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The British case, 1750–1900
Author: Eric Richards

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.

Abstract only
Eric Richards

striking and inescapable. They belong in certain rural categories of economic migration which constitute very large components of the greater jigsaw. They were also intrinsic to the broader transformations of rural life which eventually brought people together in the great diasporas of their times. They were part of a widespread experience of economic change, of which they themselves, like most of their fellow migrants, were barely conscious. These people were at the opening stage in the eventual rise of mass migration out of western Europe and also in the search for a

in The genesis of international mass migration
Eric Richards

6 The North American theatre The pioneers North America was the earliest and the greatest theatre of oceanic emigration in which the methods of mass migration were pioneered. The activation of the transatlantic human transfusions was a vast project and many of its origins remain a mystery. But it began as a largely English venture. Mostly, the story of the peopling of America is told as variants on the theme of the dispeopling of old Europe: it is told conventionally as the ‘uprooting’ or the ‘transplanting’ of Europe’s poor and wretched. This fits in well with

in The genesis of international mass migration
Eric Richards

letters of ordinary British families in the mid-nineteenth century and even more in those of the Irish. Australia, where I now live, is a special case because of its remoteness for most emigrants, yet it is the second-most immigrant country in the world. It has a 2 The genesis of international mass migration very high proportion of foreign-born people among its population, and its people are extremely mobile between its main population centres. But Australia is not much different from other western-style countries, marked by its high level of internal and external

in The genesis of international mass migration
Eric Richards

became less British and more continental. But what was the relationship between the two? It is contended that the British case was the prototype in the emergence of mass overseas emigration. It set and maintained the pace until at least the 1850s. But Britain was joined by other sources of emigrants, out of continental Europe, 226 The genesis of international mass migration and eventually overtaken; even Ireland outperformed as a source of emigrants. Europeans were emigrating in many directions with a clear acceleration and growth in volume in the mid

in The genesis of international mass migration
Eric Richards

of the British people in the first half of the nineteenth century was convinced that the coming of industrial capitalism had brought them appalling hardships, that they had entered a bleak and iron age’.3 Emigration from such circumstances is not hard to imagine or to understand. 260 The genesis of international mass migration But were the people who emigrated in large numbers the products of deteriorating conditions in the British Isles, or were they the newly released and energetic seekers of distant opportunities? Or, more likely, many of both? Some clues

in The genesis of international mass migration
Eric Richards

absorbed the outflows, as if debouching from Cornwall. Cornish emigration was a near-perfect case of global rationalisation in the context of the laissez-faire world of the Pax Britannica. Mining adjustments Skilled labour always was, and still is, one of the principal driving forces in international migration. Skill has been a passport to mobility, adventure and better incomes. Frank Thistlethwaite, father of many of the best organising ideas regarding the history of mass migration, remarked that ‘Skill acts, as it were, as a radioactive tracer in the blood stream of

in The genesis of international mass migration
Eric Richards

industrial villages were soon absorbing migrating labour from adjacent counties and local parishes, 106 The genesis of international mass migration usually from within fifty miles but also from more distant parts of rural midWales. Unskilled labour tended to come from the nearer localities, skilled labour drawn more distantly. The actual movements, often quite small, were mesmerising: the common sequence was for incoming migrants first to take jobs in local farms which served the expanding coalfields: for instance, some of the incoming people from Bala in North Wales

in The genesis of international mass migration
Eric Richards

of the eighteenth century. Some of this increment was successively skimmed away into newly urbanising centres. In effect agriculture used a smaller proportion of the population to produce a greater output than ever before – which then fed and clothed (and also supplied with raw materials) the much faster growing non-agricultural population of the country as it industrialised. 122 The genesis of international mass migration The corollary of these great changes, which had been in preparation for a very long time and which continued deep into the nineteenth

in The genesis of international mass migration
Eric Richards

. Australia was more than simply a dumping ground for Britain’s convicts.2 Yet, whatever the first origins of the colonial sites in Australia, in the outcome its primary function was indeed that of a remote penitentiary; this continued to be its predominant role into the 1830s and persisted as an increasingly despised system even as late as 1867. Civil emigration grew out of this context and these parallel emigrants were the people who subsequently dominated the very longdistance relationship with the British Isles. 152 The genesis of international mass migration

in The genesis of international mass migration