Among the extensive parish records of Hailsham are a few documents concerning John Smith's application to be sent to Canada in 1834.
Writing to the overseers of the parish on 3 April 1834, George Eade of Framfield, who had been closely connected with emigration from Framfield earlier, writes:-
Unfortunately the Vestry Minute Book for Hailsham at this period has not survived but a minute of a meeting the day following receipt of the above letter is among the Smith family papers (353/12/3). The Vestry then agreed for Smith aged 47, his wife aged 37 and their children Harriet 18, George 17, Frances 16, James 11, Joseph 10, Charles 6, Eliza 2.5 and John only five months old should all be despatched. They were to be sent with the emigrants from Framfield at the expense of the parish and a loan was to be raised to cover all expenses.
Having written to Eade, the overseers received the following letter from Eade dated 11th April 1834:-
The final chapter of this particular story is unknown and one can only hope that John and his family made the crossing and fared well in Canada.
Between 1836 and 1848 the parish of Beckley raised over £1000 for emigration, and was still sending emigrants in 1850. The overseers accounts for January 1838 (237/31/1) record:
The accounts also record the conveyance of the Cooper and Dennis families to Gravesend at £2.5s on the same day and later in 1838 Mr Marshall received £21 for the conveyance of seven young men to New South Wales.
At nearby Peasmarsh there is only one year for which evidence exists that emigration was taking place, again in 1838. On 14th April of that year a committee was appointed to raise £200 for emigration, and meeting shortly after they reported:
That the several Persons who have made application to emigrate to Canada and Sydney be allowed a few days to take into consideration the terms proposed by this Committee.
A more benevolent attitude seems to have been adopted in this parish and the committee met again on 25th April recommended the following:-
The last entry for Peasmarsh is an allowance of £3 for clothes for Jesse Huggett to go to Sidney.
Other parishes were quick to catch on to this easy method of disposing of their unemployed poor.
.it would be desireable to pay the expense of Emigration of ten Paupers of the Parish to the Swan River [Australia] and that proper steps may be taken to ascertain which of the Paupers may be willing to Emigrate.
In March of the following year a sum of £100 was ordered to be raised to send Robert Quaife and his family to America together with any others willing to go. As late as 1841 other Paupers were still being despatched from here, and further resolutions of the Vestry include:-
11th Feb 1841
...to pay the expense of James Eldridge wife and 3 children to Australia not exceeding twenty pounds.
...to pay the expense of Chas Adams wife and 2 children Australia not exceeding fifteen pounds.
18th March 1841
At Mountfield the 1831 Census notes that 102 persons were said to have emigrated to America from the parish since 1821 (V.C.H. Sussex Vol.2 p.223) and for years after the parish continued its policy. John and William Veness applied on 5th March 1832 (424/12/1) for their passages to be paid, and the overseers accounts of 25th March (424/31/1) record the payment of £16.15s for them.
Further West at Laughton John Fennells application for funds to emigrate in January 1832 was favourably received and in March 1832 Charles and John Tompset were given money to emigrate (409/12/2).
In 1830 the parishes of Ticehurst and Salehurst on the Kent boader were sending paupers to America and elsewhere. On 3rd September 1840 the Vestry Minutes at Ticehurst record that the churchwardens and overseers were authorised to raise £150. Already £148.10s of that sum had been expended on families sent to Canada "under circumstances highly beneficial to the Interests of the Parish," and in March 1841 a further sum of £500 was authorised to be raised.
A later reference at Chiddingly (292/12/2) shows that Trayton Townsend received £6 to emigrate to Australia in November 1848, whilst at Ewehurst Edward Smith had £20 to get to America in 1820.
Edmund Austen (Brede the Story of a Sussex Parish, 1946) records the expenses to America of John Bridger in 1827:
At Mayfield too, paupers were being sent away in large numbers. On 5th May 1841 it was resolved in Vestry (422/12/1):-
Sydney seems to have been a favourite place for the emigrants to be sent.
On 3rd December 1841 at Battle the Vestry decided to send James King and his family and also Robert Saxby and his family to Sydney "to which place they are anxious to Emigrate". This phrase and others like it occur time and time again; in each case the parish concerned makes it quite clear that the emigrants are being sent at their own request to these foreign places and unknown chances.
It has been noted that the Beckley accounts show payments to Mr Marshall of landing money for passengers. This was Mr John Marshall, Australian Emigration Agent of Birchin Lane, London. During the year 1838 he was responsible for conveying to Sydney a total of 3099 persons as steerage passengers. One of the ships sent in that year was the Alfred . Registered at 716 tons, the passengers were carried in this ship in cabins averaging 9 feet by 8 feet. Each cabin had a water closet and in the main gangway a wine locker. The Alfred sailed from Gravesend on 8th September, called at Plymouth on the 17th and proceeded to Sydney. Strict rules were observed on board; each person had to be out of bed at 7 am and all the beds rolled and taken on deck for airing. Breakfast was at 8 and cleaning commenced shortly after. Four men were appointed cleaners for each apartment and for efficiently carrying out their work they could earn £3 to be paid on arrival at Sydney.
Dinner was at 1 oclock and tea, coffee or Cocoa at 6. Each week the surgeon would select two men, either husbands or fathers, to see the provoisions weighed, and there were daily schools for children and adults. Spirits were forbidden and smoking on board only allowed on the upper deck at the direction of the surgeon. Passengers were required to attend service on Sunday morning at 10 and the morals of the company were looked after by two men and two women elected from among the passengers and approved by the surgeon; it was laid down that opposite sexes were not to visit each others sleeping apartments unless allowed to do so by the surgeon (who seems to have had more power than the captain!). The penalty for contravening these very sensible regulations on a long voyage was to have ones wine stopped for the rest of the journey.
On the whole, Marshall appears to have been a highly efficient agent; his ships were clean and orderly and most sensibly run for the benefit of the passengers, one of whom, James Potter of Udimore, travelled on the Alfred from Gravesend on 8th September 1838 (497/37/13) having received £20 for expenses from the parish.
In April 1838 two other Udimore families emigrated to New South Wales; Richard Harmer and William Morris had £7.12s for clothing for their families on the voyage. Another group were sent out early in June 1841:
The last named emigrant travelled to Sydney free in return for undertaking work on the voyage. The following letter explains:-
The overseers at Udimore received an entirely different request on the same day:-
I have not discovered whether the gentlemen in vestry assembled did allow poor Mr Clark the necessary funds for him to get married and take his bride to Sydney, but I imagine that in their haste to rid themselves of yet another pauper they would have consented and thought it money well spent.
Among the list of families to be sent out in 1838 at Udimore had been those of Samuel Lawrence and Frank Whiteman; for some reason they did not then go. For on 2nd June 1841 Whiteman and his family consisting of son George aged 13, Jane 10 and William 6, were sent to New Zealand and given £6; three weeks later Samuel Laurence, his wife and three children were despatched to Sydney.
© Michael Burchall