Very large numbers of people began to depart the British Isles for the New Worlds after about 1770. This was a pioneering movement, a rehearsal for modern international migration. This book contends that emigration history is not seamless, that it contains large shifts over time and place, and that the modern scale and velocity of mobility have very particular historical roots. The Isle of Man is an ideal starting point in the quest for the engines and mechanisms of emigration, and a particular version of the widespread surge in British emigration in the 1820s. West Sussex was much closer to the centres of the expansionary economy in the new age. North America was the earliest and the greatest theatre of oceanic emigration in which the methods of mass migration were pioneered. Landlocked Shropshire experienced some of the earliest phases of British industrialisation, notably in the Ironbridge/Coalbrookdale district, deep inland on the River Severn. The turmoil in the agrarian and demographic foundations of life reached across the British archipelago. In West Cork and North Tipperary, there was clear evidence of the great structural changes that shook the foundations of these rural societies. The book also discusses the sequences and effects of migration in Wales, Swaledale, Cornwall, Kent, London, and Scottish Highlands. It also deals with Ireland's place in the more generic context of the origins of migration from the British Isles. The common historical understanding is that the pre-industrial population of the British Isles had been held back by Malthusian checks.
British emigration and the Malthus model
Spanning the transition
The life of Robert Malthus (1766–1834) spanned the decades in Britain of the
rapid transition towards mass internationalmigration. This became manifest
only towards the end of his life. He was keenly aware of the extraordinary
reproductive feats of the American colonists and the potential of new lands in
the colonies. He was also well-informed about the substantial migrations from
particular regions of the British Isles at the end of the old century. But Malthus
was not much engaged with the
The Irish case
Ireland to the fore
The first crescendo of mass internationalmigration came in the mid-1840s and
was disproportionately Irish. Ireland exhibited in the starkest terms the fundamental forces which generated exoduses out of Europe, and therefore Ireland
requires particular attention. Moreover by the middle of the nineteenth century,
Ireland had become a prolific supplier of emigrants to the New Worlds and to
the rest of Britain, and remained so for the next half century. It yielded far more
emigrants per capita than the other parts of the
This chapter pursues dual aims of elucidating the Customs’s recruitment procedures and exploring the socioeconomic factors that influenced decisions to relocate overseas. Despite the enduring caricature of the upper-class Englishman as the quintessential colonist, the socioeconomic profile of Customs employees presented in this chapter demonstrates the diverse range of people for whom the empire world spoke of opportunity. Furthermore, this chapter shows how global networks of patronage, family, education and employment propelled the international migrations of employees of colonial institutions. This chapter finds that expatriates were not primarily motivated to seek work overseas because of a single-minded commitment to imperialism; rather, family links to empire, previous employment in the empire world, a desire for adventure and, importantly, the prospect of a reliable career were more significant factors.
and there have been countless other millions of slaves forcibly migrated to serve
The genesis of international mass migration
distant masters and mistresses (within and beyond Africa).6 They are a large part
of the wide narrative of internationalmigration and slave migrations which
continue to this day. European convicts were also shipped overseas from the
sixteenth to the late nineteenth century. From the British Isles alone about
60,000 were sent to the American colonies before 1776; and after American
Independence 160,000 British and Irish convicts
enumerating the typologies of emigration brings some primitive order to the
task, even if some of the proportions of the categories cannot be established. It
is clear that most British, and indeed most international, migration has been
essentially economic migration.
The historical ‘campsites’ employed in this book are located across the British
Isles, in radically different geographical and social circumstances. Each of them
produced internal and external migrants in the decades before 1850, in varied
proportions and timetables, but all of them
The Isle of Man and West Sussex stories were minuscule pieces of the intricate
jigsaw puzzle of internationalmigration that stretched across centuries and
continents. The Manx and Sussex people who left Britain in the 1820s had
particular local reasons and special circumstances, often deeply personal states
of mind. They are frequently fascinating individual narratives.
Yet these emigrants were not unique, and their similarities with people on the
move from the rest of the British Isles, perhaps from Europe in general, is
articulated, experienced and understood. It also goes a long way to
explain why migration history and imperial history have moved closer and
closer together since the turn of the twenty-first century. Their
symbiotic relationship is well illustrated by several of the key
developments and innovations in the latest scholarship on imperial and
internationalmigrations, such as the greater
, ‘ “Not everyone can be a
13 Iredale, ‘Luring overseas trained doctors to Australia’; Barnett, ‘Foreign
medical graduates’; Wright & Mullally, ‘ “Not everyone can be a Gandhi” ’.
14 Mejia, ‘Migration of physicians’, p. 214.
16 ‘Soviet medical degrees “recognition sought” ’, Hindustan Times (8 May
1963), p. 3.
17 V. Robinson & M. Carey, ‘Peopling skilled internationalmigration: Indian
doctors in the UK’, InternationalMigration, 38:1 (2000).
18 Robinson & Carey, ‘Peopling skilled internationalmigration’, p. 95.
the capital. The concerns of the Home Office,
expressed in a Ministerial Statement to the House of Commons in
May 2012, emphasised how ‘[M]uch of the UK’s TB burden is attributable to internationalmigration. Around three quarters of TB cases in
the UK occur in those born outside of the UK’.5 This has been echoed
in most of the mainstream media where the ‘foreignness’ of the disease
has been underscored in all the lamentations and calls to action. Once
acknowledged as a persistent scourge, a regrettable resident within the
British population, the disease was thought