Why emigrate in 1877 or 1878? (General)

by ianjmill, Friday, March 30, 2018, 12:43 (904 days ago)

I am wondering why a family would emigrate to New Zealand in 1877 or 1878? Was something happening in the Forest of Dean that would encourage a family to emigrate ?


Why emigrate in 1877 or 1878?

by Mike Pinchin @, Bedford, England, Friday, March 30, 2018, 15:37 (903 days ago) @ ianjmill

There are many letters and articles in the BNA concerning conditions in the Forest at that time. This one from the Western Daily Press, Saturday 6th October, 1877, just about sums them up,


The South Wales Daily News states that the inhabitants of the Forest of Dean are passing through a period of severe privation. Never before, it is believed, has there been such suffering in the Royal Forest. Only those who have traversed the once busy, populous district from end to end , and have noticed the significant tokens of patiently borne misery everywhere manifest, can judge the dread paralysis which has benumbed the Forest trade, and reduced a large proportion of its inhabitants to utter want. Day by day the outlook for those who remain in this unhappy locality becomes blacker. At Parkend, which may be described as the headquarters of the distress, the silence of death pervades the once thriving neighbourhood. The Forest of Dean is 22,000 acres in extent – about nine miles long by six wide. The population is 25,000 representing 5,000 families, about equally divided between East and West Dean. East Dean comprises Drybrook, Cinderford, Lydbrook and Ruardean Hill; West Dean taking in Oldcroft, Yorkley, Whitecroft, Bream, Parkend, Berry Hill and Lane End near Coleford. Down to the last three years the output of coal in Dean Forest was 850,000 tons per year; before the present climax of the great depression it had fallen to 650.000 tons annually – a decrease of 200,000 tons. This decrease represents a loss to the Forest population of £100,000 a year.

Why emigrate in 1877 or 1878?

by probinson @, S. Oxon, Friday, March 30, 2018, 16:00 (903 days ago) @ Mike Pinchin

Ah, just how I remember it. Are you sure that wasn't written in 1977 Mike? ;-)

Why emigrate in 1877 or 1878?

by Mike Pinchin @, Bedford, England, Friday, March 30, 2018, 16:49 (903 days ago) @ probinson

In some areas it could have been, couldn’t it!

This is the memorial of the women of the township of West Dean to Queen Victoria,

BNA Gloucestershire Chronicle - Saturday 01 December 1877

To our Sovereign Lady Her Most Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria.

We the women of the township of West Dean, in your Majesty’s Royal Forest of Dean, humbly approach your Throne with the following statement of our present sorrowful condition. We represent a population of about 12,000 persons of whom about 5,000 or 1,000 families are at the present time in circumstances of great distress and many of them are utterly destitute of the common necessaries of life. This distress has been occasioned by the stoppage of the blast furnaces, tin-plate works and other manufactories, and numerous collieries and iron mines in the locality whereby some 12,000 men and boys have been thrown out of employment, and the families dependent on them for support are reduced to circumstances of privation and distress unparalleled in the history of your Royal Forest. With feelings of the most devoted loyalty to your Majesty’s Royal person, and to your Sovereign rule, we earnestly solicit such help in our distress as your Majesty may graciously see fit to render. More especially we implore your Majesty to express your Royal Pleasure to the Ministers and advisers of the Crown, recommending to their valuable consideration the memorial presented to the Commissioners of your Majesty’s Woods and Forests on our behalf, praying that employment may be given to a portion of our famishing population in the formation and improvement of roads and footpaths in and over the Forest, such roads, footpaths, and improvements being greatly needed. We shall bless your Majesty for any influence you may be pleased to use on our behalf to promote this good work, which would give effectual relief to a large proportion of our distressed families, and would effect a great improvement in your Majesty’s Royal Forest. We humbly entreat your Majesty to pardon this intrusion; our great distress emboldens us to implore your Majesty’s sympathy and help. We are proud and thankful to recognise our allegiance to your Majesty, not only as subjects of your realm, but also as servants and servants of the Crown. We pray Almighty God to bless and save your Majesty and your children, the Royal Princes and Princesses, and their children, and we subscribe ourselves your Majesty’s loyal devoted subjects, the women of West Dean in public meeting assembled. Nov 29th, 1877.

Why emigrate in 1877 or 1878?

by jhopkins @, Saturday, March 31, 2018, 00:37 (903 days ago) @ Mike Pinchin

Thank goodness my great grandparents came to NZ in 1860 (and four of my great grandfather's siblings came out during a short period of time thereafter). They were therefore spared the conditions described earlier in this thread.

There are no family stories left about why my forebears migrated, but my guess is that conditions in 1860 weren't a whole lot better.

