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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
Alternative Names
  • Phillips, Jessie (maiden name)

Summary

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.

Details

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 Resbyterian minister.

Litchfield's letter pleaded for the Pressbyterian 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.

Sources used to compile this entry: James, Barbara, 'Litchfield, Jessie Sinclair (1883-1956)', in Australian Dictionary of Biography Online, Australian National University, 2006, http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A100107b.htm; Rudolph, Ivan, Flynn's Outback Angels: Casting the Mantle - 1901 to World War II, vol. 1, Central Queensland University Press, Rockhampton, 2001.

Related entries

Related Organisations

  • Australian Inland Mission (1912 - )

    A letter from Jessie Litchfield that found its way into Rev Flynn's hands was influential to his decision to establish the Australian Inland Mission

Barbara Lemon

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