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Two talks covering emigration from Britain from the precarious journey to the New World at the beginning of the 19th Century through to the luxurious age of the Ocean Liner and travel for pleasure.

Can't make this time? Book anyway as this talk will be recorded and available to watch for 2 weeks. 

Emigration from Britain at the beginning of the nineteenth century a precarious  journey to a New World

During the period 1790 – 1815 about 150,000 people emigrated from England and Wales and 32,500 left Scotland, primarily small farmers, weavers and artisans.   British and European emigration in the early nineteenth century demonstrates that the poor were not well placed to raise the costs of emigration or to make the elaborate arrangements required for intercontinental emigration.

Post war recession in agriculture after 1815 brought insecurity and seasonal unemployment for the majority of agricultural workers.  There were stories of fortunes to be made in America and British North America (Canada).  Assisted emigration was conceived by many as a way of helping individual paupers while simultaneously displaying a continued concern for the labouring population. The 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act allowed  parishes to  raise funds on the security of their poor rates to assist emigration.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century it was merchant sailing  ships that took  passengers but none were constructed and fitted primarily for that purpose. Boards were put in the ship’s hold and a few advertisements in local newspapers would guarantee a westbound cargo of emigrants.  The journey was extremely uncomfortable and hazardous and sea sickness was a particular problem on the stormy North Atlantic voyage.

Emigration from Britain towards the end of the 19th century and the age of the Ocean Liner

In the second half of the nineteenth century we see changes,  many emigrants now came from urban areas, were young, single mainly male labourers and some agricultural workers. 

By the  1850s steam power started to replace sail,  iron instead of wood and a

screw propeller enhanced the speed and  regularity of ocean-going services. The reduction in journey time, together with the development of the railways, enabled  the middle classes to travel to the USA for business and leisure.    Shipping companies now wanted to emphasize the splendour, luxury and comfort that travellers would encounter on board their ships.

About the speaker:

Judy Hill has lectured in adult education, for the WEA, various historical societies in the UK and overseas, and taught history at the University of Surrey. In 2007 she was awarded her PhD researching poverty and unrest in Surrey 1815-1834.

She has published several articles on emigration to Canada, the agricultural riots of 1830 to 1832 and 19thcentury cholera in Britain.

Judy is now a freelance lecturer and researcher.

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