|Judging from the number of advertisements in just one edition
of the Derry Journal in April 1841, it is clear that emigration
was widespread in the mid 1800's. In that edition of the Journal
there are over 40 different advertisements for Ships about to
sail, both from Derry and from Liverpool, to the New World.
WHY DID THEY EMIGRATE?
The splendid new first class brig
(Captain William Allen)
Is intended to sail for the above Port on
the 28th day of April.
vessel is high and roomy between decks,
will be comfortably fitted up for Passengers
and have an abundant supply of Water and
Fuel put on board for the voyage. Persons
wishing to engage their passage in this
fast sailing ship will require to make immediate
Apply to Mr. Robert Laud, Ballybofey; Mr.
Robert Paterson, Letterkenny; Mr Charles
McMaster, Omagh, Mr. Hugh Hamilton; Strabane,
Mr Richard Corscadden; Donegal, or the owner
April 12th 1841.
Most left just in hope, for three meals a day, and in some
cases for even one meal a day. According to Terry Colman in
his book, 'Passage to America', quoting a witness at the American
Senate hearings in 1851, "There is nothing unnatural
in the desire of the unfortunate Irish to abandon their cheerless
and damp cottages, and to crawl inch by inch, while they have
yet a little strength, from the graves, which apparently yawn
for their bodies."
It was understood that America was not the place to go if
you were looking for an easy life. It was a difficult place
for those unwilling to do menial jobs, as there was no welcome
for the lazy. The emigrant was not asked what he was, but
what he could do - if you can work with your hands, you will
FARE AND CLASS
The emigrants to America always travelled in Steerage Class.
In the early part of the 1800's, the fare to America was £12,
but by 1830's the fare for steerage passengers, due to the
competition between ship owners, was down to £3. - 10s.
for a journey that took from 4 to 6 weeks.
Posters, similar to these Journal advertisements, were displayed
in Irish villages and towns. Many of the Irish who emigrated
could not speak or read English and generally the local priest
helped with the translation. People left from ports all over
Ireland, from Cork, Limerick, Galway and judging by the Journal
of 1841 great numbers from the North West sailed from the
Port of Derry. Observe, from the ads. the number of towns
in Donegal where an Agent was available.
Every company agent seemed to make the claim that his ships
were bigger, faster and more luxurious than others. The Captain's
reputation, and other details were also used to entice the
wouldbe traveller. It was believed that the American ships
were bigger and better and that American Captains treated
the passengers more humanely.
In most all emigrant ships, space was very restricted, as
most ship owners wished to carry as many passengers as they
could possibly accommodate, and it was common to see 500 or
1000 passengers crowded into the steerage. Each wooden bunk
was 6 ft. long by 6 ft. wide and a passenger was entitled
to the use of one quarter of such a bunk. The berths were
usually arranged in two or three tiers, with four people to
each tier. The advertisements all boast of the extra space
available between decks, but many passengers found that they
rarely had enough room to enable them to stand in comfort.
Unscrupulous agents often put more passengers aboard than
the regulations allowed.
SICKNESS AND DEATH
Ninety percent of the vessels did not have a surgeon on board,
only one of the advertisements boasts of the services of a
Surgeon for the duration of the voyage. Sea sickness was always
a problem, but cholera and typhus were the killers. In 1853,
in the ship Washington nearly 100 passengers died from cholera
while crossing to New York. In the 1840's, the Exmouth left
Londonderry on her way to Quebec, and within hours it was
lost, and 248 persons on board were drowned. As many as 59
emigrant ships were lost between 1847 and 1853, while on their
way to America.
Most shipping lines offered the Irish emigrants a free passage
to Liverpool. This was the second largest city in England
at the time, and the largest emigrant port for travel to the
New World. Russians, Poles, Germans, Italians, English and
Irish all converged on this sea port because the greatest
number of emigrant ships left from Liverpool. Liverpool was
a difficult place for these passengers in transit, as they
had to cope with Touts, Dishonest Lodging-house Keepers, Shipping
Agents, Thieves, and Con-men, all of whom tried to relieve
the poor emigrant of any money of goods that he or she possessed.
During 1841, about 120,000 people emigrated from the UK, mainly
to the United States and British North America, but during
the famine years, 1847 up to 1854, the numbers leaving increased
to over 300,000 each year. For most of these emigrants, finding
enough money for the fare was difficult, leaving home was
sad, escaping the thieves in Liverpool was tough, but the
voyage itself was Hell. They always held on to the hope that
life in the New World would be worth it all.
LINE OF SPLENDID PACKET SHIPS
Sailing regularly from Liverpool to New York,
Philadelphia, Quebec, etc.
TO SUCCEED THE HOPE
The well-known first-class American Packet Ships,
ROBERT ISAAC:- Captain Trueman, 820 Tons...
SILVANUS JENKINS:- Capt. Seymour, 700 Tons...
THE SPLENDID NEW AND FAST SAILING VESSEL
Connor, 1050 Tons - To sail 2nd May.
above are splendid first-class American Packet
Ships, coppered and copperfastened, sail fast,
seven to eight feet between Decks, and fitted
up in a superior manner for the comfort and accommodation
of Cabin, Second Cabin and Steerage Passengers.
For Terms of Freight, Cabin, Second Cabin and
Steerage Passage apply to:-
W G. CAIRNS, American & Australian Emigration
Agent 68, Foyle St., Londonderry.
the following Agents:-
Mr. Wm. Kerr, P O., Raphoe; Mr. Brown, P. O.,
Stranorlar; Mr. James Brown, Grocer, Magherafelt;
Mr. E. Moore, Merchant, Castlederg; Mr. Wm. Shannon,
Maghera; Mr. John Elliott, Innkeeper, Enniskillen;
Mr. Thompson, P. O., Dungiven.
PASSAGE TO LIVERPOOL
And expenses of 1s. per day, agreeable to Act
of Parliament, if detained after the date set
forth in their order for sailing.
ADVERTISEMENTS FROM DERRY JOURNAL - APRIL 1841)