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.
if they had been unsuccessful, presented their
adventures in a positive way, claiming that by travelling and seeing the world they had
enjoyed a more enriching experience than their neighbours who had stayed at home, or even
those who had emigrated but lacked the vision and resources to return.
Exploring emigranthomecomings: problems and
Our debates identified challenges and lacunae, as
well as recurring themes. Particularly challenging is the need to navigate through what Eric
back to his native town
is not known but in light of the
imminent calamity in Ireland, it might have been better if he had been discouraged from
returning to his roots.
Evidence relating to the actual reception offered to returnees in this
period is limited but at least one emigranthomecoming is documented in the contemporary
press. The subject was a man called Hugh Campbell who had emigrated to Philadelphia in 1818.
Campbell’s home, Aughalane House, near Plumbridge in County Tyrone, has been relocated
realization among tenants that landlordism represented an unstoppable threat to their
material security. 2 And finally there is
the assumption that emigration from the region was an irreversible phenomenon in which
returnees were not an important element. All these aspects have been woven together into a
widespread perception of poverty-stricken Highlanders being coerced to overseas destinations
that were then colonized permanently by extended family and even community groups. 3
The impact of return migration on an Aberdeenshire parish
Emigration and return migration from and to Belhelvie are a process that continues, with many parishioners working abroad in Scandinavia, Indonesia and Malaysia in the oil industry, or serving abroad in the armed forces. David Skene family shows the multi-layered nature of Belhelvie's link with the Baltic, but there is another individual with a link to the parish who is better known for his Polish connections. It was through the wealth he gained in his Baltic trade that William Forbes could acquire several properties in Aberdeenshire. The economic exploitation of the Indies, both East and West, proved to be a vital source of income for the empire and the Honourable East India Company (EIC) was the main instrument of the exploitation. The wealth that the Lumsdens of Belhelvie earned in India certainly provided a large economic boost to the parish.
This chapter focuses on the early record of return migration. It also focuses on how return was affected by new modes of transport; the relation to seasonal migration, and American industry's use of return migration. Until recently the idea of emigrants returning has rarely been broached by historians of emigration, either in the major receiving countries of North America or in Europe. Snippets of information from the earliest settlement of the Americas indicate that from the beginning, persons emigrating were returning to their homelands. By the middle of the nineteenth century the phenomenon of temporary emigration had become established in America, as well as Europe. American industry adapted rapidly to the new influx of Europeans seeking immediate work and regular wages rather than a life of struggle on a farm.
The ‘homecoming’ of the second-generation Scot in the seventeenth century
This chapter discusses a number of case studies of individuals born outwith Scotland but who, for various reasons, returned to the British Isles either temporarily or on a permanent basis. Like Charles Louis, the commodity so often sought by the foreign-born Scot was Scottish military expertise. His visit is symptomatic of a whole slew of second-generation Scots who arrived in Britain with an agenda seeking to gain something either for themselves personally or for the country of their birth. Research into the Scottish military community in the seventeenth century appears to show that the retention of Scottish identity displayed within the Strachan family replicates similar patterns found in the early modern period. Many of the individuals formed themselves into brotherhoods and societies designed to ensure that the Scottish community upheld a solidarity with members of their own nation.