Quite a few years ago I found a book in a NZ library (I have never been able to rediscover the book). The thesis of the book was that NZ was an Arcadia for the first European-origin settlers. There was a concept in the mid 19th century of a "competence". A competence was a plot of land of adequate size on which to build a simple house and grow sufficient fruit and vegetables and maintain livestock (sheep, cattle, chooks etc) to feed the family.

The land had not been over-grazed or over-planted, so stock and food crops thrived in ways that had not been seen in the "Old Country" within living memory. The book stated that early settlers were amazed by the fertility of the soil, and the size and flavour of the fruit and vegetables they were able to grow. As I recall, there were comments recorded about the size of cabbages and orchard fruits that would amaze us today.

For those Forest economic migrants, this must have seemed like a paradise in comparison with what they had experienced in their original home. My great grandparents were quickly able to buy a farm and build a two storey home; in the Forest he had been an iron miner with no land of his own.

Similar stories could be told of my great great grandparents on my mother's side, who emigrated from Alloa, Clackmannanshire, Scotland in 1852. From being a landless ploughman he became a landowner and farmer near Dunedin. I am sure that "good news" stories got back to Britain from people like my forebears, encouraging many relatives to fly the coop in the hope of escaping poverty.

Why emigrate in 1877 or 1878?

by Mike Pinchin @, Bedford, England, Saturday, March 31, 2018, 20:11 (902 days ago) @ Mike Pinchin

Some five months later, news of a reply,

BNA Cardiff Times - Saturday 04 May 1878

A reply has been received to the petition forwarded to the Queen by the distressed women of the Forest of Dean, in November last. The answer was forwarded through the Woods and Forests Department. The Hon. Mr Howard admits that there is considerable distress in the Forest but he is informed that it is not of the appalling character indicated by Mr Nicholson, and that it is not, at all events at present, so urgent as to call for the interposition of the Queen or Government. The letter adds “it is doubtful whether the distress in Dean Forest is greater than it is in South Wales,” and goes on to say that “although the Forest of Dean is the property of the Crown, the distress is not due to the discharge of workmen employed by the Crown, as the coal and ironworks are held under grants, and the Crown revenues have suffered from the partial stoppage of the ironworks.”

Mr NICHOLSON was, I believe, the Rev. Thomas NICHOLSON, a Baptist Minister, of Yorkley,a leading light in publicizing the plight of the Forest folk and the provision of relief.

Why emigrate in 1877 or 1878?

by sidtoomey01 @, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, Saturday, March 31, 2018, 06:14 (903 days ago) @ ianjmill

Another possibility is there may have been a scheme promoted by The New Zealand Government similar to one in Queensland in early 1860's shortly after its separation from New South Wales to become a State in its own right.
In the Queensland promotion, officials from the State visited the UK , holding meetings in various cities, promoting the scheme whereby a Queensland Government grant of land was available to newcomers who paid their own passage to Queensland.
e.g. Advertisement on 23rd August 1861 in The Scotsman Newspaper was one such example.

If I could be so bold, I would ask lightheartedly , the bigger mystery is why anyone would sail all the way past the great land of Terra Australis just to reach The land of the long white cloud.

Why emigrate in 1877 or 1878?

by alison2 @, Saturday, March 31, 2018, 11:30 (903 days ago) @ ianjmill

Members of my Jenkins family emigrated from Forest of Dean to NZ at this time and they were miners or farmers.

Why emigrate in 1877 or 1878?

by ianjmill, Sunday, April 01, 2018, 00:18 (902 days ago) @ ianjmill

Thank you for the replies. My ancestors (Cloudleys) migrated to New Zealand. The eldest son migrated first in 1877 and his parents and siblings left a year later. They were colliers, sawyers and wood turners from the Mitcheldean area. It appears that the Cloudley name in the Mitcheldean area died out around 1957. They migrated to Christchurch in New Zealand and were successful publicans and hotel owners. Your answers help me understand why they would take the long journey to New Zealand. Ian

Why emigrate in 1877 or 1878?

by Ian Jackson, Tuesday, June 25, 2019, 06:14 (452 days ago) @ ianjmill

My family (Jackson) also arrived in NZ 1878.Originally from Ruspidge and coal miners by trade.
They settled on the West Coast and yep-went coal mining..

Why emigrate in 1877 or 1878?

by Jefff @, West London, Middlesex, Wednesday, June 26, 2019, 17:00 (450 days ago) @ Ian Jackson

Hi Ian,
please see my update on your other thread re your Jackson ancestors.
Ideally also add additional info for us to work with, and please help us to help you. Thanks.

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