Emigration studies have been a major historiographical concern for many years. This book addresses the significant but neglected issue of return migration to Britain and Europe since 1600. It offers some of the first studies of the phenomenon of returns. While emigration studies have become prominent in both scholarly and popular circles in recent years, return migration has remained comparatively under-researched. Despite evidence that in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries between a quarter and a third of all emigrants from many parts of Britain and Europe ultimately returned to their countries of origin. Emigrant homecomings analyses the motives, experiences and impact of these returning migrants in a wide range of locations over four hundred years, as well as examining the mechanisms and technologies which enabled their return. The book aims to open the debate by addressing some of the major issues in four thematic sections. After an overview of the process of return migration, it addresses the motives of those who returned from a wide variety of locations over a period ranging from the seventeenth century to the present day. The book looks at mechanisms of return, and considers the crucial question of the impact on the homeland of those who returned.
Emigration from Scotland has always been very high. However, emigration from Scotland between the wars surpassed all records; more people emigrated than were born, leading to an overall population decline. This book examines emigration in the years between the two world wars of the twentieth century. Although personal persuasion remained the key factor in stimulating emigration, professional and semi-professional agents also played a vital part in generating and directing the exodus between the wars. Throughout and beyond the nineteenth century Scottish emigration was, in the public mind and public print, largely synonymous with an unwilling exodus from the highlands and islands. The book investigates the extent to which attitudes towards state-aided colonization from the highlands in the 1920s were shaped by the earlier experiences of highlanders and governments alike. It lays particular emphasis on changing and continuing perceptions of overseas settlement, the influence of agents and disparities between expectations and experiences. The book presents a survey of the exodus from lowland Scotland's fishing, farming and urbanindustrial communities that evaluates the validity of negative claims about the emigrants' motives vis-a-vis the well-publicized inducements offered through both official and informal channels. It scrutinizes the emigrants' expectations and experiences of continuity and change against the backdrop of over a century of large-scale emigration and, more specifically, of new initiatives spawned by the Empire Settlement Act. Barnardo's Homes was the first organization to resume migration work after the war, and the Canadian government supervision was extended from poor-law children to all unaccompanied juvenile migrants.
The convener of the Social Work Committee was instructed to admit to Cornton Vale 'only such men as are reasonably likely to prove suitable for settlement overseas'. The regular receipt of 'very cheering letters' from colonists in Canada and Australia continued to convince the Social Work Committee that it was performing a useful service. The YMCA was so convinced of the efficacy and increasing urgency of its emigration work that in February 1930 it devoted a whole issue of Scottish Manhood to publicizing its various initiatives. During 1928 and 1929 a total of 647 British boys were placed in Canada under the Church Nomination Scheme. Throughout its existence the Quarrier organization has adhered to the Christian principles of its founder, although after the war its emigration policy was also influenced by the eugenic, imperialist climate of the age.
The survey of the exodus from lowland Scotland's fishing, farming and urban-industrial communities seeks to evaluate the validity of negative claims about the emigrants' motives vis-a-vis the well-publicized inducements offered through both official and informal channels. Throughout the inter-war period farmers and farm workers displayed a much keener and more consistent interest in emigration than did their counterparts from the fishing community. Emigration from fishing communities probably approximates most closely to the image of the reluctant emigrant. The emigrationists on both sides of the Atlantic were confident that artisans and labourers could be trained to be successful colonial farmers. Both the Canadian government and the railway companies expanded their agency organization to take account of the vibrant post-war market for female emigrants. A significant amount of female emigration was orchestrated by the Canadian railway companies so that unaccompanied females could travel in protected parties.
Throughout and beyond the nineteenth century Scottish emigration was, in the public mind and public print, largely synonymous with an unwilling exodus from the highlands and islands. Hebridean emigration to Australia in the 1920s as in the nineteenth century was an intermittent sideshow compared with the movement to Canada, while New Zealand seems to have aroused almost no interest among highlanders. A reluctance among highlanders to commit themselves to full-time fishing occupations also helped to defeat Duff Pattullo's scheme. The Fishery Board supported the venture on the grounds that commercial fishing prospects were much healthier along the 7,000-mile coastline of British Columbia than in Scotland. The Canadian Pacific liners Marloch and Metagama, calling at Lochboisdale and Stornoway, respectively, embarked a total of around 600 emigrants from the Long Island and took them across the Atlantic to new homes in Alberta and Ontario.
Emigration became a significant European phenomenon in the century before the First World War. In the course of the nineteenth century emigration was woven indelibly into the fabric of Scottish life and lore. As in the nineteenth century, many emigrants continued to be recruited by private individuals or commercial agencies. Australia, New Zealand and British South Africa absorbed most of the residue of emigrants from both Scotland and the British Isles at large. The Scottish movement, like that from the British Isles as a whole, was concentrated very markedly in the 1920s. Since at least the 1880s the United States had been moving away from a policy of unrestricted immigration and its traditional image as a receptacle for the downtrodden of Europe. In Scotland, wartime decline was quickly reversed after the return to peace ushered in a renewed outflow that was to have notable demographic effects on the country.
Canadian inter-provincial rivalries sometimes provoked federal reminders that provincial agents should co-operate and avoid an 'overdose of energy' since 'an emigrant for any Province is an emigrant for Canada'. Scotland was well integrated into the agency network. The recruitment of emigrants by agents and contractors had a long and controversial history. The ignorance of booking agents was criticized by James Moir, a former booking agent and librarian from Bo'Ness, West Lothian, in a letter to Robert Forke, the Canadian Minister of Immigration, in 1927. In the fragile post-war labour market booking agents were even more severely criticized for issuing misleading information and recruiting emigrants for urban-industrial, rather than agricultural, employment. In 1920 Smith reiterated and enlarged on his pre-war observations, complaining that recruitment tactics had not been modernized in response to the increasing sophistication of potential emigrants.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book demonstrates how in the early nineteenth century letters to and from emigrants reflected notable levels of return from seacoast ports in North America, particularly among the young, single people who dominated movement to such places. It addresses the motives of those who returned from a wide variety of locations over a period ranging from the seventeenth century. The book considers the crucial question of the impact on the homeland of those who returned. It presents long-term overviews of the process of return migration. Complexities in return migration are not confined to issues of chronological and spatial continuity and change. Perceptions of identity among temporary and permanent emigrants alike pose some challenging conundrums, particularly in relation to the tendency of successful emigrants and their descendants to nurture a culture of victimhood.