(1883 – 1956)
  • Born 18 February, 1883, Ashfield, Sydney New South Wales Australia
  • Died 12 March, 1956, Richmond Melbourne Victoria Australia
  • Occupation Journalist


Moving around parts of the Northern Territory while her husband worked in the diamond mines, Jessie Litchfield raised her family and worked as a journalist. She published Far North Memories in 1930. After the death of her husband, she worked as editor of the Northern Territory Times and Government Gazette. In 1955 she became the first woman in the Territory to be appointed a justice of the peace.


It is said that a letter Jessie Litchfield wrote in 1909, which somehow ended up in John Flynn’s hands, was instrumental to his involvement in the Australian Inland Mission. Had he not seen it, might well have become ‘Flynn of Korea’ rather than ‘Flynn of the Inland’ once he had completed his training to become a Presbyterian minister.

Litchfield’s letter pleaded for the Presbyterian Church to send a married, male Presbyterian missionary to the Northern Territory, so that he and his wife might start to ‘civilise’ it. Her greatest concern was the extent of informal and abusive interracial relationships that had been established between indigenous women and non-indigenous men, but she was also concerned about the impact of drink and drugs on public health. The place needed a missionary ‘to teach the people right from wrong’.

Flynn used the letter to encourage women he knew in Melbourne to support initiatives to help women in remote, inland regions. The initiatives were, of course, highly racialised.


Published resources

  • Resource Section
  • Book
    • Flynn's Outback Angels: Casting the Mantle - 1901 to World War II, Rudolph, Ivan, 2001
    • Jessie Litchfield: Grand Old Lady of the Territory, Dickinson, Janet, 1982
    • Far-North Memories: Being the account of ten years spent on the diamond-drills, and of things that happened in those days, Litchfield, Jessie, 1930
  • Edited Book
    • 200 Australian Women: A Redress Anthology, Radi, Heather, 1988
  • Site Exhibition
  • Resource

Archival resources

  • Northern Territory Archives Service
    • NTRS 3169 Copies of historical notes relating to the Northern Territory

Related entries

  • Related Organisations
    • Australian Inland Mission (1912 - )