Thursday, 1 June 2017

Leaving Salford for Canada part 2 ............... the long journey

Now the Hampson family are not strictly family.  

Pendleton, 1848
They belong to my cousins from Ontario, but theirs is a fascinating story which is part of the story of both countries.

James Hampson was born in 1816 and married Sarah Tildesley in December 1838 at the Parish Church of Eccles.  In 1841 he described himself as a cotton dyer and in that year was living in Pendleton.  Sometime after 1849, James, Sarah and their children left for Canada which was a popular destination for emigrants.

Now I can be fairly certain of this because their last child was born in  England in 1849 and the Canadian census of 1851 records them as there.

Thousands of people, many of them from Ireland left these shores in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  Most hoped that a new country would mean a fresh start with new opportunities and a better life.

The 1840s were a hard time for all but the rich and there were schemes to resettle working families across the Empire. This was a policy that was actively pursued by the Poor Law Commissioners with parochial aid or assistance from local landlords.

The Commissioners reported that over 2, 000 had gone to Canada in 1841 which was an increase on the year before, and that assistance was also being given to move to Australia and New Zealand.

The main sea port for their departure was Liverpool.  In the hundred years from 1830 to 1930 over nine million emigrants sailed from to the US, Canada and Australia.

I don’t think we will ever know exactly why the Hampson's left and there is no record of when they went but they were part of a steadily rising number of people which  reached a high point in 1849.

Even today the decision to emigrate cannot be an easy one to take, but a hundred and sixty seven years ago the cost, the problems and the very real dangers must have weighed heavily.

A ticket for just one person travelling on the cheapest passage might be three to five times James’s weekly wage, and of course there were four of them.**

Then there were the ever present threats from unscrupulous dealers, ship owners and the crew who might cheat the passengers at every turn of the journey.

Lastly there was the sea passage itself, a trip of a month in a sailing ship at the mercy of an unpredictable weather on the open sea, crammed together with people some of whom were ill with disease.

So, taking that decision was as much an act of faith as it was a rational choice with a secure conclusion.
The ships might hold up wards of four hundred passengers although some like the Isaac Wright could carry 900 people.

The Hampson's could expect a fairly basic diet on the journey.  Each passenger was given a weekly ration of bread, rice, tea, sugar as well as oatmeal flour, molasses and vinegar and one pound of pork.   Passengers could however supplement this with their own provisions but there was an upper limit.

There are contemporary stories of passengers being cheated of their rightful ration either because it was delivered late or just not at all.

Conditions on board were not ideal.  Packed together there was the ever present threat of disease and death.

All the passengers were by law inspected by a doctor before they embarked but this did not always prevent the outbreak of illnesses.  In one month in 1847 twelve ships making landfall at Grosse Island reported a total of 198 dead passengers out of just over 3,000.

Some ships arrived safely with no deaths others like Bark Larch from Sligo lost 108 of its 440 passengers with another 150 reported ill.  The highest death rates seemed to be ships bound from Ireland escaping the effects of the famine some years earlier.***

Location; Salford, Greater Manchester

*The Eighth Annual Report of the Poor Law Commissioners, HMSO 1842, Page 37 Google edition page 58

** In 1847 a ticket might cost between £3.10/- and £5. From a newspaper article The tide of emigration in the Illustrated London  News July 1850

***Immigrants to Canada, http://jubilation.uwaterloo.ca/~marj/genealogy/thevoyage.html

Picture; detail of Pendleton from OS Lancashire 1841 courtesy of Digital Archives Association www.digitalarchives.co.uk/

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