Emigration Archives

English: "A list of the names of all the ...

“A list of the names of all the adventurers in the stock of the honourable the East-India-Company, the 12th day of April, 1684,” broadside on paper, 32 cm x 20 cm, published by the East India Company, London. Courtesy of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The East India Company, often referred to as the Honourable East India Company or more colloquially as “John Company”, was established with a Royal Charter from Elizabeth I on December 31, 1600. The Company was originally chartered as the Governor and Company of Merchants of London trading into the East Indies, with the intention of pursuing trade throughout the East Indies. As it turned out, however, the Company ended up trading primarily with the Indian subcontinent, Balochistan, and the North-west frontier provinces.

The Company was created by a group of influential businessmen who gained government permission to monopolize trade in the East Indies for a period of 15 years. Thus, the British Raj was established, and fortunes were made dealing in ivory, silk, cotton, and spices.

Interestingly, however, English traders never looked at India as a permanent home. East India Company merchants went to India to establish trade and to rule. While few EIC employees stayed permanently, British rule over India lasted nearly 200 years.

As the British EIC moved into the territory, they had to face a certain amount of foreign competition. The Dutch East India Company in particular had a tight hold on the Spice Islands; thus, the British EIC focused its attentions on the Indian mainland. The first trading station was established in 1613, and by 1647, the Company had 23 factories and 90 employees throughout the subcontinent.

The Company built forts throughout India and established its own private army comprised of both British officers and native soldiers. Through this martial rule, it was easy for the Company to collect profits. Lands could be seized, local rulers could easily be deposed, and taxes could be extracted from the general populace.

It took a few decades before the EIC really became profitable; however, once it did, it became a juggernaut, dominating both the business and political spheres. As the Company’s power grew, so did England’s on the global scene.

East India House in Leadenhall Street was the ...

East India House in Leadenhall Street was the London headquarters of the East India Company. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By 1784, the power of the EIC rivaled that of the British Government, in that it held rule, in effect, over a vast number of British territories. To combat this, the government passed the East India Company Act, separating the Company’s commercial activities from its political functions. Through this act, the EIC was subordinated to the government in regard to all political matters.

The Charter Act of 1813 further subjected the EIC to Crown rule. While the act extended the Company’s charter for another 20 years, it ended the trade monopoly in all products except tea. This event also led to a greater influx of British citizens in India, as the EIC was forced to allow missionaries to establish works in the country – something that had previously been banned.

By 1873, the Company had all but dissolved. Over time, the Crown had absorbed much of the power once held by the EIC. So too, the Company’s army of 24,000 was incorporated into the British army, effectively removing the “muscle” that the Company had once relied on.

The East India Company Stock Redemption Act was passed in 1873, but little remained of its former glory. Power had effectively transferred to the government, and Queen Victoria ruled as Empress of India.

Zanzibar

Zanzibar (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

Throughout the nineteenth century, the Sultan of Zanzibar ruled most of the East African mainland. He held tight control over the region, and ran lucrative ivory and slave trades. The indigenous tribes resented the control, but weren’t nearly powerful enough to oppose it.

As David Livingstone launched his expedition from Zanzibar, other explorers joined him and they began to send back reports of the horrors of the African slave trade. Political lobbyists in England began to press the Sultan to quit the slave trade, and in 1873, he reluctantly capitulated to their demands.

Thanks to these efforts, the British government held an informal control over the Sultan for a time. In the 1880s, British control came under threat by the Germans who began quietly garnering allegiance and support from the local tribe leaders. They moved quickly, getting each tribe to agree to the Kaiser being their overlord. The tribe leaders were quick to agree, misguidedly assuming that a distant overlord would be less trouble than the nearby Sultan.

The Germans formed a German East Africa Company that incorporated all the lands of the tribal treaties that they had signed. The new colony was dubbed Tanganyika and stretched from Tanganyika to Witu.

