Australian Women's Register

An initiative of The National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW) in conjunction with The University of Melbourne

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Rowland, Caroline Ann (1852 - 1921)

31 December 1852
Kentish Town, London, England
11 March 1921
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Religious Leader and Teacher
Alternative Names
  • Sister Mary Cordula


Caroline Rowland was an English born, German trained nun of the Ursuline order who made profession in October 1873, taking the religious name Mary Cordula. A casualty of the 1877 Falk laws that dissolved and/or expelled teaching religious orders throughout the German Empire, she returned from Germany to England in 1878 where she helped to establish, in Greenwich, a school for girls which still flourishes under the Ursulines.

In 1882, after accepting an invitation from Bishop Elzear Torreggiani to come to Australia, twelve sisters, including Sister Cordula, arrived in Sydney, to join him in the vast diocese of Armidale in northern New South Wales. They arrived in the inland town on 12 September, 1882. Here they established a day and boarding school for girls which grew rapidly: St Ursula's College, Armidale, drew its students from all over New South Wales and Queensland and even from Victoria. They also took responsibility for the parochial primary school which had existed under lay administration since the 1850s.

Sister Cordula proved herself to be an adaptable and energetic teacher, business woman and administrator. She held various offices in the religious community: treasurer several times after 1885, superior (1898-1904 and 1905-11) and mistress general of the boarding school (1911-19).

She was well loved and much admired, and developed a reputation as a fair and broadminded person. Her friendly manner endeared her to the members of her own religious community as well as to the wider local community.

Related entries

Related Organisations

  • Australian Ursulines

    Caroline Rowland (Sister Cordula) was one of the Ursuline nuns who helped to establish the order in Australia

Archival resources

Private Hands (contact Australian Women's Archive Project)

  • Archives of the Ursulines of the Roman Union; Private Hands (contact Australian Women's Archive Project). Details

Nikki Henningham

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

National Foundation for Australian Women The University of Melbourne, eScholarship Research Centre

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ISSN 2207-3124