Immigrants Made Good – Michael Marks

Michael Marks immigrated to England around 1882. He was a young Polish Jew with hardly a penny to his name. He arrived unable to speak the English language, and lacking any marketable trade experience. Within his lifetime, however, he would found one of the most widely known companies in the world: Marks & Spencer.

English: Dewhirst's Warehouse - Harper Street ...
Dewhirst’s Warehouse – Harper Street Here Michael Marks met Tom Spencer, Dewhirst’s cashier, and in 1894 they formed the partnership of Marks & Spencer. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Marks was born in 1859 to Jewish parents in Slonim, then a part of Russian Poland. In 1882, he sought to escape anti-Jewish repression and looked to England as a solution. He had heard of a company called Barran in Leeds that was known to employ Jewish refugees, so off to Leeds he went.

Despite his lack of trade skills, Marks had a shrewd business mind. He had a knack for understanding what customers wanted and how to provide those goods and services.

In 1884, Marks met a Leeds warehouse owner named Isaac Dewhurst. Marks arranged a deal in which he would purchase products from Dewhurst’s warehouse and then sell them in the villages around Leeds. He learned English fairly quickly as he travelled throughout the towns and villages of West Yorkshire, carrying his bag full of wares.

Using the proceeds from his travelling sales, he invested in a permanent market stall in Leeds’ open market which quickly grew into a bustling little business. The venture was so successful that he opened stalls at markets in Castleford and Wakefield as well. He set himself apart from others in the market by clearly displaying prices on each of his products – a practice that was unusual at the time, but one that his customers clearly appreciated.

Eventually, Marks began renting a space at the new covered market in Leeds, which allowed him to operate six days a week. He had a few stalls, but his most popular by far was his penny stall. Prominently displayed was the message “Don’t Ask the Price, It’s a Penny.” The next few years would see more of Marks’ penny stalls opened in market halls across Yorkshire and Lancashire.

In hopes of further expanding his business, Marks approached Dewhurst with the idea of a partnership. Dewhurst wasn’t interested, but he directed Marks to his cashier, Tom Spencer. Spencer had observed Marks’ steady rise and business acumen, and felt that the required £300 investment was a safe one.

The new partners divided the work according to their particular strengths. While Marks continued to run the market stalls, Spencer managed the office and supply lines, capitalizing on contacts he had made with manufacturers while working for Dewhurst. Marks and Spencer soon had stores running in Liverpool, Birmingham, Middlesbrough, Sheffield, Bristol, Hull, Manchester, Sunderland, and Cardiff.

By 1897, Marks and Spencer were running a miniature empire of thirty six branches. They built new stores in Bradford, Northampton, Preston, Swansea, and Leicester, as well as several branches in London. They also constructed a new warehouse in Manchester, which became their home office.

Marks & Spencer became a limited company in 1903. While Spencer soon retired, Marks continued to grow the company until his death in December of 1907.

In addition to his status as a great businessman, Marks was also remembered as a great philanthropist. He was widely known and respected in the community, and his life, work and generosity were celebrated by the largest attendance ever seen by the Manchester Jewish Cemetery



Relics of Empire: Anguilla

The British Overseas Territory of Anguilla was first settled by Amerindian tribes from South America; however, it was first discovered by Europeans sometime in the 15th or 16th century. Its actual discovery has long been in debate. Some suggest that it was first sighted by Christopher Columbus in 1493, while others claim that the island was discovered and named by French explorer Pierre Laudonnaire in 1565.

English: Island Harbour, Anguilla
Island Harbour, Anguilla (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Regardless of the original discovery, the island of Anguilla sat untouched for nearly a century. There have been some claims that the Dutch built a fort on Anguilla two decades earlier; however, little more is known, and no trace remains to verify the claims.

Anguilla likely went uncolonized for so long due to the notoriously wild and fierce Caribs who controlled the island. The Caribs were known cannibals who had wrested the island from its original Amerindian settlers. It wasn’t until 1650 that English settlers arrived and dared to face down the Caribs.

