Devon and Cornwall Emigration Departure Ports

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series American Migration

If your ancestors didn’t emigrate from Liverpool or London maybe they left via one of the small ports in Devon and Cornwall

Emigration from the UK was centred on the main ports of Liverpool and London but for migrants from the south west of England, that would have been a long journey, certainly before the railways. Ports on the north and south coast of Devon and Cornwall were therefore important ports of departure particularly for those early migrants.

Background to the emergence of migration ports in Devon and Cornwall.

  • Nowhere in Cornwall or Devon is far from the coast, for most, the coast was within a days horse journey
  • For hundreds of years both counties had been extracting copper and tin ores, these needed refining, the smelters were located in South Wales
  • Ships plied the ore up the Bristol Channel, by 1799 up to 10,000 tons a year was being transported, involving up to 150 ships
  • The north coast docks were therefore ready for the masted schooners and clippers used to carry emigrants
  • Skilled workers were available as were boat building yards
  • The decline of the mining industry meant the docks were empty of boats
Cornish and Devon Emigration ports

Emigrating from Bideford Devon

Migration Ports included:
  • Padstow
  • Appledore
  • Dartmouth
  • Exeter
  • Teignmouth
  • Bideford
  • St Ives
  • Falmouth
Intriguing Connections
  1. Who owned the ships that were taking people all over the world and were they British built or foreign built?
  2. Do the C19th census returns show a pattern of re-skilling as the ports grow as migration routes?
  3. What happened to the ports when the ships became too large to berth there?
  4. Did trade expand to other commodities?
Useful resources and sources on Cornish and Devon migration can be found on the Intriguing Family History
and the following links are useful for a greater depth of information about Cornish and Devon Migrants
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