• Entry type: Person
  • Entry ID: AWE6092

Macartney, Jane

(1803 – 1885)
  • Born 19 January, 1803, Castle Bellingham County Louth Ireland
  • Died 10 January, 1885, East Melbourne Victoria Australia
  • Occupation Philanthropist, Religious worker, Teacher


Jane Macartney was a well-respected and much-loved member of both Irish and Victorian society during the nineteenth century. She dedicated much of her time to working with the sick and poor and was involved in the establishment of an Orphan Asylum, the Carlton Refuge, the Melbourne Home and the Lying-In Hospital.

Jane was the wife of Hussey Burgh Macartney, the Dean of Melbourne from 1852 until his death in 1894.


Jane Macartney was born on the 19th of January 1803 at Castle Bellingham in Ireland. Throughout her early life, Jane assisted in the establishment of a Girl’s School in a nearby underprivileged area. Together with her friends she raised enough money to construct the school house, as well as provide a wage for additional teachers. In addition to teaching at the school, Jane also took the time to visit those less fortunate living in the neighbourhood.

Jane married her husband, Hussey Burgh Macartney, in March 1833. As a clergyman’s wife she taught every week at the Sunday school and also continued to care for the poor.

After ten years of married life in Ireland, and the birth of eight children the decision was made to make the move to Port Phillip, where some of Hussey’s relatives already resided.

Jane once again taught in Sunday schools when the family reached Victoria; initially settling in Heidelberg, followed by Geelong, and finally moving back to Melbourne at the height of the gold rush.

Jane assisted with the establishment of an Orphan Asylum, the Carlton Refuge, the Melbourne Home and the Lying-In Hospital, at which she was a member of the committee. Jane and her daughters visited the Asylum and the Melbourne Hospital regularly until her busy schedule refrained her from doing so.

One nineteenth century newspaper reported: ‘Ladies at the Orphan Asylum were often surprised that a woman beyond her eightieth year was able to travel so far and to take such a lively interest in all the details; but they did not know that, instead of returning home, she went straight to the Carlton Refuge, and ladies there, who wondered at the energy with which she entered into all the business presented to the committee, had little idea that her morning had been spent in exertions for another institution eight or nine miles away.’

Jane passed away at the Deanery in 1885. There were many obituaries published in the local newspapers and between three and four hundred people attended her funeral service.


Archival resources

  • Royal Historical Society of Victoria Inc
    • Jane Macartney : Diaries, 1859-Sept. 1884 (1866 missing or not complete)
    • Macartney family papers

Related entries

  • Affiliated
    • Carlton Refuge (1854 - 1949)
    • Governesses' Institute and Melbourne Home (1857 - 1936)
    • Melbourne Orphan Asylum ( Vic.) (1853 - )