The first English settlers arrived from the nearby colony of Saint Kitts. They established a settlement and began growing crops of tobacco and corn; however, early life on Anguilla was far from easy. In 1656, the colony was attacked by invading Carib Indians who destroyed crops and settlements and slaughtered many settlers. In 1666, French forces attacked and captured the island.

French rule was short lived, and the English soon regained control through the Treaty of Breda in 1667. Hardships increased, and the settlers were soon facing drought, poor crop yields and crippling famine; yet the colonists hung on resolutely. Throughout this time, the island was governed by the British through Antigua.

The initial settlers were followed in 1688 by a host of Irish invaders who were fleeing the religious persecution of Cromwell’s government. In Anguilla, these refugees found a British territory where they could live and worship in peace.

Battle of St. Kitts, 1782, as described by an ...
Battle of St. Kitts, 1782, as described by an observer in a French engraving titled “Attaque de Brimstomhill”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Throughout the 1700s, the French and English forces continued to fight over ownership of the island – and ultimately for control of the Caribbean. The French tried again and again to invade and capture Anguilla, with major attempts made in 1745 and 1796. These attempts failed and the British maintained control of the island.

In 1824, administrative control of Anguilla was transferred to nearby St. Kitts. The government attempted to develop the island’s infrastructure by building up a plantation-based economy. Planters arrived, bringing African slaves to man the plantations; however, attempts at agriculture were largely unsuccessful due to poor soil and an adverse climate. Once slavery was abolished by the British in 1830, many plantation owners left Anguilla and returned to England, causing a drastic decline in population. The remaining population of 2000 was made up mostly of freed slaves.

When St. Kitts was granted full internal autonomy in 1967, Anguilla was incorporated into the newly created dependency along with the island of Nevis. The dependency was dubbed Saint Christopher-Nevis-Anguilla – much to the chagrin of the Anguillan population.

After an Anguillan rebellion in 1967, a full-scale revolution in 1969, and a brief foray into self-declared independence, the British government stepped in and restored authority over the island. Anguilla was eventually allowed to secede from Nevis and St. Kitts, and in 1980, it was officially declared a full British colony.

The Great Migration of Canada

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 (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.

Relics of Empire: The Turks and Caicos Islands

The Turks and Caicos Islands passed from hand to hand for some time before they were ever settled. Throughout the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, the French, Spanish and English all held control over the islands; however, for a long time, none established settlements of any kind.

English: The Turks & Caicos National Museum is...
The Turks & Caicos National Museum is located in a colonial-era Guinep House on Front Street in the capital of Cockburn Town, on Grand Turk island. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Juan Ponce de Leon was the first European to discover the islands, though no move toward settlement was made. After the islands’ discovery in 1512, the islanders of Turks and Caicos were subjected to frequent raids by Spanish slavers, and within a year, the entire island range had been depopulated.

Throughout the 17th century, the islands served as little more than pirate bays. Buccaneers would hide out in the island cays and attack passing Spanish treasure ships en route to Europe. Such infamous rogues as Francoise L’Olonnois and Anne Bonny often used French Cay as their pirate bases for raiding passing ships.

Finally, toward the late 17th century, salt collectors from Bermuda set up an official settlement. In 1681, the first settlement was established on Grand Turk Island, and the salt collectors would spend six months out of each year raking salt from the shallow waters around the island. Since Bermuda was an established British colony, this settlement of salt collectors effectively established British dominance over the Turks and Caicos.

In 1765, the islands fell under French occupation. This French rule lasted until around 1783, when the Royal Navy sent Horatio Nelson to retake the islands. While the Admiral was unsuccessful in his attempts, many British loyalists began arriving from America following the American Revolution.

