In 1842 Elizabeth Fry arranged to have female matrons travelling on all-women convict ships. In this letter she talks about this and other improvements:
Cromer 8 27 1842
My Beloved Friend, thy note received to day has been a real comfort to me, the post brought some sorrows and thy note brought weight in the other seals but I have sat at home alone weeping as I did not feel much inclined to meet a delightful party of brothers and sisters at my brother Buxton's but rather to sit alone and look to my own vineyards and my very deep interests in my family and my beloved friends and for the causes that are near my heart. I humbly thank our heavenly father who has regarded our very unworthy prayers and raised up those that we trust may be suitable in the Convict ship and helpful in the Colony. May grace and wisdom from above be poured forth upon them and may they remember that the servants of the Lord must prove their faith more by conduct than word and profession they must avoid anything like religious cant if I may so express myself and in an upright holy, humble, self-denying and watchful deportment be preachers of righteousness and prove who it is that they believe in and obey - I am often inexpressibly brought low in spirit when I look at the standard and holy example of our blessed Lord and then to behold my own short coming I long for a closer walk with God for myself and all that I love and that through the help of the Holy Spirit we should more constantly prove our love to them who died for us and hath loved us with an everlasting love - Pray impress on these Matrons the extreem* importance of their prudent and circumspect conduct as it respects the gentlemen etc. on board and towards the women the need of sound discretion and the meekness of wisdom and amongst all on board to be wise as serpents, harmless as doves to be pitiful and courteous** - I quite feel my indulgent life and am very ready to work when my Lord may enable me. I do not desire to save myself unless duty calls me to do it, indeed dear friend I have always felt it an honour I have been unworthy of to do anything for my Lord and to be made an instrument of good to my fellow creatures - I have been thankful for thy letters because they have encouraged me to hope that you are not discouraged but that the spirit of our God is poured forth upon my beloved friend to help them in this weighty and important work and to make them willing to labour in this service for the good of their poor fellow mortals my dear love to all our sisters in this service and I am truly in gospel bonds*** my attached friend.
(*Spelling in letter, **Quote from the Bible, ***Common Quaker phrase)
Description: Transcription of a letter from Elizabeth Fry, at Cromer, to Catherine Fraser on the appointment of matrons on all-female convict ships
Source: A photocopy of the original can be found at Norfolk Record Office. Ref: FX 54/1-2
This was one of a number of improvements Elizabeth Fry organised, she also arranged that every woman on leaving the prison should be provided with a Bible, apron, cap, bag, tape, pins, needles, cotton, worsted, thimble, scissors, spectacles where needed, comb, and a knife and fork.