Official Launch of Huguenot Museum

2381938995_23fffb7259_french-huguenotOn Monday 13th July in the presence of HRH Princess Alexandra the staff and trustees of the Huguenot Museum will be holding an event to celebrate the museum’s public opening.

Britain’s first museum of Huguenot history opened its doors to the public in May following a £1.5 million development project. Rochester’s newest museum tells the story of the Huguenots, their persecution in France, escape to Britain and the trades, crafts and skills they brought with them.

Since the early 1960s the French Hospital, La Providence, has been situated in the heart of historic Rochester. Originally founded in London in 1718 to provide accommodation and assistance to Huguenot refugees and their descendants, this institution has over the years amassed a beautiful collection of artefacts. It is this collection that forms the basis of the first museum in Britain dedicated to the history of the Huguenots.

With the help of a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, along with generous private donors, the top two floors of an unusual 1920s building on Rochester’s historic High Street have been transformed into the new Huguenot Museum.

The project has been in the planning for some time but work started in earnest last summer (2014) as major structural works commenced. The building work and fit out of the new galleries was completed early this year and the museum started welcoming its first visitors in May (2015).

The museum site is made up of three galleries telling the story of the Huguenots from their persecution in France, their escape to England and the trades, crafts and skills they brought with them.

Alongside beautiful new galleries displaying objects never seen by the public before there is a reception area and shop, and an archive room where visitors can look at historic books and archive material relating to Huguenot families and general Huguenot history. There is also a vibrant and engaging learning space. Here visitors can further their learning experience either through a programmed craft workshop, talk, lecture, film screening or cross curricular schools session.

 

About the Huguenot Museum and the French Hospital

The Huguenot Museum is the first museum in Britain dedicated to the history of the Huguenots, a group of some 250,000 French Protestants who fled from religious persecution in France.

The Huguenots largely settled in the South East of England: in Kent (Canterbury, Rye, Sandwich), East Anglia (Ipswich and Norwich) and, predominantly, London (the City, Soho, Spitalfields, Wandsworth, Westminster, Greenwich).  There were approximately 580,000 people living in the Capital in 1700; the 40,000 Huguenots living there, represented approximately 7% of the population. They also settled in the West (Bristol, Southampton and Plymouth).

Today, their legacy can be found in fine crafts such as silk weaving, silversmithing, furniture-making, together with banking, insurance, in science, the arts, the church and the army.  The Huguenots serve as an outstanding example of immigration, and as an early experience of refugees. Their flight from France to England brought the word “refugee” into the English language.

The French Hospital was founded in London in 1718 as a charity offering sanctuary to poor Huguenots (French Protestants). It had several subsequent locations before moving to Rochester in Kent and currently maintains 60 self-contained sheltered flats. 

To find out more about the Huguenot Museum see:

http://www.huguenotmuseum.org

Photo by amandabhslater

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.

Falkland Islanders shoveling peat (ca 1950).

Falkland Islanders shoveling peat (ca 1950). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ownership of the Falkland Islands has long been a subject of debate. Even claims to discovery of the Islands are varied. Some credit Amerigo Vespucci, some credit Esteban Gomez, while others credit the Camargo expedition of 1540. None of these claims can be verified; however, the first Briton to see the Islands was John Davies who sighted the Falklands from aboard the Desire in 1592. He noted in his journals that his ship had been tossed by storms and ended up near “certain Isles never before discovered by any knowen relation.”

Regardless of who discovered the island, the first recorded landing was made by Captain John Strong in 1690. As he and his crew searched for the wreck of a Spanish treasure ship, they found themselves running short on food and water. They weighed anchor on the island and loaded up on fresh water and an abundance of geese and ducks. Before leaving, Captain Strong named the sound between the two large islands Falklands Channel in honor of Viscount Falkland, who had sponsored the expedition. As time progressed, the name Falklands eventually encompassed the whole island chain.

Throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, the Spanish and the French had been launching further and further into the region. The Spanish had taken over much of the Central and South American mainland, and had claimed hegemony over the continent. French ships were exploring and mapping the area, searching for land for French colonies; however they found little that the Spanish had not already claimed. At this time the Falklands fell within the Spanish claims.

In 1740, George Anson alerted the British government to the strategic opportunities that the Falklands presented. The islands sat in a key location along the east-to-west route, and Anson suggested that the islands would make an ideal anchorage point.

The British government prevaricated about deciding on a settlement, and in the mean-time, the French set about building one. This started a furious struggle between the French and Spanish governments. Meanwhile, unaware of the competing forces, the British finally moved on Anson’s suggestions and launched their own expedition in 1765.

Location map for the historical settlements of...