The displaced loyalists found a safe haven in the Caribbean colonies, and in 1790, the Crown began granting land to British loyalist refugees. The loyalists formed the first settlement on Caicos Island, and established themselves across Providenciales, Parrot Bay, Middle Caicos, and North Caicos.

Map showing Cockburn Town's position with Turk...
Map showing Cockburn Town’s position with Turks and Caicos (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By 1799, the Turks and Caicos Island groups were once again firmly under British control as an annexed part of the Bahamas. The move toward consolidation saw little success, however, as most residents on Turks and Caicos were Bermudian, and strongly resisted any Bahamian rule. Ultimately, the Turks and Caicos Islands remained independent from the Bahamas.

In 1873, Queen Victoria officially recognized this fact and granted the Turks and Caicos Islands with a royal charter, making them an independent colony, no longer attached to the Bahamas. This independence was fairly short-lived, as 1874 saw the islands annexed instead to Jamaica. This connection lasted nearly 100 years; however, it provided Turks and Caicos with needed medical and technical assistance as well as substantial financial grants.

While Jamaica gained its independence from Britain in 1962, Turks and Caicos had little interest in the separation. The Turks and Caicos Islands decided to maintain their status as a British Crown Colony, and have no real plans for future independence.

The population is made up of very few Britons. Over 90% of the islanders are Black, while the remaining 10% are of European, North American or Mixed heritage.

Assisted Emigration from Ireland

During the 19th century, Ireland saw a rapid increase in unemployment. Thousands suffered in poverty, and were often regarded as “permanent deadweight”, “feckless”, or a “redundant” population. Because so many were desperate for jobs, employers were able to reduce wages even further – far below the proper acceptable level – leaving even the employed in dire straits.

English: engraving of 'Emigrants leaving Ireland'
‘Emigrants leaving Ireland’ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This left much of the population looking abroad for relief. Most had family or friends in America, and these fortunate folks often had their fares paid. There was a sizeable group, however, that had neither the connections nor the finances to move.

These poorest of the poor turned to England and Scotland for jobs. Before long, however, the English government became alarmed at the prospect of thousands of migrant paupers pouring across the borders and negatively affecting the native labour conditions. The British job market was already overloaded with English workers, and there were simply not enough resources to provide for the Irish influx.

Thus, a plan was conceived to fund assisted emigration programs. The British government and poor law unions along with independent philanthropists and landlords conspired to pay the fares of 300,000 of the most destitute in Ireland. Those sent abroad were typically able-bodied workers who simply could not find employment at home. These primarily included workhouse paupers, single women, and landless agricultural labourers. This group was overwhelmingly Catholic, and made up nearly 10% of the total migration.

A number of schemes were implemented, and each saw varying degrees of success. Some colonies such as New Zealand and Australia were desperate to attract skilled immigrants, and offered money or land grants to any Irish who chose to emigrate. Most, however, were sent to North America.

Conditions varied greatly for the newly arrived emigrants. Many struggled enormously, finding conditions abroad little better than back in Ireland. Some programs, however, were very successful.

A program led by Peter Robinson, for example, stands out as a highly successful venture. A select group of Irish emigrants was chosen from a number of estates in County Cork, as well as a few from estates in the southeast of Ireland. Stringent rules required emigrants to be Roman Catholic peasants under the age of 45.

English: Emigrants memorial, Larne. This statu...
Emigrants memorial, Larne. This statue in the Curran Park, Curran Road, Larne was unveiled in 1992 to commemorate the departure of the first emigrants from Larne to America. They left onboard the ?Friends Goodwill? in 1717. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Roughly 300 families were selected, and each emigrant was given 70 acres of land in Canada’s Ottowa Valley. Emigrants would be required to pay an annual quit rent to the Crown at a rate of 2 pence per acre; however, each emigrant was provided with needed supplies, including food, seed corn and potatoes, cattle, and tools for building and farming. Log cabins were even constructed and clearings made on each settler’s land grant.

