| There are unfortunately very few
records in The National Archives of Scotland (NAS) which list names
of emigrants. The Colonial Office, based in London, was responsible
for emigration in the 19th century and its records are held by The
National Archives (London) (TNA). They also hold the surviving outward
passenger lists from 1890.
For information on sources for criminals transported to the Americas
and Australia in the 17th to 19th centuries, look at our guide on
crime and criminals.
The NAS holds the records of the Highland and Island Emigration Society,
1851-1859, set up by private subscription to alleviate destitution
in the Highlands by promoting and assisting the emigration of Highlanders
to Australia. Their passenger lists for the years 1852-1857 have survived
and are organised by ship and by family and record the name, age and
residence of each emigrant (NAS ref. HD4/5). You can search the index
to this online at the Scottish Archive Network (SCAN) website.
A state-aided scheme was set up in the 1880s to assist emigrants from
Lewis and Harris to settle in Manitoba, Canada. Names of the emigrants
involved in this scheme appear in the files of the Department of Agriculture
and Fisheries (NAS ref. AF51).
Other references to individual emigrants, including correspondence,
may be found scattered among a wide variety of records. You should
search the NAS electronic catalogue for details. There are also publications
in the NAS 'History at Source' series which you may find useful: 'The
Emigrants', 'The Scots in America', 'The Scots in Canada', 'The Scots
in Australia and New Zealand'.
Visit the SCAN website Knowledge Base for information on sources for
emigration, passenger lists and emigration societies held in other
The National Archives (London)
The National Archives in London (TNA) hold the records of the Board of Trade, Colonial Office, Home Office and Treasury, which contain a great deal of information on emigration, some of it more easily accessible than others. These include, for example, passenger lists (1890-1960), medical journals from emigrant ships, letters from intending emigrants and registers of troops shipped to all parts of the world. TNA also holds census records for New South Wales and Tasmania for some of the years between 1788-1859 (TNA ref HO10). Many of these records are not indexed. Detailed guidance can be found on TNA's website.
The website Ancestors On Board provides access to the Board of Trade Outward Passenger Lists (TNA ref. BT27) for long-distance voyages leaving the British Isles from 1890-1927. You can either pay-per-view or subscribe to this site to download and view images of passenger lists.
Merseyside Maritime Museum
Liverpool was the main port of departure for emigrants from Britain
and Europe for much of the 19th century. The Merseyside Maritime Museum
in Liverpool acts as a clearing house for information on sources of
emigration. They have built up a select library of emigration sources
in published form, including copies of the indexes of assisted emigrants
to Australia. They also hold an extensive collection of narrative
accounts of emigrant voyages. Detailed information sheets can be found
on their website.
It is worthwhile finding out as much as possible in printed sources
and local records in the country of arrival before tackling record
sources in Britain. Immigration records, such as arrival lists, have
been found to provide more comprehensive detail than the departure
lists available in Britain. Below are details of publications listing
emigrants or giving guidance to sources, which you may find useful.
P W Filby and M K Meyer, 'Passenger and Immigration Lists Index -
A Guide to Published Arrival Records, 1538-1900' (Gale Research Company,
Detroit, 1981), 7 vols with supplements
P W Filby, 'Passenger and Immigration Lists Bibliography, 1538-1900'
(USA and Canada) (Detroit, 1988)
D Dobson, 'Directory of Scottish Settlers in North America, 1625-1825',
7 vols. (Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore, 1984-1993)
D Dobson, 'The Original Scots Colonists of Early America, 1612-1783'
(Genealogical Publishing Company, 1989)
J W Weaver and D Lester, 'Immigrants from Great Britain and Ireland
- A Guide to Archival and Manuscript Sources in North America' (Greenwood
D Whyte, 'A Dictionary of Scottish Emigrants to the USA', 2 vols.
(Magna Carta Book Company, Baltimore, 1972 and 1986)
D Whyte, 'A Dictionary of Scottish Emigrants to Canada Before Confederation',
2 vols. (Ontario Genealogical Society, 1986 and 1995)
D Whyte, 'The Scots Overseas: a Selected Bibliography' (Scottish Association
of Family History Societies, 1995)
The National Archives of Scotland
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