The British were taken fully by surprise, and moved rapidly to counter the German occupation. They set up the British East Africa Company and once again put pressure on the Sultan to hand over command of his remaining lands in East Africa. Once the land was rightfully divided between the Germans and the British, a temporary peace was established as each agreed to respect the others’ domain. A few years later, a more binding agreement was officially signed, giving Britain rule over Zanzibar and all the land from the Island of Pemba to Lake Victoria and the Nile watershed.

Before long, the East Africa Company found that their income was not nearly enough to offset the expenses of administration, so they sold their lands and buildings to the British Government. The government had the resources to properly develop the region, and a railway was soon built which opened up the highlands for white settlement.

Britain's possessions in British East Africa d...

Britain’s possessions in British East Africa during the colonial period. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The highlands provided a pleasant climate and land suitable for growing a variety of cash crops. In 1906, white settlers had moved in and developed crops of tea, coffee and tobacco. In 1907, the white settlers were given a select number of seats in the local government, though the local governor maintained majority control over who was appointed.

At the end of the First World War (which strongly impacted Kenya’s white population), the British settlers there pressed for the adoption of Kenya as a Crown Colony. This request was granted, giving the settlers far great rights in the region. Though the British government stated that as an African territory, the natives should be paramount, the lion’s share of government representation was given to the white settlers.

This inequality coupled with the worldwide depression of the 1930s led to serious tensions in the region. Nationalist groups grew up, and Kenya was wracked by deadly rebellions. The Mau Mau rebellion resulted in the murders of multitudes of British settlers and those who worked for them.

The rebellion was quelled, and throughout the 1950s, the Africans were given more lands and greater representation in government. In 1960, the policy of “one person one vote” was established, effectively ending the imbalance of power held by the white settlers.

By the end of British colonial rule in 1963, there remained some 60,000 white settlers living in Kenya. That number has dropped over the years, and today there are an estimated 32,000 British expatriates  living there. There are a number of well-known Britons who were actually born in Kenya, including Evolutionary scientist Richard Dawkins, cyclist Chris Froome, and Sir Michael Bear, 683rd Lord Mayor of London.

 

Ekwall's The Emigrants (date unknown), the art...

Ekwall’s The Emigrants (date unknown), the artist’s vision of 19th-century transatlantic emigration. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

The National Emigration Aid Society was conceived and founded for the express purpose of assisted emigration. It was founded by a substantial number of influential gentlemen, and was focused on moving the excess labour force to foreign states. They believed that their efforts were vital to a sound economy at home and productive, cultivated colonies abroad.

The Society devoted serious efforts to pressing Parliament into adopting their proposed “National Policy of Colonial Emigration.” They insisted that “Emigration is eminently good for, and available to all, in every class of society whose subsistence depends on the exercise of skill and labour, but who, unable at home to obtain employment, are reduced to want, and too frequently to a life of destitution and wretchedness.”

To that effect, the Society promoted the formation of “Emigration Clubs” in each city and township. The clubs would be chaired by committees of influential gentlemen, and each club would recruit members and solicit donations.

Any working man who wanted to become a member would be required to make a small payment for himself and each member of his family. The payment would go toward that family’s passage, and would be subsidized by donations. Each local club would in turn pay fees to the National Emigration Aid Society, who would arrange passage and outfit emigrants before travel.

The Society also offered a few free passages to select groups. Single women “of good character who are capable and willing to work as Domestic Servants” were granted free passage to certain cities in Australia and New Zealand. The cities of Victoria and Queensland also offered free passage to a few married farm labourers who met their specifications.

Eventually, the National Emigration Aid Society found itself in a gradually weakened state financially. In order to secure continued State aid, the Society’s committee decided to merge efforts with the Working Men’s Emigration Society.

 

 

English: Emigrants on a ship en route to Austr...

Emigrants on a ship en route to Australia, 1900-1910 Man and a young girl on board a ship travelling to Australia in the early 1900s. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

The Working Men’s Emigration Society

The Working Men’s Emigration Society was focused on essentially the same goals; however, it worked almost exclusively with labourers connected to trade unions. Throughout the 1850s, the Society entered applicants into a monthly lottery. The winners of each drawing would be awarded a subsidized fare to Australia in return for a £20 loan.

