Irish Emigrants in North America: Consolidated Edition. Parts One to Ten


Author: Dobson, David
Publication Date: 2023
Pages: xiv, 836 pp.
ISBN: 9780806359632


This consolidated edition brings together all ten Parts of David Dobson’s series, Irish Emigrants in North America. A comprehensive index of names has been added to facilitate the reader’s search for maiden names and the names of other persons mentioned in the passenger descriptions.

Emigration from Ireland to the Americas in the early modern period grew from a trickle to a torrent between the 17th century and the 19th century. Some emigrants left Ireland bound directly for the colonies as indentured servants. However, most Irishmen who settled in the Americas in the 17th century arrived as prisoners of war banished to the Plantations.

Oliver Cromwell transported hundreds of Irish to islands in the West Indies, notably Barbados and especially Montserrat. Most 17th-century Irish found in the Americas were highly likely to be Roman Catholics who had opposed the English occupation of much of Ireland and who arrived as prisoners sold as indentured servants. By the end of the 17th century attempts at settlement by the Irish had occurred at locations stretching from Newfoundland to the Amazon River.

This picture changed in the early 18th century when most Irish emigrants to America were Anglican, Quakers, or Presbyterians. There was substantial emigration from the north of Ireland by Presbyterians whose ancestors had settled there from Scotland during the Plantation of Ulster in the 17th century. These “Scotch Irish” found that they were treated as second-class citizens by the Anglican Ascendancy of Ireland, and, consequently, from 1718, they began to settle in the North American mainland’s thirteen colonies. An estimated 200,000, mainly Scotch Irish, had vacated the Emerald Isle by 1799, becoming one of the largest ethnic groups to settle in the British colonies in the that century.

The 19th century brought the potato famine of 1846-1851 in Ireland, which forced hundreds of thousands of mostly Irish Catholics to abandon their homes for refuge in North America, as well as in Britain and Australasia.

The expansion of transatlantic trade between Ireland and the Americas during the 18th and 19th centuries facilitated emigration. Also, from the late 18th century onwards, the British Army increasingly recruited Irishmen into its ranks. Consequently, many of these Irish veterans could be found settled throughout the British Empire. In the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, the British government settled thousands of former soldiers and their families in Canada.

In originally compiling the ten parts of this consolidated edition, author David Dobson consulted reference material located in archives and libraries in the United States, Canada, Britain, Ireland, and the West Indies. In all, he identifies more than 10,000 Irish emigrants to North America by name, date, occupation, specific place of origin, and, in many cases, by kinspeople, vessel traveled upon, and other circumstances.

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