Emigration from the north-east of Scotland, 1830-1880
Emigration from Britain has been extensively studied from central sources. Using material available in North-East Scotland, in conjunction with centrally-held records in Edinburgh and London, this thesis investigates the factors which prompted and sustained emigration from North-East Scotland in the period 1830-1880. Potential emigrants were supplied with information from a wide range of sources and in the first section we examine the value, for both the emigrant and the historian, of material contained in newspapers, published and private correspondence, emigrant guidebooks and periodicals. A large part of the newspaper publicity dealt with the provision of shipping, obviously a vital component in the organization of emigration - however strong an individual's desire to emigrate, it could be achieved only through the provision of vessels, which were usually under the control of a network of agents in a number of ports. Some attention is paid to shipping facilities, to the role of the developing railway network in assisting emigration, and to the activities of a number of shipping and emigration agents who operated in North-East Scotland in the nineteenth century. In consulting local sources to discover why emigration took place from North-East Scotland at this time, it becomes apparent that pauperism had only a minor role in provoking removals from this area. The movement was primarily a planned, positive exodus of small farmers and farm workers, whose hopes of independence through the acquisition of a piece of land had been eroded by changes in farming methods. Most possessed moderate capital, which they used to emigrate, in the hope of securing a better future abroad. A study of the destinations favoured by North-East emigrants confirms their preoccupation with the possession of land and also their relative affluence. Most chose to settle in British America, primarily because it seemed to meet most fully their desire for agricultural land: interest in the USA and in Australia was more sporadic, partly because these areas seemed to offer the farming emigrant nothing which could not be had in British America - the Australian climate was suspect, and publicity for both areas, unlike that for Canada, gave as much emphasis to non-agricultural as to farming opportunities. Furthermore, political antagonism to the USA discouraged extensive emigration, while the stigma of convict settlement hampered the movement to Australia. On the other hand, despite the drawback of distance, New Zealand attracted a significant number of North-East emigrants, thanks partly to its acceptable 'Scottish' society, along with good farming opportunities, both of which were promoted by a number of agents in the North-East. Agency activity was also the cause of much of the exodus from North-East Scotland to the West Indies in the 1830s, while family connections and a desire to invest in profitable coffee-planting enterprises led to a significant North-East involvement in Ceylon. Stress is laid on the personal motives and particular combinations of stimuli which prompted many emigrants to remove from North-East Scotland. We suggest that other similar regional studies might, taken together, reflect more accurately the character of British emigration as a whole than the generalizations in pentral sources which form the basis of many current interpretations of nineteenth-century emigration.