In addition, the Working Men’s Emigration Society offered “working tickets”. Fare to Australia could be purchased for £15, and the prospective emigrant would make up the difference by working as a steward on the ship for the duration of the voyage.

Unfortunately, the Society was often poorly managed. Some emigrants were indeed sent abroad; however, many were let down.  Some folks who purchased working tickets would turn up dockside, only to be told that there was no record of the ticket purchase. A number of hopeful emigrants even took the cases to court, hoping to get their money back.

The National Emigration League

Once the two Societies joined efforts under the united title of the “National Emigration League”, they represented a combined 800,000+ souls. The League was led by the Duke of Manchester, and the members continued to actively promote the subject of emigration throughout the following years.

 

English: Plaque in Waterford, Ireland honoring .

Plaque in Waterford, Ireland honoring . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A large percentage of modern Newfoundland residents can trace their heritage to Irish ancestry. Throughout the island, you’ll find that surnames, culture, and even accents speak strongly to the largely Irish heritage. Some have even called Newfoundland “the other Ireland.”

Irish migration to Newfoundland began as early as the 17th century; however it only really reached its peak by the late 18th and early 19th century. Beginning in the 1670s, English ships began calling in ports along the southern coast of Ireland. The ships would stock up on salt pork, beef, cheese, butter, and other foodstuffs for the Newfoundland fisheries and the hundreds of fishermen travelling there.

As the English fisheries expanded in subsequent decades, they also began to recruit labourers as they stopped in ports along the Irish coast. Ireland was replete with young, poor men who jumped at the opportunity for employment abroad – even if only for a season. Most of the Irishmen had little experience in the fishing industry; however, they found work aplenty as agricultural workers and servants for fishing merchants.

Since the English vessels charted their route along the south eastern coast of Ireland, most of these migrants originated from the immediate region. The majority had roots in Waterford, Wexford, Kilkenny, Cork, and Tipperary.

For many years there was much “to-ing and fro-ing”, as workers migrated each year to work at the fisheries. This kept a strong link between the two islands, and allowed the Newfoundland Irish to keep up with the political and cultural developments back home.

Approximate location of the 'Irish Shore' on t...

Approximate location of the ‘Irish Shore’ on the Avalon Peninsula. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These early migrants would leave Irish ports in the spring, and work on plantations or in the cod fisheries for a season. Some stayed longer, putting in two summers and a winter before returning home. While a few chose to settle in permanently, these were hugely outnumbered by the seasonal migrants.

By the early 1700s, the Irish workers had grown fairly experienced in the fishing industry, and were becoming an increasingly important part of the business. The fisheries had seen a decline in English labourers due to war, so the ship masters and merchants had naturally turned to the ready force of Irish workmen.

Each year, the number of seasonal migrants increased. Some workers tucked away money season after season until they were able to become planters themselves – and they in turn began recruiting additional Irish labourers. By the 1770s and 1780s, over 5000 men passed through Irish ports each year, headed for Newfoundland fisheries.

In time, the fishing industry expanded to become a year-round resident operation. As the old migratory fishing patterns collapsed in 1790, so did much of the seasonal migration. The temporary migration quickly evolved into permanent emigration as families settled and formed strong Irish communities.

Irish migration to Newfoundland peaked in the 19th century, as approximately 35,000 Irish migrants made the voyage. Unlike Ireland at the time, Newfoundland was experiencing an age of prosperity, offering an attractive alternative for many who remained in the Old Country. By the 1840s, nearly 50% of Newfoundland’s population was made up of Irish residents.

English: source: Immigrant Servants Database a...

Immigrant Servants Database author: signed by Henry Mayer, dated 1738 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Throughout the 1600s, English courts had relied on the colonies to alleviate the overwhelming criminal population. Jails were filled to capacity as crime rates burgeoned. Because the criminal justice system was so overwhelmed, convicts were often offered a choice between death or exile. While many obviously chose emigration over death, the colonies quickly became unhappy with the arrangement. By 1697, many colonial ports simply refused entry to convict ships.

