• Organisation

Benevolent Society of New South Wales


The Benevolent Society of New South Wales was established on 8 May 1813 and celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2013. It was founded to provide aid to the destitute, needy, sick and vulnerable aged people, women and children. For much of the nineteenth century it was effectively the social welfare arm of the New South Wales Government, as the government paid the society to provide residential care and deliver aid to the poor of Sydney and beyond.

The first residential institution operated by the Benevolent Society was the Benevolent Asylum, opened in 1821 by Governor Lachlan Macquarie, in Devonshire Street.

The Benevolent Asylum was located on the corner of Pitt and Devonshire Streets, Sydney on a site now occupied by Central Railway Station. The New South Wales Government resumed the site in 1901 when it began building the station. With the compensation the Society received it bought ‘Flinton’ in Paddington, then developed the Thomas Street Asylum in Ultimo.

When the Benevolent Society’s adoption agency closed in the 1970s, adoption records were transferred to the predecessor of the Department of Family and Community Services.

The Benevolent Asylum records from 1857-1900 have been indexed and the index is available online. Please see the list of published resources to access this website.

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  • Alternative Names

    The Benevolent

    New South Wales Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge and Benevolence

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