Clearances' Emigrant Ships
Ships:Flora, Georgina, Good Intent, Hector
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Emigrant Ships


Australia was happy to welcome the emigrants, and those whom the Society sent later in the Militiades, the John Gray, the Chance and the Flora. They were offered immediate employment. In sheep-stations. ( Circa 1851?)
Source: The Highland Clearances by John Prebble, page 205


In May 1853, five ships were placed at the disposal of the Society by the Emigration Commissionners. The first to sail, two months later, was the Georgiana from Greenock for Melbourne. She carried 312 emigrants; most of them from Skye- 60 married men and woman, 125 boys and girls, and 12 infants. Mr Chant, agent for the Commissioners traveled with them to the Clyde from Skye (where , he said, ' it is not too much to say that many of the swine of England are better fed and better housed than are the poor of this Island'). He assured the commissioners that the Georgiana was of the best emigrant ships I have seen. Her great height between decks, breadth, and her excellent ventilation, render her the most desirable vessel of the service. Captain Temperly has put on board half a ton of oatmeal, in addition to the usual supply, to enable people the people to have porridge for breakfast, for which they are very thankful. This is an arrangement of the greatest importance to Highland emigrants, and will, I have no doubt, prove very beneficial to the health of the passengers by the vessel.

Haly Secretary of the Society...He was also shocked: I should much have desired to have found a Gaelic clergyman who would have devoted himself to instruction on board, and also more efficient matron for the girls. The person who is appointed to this post speaks not one word of Gaelic and wrung her hands at the girls' want of knowledge of the broadest Scots, which she possesses in abundance. And as the young ladies, too, had generally never seen a plate, and have not as yet the refinements necessary to the more Lowland accomplishments of a knife, fork and spoon, her tribulations seem much increased at having such a charge.

I found. too, that there was a total want of books, and very few Bibles on board; also a very general absence of hair-brushes and combs. These, to the best of my ability, I made provision for. I ordered Bethune and Macdonald to send down a plentiful supply of the latter articles immediately, and also a barber from this place to put the people's hair in order, and initiate them into the mysteries of combs and brushes.
Source: The Highland Clearances by John Prebble, page 204-205

Good Intent

In none of the advertisements was there any suggestion that death from fever, or from dysentry, was inevitable for some of the emigrants on every ship. Nor was there a warning that if the ship did not make the landfall it confidently promised, starvation would be added to the normal hell of the passage. The cost of the voyage was high, and many small tenants placed themselves and their families under indentures in Canada in order to meet it.

For Pictou Direct The Fine Brigantine GOOD INTENT 220 Tons Burden E. HIBBARD,
Supercargo will be ready to sail from Aberden in March, and intends calling at Cromarty about the end of that month, if a sufficient number of passengers offer.

This Vessel has most excellent accommodation for Passengers, and Mr. Hibbard, the Supercargo, will pay every attention.

The Fares are as follows, and payable at going on board:
Cabin passengers 10 guineas each
Steerage ditto 7 guineas each
Ditto, from 7 to 14 years old 5 guineas each
Ditto, from 2 to 7 years old 3 guineas each

An early application from those who intend going by the Good Intent is requested, that the owners may determine whether the vessel shall call at Cromarty.
Source: The Highland Clearances by John Prebble, page 192


In July of 1773, two hundred people of Ross, thirty-three families and twenty-five single men, boarded the Hector at Ullapool on Loch Broom. The ship was so rotten that the emigrants were able to pick its timbers with their finger-nails. It was owned by two Englishmen, Pagan and Witherspoon, who had bought unbroken land in Nova Scotia which they proposed to settle with Highlanders, rightly concluding that these were gullible or desperate enough to believe that they would receive a farm for every family and a year's provision for all. The people left in good spirits, and when the piper was ordered ashore because he had no money to pay his passage ' they pleaded to have him allowed to accompany them, and offered to share their own rations with him in exchange for his music'.

The voyage was long and hard. Off the Newfoundland coast gales drove the Hector back into the Atlantic, adding two more weeks to its bitter passage. Eighteen children died of smallpox or dysentery. Water in the barrels was green and almost undrinkable, and in the end it was so scarce that the emigrants were unable to eat the little salt meat that was left.

They searched the ship's hold for scraps of moldy oatcake they had previously thrown away. In Nova Scotia they went ashore behind their piper, wearing the tartan that was still under proscription in Scotland, and some of the young men carried broadswors at their hips. But nothing they had been promised was awaiting them. Many were sent into the timberland without food or the tools to build houses. It was October, too late to break the land or plant it. That winter men and women walked eighty miles through the snow to exchange their clothing for potatoes. Some tried to live on the bark of trees or by hacking clams and oysters from the ice. Others bound themselves away as indentured servants to earlier settlers. Then they rose in protest, mobbed the owner's stores, bound the agent who had brought them from Ross and since deserted them, took what they needed in food clothing, and left notes against their willingness to pay when they could. A company of militia ordered out against them refused to match. " I know the Islanders," said its captain, ' and if they are fairly treated there will be no trouble with them.'

In the spring only seventy-eight of the original two hundred emigrants were left on the settlement.
Source: The Highland Clearances by John Prebble, page 264, 270

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