Tag: British Isles
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.

Gold Rush: California to Kimberley

Few things spark the adventurer’s spirit like the promise of gold. People are willing to leave the security of home for the dream of striking it rich on the gold fields. Time after time, gold rush fever has struck the general population, spurring massive migration to the latest gold find. Few truly find a fortune, yet this rarely stops folks from trying.

Britain has not been immune to gold fever. There are always those who are beguiled by the potential for instant wealth, and each new strike has spurred heavy migration as fortune hunters flock to the find.

English: Sailing to California for the Califor...
Sailing to California for the California Gold Rush (originally published in 1850s). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

America: The California Gold Rush (1848)

When James Marshall struck gold at John Sutter’s mill on January 24th, 1848, it went largely unnoticed. News of the find moved slowly and it wasn’t until late in the year that gold fever really caught on in El Dorado County. Sam Brannan was a store owner at Sutter’s Fort, and he immediately saw the potential for gain. He began advertising the strike in San Francisco and from there, the word spread like wildfire.

By June, nearly 5000 miners were working in the gold district. When news of the strike was legitimized by a statement from President James Polk, news began to spread across the country. Stories of gold, free for the taking, could hardly be contained and by 1849 immigrants were pouring into the country from the UK, China, Europe, Australia, and South America. According to the census in 1850, there were some 3,010 Britons living in California.

English: Australian 'Gold Rush' house The vill...
Australian ‘Gold Rush’ house ‘The Adelong’ was built by a local who made his fortune in the Australian Gold Rush! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Australia: The Victoria & NSW Gold Rush (1851)

Bathurst in New South Wales was little more than a backwater penal settlement when Edward Hargraves discovered gold there in 1851. Within weeks, however, thousands of settlers had flocked to Australia and were digging frantically for a fortune. The governor of Victoria saw potential in the new settlers and offered a reward for anyone who struck gold within 200 miles of Melbourne. Diggers took up the challenge and soon found gold in even greater abundance.

By the end of 1851, the Australian gold rush was at full steam. Tens of thousands of settlers arrived, tripling Victoria’s population to 237,000 in 1861, and doubling it again to 540,000 by 1861. New South Wales also saw a significant population increase, reaching 357,000 by 1861. Of these immigrants, 290,000 came from the British Isles and quickly became the dominant nationality in the region. In fact, by 1861, 60% of the population was from the UK.

South Africa: The Kimberly Gold Rush (1886)

The initial riches of South Africa were found in diamonds; however, in 1886, George Harrison discovered an enormous amount of gold-bearing conglomerate along the reefs of the Witwatersrand Basin. Unlike previous strikes, there were no nuggets to be found. Instead, there were miles of low-grade ore covered in thousands of feet of hard rock.

News of the strike spread quickly and men came flocking, but only those with capital could get in on the action. A number of men who had made a fortune off of Kimberly diamonds quickly grabbed control of the gold fields. Claims were soon staked along the fringe of Johannesburg, and new techniques were being developed for extracting gold from the ore.

Not many were able to capitalize on this gold rush; however, Cornish hard rock miners had just the skills that were needed to extract diamonds and gold from the mines.  Over 2500 Cornishmen migrated to South Africa and soon made up a large percentage of the white workforce in the South African mines.

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Why Genealogists Should Attend Family History Conferences

A family history conference is obviously a fascinating event for genealogists and ancestry buffs at all levels of expertise. Really, just about everyone will come away with something, whether a few tantalizing new tidbits, or a whole slew of new information. You’ll meet loads of people who share your interests, hear fascinating speakers, and you may even come away with some handy free perks.

Leicester and Rutland Record OfficeThere may be a lot going on at home or at work, and maybe it’s a struggle to get away. If you’re on the fence about whether or not to attend a family history conference, read on. Here are a few excellent reasons why genealogy conferences will do you a world of good and why it makes sense to attend Exodus: Movement of the People in 2013

Go Social

As much as we may like to stay holed up at home with our research, sometimes the best thing we can do for ourfamily tree is to get out there and network with others in our field. All genealogists can benefit enormously from the input of others, and the interaction can do wonders for your own research. Not only can you bounce ideas and theories off of other family historians but often professionals attending will give you advice for FREE!  In any case you will be able to feed off each other’s passion for the study of genealogy.

It’s a good idea to have a stack of business cards handy when you attend an event like this, as you’ll very likely run into like minded individuals who share common research and interests. Don’t discount the power of networking and socializing at conferences. Someone else might have just the key you’ve been searching for.

Solve Brick Walls

Maybe you’ve run into a wall, and despite your best research, you’ve been unable to get any further. Well, it’s been wisely said that two heads are better than one. Family history conferences are a fantastic way to get like-minded folks together to solve some of the most puzzling problems and conundrums.

Access Products and Services

At the Halsted Trust 2013 conference, there will be the opportunity to view a wealth of the latest products and services geared to the study of genealogy. You may have hesitated in purchasing some of these things like a findmypast subscription, but now’s your chance to try them all out for free. Often vendors will even offer special discounts or free samples to conference attendees.

Research Opportunities

Family history conferences are often strategically located near excellent research libraries and county record offices or other sources of excellent resource material related to the study of genealogy.

Even if a conference takes place in an area that you’re not currently researching, do take advantage of the excellent resources available, as mostrecord offices will have information well beyond a specific geographic region. You might just find something invaluable if you take the time to check out the available resources. The Leicestershire Record Office is just 14 miles from the hotel and with such excellent leisure facilities, the Hinckley Island hotel is a great base to extend your stay and spend some time with the local family history resources.

