Aliens en route : European transmigration through Britain, 1836-1914

Evans, Nicholas J. (Nicholas John)

History
July 2006

Thesis or dissertation


Rights
© 2006 Nicholas J Evans. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.
Abstract

This thesis discusses the agencies, transport systems, and infrastructure that enabled more than 3.15 million Europeans to emigrate to the United States, Canada, and South Africa through Britain between 1836 and 1914. Rather than travelling directly from the European mainland, these transmigrants broke their journeys by travelling to Britain where they boarded another vessel that conveyed them across the Atlantic. The control that Britain exerted over both the short-sea and long-haul passenger routes thus involved was as important to British maritime commerce as similar controls over freight or direct long-haul passenger routes to the far-flung corners of the British Empire. However the crucial significance of the transmigrant business to the British merchant marine has been largely overlooked in recent historiography, and it is this lacuna that the present dissertation seeks to redress.

The study is split into three sections. The first part quantifies the patterns of the transmigrant business, answering questions such as: what were the origins of the migrants and what routes did they use to reach Britain? When did they come? Where in Britain did they land, where were they bound, and where did they re-embark? Having charted these issues, the thesis turns in the second section to investigate how the transmigrant business developed and evolved, paying particular attention to the factors that conditioned the market throughout the 78 year period. Finally, the thesis examines the significance of the transmigrant business to British ports serving as conduits for the passenger movement, to the companies involved in transporting the aliens, and to the migrants themselves.

By exploring these issues this thesis has made a significant contribution to migrant and maritime historiography in the following ways. First, it has broadened the chronological and geographical focus of migrancy back from the 1880s to the 1830s and stressed Scandinavian as well as Central/East European movements. Second, it has demonstrated how European transmigrants were as important to British shipping companies as were British emigrants seeking to settle in Britain's overseas dominions. Third, immigration to Britain has been incorrectly conceptualised because historians and social commentators fail to take account of the onward movement of aliens arriving in Britain and assume instead that most were permanent settlers. Fourth, the primacy of Britain's maritime links to the United States was more important for the passenger business than has been previously acknowledged.

Finally, this study disproves theories by immigrant historians that centres of alien settlement across Northern Britain arose because they were situated along the transmigrant corridor between the Humber and Mersey. In reality many of the trains carrying transmigrants never passed through the towns and cities where large-scale immigration took place. By combining a mixture of global, national and local studies, and a longer chronology, this thesis offers an important intersection of transport and maritime studies that shows how transmigration has been under appreciated by both maritime and migrants historians alike.

Publisher
Department of History, The University of Hull
Supervisor
Newman, Aubrey N.; Starkey, David J. (David John), 1954-
Sponsor (Organisation)
Sir Philip Reckitt Educational Trust; Isaac and Jessie Kaplan Centre for Jewish Studies and Research; Siirtolaisuusinstituutti (Finland); National Maritime Museum (Great Britain); University of Hull
Ethos identifier
uk.bl.ethos.529012
Qualification level
Doctoral
Qualification name
PhD
Language
English
Extent
78 MB
Identifier
hull:8092
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