Wednesday, 18 March 2009

More in Irish famine emigration

Partly inspired by watching Death or Canada on Monday, partly motivated by exploring an ancestor who it appears may have escaped to Liverpool from Ireland, I've been scanning Thomas Burke's 1910 Catholic history of Liverpool .

Here are some extracts that help put the experience in perspective.

"From the first day of November, 1846, to the twelfth day of May, 1847, the total number of Irish immigrants into Liverpool amounted to 196,338. Deducting the numbers actually recorded as sailing to America, no less than 137, 519 persons had been added to the population of Liverpool. When the year ended, the total number of immigrants, excluding those who were bound for America, reached the immense total of 296,231, all "apparently paupers.""

"The Poor Law authorities returned 24,529 to their native parishes during the years 1847 and 1848 ; it was only a drop in the ocean, for vessels were arriving daily with fresh contingents. Deck passages from Dublin cost as small a sum as sixpence, which probably tempted thousands to try their fortune in our midst. It stands to the infinite credit of the citizens that distinctions of race, religion, and party were obliterated in presence of this awful visitation, and that they united to succour the sick and hungry, both in the town and the country from whence they came."

"The year 1848 opened with a great improvement in the death-rate from " Irish fever," but scarlatina and influenza now began to play havoc with the juvenile population. The deaths from fever during 1848 had fallen to 989; scarlatina claimed 1,516, and other zymotic diseases accounted for 4,350."

"From January, 1848, to April, 1849, 1,786 fatal cases of scarlatina occurred with children under 15 years of age, and when, in 1849, the horrors of Asiatic cholera were superadded, out of 5,245 deaths 1,510 cases were those of the same tender years, not including the 1,059 carried off by dysentery. The importance of these figures from the point of view of Catholic Liverpool is that seven-eighths of the dead were Irish; famine at home being exchanged for death abroad."

"In the year 1851, the official census gave the population of Liverpool as numbering 375,955. It was then considered, owing to the immense influx from Ireland, from 1846 to that date (1851), that the Catholic body was one-third of the inhabitants."

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