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Obituaries Australia

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Sutherland, Selina Murray (1839–1909)

from Argus (Melbourne)

Many young men and women in happy homes will mourn to-day the death of Miss Selina Murray MacDonald Sutherland whose love and care for the waifs and strays of Melbourne for the last 30 years had been the main instrument in settling them in useful and profitable walks of life. Miss Sutherland, better known by this plain title, has been a fine figure in the records of Victorian charity, a hard worker, and a woman whose heart was in her work She was born in Kilgower, Sutherland-shire, in 1849, and arrived in New Zealand when she was about 19 years of age. A coach accident, in which she sustained severe injuries was responsible for a health trip to Melbourne, in which city she had no intention of living the rest of her useful life when she first landed. But here she met the late Mrs Maria Lord Armour, a lady of means from Tasmania, keenly interested in the poor mothers and children of the slums. Mrs Armour pressed Miss Sutherland to stay and she consented. She went into the Alfred Hospital as a nurse, and afterwards completed a special course in the Women’s Hospital in the early eighties. Dr Felix Meyer was then house surgeon at the latter institution and right up to last was a firm friend of Miss Sutherland, and helped her in her work in numberless ways.

Mrs Armour and Miss Sutherland took a little cottage at the back of the Assembly hall and there inaugurated a campaign of charity, which was to last for over thirty years. By 1885 Miss Sutherland had gathered up the reins of many organisations and charities in her capable energetic hands. She was in charge of the Scots Church Children’s Mission, she had started a district nursing association, a maternity hospital society, a convalescent home, and a social society. In her spare time, which was scanty, she conducted a savings bank, Saturday classes, and a Band of Hope. At this time she had no children in her immediate care. She went on working amongst the poor, finding situations and homes for neglected childhood, and later a Presbyterian Neglected Children’s Home was started with Miss Sutherland in charge. Her care of the children of the slums was her greatest and finest work.

In 1894 she, with her faithful friends and helpers, Miss Ellen Sanderson and Miss S. B. Smith (who left her only to join her again two years ago) left the church society and began the “Victorian Neglected Children s Aid Society” whose building in Latrobe street his sheltered hundreds of waifs who found no shelter elsewhere. Most of her supporters transferred their interest from the church society to the new Latrobe street Home. The home remained the same size but the city grew and the indefatigable Miss Sutherland by dint of tremendous efforts, collected, almost unaided, the money for the Parkville institution, opened in November, 1901 From that time until last year she managed both homes but a disagreement with her committee caused her to leave the Parkville home and pay all her attention to the Latrobe-street institution.

On September 22 Miss Sutherland became ill with an attack of influenza. She seemed to be recovering but during the last few days she developed pneumonia and pleurisy. Her heart was also affected and had been for some time, says Dr Felix Meyer who attended her. As she grew worse Dr Meyer called in Dr Springthorpe in consultation, and though both medical men attended her with unremitting attention she died yesterday afternoon at a quarter past 4 o’clock in the Latrobe street home She will be buried in the Melbourne Cemetery tomorrow, the funeral starting from the home at half past 2 o’clock.

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Citation details

'Sutherland, Selina Murray (1839–1909)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 25 September 2020.

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