To compound the problem, the justice system was wildly unregulated to the extent that criminals were often expected to arrange and pay for their own transportation. No one kept track of where they went or how they got there; so many convicts simply hopped a boat to Ireland and came back as soon as the coast was clear.

Despite the problems, Parliament still saw the colonies as a viable solution to Britain’s overwhelmed justice system. To that effect, they drafted and passed the Transportation Act of 1718. This act offered a systematic, standardized process by which criminals could be sentenced and shipped to America and the West Indies.

Under this new legislation, merchant companies were paid a fixed sum to ship boatloads of convicts to the New World colonies. Upon arrival in the New World, merchants and ship captains were free to sell off the convicts as indentured servants.

While the Transportation Act standardized the processing and exile of convicts, there was little regulation once ships set sail. Many captains treated the convicts brutally, keeping them chained below decks and subjecting them to horrible abuses. It was fairly common for a cargo of convicts to mutiny and try to kill the captain and crew.

Depending on the severity of their crimes, convicts were sentenced to seven or fourteen years of indentured labour in the colonies. A few richer convicts were able to simply buy their freedom upon arrival; however, most convicts were penniless, unskilled and uneducated. One boatload of felons was surveyed and out of ninety-eight convicts, forty-eight had no marketable skill, and the rest were either too young to have learned a trade or too old to work.

These unskilled felons were forced to serve the duration of their sentence under whoever paid their purchase price. Most were put to work by small plantation owners; however, others were bought by shipbuilders, manufacturers and tradesmen.

Once a convict had served his sentence, he was set free to start a new life for himself. Some of the ex-convicts established themselves throughout the colonies and became productive in society. Many, however, went right back to criminal activities. In the West Indies in particular, a released convict had very little recourse for survival, as by law he could never have land of his own.

The Transportation Act resulted in more than 52,000 convicts being forcibly transported to America and the West Indies. About 80 percent were sent to Maryland and Virginia, while the rest were scattered throughout other New World colonies.  The flow of convict labourers continued unabated for decades, and only stopped with the advent of the American Revolution in 1776.

Related Articles

English: A map of the British Empire in 1921 w...

A map of the British Empire in 1921 when it was at its height. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Emigration had sharply declined over the course of the First World War. Capitalizing on the potential of Britons wanting to emigrate from post-war England, both Canada and Australia began concerted efforts to encourage renewed immigration. Owing to these efforts, migration gradually increased between 1919 and 1920.

During this time, the British government began implementing schemes of its own – though often in collaboration with the various colonies. A couple of programs were instituted to not only encourage emigration to Australia and Canada, but also to New Zealand, and South Africa as well.

The Overseas Settlement Scheme

The 1919 Overseas Settlement Scheme was passed to assist discharged soldiers returning home from the Great War. The scheme offered free passage to ex-service men and women and their dependents.  This scheme lasted until the end of 1922, and over its duration, over 86,000 migrants were provided assistance. Of this 86,000, 26,560 went to Canada, 34,750 went to Australia, 12,890 went to New Zealand, 5,890 to South Africa, and nearly 3000 ended up in other parts of the Empire.

In Australia, just over 24 million acres was allocated to the settlement scheme. Approximately 23,000 farms were established across the country, and by June of 1924, 23,367 soldiers and sailors had emigrated and settled on the farms. This scheme enabled greater development of land that had been previously uninhabited in territories throughout Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, and South Australia.

New Zealand saw a dramatic shortage of farm labourers after the loss of 17,000 men in the war. In addition to aiding ex-service men, various private sectors in New Zealand also instituted juvenile immigration schemes. The Flock House Scheme, for example, was initiated in honour of the British Navy and Mercantile Marines, and provided homes for the children of sailors who had been killed during the war. Boys received instruction in agriculture, while the girls were trained in domestic and industrial occupations. Through this scheme and others, approximately 2600 children were brought to New Zealand.

