The British case, 1750–1900

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.

population growth. The argument here will be that, while the threat of famine has been exaggerated, the possible defences against that threat have been largely unexplored and, consequently, underestimated. In particular, there has been an uncritical use of the ambiguous evidence for famine offered by literary sources. The evidence thus derived has been married with what we might term a Malthusian model of social and economic change, which exaggerates the depth of poverty in early modern England and, therefore, the extent of vulnerability to famine. This model, in its turn

in Crowds and popular politics in early modern England

ladder; meanwhile the ‘push’ factor was more decisive for those at the bottom of the rural ladder. But, as Hallas says, ‘many chose to accept a lower standard of living rather than leave the area’, and this was clearly a vital choice. Out-migration from Swaledale was not replenished in the Malthusian model, but there was a clear enough tendency for some of the pre-industrial forms of local occupation to

in Empire, migration and identity in the British world

output per capita. 19 Brenner detects a rejection of pre-existing models, especially the Malthusian model associated for medieval England with M.M. Postan, in favour of this leap to accept market expansion as the corner-stone of economic change. While, in fact and as we will consider in more detail later in this chapter, historians of medieval England have been more willing to describe the market and its activity than to locate it in models of long-term economic change, Brenner is right to note this significant change in focus. In seeking to locate the market within

in Peasants and historians