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.
, coercion and landlord subsidy. But this figure represents only one
documented part of a much greater diaspora. The potato famine can be seen as an
epochal development in Highland emigrationhistory as, though often enduring an
existence of grinding poverty, the small crofter and cottar class only emigrated with
great reluctance. However, the duration and intensity of the famine weakened for a
time the grip of the people on the land and large numbers seemed to have changed
CLANSHIP TO CROFTERS’ WAR
their attitudes radically from an unwillingness to move to a
common genealogies in our times. We
have left the land, we are concentrated in towns and cities, and we are dispersed.
But as a group in the British Isles our families were late in their dispersion – most
British people left the land in the previous two centuries and now less than 5
per cent of the British population live directly off the land.
There are, of course, countless variations on this simple story and they comprise a central characteristic of modern life. The contention of this book is that
emigrationhistory is not seamless, that it contains large shifts
into their own society. The existence of such
a close, ongoing relationship between the temporary emigrant and his original community
reveals how sojourner homecomings became self-perpetuating, mutually reinforcing and
ultimately the basis of a multiplier effect. The very desire to return home prompted the
initial individual to encourage and assist others from his region to follow him. This dynamic
between homecoming and further departures remains one of the most neglected aspects of
Scottish emigrationhistory. Its role in
more cautious in accepting the relevance of diaspora to the Irish case.
Recognising the deficiency of much existing Irish emigrationhistory as
‘national history writ large’, Kenny and Belchem have both
argued for a cross-national as well as a transnational approach to
historical studies of Irish emigration and its consequences. 25 That is, for an
approach that explores both the migrant flows from Ireland to other
American and antipodean perspective respectively, by Mark
Wyman’s wide-ranging study of approximately 4 million American immigrants who returned
to Europe between 1880 and 1930 and Eric Richards’ explorations of similar trends among
those who went to colonial Australia. 7
While such studies have demonstrated the contribution of returners to the
fabric of emigrationhistory, they have also illuminated the need for further investigation
of a complex and multifaceted subject which was – and is – of global relevance.
Late twentieth-century British emigration and global identities – the end of the ‘British World’?
A. James Hammerton
serial and return migration, but it
is an apolitical cosmopolitanism in which her place in the British World
is of minor consequence. 27
These trends might be dismissed as little more than the
globetrotting indulgences of the wealthy First World, but from the
perspective of British emigrationhistory they illustrate the creeping
globalisation of British-Commonwealth migrant habits, even among the
Society drew many of its emigrants from districts, such as Skye, where landlordassisted schemes did not exist to any great extent. Its activities, therefore,
significantly added to the flight of the Highland poor which played such a
fundamental part of the emigrationhistory of these decades.
J. M. Bumsted, The People’s Clearance, Edinburgh, 1982, p. 12.
Ibid., p. 63.
New Statistical Account, Edinburgh, 1845, XIV, p. 349.
Inveraray Castle, Argyll Estate Papers, Bundle 1558, Duke of Argyll to?, 5 May 1851.
Ibid., Bundle 1805, John
flows. He urged historians to avoid a focus on a single country; to avoid also the
exclusive focus on West European or Atlantic migration. Recent historians have
indeed begun to incorporate the great Asian migrations into the general account
and also to extend the perspective beyond the past 500 years. The quest is for
universalising tendencies and to determine what ‘is specific and what can be
regarded as the universal human pattern’.29
The contention of the present account is that the discontinuity in modern
emigrationhistory was first registered in the
As one US historian has written, ‘Expatriation and repatriation
represent nothing new in the history of [the United States]; it is new only to those who are
unfamiliar with its history.’ 47 The
same can be said of Europe’s emigrationhistory: there is nothing new in today’s
stories. To listen to the foreigners who today wash cars, serve food and work in factories,
brings echoes of another time, when an earlier revolution in transport also led to major
shifts in emigration. The goals remained