The Empire Settlement Act

King George V with the British and Dominion pr...

King George V with the British and Dominion prime ministers at the 1926 Imperial Conference (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1922, the Overseas Settlement Scheme was expanded to provide assistance to any “suitable persons” from the general public who might want to emigrate. This scheme was dubbed the Empire Settlement Act.

This act allowed the British government to collaborate with its Dominion governments, as well as with private organizations and public authorities, to develop emigration schemes. Under this act, married couples, single farm laborers and teenagers between the ages of 14 and 17 were given free passage, and occasionally, training opportunities. In exchange for passage, the emigrants were expected to settle and remain on the land.

A variety of public and private schemes were instituted under this act, including the “3000 Families Scheme” and the “Dominion-Provincial Land Settlement Scheme” in Canada, and various Australian settlement schemes initiated by Dr. Barnardo’s, the Big Brother movement, and others.

Over its duration, the Empire Settlement Act provided assistance to 212,000 immigrants to Australia, and another 130,000 immigrants to Canada.

"Sir Thomas Stamford Bingley Raffles"...

“Sir Thomas Stamford Bingley Raffles”. Oil on canvas, 1817, 55 in. x 43 in. (1397 mm x 1092 mm). Given by the sitter’s nephew, W.C. Raffles Flint, to the National Portrait Gallery in 1859. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The modern nation of Singapore was established by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles in 1819. The British statesman saw the tiny island off the coast of the Malay Peninsula as an ideal spot to establish a British colony and trading post. As an agent of the British East India Company, Raffles was able to obtain permission from Malay officials to establish a trading post on the island. He named it Singapore, after its ancient name, and promptly opened the port for free trade and free immigration.

When Singapore was first established, there were a mere 1,000 inhabitants scattered across the island. The population grew rapidly, however, as ships passed through the island’s international ports. Singapore became very ethnically diverse, and while Chinese made up the majority of the population, the island was peppered with immigrants arriving from Britain, India and the Dutch East Indies.

In the early 19th century, Britain was a great producer of woollen goods, cotton cloth and glassware. The home market was limited, however, and all of the goods could not be sold. China and Southeast Asia presented a ready market, and Singapore was the perfect trading post. Multitudes of British merchants migrated to Singapore as soon as it was established as a British outpost. They ran a brisk business selling British goods throughout the Orient and buying spices and other Asian products that could be sold in Britain.

English: The charge of the Settlement of Singa...

The charge of the Settlement of Singapore from the coat of arms of the on the gate of , . The airport opened in 1937, when Singapore was one of the three Straits Settlements together with and (Prince of Wales’ Island). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the 50 years after Raffles established his free-trade port in Singapore, the country prospered and the population boomed. The Dutch officially acknowledged British sovereignty over Singapore in 1824, and the island (along with two other trading ports and a number of small dependencies) were ruled as the Straits Settlements. When the British government needed a location to station their troops, the Straits Settlements were adopted as a crown colony, and were ruled directly from London.

Singapore continued to grow as a busy seaport, now home to roughly 86,000 inhabitants. When the Suez Canal opened in 1869, British influence increased even more, and thousands of workers were brought in from India, China and the Dutch East Indies to work in the tin mines and on rubber plantations.

As Singapore steamed into the 20th century it continued to prosper under British rule; however, Japan soon posed a threat. The British built a large and costly naval base to protect the island, but this “Gibraltar of the East” was only a more attractive target for the Japanese forces. Japan attacked and Singapore’s severely outnumbered forces were quickly defeated and forced to surrender.

After three and a half years of Japanese occupation, they were finally ousted and the British forces were able to return. The Singaporeans gave the returning troops a hero’s welcome. Though many British and Empire soldiers had died due to Japanese brutality, the island of Singapore was returned to peace and stability once more. Though a few Britons remained in Singapore permanently, most returned home after a time.

