Leaving England: Essays on British Emigration in the Nineteenth Century

Leaving England: Essays on British Emigration in the Nineteenth Century

Leaving England: Essays on British Emigration in the Nineteenth Century

Leaving England: Essays on British Emigration in the Nineteenth Century

Synopsis

The British Isles provided more overseas settlers than any country in continental Europe during the nineteenth century, but English emigrants to North America have remained largely invisible, partly for lack of records about their departure or their experiences. Here Charlotte Erickson uses new sources to understand this long-neglected group and the nature of their lives in a new land.

"These seven essays... represent the considered reflections on the nature, motives and myths surrounding 19th-century transatlantic migration from one of the pioneers of this field of inquiry.... Thoughtful, scholarly, and stimulating."--Virginia Quarterly Review

Excerpt

The seven essays in this book were written over a period of thirty years, from 1960 to 1990. Presented in the order in which they were written, they follow the path of my exploration of new sources for the study of emigration from the British Isles and especially from England.

Thus the first essay on agrarian myths is based on early discoveries of immigrant letters. The bias in these letters toward immigrants in the Old Northwest led to the second piece, which makes some excursion into census manuscripts and county histories. Then follow three essays based mainly on passenger lists. The first of these, on the 1880s, sets the framework and definitions used in the other two and appears very largely in its original form. For the essay on the immigrants of 1831, I have done more work to try to improve on earlier comparisons with the British census of that year. The essay on 1841 is new to this volume. It represents my call for more analysis of migration differentials in English (and British) emigration to different destinations.

The sixth essay, on emigration from Lancashire, also appears here for the first time. In it I give some hint of the promise of county histories for the discovery of the elusive, "invisible" English immigrants to the United States. It will be evident that, early in my career, I paid little attention to immigrant women, partly because the sources were so scant and partial. When I was asked to say something about women, I found that there were more Englishwomen's voices than I had noticed. More have been found since that paper was first presented to the Fawcett . . .

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