Readers may be interested in these Tables that first appeared in my book From Shamrock to Wattle in 1985. Most will know that New South Wales included virtually all of Eastern Australia in the first half of the nineteenth century. Victoria was established in 1851 and Queensland in 1859. Please make allowances for that when you study the tables.
In the days when one could wander round the stacks in a library, I was able to pull down volumes and put together the numbers. In Shamrock I wrote, ‘the figures are compiled from the various reports of the Committee on Immigration which are printed in the Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council of New South Wales and from New South Wales Statistical Registers which were published annually in the second half of the nineteenth century. Table 2 (page 62) shows the County of origin of assisted migrants who came to Port Jackson in the eighteen months between January 1841 and June 1842′.
Given our current lockdown, I’ll have to have faith in the accuracy of what I said.
What is it that strikes you from these tables? Some of the questions I posed in 1985 and again in 1990, included, ‘was the period between 1840 and 1869 the one when the influence of the Irish, at least, numerically, was strongest? Note the peaks and troughs…How do we account for such fluctuations? How far were they the result of ‘push factors’ such as local conditions in Ireland, famine, the shrinking of tillage, or threatened loss of social status? How far were they the result of ‘pull’ factors, conditions …such as the discovery of gold, land sales, economic prosperity and the pull of family members already here?’
There is undoubtedly more work that could be done, and there are other questions that should be asked. Richard Reid developed some of these in his ANU doctoral thesis, much of which appeared in his Farewell My Children Irish Assisted Migration to Australia 1848-1870, Anchor Books, 2011.
For the moment, I’d especially like to draw your attention to the numbers of Irish who came between 1839 and 1842. I’m not sure if this influx is much remarked upon by Australian historians. Mary Hoban and Margaret Kiddle are exceptions. I remain to be corrected. Note too which counties the Irish came from, in Table 2. There was a very Irish ‘tincture’ to Eastern Australia in the early 1840s. Can you think of anything that might test this claim? What is your response to the information in theses tables?
Some first responses from the team
huntrogers: ‘Primary statistics such as these are exciting to me, as I wonder how many were Irish-speaking. I can only imagine they improved the travel conditions. There are some heated articles about the Bounty system in Trove in 1839/40. When I think of my own assisted passage, I recall we were considering Tasmania, but then thought we were risking enough to go all the way to Australia, but Tasmania was an island too far. I also recall meeting a family that were going to New Zealand, and feeling sorry for the great risk they were taking in travelling even further south. We were city people, educated, wanting to see the world, but still feared the unknown. We did not know what we did not know. And we were travelling on a Greek cruise ship!’
fdg:’I read this afresh this morning and on a computer and it was much easier to get excited by your figures (I’m not easily stirred by numbers!!)
Why the big spike in 1842? People eager to take part in the Bounty Scheme before it ended? After 1842 an economic downturn in New South Wales meant Government Assisted Emigration spluttered along before revving up again in 1847-8. And why so many from Tyrone, Tipp., Galway and Limerick? Were they related to people already here, convicts and others? It would be hard to make the connection between convicts and Bounty migrants from particular counties. Unless, of course, the stats. on convicts were as good as these, and broken down by county. I also remember the children who were left behind by some of these 1840-2 migrants, wasn’t that the case?’
FOS: I think the most interesting statistic is the dominance of Tipperary, Clare and Limerick in the numbers. Including my Australian better half whose Cosgrove ancestors came from Clare. I wonder whether there is an academic thesis there somewhere.
We would love to hear your response to these Tables.
Thanks to the National Library of Australia.
Trevor McClaughlin is a sometime member of the Tinteán Editorial Team.