Location map for the historical settlements of Port Egmont and Puerto Soledad, Falkland Islands (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Finding the spot ideal for a permanent settlement, the British sent a full garrison along with livestock and supplies enough to sustain a settlement of 100. The first British settlement was called “Port Egmont” in honor of Lord Egmont who had sponsored the endeavour. Only when the British began to explore the islands in earnest did they stumble upon the French settlement at St. Louis.

Eventually, both the British and the French were forced to leave, and the Falklands once again were placed under Spanish control. Before leaving, however, the British left behind a flag and a plaque declaring their sovereignty over the islands – and their intention to return.

In 1832, Britain did just that. After reasserting its claim, British forces arrived, evicted the Argentinian settlers, and established a British settlement.

Throughout the late 19th century, sheep farming became the core industry of the islands. This brought on a substantial migration from the British Isles. Within a period of fifty years, the population increased seven-fold, growing from a mere 287 in 1851 to 2043 by 1901. Some immigrants came from England; however, most came from Scotland – in particular, from the Orkney and Shetland Islands. By 1892, the Falklands were granted status as a colony.

Ownership of the islands continued to be hotly contested, culminating in the Falklands War in 1982. This led to the establishment of a semi-permanent force of 1700 British troops remaining to protect the 2200 residents. Hostilities weren’t formally dissolved until around 1995.

Today, less than a third of Falkland Islanders consider themselves British, though the population is English-speaking and all Islanders have full British citizenship. The most recent census showed that about 70% of the population is primarily of British descent.

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.

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Evacuees to New Zealand

Evacuees to New Zealand (Photo credit: The National Archives UK)

In the summer of 1938, war loomed on the world’s horizon. Though fighting had not yet touched Britain, the government began preemptive plans to evacuate the cities.  The Anderson Committee divided the country into “evacuation,” “neutral” and “reception” zones, and established priority evacuees: school children and teachers, mothers and young children, pregnant women, and incapacitated adults.

At the time, London was as yet out of reach of the German Luftwaffe; however, evacuation plans progressed, rehearsals were held, and additional rural camps were set up for evacuees. By 1939, it became increasingly clear that war was on Britain’s doorstep, and local evacuation suddenly seemed an insufficient measure.

In June of 1940, France crumbled under relentless German attack. The Germans then set their sights on Britain, starting with air assaults and progressing to Blitz and bombing of British cities by September of the same year. The British government began to fear for the country’s survival in the case of an all-out invasion; thus, suggestions began to surface for a large-scale overseas evacuation.

While the suggestion was initially rejected, the government soon began to look to Commonwealth nations such as  Australia, South Africa, and Canada and also the  United States as safer havens – a way of survival for some, even if Britain was invaded. Thus plans were developed with the goal of evacuating 1 million children to British Dominions overseas.

The first “guest children” sent abroad were those of the upper class families. Personal efforts were made to send children to family or friends in Canada or America. In some cases, parents from an entire school combined efforts in private arrangements to send the whole group of children abroad. Eventually, however, the public began to demand government assistance for those less fortunate.

The possibility of an eminent Nazi invasion had parents clamouring to send their children to safer shores, while private groups in America and the other Dominions were inspired to offer a haven to Britain’s children. In order to facilitate this emigration, the government established the Children’s Overseas Reception Board (CORB) in May of 1940. The CORB was responsible for organizing this overseas evacuation, and applications began pouring in from all over the country.

Rather than processing the applications on a first-come-first-served basis, CORB placed greater priority on some children than others. It’s unclear exactly how selections were made; however, the press was soon accusing CORB of giving preferential treatment to children of the wealthy. Many more applications were received than the government was able to move, and ultimately, many of the children who were sent abroad were indeed children of wealth with contacts overseas.

The CORB process was a slow one, and in fact, far more children were sent abroad through private arrangements. An estimated 13,000 children were sent abroad by parents with the means to do so. While CORB received 210,000 applications by the time the scheme was ended, it’s estimated that a mere 3,300 were actually sent to the Dominions by the organisation.

Evacuees were primarily sent to the United States and Canada, since the trans-Atlantic passage was relatively short. Most, however, were sent to Canada, as immigration between England and Canada was more easily accomplished. Of course, some children had families in the other Dominions, so a number did end up in Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and the Caribbean as well.

In 1944, the tide of the war had shifted, and Britain decided to bring its children home. Troopships brought American and Canadian soldiers to their home shores and returned with British children. Families were reunited, and Britain set out on the path to rebuilding the nation.

 

 

 

The Cayman Islands are found in the western Caribbean Sea. This British Overseas Territory is made up of three islands: Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, and Cayman Brac.

English: Cayman Islands National Museum in Geo...

Cayman Islands National Museum in George Town, Grand Cayman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Discovery of the Cayman Islands is attributed to Christopher Columbus, who sighted them in May of 1503, on his fourth voyage to the New World. He originally gave the islands the name “Las Tortugas” as the coasts were dotted with huge sea turtles. When Sir Francis Drake arrived on the islands in 1586, he promptly changed their name to “Cayman”- a derivative of the local word for “alligator”.

