and social reasons for migration.

The motivation to migrate from Scotland and Ulster
because of religious persecution was certainly a serious
cause between about 1630 and 1720. After this period the
factors became much more economic and social as both
agrarian and industrial revolutions began to exert

In the
early 1700s  landlords still needed to retain their
tenants and leases were offered for 21 and 31 years or for
three lifetimes. These were reasonably generous and were
usually made direct with the tenant. There gradually
arrived on the scene the middlemen, often groups of
individuals joining in a partnership who rented large
tracts of land and sublet. Inevitably prices rose. By the
1750s the landowners were beginning to revert to direct
leases and there was the popular observance of the
`tenants rights`. By this the custom and practice was that
the tenant had first choice at renewing the lease when it
became due with no one else making an offer until that had
been rejected. This gave a value of perhaps two or three
times the rent to purchase the `interest` and was a useful
additional source of funds for the intending migrant.

and industrial growth was fastest in the east of Ulster
during the 1700s and reflected the distribution of the
population. There was much investment in the domestic
linen industry with spinning and weaving on home looms.
Alongside this the agriculture was of small flax crops and
sufficient produce for the home. The majority of these
small farms cum weavers did not grow produce for the
commercial market. As a result they suffered when poor
harvests and famine struck and they were forced to
purchase supplementary foods.  In better times
increased incomes gave the nudge for an increase of rents
which contributed to smaller lettings of land, and more
small tenants. Expansion also meant more subsidiary
industry with bleach greens, textile finishing, more
commerce, transport facilities and so forth.  

In the west
of Ulster the expansion was more leisurely with a focus on
yarn spinning and supply of yarn to the North of England
mills. Agriculture was perhaps more market orientated as
farmers made good use of rich pastures for fattening
cattle for sale. But they too had to endure the rising
rents and the relative boom and bust cycles from
recession, bad harvests and famine. By the end of the 18th century there was a remarkable trade in cattle to Scotland via the port of Donaghadee. A French visitor recorded that on a day in 1796 when he crossed to Scotland there were  400 horned cattle  transported, and in the previous six weeks some  30,000 head had been carried over. He also noted that the farmers were effectively held to ransome by the ferry masters who charged as much as 1 guinea (21 shillings) per animal. Interestingly he noted that his journey, with good winds , took only two and a half hours.

In the
eighteenth century therefore the various pressures saw
surges of migration from time to time. 1710- 1720 was a
busy time for migration from Ulster as was 1730 -1740 and
1750 -1775. The numbers who migrated vary considerably
such as an average of 4000 a year in the 1760s. Other
estimates suggest 6000 a year between 1725 and 1770, and
12,000 a year between 1729 and 1750. Whatever the true
number the reality was that thousands of  people,
many small farmer and weavers among them, set out for a
new life in America during the eighteenth century.

The Famine
in Ireland and Scotland

The Famine
didn’t happen in Ulster’ has been one of the most
unchallenged myths in recent Irish History. ” The Famine
in Ulster” by Christine Kinealy and Trevor Parkhill
corrects that distortion by giving an account of how each
of the nine counties and the city of Belfast, fared during
this great calamity. Ulster was indeed spared what a local
newspaper called ‘the horrors of Skibbereen’. Nonetheless,
the severity of the famine for much of the population,
particularly in the winter of 1846-7 is all too apparent
in each of the counties. Ninety-five inmates of Lurgan
workhouse died in one week in 1847; 351 people queued to
get into the Enniskillen workhouse in one day and
emigration continued at an ever increasing pace while
hospitals overflowed with fever cases.

In Scotland
following the 1745 Jacobite rebellion there was positive
action to remove power from the clan chieftains and
widespread seizure and redistribution of lands. Alongside
this was the forced change to an agrarian society with the
development of hill sheep farming to replace the
traditional crofting. A product of this was smaller farms
and higher rent charges from landowners. Sheep rearing led
to greedy landlords and a policy of moving people out of
the glens to the coasts and disillusioned Highlanders to
the ports of Fort William, Greenock and Glasgow and thence
emigration. The situation was compounded in the 19C when a
policy of Highland Improvements continued the forced
removal until the middle of the century when it was
destroyed by competition from Australia where many of the
exiles had fled.

This period
saw frequent famines, the worst of which followed the
potato blight of 1846 which affected much of rural
Scotland as well as Ireland. Here were epidemics of
cholera, and whole families were found dead in the rotting
straw of their huts. In the food riots which followed both
blight and pestilence was rife.

to the colonies was now regarded by the Government as a
noble purpose and supported by government funds and
private subscription. Similar activities took place,
albeit on a smaller and less emotive scale, in Kent and
Sussex in England, whose salt-marshes and rolling Downs
were ripe for sheep farming. But it was Scotland and
Ireland that suffered the most and whose populace for one
reason or another sought foreign climes. 

Recommended reading
about the Famine

The horrors of the Famine
are described and commented upon in great detail in

The History of the Great
Irish Famine of 1847 (3rd ed.)(1902)
With Notices Of Earlier Irish Famines

Author: John O’Rourke.

This is available free from
the Gutenberg Project  as an e book. Release Date:December 
21,2004  [EBook#14412]