Emigration - The Landlords Solution

The considerable rise in the population of Ireland, which occurred, between the latter decades of the eighteenth century and the mid nineteenth century caused problems for the landlords. Evicted tenants were a threat to the landowner and over populated workhouses were considered a burden on the poor rate. Emigration, and more particularly, assisted emigration schemes became an attainable solution. Furthermore the Government was in agreement with the landlords. Both saw emigration as a means of reducing the number of destitute people.

A range of Poor Relief Acts from 1838 - 1849 empowered the Boards of Guardians to raise sums not exceeding one shilling in the pound of the annual Poor Rate, to finance assisted emigration. In 1840, the Colonial Land and Emigration Commission was established. Its responsibility was to encourage and monitor emigration from Britain and Ireland to British Colonies. The countries targeted for this purpose were Australia, New Zealand and Canada as they were in need of colonisation. It was not until 1848 that the scheme was extended to countries other than the British Colonies.

Representatives from the Emigration Commission visited Workhouses in order to select suitable inmates for emigration. The Poor Law Commissioners circularised the Poor Law Guardians about the availability of emigration. Emigrants were offered a free passage and suitable clothing for the journey. They were also provided with a small amount of financial assistance. Another development was the emigration of orphan girls to Australia. In that context the Poor Law Commissioners requested the Local Boards of Guardians to submit lists of suitable orphans. The Dublin agent of the Emigration Commissioners inspected suitable candidates. The Board of Guardians paid for their passage to Plymouth from where voyages to Australia took approximately 100 days to complete.

With the passage of time, it became increasingly difficult to find suitable employment for those who were often inadequately trained. After 1850, the scheme was abandoned.

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