Scottish emigrants to New Zealand, 1840-1880 : motives, means and background
McClean, Rosalind Ruth
MetadataShow full item record
The period 1840 to 1880 is important for the demographic history of both Scotland and New Zealand. During the second half of the nineteenth century Scotland had the second or third highest rate in Europe of emigration to destinations overseas. New Zealand became a British territory in 1840 and in the four following decades immigration, not natural increase, was the main source of New Zealand's population growth. Most of the immigrants who entered New Zealand during these years were born in the UK, and of these about one quarter were Scots. Between 1853 (when estimates can first be made) and 1880 Scottish emigrants who went to New Zealand account for 12 per cent of the gross total of Scots emigrating overseas. This was a significant minority of all Scots who left the land of their birth in this period, and for a time emigration to New Zealand was a highly visible movement which captured the popular imagination in Scotland. The thesis asks 'who' were the emigrants who left Scotland for New Zealand, 'why' did they travel 15 000 miles to Britain's farthest colony when other 'established' destinations were closer and cheaper to reach, and 'how' were they enabled to go. As a preliminary to answering these questions, the geographic and social background of the emigrants is explored. The thesis takes a 'longitudinal' approach: nominal data derived from New Zealand ships' lists are traced back to a variety of Scottish sources including vital registers and unpublished records of the census enumerators. Wherever possible the thesis compares these data with similar evidence from other studies and finds that emigration from Scotland to New Zealand was not aberrant from the general experience of Scottish emigration, although Scots who went to New Zealand had a number of distinctive characteristics which set them apart from, say, Scottish emigrants who went to the USA or to Canada. The thesis finds that these characteristics were not the resultant of selective criteria such as the regulations which governed eligibility for an assisted passage on an emigrant ship. However, Scots who went to New Zealand took advantage of cost-cutting facilities whenever they could. This thesis aims to provide a quantitative contribution to both Scottish and New Zealand history. In addition, the thesis treats this particular exodus of people as a case-study to explore a number of themes current in the literature of nineteenth century European emigration. These themes include: the relationship between emigration and the social and economic origins of the emigrants; the relationship between emigration and internal mobility; the role of interventionist forces, such as recruiting agencies, in effecting the process of emigration; and the extent to which emigration can be explained by the self-generating effect of emigration 'chains'. The thesis contributes new data and ideas with relevance to each of these themes. Patterns of emigration from Scotland, and indeed from all of Britain, are found to diverge significantly from common trends detected in the emigration flow from other European countries.