By contrast, other programs were significantly less successful. Those implemented during the Great Famine created the greatest hardships, as many schemes were enforced by landlords on unwilling evicted tenants. These were poorly funded ventures which generated great difficulty for both the emigrants and the host nations.

Overall, however, a great many of these assisted emigrants went on to prosper in their new homes. Despite the difficulties they faced, many made the courageous choices necessary and established prosperous settlements for following generations.

Relics of Empire: Tristan da Cunha

Smack in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean sits “the remotest island in the world.” This tiny colony of Great Britain is comprised of six small islands: Tristan da Cunha (the main body), flanked by Inaccessible, Nightingale, Middle, Stoltenhoff, and Gough. All but Tristan and Gough are unoccupied; however, Gough boasts little more than a manned weather station.

The islands were discovered in 1506 by Portuguese explorer Tristão da Cunha. The explorer was on his way to the Cape of Good Hope when he happened upon the islands; however, rough weather and tempestuous seas prevented him from making a landing. Before moving on, he named the island after himself, calling it Illha de Tristão da Cunha. This was later Anglicized to the modern name Tristan da Cunha.

Settlement of Edinburgh of the Seven Seas on T...
Settlement of Edinburgh of the Seven Seas on Tristan da Cunha Island (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A few others happened by the islands throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, though none stayed long. In 1810, the first settler arrived: an American named Jonathan Lambert, who claimed the islands as his own property and renamed them the Islands of Refreshment. Neither the name nor rule stuck for long, as Lambert died just two years later.

British rule of Tristan da Cunha began soon thereafter, when the United Kingdom formally annexed the islands. The move was a strategic military one, made primarily to keep the island out of the hands of enemy forces. The British government feared that the islands could be used as a rescue base from which the French could free Napoleon Bonaparte from imprisonment on Saint Helena. There were also concerns that the Americans might try use the base again as they had done in 1812.

Initially, Tristan was populated by military personnel; however, the British garrison was soon bolstered by a growing population of civilians and whalers. This minor population growth was short lived though, and as the Suez Canal improved shipping lines, the islands once again sank into isolation.

By 1938, the islands had been declared a dependency of Saint Helena. The population grew marginally throughout the 20th century; however, when Queen Mary’s Peak erupted in 1961, the entire population was forced to evacuate. A year later, the island was assessed, and since damage was minimal, most families returned.

English: Portrait of Tristan da Cunha settler ...
Portrait of Tristan da Cunha settler Jonathan Lambert (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today, the islanders carry on in relative obscurity. On occasion, such as during the extratopical cyclone in 2001, they receive relief from the British government. Mostly though, the islanders of Tristan da Cunha are largely self-sufficient – especially since the islands were given a unique UK postal code, allowing them to order needed supplies online.

The island is ruled by the Queen, represented by the Governor of Saint Helena. The governor appoints an administrator on the island who takes advice from a local island council.

The population of Tristan da Cunha is 264. Most of these are descended from 15 original ancestors who arrived on the island between the 1800s and 1900s. There are only eight surnames on the island, and these speak to the heritage of the inhabitants: Glass and Patterson (Scottish), Hagan (Irish), Rogers and Swain (English), Green (Dutch), Lavarello and Repetto (Italian).

Barnado’s Emigrant Children

Thomas Barnardo never intended to settle in England. He set out with grand ambitions to become a missionary in China. As it turned out, however, he found his mission among the destitute and drifting children in the slums of England’s cities.

English: A boy ploughing at Dr. Barnardo's Ind...
A boy ploughing at Dr. Barnardo’s Industrial Farm, Russell, Manitoba, ca. 1900. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thomas was born in Dublin, Ireland on July 4th of 1845. He was the second youngest of the five children born to Abigail and John Michaelis Barnardo. John, a furrier by trade, had emigrated from Hamburg to Dublin in the early 1840s – not long before young Thomas was born. Over the course of two marriages, John fathered seventeen children.
John’s children were well cared for, and young Thomas began his working life as a store clerk. Before long, however, Thomas converted to Evangelical Christianity. He left his employer and spent much of his time preaching in the slums of Dublin.

