Ships from Scotland to North America, 1830-1860


Author: Dobson, David
Publication Date: 2002
Reprint Date: 2005
Pages: iv 115 pp.


The mid-19th century was a transitional period for Scottish emigration to North America. To quote Mr. Dobson, “Intermittent voyages of ships from Scotland to North America were replaced by a relatively integrated system whereby the railways would transport emigrants to major ports . . . . By mid-century, about half the passenger trade was by steamships, partly because of the increased capacity of these vessels.” It should be emphasized that many Scots whose ultimate destination was the United States opted for cheaper passage onboard ships that docked at Canadian ports. A number of the Scottish emigrants of this period were persons who faced eviction from the land because of the so-called Highland Clearances that converted large agricultural estates to sheep farms. Other Scots, displaced by the Industrial Revolution, simply hoped to find better opportunities for their skilled industrial or professional talents.

David Dobson has compiled here a new list of vessels that traveled from Scottish to North American ports between 1830 and 1860. The purpose of the volume is to enable researchers to link their immigrant ancestors’ first whereabouts in America with their port of embarkation in Scotland, and thus possibly the emigrant’s region of origin. Based mostly on sailings documented in contemporary Scottish newspapers, Dobson identifies 1,500 ships that made nearly 5,000 transatlantic passages during the thirty years under investigation. In every one of these voyages, the notices announced the departure of a particular ship “with passengers.” Mr. Dobson has arranged the vessels in alphabetical order, giving, for each voyage, the port of origin, port and date of arrival, name of the captain, the source of the information, and sometimes the number of passengers. While not exhaustive, this work contains the names and the ports and dates of departure and arrival of the majority of ships carrying emigrants from Scotland to America between 1830 and 1860.

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