A form letter addressed "To the Overseers of the Parish of Mereworth, Kent" advertising cheap passages for "Families, Labourers, and Poor Persons" emigrating to Australia and the British colonies; "Shovelling out paupers" Australia, Emigration.
A form letter addressed "To the Overseers of the Parish of Mereworth, Kent" advertising cheap passages for "Families, Labourers, and Poor Persons" emigrating to Australia and the British colonies; "Shovelling out paupers"

A form letter addressed "To the Overseers of the Parish of Mereworth, Kent" advertising cheap passages for "Families, Labourers, and Poor Persons" emigrating to Australia and the British colonies; "Shovelling out paupers"

London: 1836. In 19th c. England, the practice of assisted emigration of the poor was sometimes referred to as "shovelling out paupers". In 1833 the Colonial Land and Emigration Commissioners (CLEC) were set up to manage emigration to Britain's colonies. Under the plan, some emigrants could qualify for a free passage if they were under forty years of age, of good character, having been vaccinated against smallpox, capable of labor, and from occupations such as agricultural laborers, shepherds, or female domestic and farm servants. Young married couples without children were the most desired candidates.

This circular was printed just one year following the enactment of a provision in which the cost of emigration would be borne by the emigrant's home parish (Section 62, 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act). The parish-funded emigration was overseen by the Poor Law Commissioners. The annual report of the Poor Law Commissioners of 1836 shows that 18 parishes in Kent participated, sending 320 emigrants at a cost of £1,823. Many emigrants went to Canada due to its proximity to Britain, but South Australia, which was designated a colony in 1836, offered a free passage until 1841. The popularity of Australia surged when the discovery of gold made the news in 1852.

The printed circular with manuscript date (March 1836) and Parish name, advertising passage to North America or Australia at £3 to £4 a head for adults. The form letter begins, "Gentlemen, I beg to acquaint you, that I am ready to Contract for the Conveyance of Families, Labourers, and Poor Persons to the British Colonies in North America, Australia, and the United States, and likewise to Victual them if required, which I can do at a much less expense than having them found by the Vessel." "Our packets are Sailing from here, for Quebec, New York, Philadelphia, Boston & c. Twice every Week, during the Season..." The printed address at the top "2, Upper East Smithfield, Near the London Dock Entrance, London." The circular is signed "C. Ciriackes", or Christoffer Ciriackes (1755 - 1758), who in 1828 was a clerk for Messrs. Beatson & Co., merchants and was a witness in a case before the Old Bailey; he also appears in the London Planet of September 20, 1840 as Christopher Ciriackes, provisions merchant at Devonshire Place, London Fields. However, Ciriackes had his own problems as a debtor, as he appears under the heading 'Court for Relief of Insolvent Debtors' on November 5, 1840: "Christopher Ciriackes, late of No. 4, Devonshire-place, London-fields, near the Cat and Mutton Tavern, ... out of business ... Provision Merchant and General Dealer". (London Gazette, 13 October 1840, p2270).

8vo, printed on cream paper, folded into envelope shape and posted with rubber stamp and seal. The rubber stamp reads "Ing St. Corner Hill". Mailed March 8 and addressed to "Off of the Overseers of the Parish of Mereworth, Kent". Original folds, very faintly creased. Very good condition. Item #19774

Price: $500.00

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