After a time, Thomas set his mind to becoming a doctor, with the plan of working as a medical missionary with the China Inland Mission. In pursuit of this plan, Thomas moved to England to begin his studies at the London Hospital. He went on to further his studies at colleges in Paris and Edinburg, where he was made a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons.

Despite his extensive studies, Thomas never earned a doctorate. As he studied in London, he began an evangelical work which made him aware of the plight of homeless, drifting children adrift throughout England’s biggest cities.
Barnardo was a powerful speaker, and brought his concerns to the Missionary Conference in 1867. His speech fell on the receptive ears of Lord Shaftsbury and prominent banker, Robert Barclay. They were moved by the plight of England’s homeless children, and offered to support the establishment of homes for these children. Thanks to their support and encouragement, Thomas gave up his plans to move abroad.

The first of “Dr. Barnardo’s Homes” opened its doors in 1870 at London’s 18 Stepney Causeway.  This first home was the beginning of Barnardo’s life’s work. From this small beginning, his humanitarian reach continued to increase, ever with the goal of feeding, clothing and educating the waifs and strays of England.

English: Dr Barnardo Memorial, Village Holmes,...
Dr Barnardo Memorial, Village Holmes, Barkingside (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The youngest children Barnardo received were “boarded out” to families in rural homes. Older girls were trained in useful occupations and housed in industrial training homes. Boys in their upper teenage years were also trained in labor homes before they were given employment in businesses at home, at sea, or abroad.

Barnardo’s was one of a number of charities that were actively involved in child migration. The policy was widely accepted at the time, and Barnardo was a prominent figure in enabling child migration in the late 19th century. He primarily worked at placing children in homes throughout Canada, and succeeded in sending over 30,000 children to new homes there.

Barnardo went on to establish further institutions, including a convalescent home, a hospital for the very ill, and a rescue home for girls in danger. Barnardo and his wife also converted their Barkingside home into “The Girls’ Village Home,” complete with 66 cottages and a modern steam laundry.

Thomas Barnardo succumbed to angina pectoris on September 19th, 1905, and was buried in front of his house in Barkingside. At the time of his death, over 8500 of England’s destitute children were being cared for in his 96 homes.
Proving the great value of his work, a national memorial fund was instituted, providing financial support for Barnardo’s work on a permanent basis.

Relics of Empire: Pitcairn Island

Halfway between New Zealand and the Americas sits one of the most remote inhabited islands in the world. The tiny volcanic island of Pitcairn is separated from the rest of the world by thousands of miles of ocean, yet it gained surprising fame thanks to its original settlers.

English: House of Fletcher Christian, leader o...
House of Fletcher Christian, leader of mutiny on Bounty, Pitcairn Island ?esky: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The island was first discovered in 1606 by the Portuguese explorer Pedro Fernandez de Quiros. It was rediscovered in 1767 by a British ship, and named after the crew member who spotted the island. Owing to its size, however, Pitcairn was not suitable for large-scale colonization; thus, it was left alone.

In 1798, the crew of the HMS Bounty mutinied. After setting Captain William Bligh adrift with the remaining loyal crewmembers, Master Mate Fletcher Christian set off to look for a safe haven for himself and his small crew. Unable to properly man the ship with his nine companions, Christian made landfall in Tahiti where he recruited six men and twelve women. Together, this odd group found their way to the idyllic paradise of Pitcairn Island.

The island was uninhabited, warm, and replete with coconut palms and breadfruit. It was the perfect inaccessible hideaway for the mutineers. To avoid discovery and retribution, the sailors stripped the Bounty of her contents, then ran her ashore, and burned her to the ground, effectively erasing any clues as to their whereabouts.

