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EncyclopaediaEmigration (funding) by Eliza McKee
The funding of emigration before and after the Famine in nineteenth-century Ireland
The way that emigration was funded was significantly different before and after the Great Famine. In the pre-Famine period, some Presbyterian and north-east Ulster emigrants financed their move by becoming indentured servants. However, the pioneering emigrants who often established the chains on which subsequent emigration relied, were more dependent on loans, savings, gifts and local lotteries in order to fund their move. A limited amount of assistance was available in the pre-Famine period. Private assistance was supplied to at least 12,000 emigrants between 1826 and 1845, and between 1818 and 1845 at least 32,000 people received state-sponsored help to leave Ireland. However official funds in the pre-Famine period were often used to facilitate the emigration of particular groups such as crown witnesses, military pensioners and convicts.
In the post-Famine period remittances dominated as the main source of funding for emigration. Over £34 million was sent back in remittances to the United Kingdom between 1848 and 1887, most of which went to Ireland. Two-fifths of such remittances were sent back to Ireland in the form of the pre-paid passage. A gradual increase in wages meant that more people from lower-income backgrounds could afford the passage especially if they had also received remittances. Some emigration was assisted; indeed around 400,000 emigrants were funded through government, poor law, landlord or philanthropic assistance.  Further assistance came from land funds set up by colonial governments. For example by 1872, 140,000 non-convict settlers had arrived in Australia from Ireland, and the majority had received some form of government subsidy.
 L. Kennedy and L. A. Clarkson, ‘Birth, death and exile: Irish population history 1700-1921’ in B. J. Graham and L. J. Proudfoot (eds), A historical geography of Ireland (Dublin, 1993), p.172.
 D. Fitzpatrick, ‘Flight from famine’ in C. Póirtéir (ed.), The Great Irish Famine (Cork, 1995), p. 178.
 D. Fitzpatrick, Irish emigration 1801-1921 (Dublin, 1984), pp 18-20.
 Ibid, p. 18.
 Ibid, p. 21.
 C. Clear, Social change and everyday life, 1850-1922 (Manchester, 2007), p. 58.
 Fitzpatrick, Irish emigration, p. 18.
This entry was written by Eliza McKee. At the time of writing, Eliza was a second-year history student at Queen's University Belfast. Her research interests focus on the social history of Britain and Ireland in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. She has a particular interest in the study of women and gender in Ireland.
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