Repeal of Anti-emigration Laws 1825

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Canadian Migration

In 1825, the British Parliament recognized the need to repeal the Law restricting emigration.

This was in direct opposition to the thinking that had gone before in the previous decades when the emigration of artisans to foreign countries attracted a great deal of attention. The loss of artisans to foreign industrial competition could seriously affect the economy of Britain.

In the latter part of the 18th century a mass of legislation grew up forbidding the emigration of artisans from the major trades to foreign parts. The policy was most strong in the period 1780 – 90 when former colonies became foreign territory, no longer part of Britain and a competitive threat. It wasn’t just the threat of losing skilled workers to foreign countries but losing British manufacturing invention and innovation as well.

The industrial revolution was taking off in Britain, it would be brought to a halt if skilled workers emigrated.

The number of restrictive acts brought in by Parliament implies that serious efforts were being made by foreign agents to attract Britain’s skilled labour force. The emigration of iron and textile workers and manufacturers caused large scale concern, to the point that meetings were held to raise funds to prosecute those caught in breach of the new laws.

Britain in the early 19th century was a troubled place

Due to the rapid mechanization of many industries, workers in Britain were forced into making life changing choices. Some were able to migrate to the cities in search of work, others had hoped to find employment overseas but the anti emigration acts were preventing them from doing so. The government realised they had a problem of escalating population but too few jobs and that they had to repeal the emigration laws or face a popular revolt.

So the anti-emigration laws were repealed.

Overseas migration ballooned. Between 1860 and 1960 about two-thirds of the total number of people who emigrated to America and Canada traveled via Liverpool. This  amounted to about three and a half million people to America and three hundred and fifty thousand to Canada (i.e. two-thirds of the entire emigration to these countries).

The result of the enthusiasm for migration saw the setting up of companies to take people en mass from towns and help them re-establish themselves in a new country. Many were conned out of their savings with the promise of land and jobs that never materialised. Unions were set up to block buy land for settlers who would then set up their own manufacturing plants.

The fate of these migrants waxed and waned between good fortune and bad but whatever the outcome, the repeal of the Anti Emigration Laws changed the cultural heritage of countries such as Canada and America forever.

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