Join Societies

Joining a couple genealogical or family history societies is a great way to carry on connections you’ve made at the conference. This is especially true if you find one that specializes in your primary field or area of research.

Forced Migration to England: Slavery in the 18th Century

English: Plate to commemorate the abolition of...
English: Plate to commemorate the abolition of the slave trade by the British Parliament in 1807. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Slavery in the British Isles dates back to the times of the Roman Empire; however, the British really perfected the Atlantic slave trade throughout the course of the 17th and 18th centuries. As the demand for black slaves grew in 18th century England, so did the industry of buying, transporting, and selling slaves. As the slave trade expanded, as many as 1700 and 1800 British merchants jumped on the lucrative bandwagon, committing ships and seamen to the transport of slaves.

The Transatlantic slave trade was the single most lucrative element in Britain’s trade during the 18th century. Ships never sailed empty, and profits were enormous. For a long while, very little consideration was given to the morality of the slave trade. James Houston, an employee of an 18th century slave merchant, noted, “What a glorious and advantageous trade this is. It is the hinge on which all the trade of this globe moves.” And, in fact, in many ways it did. It is estimated that nearly 70 percent of the government’s total income at that time came directly from taxes on goods from its colonies.

As money poured in through the slave trade, that money was in turn invested into British industry. The industrial landscape of Britain and other European countries involved in the slave trade was changed forever, as massive wealth poured in. In fact, the profits gained through the slave trade contributed hugely to financing the Industrial Revolution.

However, while some grew obscenely wealthy off of the trade in human chattel, others suffered greatly: namely, the slaves themselves. Uprooted from their homelands thousands of miles across the sea, they were forced into labor in a culture, language and country that was not their own. Transportation of slaves subjected them to appalling conditions for many months as they were packed tightly onto ships with little concern for comfort or well-being. Many, in fact, died before ever reaching British soil.

It is estimated that nearly three million slaves were forced across the Atlantic and into a new culture and lifestyle far from the home, people and places they knew. As the slaves were integrated into the culture, some were eventually freed and others escaped. By the final quarter of the 18th century, many thousands of black people had become part of the population of the British Isles. Some of them worked in domestic settings, yet many more worked in port cities and industrial hubs.

At that time, black domestic servants were seen as a sign of great wealth. In some cases, the African immigrants were paid workers and were free to leave their employers at will. In many other cases, however, black slaves were treated little better than property and were kept, sold, or traded at will. As time went on though, many African immigrants were free and worked as tradesmen, sailors, and even businessmen and musicians.

Interestingly enough, while the British indisputably gained nearly immeasurable wealth through the slave trade, they ended up being the leaders in the struggle to end slavery completely. In only 46 short years, the slave trade was outlawed completely by the British government. In one of the most successful reforms of the 19th century, the British government went on to abolish the practice throughout every one of their colonies.

Migration to the UK in pre-history

It is estimated that around 4000BC there were just 3000 people in Britain, slowly rising to around 500,000 by 50BC. Clearly this is not just a case of procreation but natural immigration following game animals. Migration therefore has been a focus of our population from very early times but not one that can be recorded except in the DNA of individuals to show which migration pattern their ancestors followed.

DNA profiling can therefore can be of use to the family historian in determining in which wave of migration their ancestors arrived in Britain and also whether there is a relationship between individuals that have the same name and yet no documented relationship can be determined.
The next people to occupy Britain were the Celts who developed their own language around 1000BC. There is little evidence of migration during the iron age and by the time of the arrival of the Romans in 43AD, the Celts descending from the Neolithic population were already present in Britain.
The Roman period from 43AD to 410AD saw the arrival of some 20,000 combat troops and a similar number of auxiliaries and camp followers. This period in our history was a disaster for the indigenous population in the south with virtual total destruction of the Celtic societies in the south and subsequent migration westward to Wales and Cornwall. The population in AD200 was thought to be between one and two million.

Territories inhabited by East Germanic tribes ...
Territories inhabited by East Germanic tribes between 100 BC and AD 300. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The end of the Roman occupation saw the arrival of the Anlo-Saxons a term defining a number of Germanic tribes, mainly, the Angles, Saxons and Jutes but also the minority tribes of Franks, Frisians and Suevi. This means that we have an ethnic diversity and cultural elements coming from an area as diverse and as far apart as from the Jutland peninsula to the Lower Rhine. There must have been oral traditions passed down by the various tribes but these appear not to have survived into recorded history.
Frisians were from the Frisian Islands and the area to the north of the Netherlands, and the Franks were from areas along the Rhine and Merovingian Gaul. The Suevi were from Sweden.

The next wave of immigrants brought death, destruction and abject terror amongst the indigenous population. The first Viking raid was recorded in 789 AD and then in 793 AD with an attack at Lindisfarne. The Wessex king, Alfred repulsed the Danes at the end of the 9th Century but the Vikings were too strong to remain defeated and Canute the King of both Norway and Denmark defeated the English in 1016. The Norsemen remained in power for another 50 years when their migration was ended by William at the Battle of Hastings. Their reign in Scotland lasted longer with Magnus Barefoot‘s seizure of the Western Isles between 1098 and 1104.

With William the Conqueror we have the beginnings of recorded history that is of use to the average family historian and so our story of British migration from, to and within the British isles our story can begin.





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