In 1845, the European population of New Zealand hovered around 6,500. While the 1840s saw the first substantial wave of British migration, the British remained in the minority compared to the nearly 200,000 Maori. The 1840 Treaty of Waitangi had established British sovereignty; however, there were not nearly enough British citizens for the country to run in a British way.

Howick Historical Village

Howick Historical Village (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Advertising campaigns throughout England promoted New Zealand as a great place to live, and this did bring in a trickle of immigrants. Nonetheless, there was still not a large enough population to maintain an effective police or military presence. With the ever present threat of Maori attack, the New Zealand settlements were desperate for protection.

To that effect, Lt. Governor George Grey turned to England and petitioned the government for soldiers to supplement his small force of 1,100 fighting men. In response, the Lt. Governor received a contingent of 900 soldiers from New South Wales, and an additional 702 “old soldiers”.

These old soldiers, or “Fencibles” as they were called, were retired soldiers in their upper 30s and 40s, living on government pensions. A fleet of eleven ships brought the old soldiers, along with their wives and children, to New Zealand.

In return for their military duties, the soldiers (along with their families) were offered free passage and a fresh start in a new land. They were each paid a regular pension and given a cottage on an acre of land. This land would become fully theirs after serving for a seven year term. Officers were given large homesteads and a full 50 acres of land.

The Grey River, Mount Grey, Greytown, Greymout...

The Grey River, Mount Grey, Greytown, Greymouth and Grey Lynn all derive their name from Sir George Grey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Howick Settlement

The Howick settlement was originally part of a claim established by William Thomas Fairburn. Fairburn had purchased 40,000 acres of land at the insistence of local Maori tribes, and had established a mission station at Maraetai.

After the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840, the government took back 36,000 acres from the Fairburn claim. Some of the land was sold off to settlers and some was returned to the Maori; however, a substantial portion was used to establish Fencible settlements of Howick and Otahuhu.

The Howick settlement was named after Lt. Governor Grey, who was the 3rd Earl Grey and Viscount Howick, as he was largely responsible for the Fencible immigration scheme. Each old soldier was given land with the understanding that they would be called up as a defense force in wartime. Their name “Fencibles” was in fact derived from the word “Defencible”, meaning capable of defense.

While the old soldiers never were called upon to honour that defense contract, they did establish a thriving permanent settlement – some of which can still be seen today in the Howick Historical Village. Many of the old soldiers became successful farmers, and a large number of their descendants still live in the area today. In fact, it is estimated that over 600,000 New Zealanders can trace their roots back to this first group of old soldiers and their families.

William Penn Deutsch: William Penn († 1718) ??...

William Penn (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Welsh Quakers were some of the earliest emigrants to Pennsylvania. Through their industrious habits, they made significant contributions to the colony’s development and played a key role in its political, social and economic formation.

Religion was the primary push factor for most of these early Welsh emigrants. The Quakers had been harshly persecuted in their homeland. Parliament had passed stringent laws forbidding their public worship, and enforcing fines and imprisonment on any who disobeyed.

William Penn, an English Quaker with Welsh roots, had recently been granted a charter from King Charles II to establish a colony in the New World. This colony was to be called Penn Sylvania, or “Penn’s Woods”.  In establishing this colony, Penn’s goal was to provide a safe religious haven for the persecuted peoples of Europe.

Faced with trying circumstances in England, the Welsh Quakers saw Pennsylvania as a secure haven from English religious oppression. Penn’s Welsh ancestry and Quaker heritage gave the Welsh Quakers the resolve and confidence needed to emigrate to his colony.

With the promise of great economic opportunity and the assurance of complete religious liberty, a committee of Welsh Quakers met with William Penn in London to negotiate the purchase of a tract of land. The Welsh committee, headed by John ap John, approached Penn with their desire to buy a piece of land where they could form a distinct Welsh settlement where they could maintain their own language and customs. They proposed a self-governed settlement in which they would handle any quarrels or crimes in their own way and their own language.

