The British Empire, along with those of other European countries wanted to populate their respective lands on other Continents. In order to make that proposition seem more appealing there were various emigration schemes which enticed those from the shores of the United Kingdom to far away lands.
I wonder though, in a country where education was largely a simple affair, just how much our forebears realised that when they agreed to go, whether they really knew how far away it was and that they would never see loved ones again.
Just to clarify though, these schemes were not transportation, where convicts were transported to the United States or later, to Australia. Nor are they the flawed thinking of migrating children as Home Children. Some children did migrate with various groups and did so with success, not experiencing abuse or ill treatment.
There were several ways of embarking on an various emigration schemes:
- The passage was paid by the state or an intermediary
- The passage was paid by the individual themselves
I do not plan on providing information on all the schemes, but the suggestion is if you have “lost” someone during your research do consider the emigration schemes.
The Petworth Emigration Scheme took place 1832-1837. The Committee began their work in 1832 to address the issues of rural and urban poverty and was largely a collaboration of parish officials, government and private individuals coming together to address these matters.
A key individual was Lord Egremont who was prepared to subsidise some individuals, but not the 1800 that expressed an interest initially, this forced the government to become involved and the parish officials, largely those from West Sussex, though there were others, from Hampshire, Surrey, East Sussex
The Officials in Canada wanted to population growth, but equally they wanted those individuals to thrive as best they could. Upon arriveal in Canada they were provided with temporary five acres of land and a log cabin house. These provisions were near towns that were already growing and would offer employment to the immigrants, who were largely labourers, who had the support of families who had migrated with them.
Assisting Emigration To Upper Canada: The Petworth Project 1832-1837 is a significant body of work, published in two books by Wendy Cameron and Mary McDougall.
- Part one – focus on the work of the Emigration Committee
- Part two – provides a complete list of the emigrants including some background details and family reconstructions. The website provides a list of migrants HERE
With ancestors that came from within 30 miles or so of Petworth and across the border into Surrey, I explored the scheme at length. More recently, I notice a Butcher family for my one-name study.
Often posters would entice specific groups of people. In this poster, (copy of an original) which I have had for about 25 years the scheme is seeking families or single women.
At the start of migration to Tasmania, the inhabitants were the wife and children of ticket-o- leave-prisoners, who were given free passage. The hope was that if there families were there, providing a level of stability, the former prisoners would not re-offend.
Though there were other, migrants that were accepted to migrate at their own expense. One of my Butcher ancestors did just that in 1815.
Some of the emigration schemes were almost ruthless by today’s compassionate standards. Wiltshire was a county that took advantage of the parish paying the fare for those that were destitute, therefore if the poverty was an a lack of work and care, subsequently to repeat, the individuals were now the problem of somewhere else.
One such couple from my Butcher one-name study who resided in Wiltshire had the fair paid for by the parish.
James Jennings married Mary Butcher by banns on 3 May 1815 at Warminster, Wiltshire. James signed his name, whilst Mary signed with a X. The witness to the marriage were John White and Betty Pierce X. (Parish Records for Warminster, Wiltshire)
The couple had a son, James who was baptised at the Independent Chapel at Warminster (RG4/Piece 3276/Folio 42). James was born 19 November 1816 and Baptised 27 April 1817.
The Longbridge Devrill Vestry Minutes 1020/55 show that the parish had paid the sum of £10 to pay for James Jenning to migrate
The muster list of the Weymouth, the ship on which James and Mary Jennings, along with their son James, was to sail on reported that James Jennings was sent ashore to Haslar hospital at Gosport. He died there on 6 January 1820. His widow, Mary Jennings and her son carried onto the Cape.
You can not help but feel for Mary. A recent mother, with a small child had to leave her husband and sail on. My hypothesis is that whilst James had passed away the grief that Mary must have felt would have been too much. Yet, despite this, she continued on, perhaps believing that the passage had been paid and if she did not go, life would be harsh in England and she might not get the chance to go again. A tough decision to make whilst in a period of grief.
Below are a number of worthy research points:
- Manitoba Emigration and Immigration
- Hamburg was an important port from Europe with passenger list from 1850-1934 available on Ancestry
- British 1820 Settlers – this is a fantastic site and focuses on one migration scheme, from Wiltshire to South Africa
- Researching Emigrants – a resource from The National Archives at Kew, London, England
- Bailie’s Party of 1820 Settlers – Thesis by M.D.Nash, January 1981
Taking part in the A-Z Challenge for 2020