Australian Women's Register

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Archdall, Martha Caroline Christine (1851 - 1949)

26 December 1851
Stettin, Germany
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Founder and Teacher
Alternative Names
  • Kaasow, Martha (Maiden name)


With her husband, clergyman Mervyn Archdall, Martha pushed for the establishment of a deaconess institution at Balmain, New South Wales, in 1885. Bethany was opened in 1891 with Canon Archdall as director. It was Martha who opened a parish school, and by 1900 Bethany had schools at Balmain, Lewisham, Dapto and Bega.


Martha Kaasow was born at Stettin, Germany - now Szcenin, Poland - and married Mervyn Archdall in 1882. The pair moved to Balmain, New South Wales, where they instigated the building of a deaconess institution. Mervyn Archdall was rector at Balmain, and became director of the deaconess institution, 'Bethany', when it opened in 1891. Martha opened the parish school, with school fees and one quarter of her husband's stipend supporting Bethany. By 1900, new schools in Lewisham, Lawson, Dapto and Bega were also supporting the institution.

Martha Archdall ran an employment agency in Darlinghurst and developed another in Balmain for women and children from the Bethany Homes. She moved to Melbourne after the death of her husband in 1917.

Sources used to compile this entry: Dickey, Brian (ed.), The Australian Dictionary of Evangelical Biography, Evangelical History Association, Sydney, 1994; Rodgers, M., 'Attitudes to the ministry of women in the diocese of Sydney: an historical study 1884-1893', vol. 39, 1980.

Nikki Henningham

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