An agreement was reached between Penn and the Welsh committee; however, it was a fully verbal agreement (which would later lead to some controversy). Nonetheless, the committee was satisfied at the time, and arrangements were made to purchase forty thousand acres.

Thirty thousand acres were put in the names of select Welsh leaders who acted as “company heads”. Some of these men purchased the land for themselves, while others acted merely as trustees and eventually parted the land out to settlers. The other ten thousand acres of the Welsh Barony were to be distributed by Penn himself to additional settlers.

The Birth of Pennsylvania, 1680, by Jean Leon ...

The Birth of Pennsylvania, 1680, by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris. William Penn, holding paper, standing and facing King Charles II, in the King’s breakfast chamber at Whitehall. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Settlement took off rapidly, and the Welsh Barony was quickly populated by numerous Quaker families. Estimates show that between 1662 and 1700, the Welsh made up the largest immigrant body in the state. The original townships of Merion and Haverford soon overflowed into new townships in Radnor and Goshen. Soon Tredyffrin and Uwchlan were established, and before long, the rest of the barony was settled.

The Welsh Quakers were typically well-to-do, industrious folks. They built up and developed their land quickly, and lived fairly luxurious lives for early pioneers.

For some time, they did indeed govern themselves as the Welsh Barony; however, the system soon disappeared as the Welsh merged into the general population. Over the next few generations, the Welsh language died out as the Quakers took to speaking English. Nonetheless, the relatively small group of Quakers gained surprising eminence in the region, and to this day, their influence can be felt.

Between 1815 and 1850, population growth was soaring throughout Europe. Though the Industrial Revolution was making the continent wealthier overall, jobs were scarce and many were forced to look toward the New World for economic survival. During the first half of the century, over 800,000 European immigrants left their homes and settled throughout Canada.

Ireland Park in Toronto, Canada

Ireland Park in Toronto, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Seeing as the Industrial Revolution started in England, nearly 60% of these immigrants came from Britain. Immigrants came from other countries as well. Americans and Chinese came looking for gold. Many Irish came to escape the great Potato famine. The British were the first to set out for Canada, however, and were the largest cultural group at the end of the migration.

This Great Migration was spurred by a number of factors. Obviously, the Industrial Revolution was an overarching factor; however, individual motivations and reasons for leaving varied greatly. Lower classes were obviously facing a severe job shortage. Unemployment was rampant, and the poor felt suppressed by the government. Industrialization was in its infancy and regulations were practically non-existent, so towns were made filthy with soot and fumes. The Irish were facing a unique struggle with the great Potato Famine, and thousands were starving and desperate for a solution.

England’s wealthy classes were also looking toward Canada, though for different reasons. Canada was fresh new territory, ripe for the taking. Enormous opportunities existed for new business ventures, and those who could get in early stood to make a fortune.

Regardless of why the immigrants left Britain, each was hoping for a chance at a better life. Most felt that the better life they were hoping for would be attainable if they could find a job, enough food to sustain their family, a healthier environment, and a greater voice in their government.

Following the promise of cheap or free land in Canada, the immigrants left England with high hopes. They endured expensive, arduous sea voyages, only to have those hopes crushed in many cases. Many arrived sick from the long voyage, and if they were too ill, they were often deported, quarantined, or even simply left to die.

Canada

Canada (Photo credit: palindrome6996)

Success didn’t come easily to the immigrants. There was opportunity aplenty, but the settlers had to fight for every inch. The climate was harsh, and the British settlers were not prepared for the bitterly cold winters. During certain seasons, insects invaded in force, and caused serious trouble for the newly arrived settlers. Though the immigrants found jobs, education, equality in government representation, freedom of language, and freedom of religion, the path to success wasn’t smooth sailing by any means.

In spite of the struggles, many immigrants did succeed, and the British settlers have since made a huge impact on the culture and development of Canada. The English language is the national tongue, thanks to the British immigrants, and many place names and traditions, principles and even religion were brought in with the British settlers of the Great Migration.

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