The group of mutineers was led by Fletcher Christian and included Ned Young, John Adams, Matthew Quintal, William McCoy, William Brown, Isaac Martin, John Mills, and John Williams. Each of the sailors took a Polynesian woman for a wife, leaving the remaining three to be shared by the six Polynesian men.

Years went by, and the tiny community lived with alternating friction and peace. Some died, some were murdered, and by 1800, John Adams remained as the only male survivor of the original party, surrounded by ten Polynesian women and twenty-three children.

English: The mutineers turning Lt Bligh and pa...
The mutineers turning Lt Bligh and part of the officers and crew adrift from HMAV Bounty, 29 April 1789, published by B B Evans (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1808, American sealing Captain Mayhew Folger happened upon the tiny colony; however, little interest was paid to the island for six more years. In September of 1814, H.M.S. Briton and Tagus rediscovered the colony. The British commanders were so charmed by Adams’ care and leadership of the community that they felt it would be inhumane to arrest him for his long-passed crime.

The isolation was ended, and a relationship began between Pitcairn and the British Navy. Ships visited regularly, bringing books, tools and practical necessities in exchange for provisions.

Adams soon became concerned about the future of the island, and appealed to the British Government for a successor. Appeals were ignored; however, voluntary immigrants soon arrived, including shipwright John Buffett and Welshman John Evans. By 1828, the population had risen to 66, with the arrival of a few new residents including George Nobbs.

In 1831, the community briefly moved to Tahiti due to diminishing resources on Pitcairn. They were warmly welcomed; however, they were unhappy and many contracted infectious diseases (to which they had little natural resistance). The Pitcairn Islanders returned home just a few months later.

Increasing intrusions by American whalers let the Islanders to feel insecure in their tiny settlement. They reached out to British Captain Elliot of the H.M.S. Fly who provided them with a constitution and code of laws. While Pitcairn officially became a British settlement in 1887, the Islanders consider Elliot’s constitution to signify their formal incorporation into the British Empire.

Throughout the 20th century, the island was governed by magistrates appointed from the Christian and Young families; however, in 1970, governance of the island was transferred to the British high commissioners of New Zealand. Today, many of the islanders have emigrated to New Zealand, leaving the population at no more than 45.

The Unemployed Workmen’s Act of 1905 and its Emigrant Register

In 1905, the Liberal Government passed the Unemployed Workmen’s Act. The initiative had been inherited from the previous Conservative administration, and the goal of the program was to provide assistance for unemployed workmen throughout the country.

The Act was based on the establishment of Distress Committees in metropolitan boroughs with a population of over 50,000 residents. Each Distress Committee throughout England, Scotland and Ireland would be responsible for setting up public work schemes, as well as providing assistance for families to relocate in order to find employment (either elsewhere in the country or abroad).

Alexandra of Denmark, Queen Consort to Edward ...
Alexandra of Denmark, Queen Consort to Edward VII of the United Kingdom (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The government threw its full weight behind the program, putting a huge contribution into the scheme. Queen Alexandra was also fully supportive of the act, and raised over £153,000 from private donors to support the various enterprises.

Each Distress Committee was entrusted with the responsibility of helping unemployed workers with small cash handouts or with temporary work. Grants were given to select businesses and local authorities, enabling them to hire more workers; however, applicants had to meet a stringent set of requirements. “Proper cases” would be thrifty and of “good character;” they could not have a previous criminal record, and they could not have received poor law assistance.

The Act also made provision for unemployed workmen and their dependents to migrate or emigrate in order to find work. Distress Committees could refer unemployed individuals to the “Central Body”, who would assist with emigration or migration as needed.

Of course, there were conditions in place governing the emigration of any unemployed worker and his family. They would need to meet specific age and fitness requirements, as well as certain qualifications showing employability in agriculture, forestry, husbandry, horticulture, breeding livestock, or growing fruits and vegetables.