As with many of the Caribbean Islands, the Caymans went largely undeveloped and uninhabited until the middle of the 17th century. A few hardy stragglers had made the islands their home, including a few shipwrecked sailors, various pirate crews, refugees from the Spanish Inquisition, and a number of deserters from Oliver Cromwell’s army stationed in nearby Jamaica.

The Cayman Islands officially came under British rule in 1760, under the Treaty of Madrid. While the British officially controlled the island, all attempts at settlement were frustrated for the next few decades. The three islands were popular pirate haunts, and piracy largely prevented any permanent settlement. It wasn’t until sometime in the 1730s that the British moved in and established an official English-speaking settlement.

As the settlement grew, so too did the Cayman Islanders’ demand for slaves. Before long, more than half of the islands’ population was made up of African slaves. When the first census of Grand Cayman was taken in 1802, records showed that out of the 933 residents, 545 of them were slaves owned by Caymanian families. This is reflected in the today’s population, as the majority of modern Caymanians are of English and African descent, with a large degree of interracial mixing.

Hell Post Office, Cayman Islands

Hell Post Office, Cayman Islands (Photo credit: J. Stephen Conn)

From 1670 onward, the Cayman Islands were technically considered a dependency of Jamaica; however, the islands were largely self-governed. In 1831, local residents established a legislative assembly consisting of 10 elected representatives along with eight local magistrates appointed by the Governor of Jamaica. Overall, Jamaica interfered little with the governance of the Caymans.

The Cayman Islands continued to be loosely governed by the Colony of Jamaica until Jamaica was granted its independence in 1962. At this time, the Cayman Islands were designated as a separate Crown Colony.

Today, the Cayman Islands are considered a non-self-governing British Overseas Territory. A governor is appointed by the Queen, and represents the British monarchy on the Islands. The Islands are officially defended by the Crown, though the British government interferes little in the running of the country.

The population of the Cayman Islands sits at around 56,000. The population is largely of mixed heritage, with nearly 60% being of African-Caucasian ethnicities.

English: Immigrants entering the United States...

Immigrants entering the United States through Ellis Island, the main immigrant entry facility of the United States from 1892 to 1954. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

An Italian immigrant was quoted as saying: “I came to America because I heard the streets were paved with gold. When I got here, found out three things: First, the streets weren’t paved with gold; second, they weren’t paved at all: and third, I was expected to pave them.” This sentiment was echoed by many who made the migratory voyage with high hopes, only to be disappointed upon arrival.

We hear many success stories of immigrants who left on a one-way trip and never looked back. We must consider though, that out of the hundreds of thousands who successfully emigrated from the UK and made new homes abroad, there were many who gave up and returned home. We have put much discussion into the decision to migrate; however, in this article, we look at some of the reasons that caused a large number of immigrants to return home.

How Frequent are Return Migrations?

Return migration can be somewhat difficult to measure. Some immigrants returned home to stay, while others returned to their home countries temporarily, only to emigrate once more.

Most countries also kept poor records on those leaving the country, focusing instead on those arriving. The US, for example, only started recording departing passengers in 1908. Even those statistics can be fairly misleading, as the records only state that an immigrant is leaving. No mention is made of whether the departure is permanent or temporary.

Prior to the 19th century, return migration was far less frequent. Travel was expensive, time-consuming and dangerous, and immigrants tended to settle since returning was so difficult. In the late 19th century, trips home became more frequent, and by the early 20th century, we begin to see clear statistical patterns of return migration.

An immigrant Punjabi family in America. c. 1900s

An immigrant Punjabi family in America. c. 1900s (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For example, some scholars have estimated that a full third of American immigrants returned home. During certain periods, such as the Great Depression, return trips were even higher.

Interestingly, however, immigrants from the UK had a fairly low return rate compared to many other nationalities. English immigrants returned at a rate of about 10.4%, while only 6.3% of Irish immigrants ever returned home.

Why Did Immigrants Return Home?

Reasons for return are almost as varied as the immigrants themselves. Some went with high hopes and gave up when those hopes were not realized. Others never intended to immigrate permanently in the first place.

“Birds of Passage”, for example, traveled purely for economic reasons. They intended to work long enough to make a bit of money so that they could better their lives back home.

Others returned due to family obligations. Many women emigrated to earn enough money for a dowry, and once that objective was achieved, they returned home. Others were forced to return home to care for parents or siblings they had left behind.

Others still had been unwilling emigrants in the first place. Shipped off as indigents, many in this group simply returned home as soon as they were able to earn passage.

Finally, a great number of immigrants were just unhappy in their new country. Instead of the easy life they had hoped for, the immigrants were faced with struggles and hostility. They looked back on their home with nostalgia and decided that perhaps things were better there after all.

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