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* Search for Your Immigrant Ancestor in Ports of Arrival U.S.A. | Canada | Australia & New Zealand | South Africa | England
* Find Ancestors on Ships Passenger Lists Outbound from USA & Canada
* Find Ancestors on Ships Passenger Lists by Year of Arrival
Poor law unions were collections or groups of parishes brought together to administer poor relief. Earlier 'unions' were refered to as 'incorporations' and some of these existed until the 1860s (which is why for some areas there are no correspondence until the old incorporation was dissolved and the new union organised). The Victorian poor law was predicated on the 'workhouse test'. This is where poor relief would be offered via the 'deterrent workhouse', designed to be an institution of last resort.

Poor Law Union Emigrants

Workhouses (to supply indoor relief) were set up under the New Poor Law of 1834. They were designed in as repulsive a way as possible, to try to put people off from applying for help.

The Poor Law Union (an amalgamation of parishes) was run by an elected board of guardians with representatives from each parish, together with ex officio members. Indoor relief in workhouses replaced outdoor relief (money or goods), and workhouses were made repellent to encourage the able-bodied to maintain themselves and their families outside. [Source: NationalArchives.gov.uk]

In 1833, the year before the passing of the Poor Law Amendment Act, the Colonial Land and Emigration Commissioners (CLEC) were set up to manage the programme of emigration to Britain's colonies (Canada, Australia, New Zealand etc.). Under the new regime, some emigrants could qualify for a free passage if they were under forty, capable of labour, of good character, having been vaccinated against smallpox, and from occupations such as agricultural labourers, shepherds, or female domestic and farm servants. Young married couples, preferably without children were viewed as the ideal candidates. Assisted passages were also available with less stringent restrictions to healthy able-bodied labourers whose moral character could be vouched for. Workhouse inmates, however, or those in regular receipt of parish relief, were explicitly excluded from the CLEC schemes. [Source: poundpuplegacy.org/node/21733]

The records of the Poor Law Commission and the Poor Law Board are in The National Archives. They are not particularly easy to use, as the lists are very uninformative, so any search is likely to be lengthy, but it can be very rewarding. Olive Tree Genealogy has extracted the names of individuals who qualified for passage to Canada from England between the years 1836 to 1853 and in 1871. There is a gap from 1854-1870 inclusive.

23 ship names were given with the names of passengers on board. This is a first for most of these ships as no full passenger list is known to exist. Included in this Poor Law Union Immigrants to Canada Project are the names of emigrants for a 15 year period - no ship names were recorded but the researcher may be able to use the dates and years provided to compare with a list of known ship passages to Canada.

You can obtain more details of many of the emigrants listed by consulting the National Archives UK and sending for full records using the Folio numbers and Catalogue References provided on each page of the Poor Law Union ships or Emigrant lists.

Poor Law Union List of Ships with Emigrant Passengers from Various Parishes in England

  1. Ship Albion to Quebec 1836
  2. Ship Hibernia 1838
  3. Ship George Marsden 1841
  4. Prince George, 5 April 1842 England to Quebec
  5. Ship Arcturus 1842
  6. Ship Orbit 1842
  7. Ship Burrell 1843
  8. Ship Toronto Sailed from London May 16, 1843, arrived Quebec July 4, 1843 with 196 passengers
  9. Ship Amazon Sailed 20 July 1843 from England to Canada, arrived Sept. 24, 1843 at Quebec
  10. Ship Sisters Sailed from England to Quebec Canada 18 April 1843
  11. Ship Sir Charles Forbes 1844
  12. Ship St Anns 1844
  13. Ship Cairo 1844
  14. The Ottawa April 1844
  15. Ship St. Anns 1845
  16. Ship Cairo 1845
  17. Ship Constance 1846
  18. Ellen sailing from Southampton to Quebec and Montreal Canada. July 1847
  19. Ship Elphinstone to Quebec 1849
  20. Ship Earl of Dunham 1851
  21. Yorktown 29 September 1851
  22. Ship Sisters Sailed from England to Quebec Canada 29 May 1851
  23. Ship Ava to Quebec from Southampton England 1853

Poor Law Union Emigrant Passengers from Various Parishes in England

There is no ship name given for these emigrants leaving England for Canada
  1. Poor Law Union Emigrants in 1836
  2. Poor Law Union Emigrants in 1837
  3. Poor Law Union Emigrants in 1838
  4. Poor Law Union Emigrants in 1841
  5. Poor Law Union Emigrants in 1842
  6. Poor Law Union Emigrants in 1843
  7. Poor Law Union Emigrants in 1844
  8. Poor Law Union Emigrants in 1845
  9. Poor Law Union Emigrants in 1846
  10. Poor Law Union Emigrants in 1847
  11. Poor Law Union Emigrants in 1848
  12. Poor Law Union Emigrants in 1849
  13. Poor Law Union Emigrants in 1850
  14. Poor Law Union Emigrants in 1851
  15. Poor Law Union Emigrants in 1871


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