Those who met the requirements would receive assistance in relocating and finding employment abroad. In some cases, the unemployed person would agree to repay the Central Body in part or in full for the sum expended for relocation. This was not a requirement, and it’s unclear how many emigrants actually repaid the Central Body for provided assistance.

The Central Body was required to report to the Local Government Board at the end of each month. Details were provided on each person who had been aided to emigrate.

Despite heavy financial backing by the government, the monarchy and by private donors, money soon ran out and the programs were no longer financially viable. The London Committee reached the conclusion that “it is impossible to deal adequately with unemployment by local authorities and we are therefore of the opinion that in future legislation the question should be dealt with nationally.”

Despite its obvious flaws and failings, the Unemployed Workmen’s Act of 1905 was a step in the right direction. It raised public awareness of the problem of unemployment and started a serious discourse on the topic in government circles.

If you know more about this Act and can enhance this article, please comment accordingly – Ed.

Immigrants Made Good – Paul Julius, Baron von Reuter

Paul Julius, Baron von Reuter was born Israel Beer Josaphat on July 21, 1816 in Kassel, Germany. He was an entrepreneur, journalist and media owner. More importantly, Reuter went on to become a trailblazer in the world of news reporting and telegraphy, eventually founding the Reuters news agency.

Beschriftung der Plakette: Baron Paul Julius R...
Baron Paul Julius Reuter -: 1816 – 1899(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Reuter was born to Betty Sanders and Samuel Levi Josaphat, a local rabbi. He spent his younger years working as a clerk in his uncle’s bank in Göttingen. During his time in Göttingen he managed to make the acquaintance of Carl Friedrich Gauss, a prominent mathematician and physicist who was at that time experimenting with the electric telegraph.

In October of 1845, he moved to London where he began using the name Joseph Josaphat. Later that same year, he converted to Christianity, and in a ceremony at St. George’s German Lutheran Chapel, he took the Christian name Paul Julius Reuter.

Just one week later, Paul returned to Berlin where he married Ida Maria Elizabeth Clemetine Magnus. He joined a Berlin-based book publishing firm, and in 1847, he became a partner with Reuter and Stargardt. As Germany tumbled into the Revolution of 1848, however, the firm became involved in publishing and distributing radical pamphlets which brought Reuter under official scrutiny.

After arousing the hostility of German authorities, Reuter took refuge in Paris, where he began working with the news agency of Charles-Louis Havas (which would eventually become Agence France Presse).  He soon founded the Reuters News Agency in Aachen, and began sending news excerpts between France and Germany using a system of carrier pigeons.

Since telegraphy was still being developed, Reuter had one of the fastest sources of news available. The carrier pigeons were considerably faster than the post train, so Reuter was able to capitalize on stock news from the Paris stock exchange before most others got the latest news. He also began translating bits and pieces of news from France and sending the articles on to newspapers in Germany via his pigeons.

UK - London - The City: Paul Julius Reuter statue
UK – London – The City: Paul Julius Reuter statue (Photo credit: wallyg)

In 1851, Reuter returned to England and opened a telegraph office not far from the London Stock Exchange. Initially, he dealt primarily with commercial exchanges; however, as the popularity of daily newspapers grew, Reuter was able to sign on a number of publishers as well. His first major breakthrough in the industry came in 1859 when he was able to transmit a speech by Napoleon III preceding the Austro-French Piedmontese war in Italy.

Competition grew as other news agencies fought to keep up with Reuter’s telegraph techniques. Undersea cables allowed Reuter to further his network to other continents, and eventually, Reuter was obligated to agree on a division of territory with his two main rivals, Havas in France and Wolff in Germany. These three agencies maintained an effective monopoly over the world press for many years.

Reuter became a naturalized British subject in 1857, and was eventually granted baronies by both the German Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and Queen Victoria of England. Reuter passed away in February of 1899; however, his news agency is still going strong today. In fact, on February 25, 1999, the Reuters News Agency honored its founder by establishing the Paul Julius Reuter Innovation Award.


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