Erin’s Sons: Irish Arrivals in Atlantic Canada, 1761-1853


Author: Punch, Terrence M.
Publication Date: 2008
Reprint Date: 2009
Pages: xii 196 pp.


From the time of the earliest European colonies, there were Irish settlers in the four provinces of Atlantic Canada—Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. The first Irish arrivals came to Newfoundland as seasonal fishermen; between 1785 and 1835 a sizable number settled there, traveling from Waterford, Kilkenny, Wexford, Tipperary, and east Cork to work in the fishery industry. Increased immigration of the Irish elsewhere in Atlantic Canada began in the early 1800s, peaking during and shortly after the great Irish Famine in the mid-nineteenth century. During this time, large numbers of Irish and Scots-Irish immigrants passed through the Atlantic Canada ports of St. John and Halifax and a score of lesser ports, though a great many of these immigrants soon relocated to New England.

Despite the flow of Irish through Atlantic Canada, the early records of these immigrants are fewer and less informative than those of New England and New York from the same period. Erin’s Sons: Irish Arrivals in Atlantic Canada 1761–1853 goes a long way toward rectifying this problem. Author Terrence M. Punch has combed through a wide-ranging and disparate group of sources—including newspaper articles and advertisements, local government documents and census records, church records, burial records, land records, military records, passenger lists, and more—to identify as many of these pioneers as possible and disclose where they came from in the Old Country. These sources often contain details that cannot be found in Irish records, where few census returns survived from before 1901, and where Catholic records began a generation or more after their counterparts in Atlantic Canada.

Erin’s Sons not only sheds light on many of the Irish immigrants who resided in Atlantic Canada between 1761 and 1853 but also provides an invaluable tool for U.S. researchers, since many New England Irish families can trace their
ancestry through Atlantic Canada.

For easy reference, a Surname Index and Ship Index are included.

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