TheShipsList-L ArchivesArchiver > TheShipsList > 2004-01 > 1073076913
From: Sue Swiggum <>
Subject: Re: [TSL] Thirty shillings a head paid by commissioners?
Date: Fri, 02 Jan 2004 16:55:13 -0400
At 07:31 AM 2004-01-02 -0600, Scott Burow wrote:
>I am in possession of a copy of a diary written during a voyage on the
>ship Gratitude, which left Ramsgate, Kent, England on July 29, 1835 bound
>for New York. The account of the sea voyage reads like the pages of
>Robinson Crusoe and is a fascinating read.
>My question, however, relates to a passage written after the 44 day voyage
>and upon their arrival in New York. By reading it appears that someone
>(the commissioners) paid money ahead of time which was available to them
>upon thier arrival in New York. The passage reads:
>"Saturday, September 19. This morning we went to the agent Mr. Smith, No
>63 Broad Street, to receive our thirty shillings a head which was paid for
>us at London by our commissioners. And here we stayed until we was tired
>but got our money, 4 dollars 80 cents per pound currency."
>Would anyone have any idea what this means, or why some 'commissioners'
>would have set up some kind of an account for them to collect upon their
>arrival? It sounds as if they were paid to leave town! I'm assuming that
>since there was an agent with an office, this must have been a common
>practice, but for the life of me I can't find anything that explains it.
>Thanks in advance for any thoughts that you might have on this.
>Hannibal, MO USA
I was hoping that Marj might be reading today, and may have an answer for
you, but I'll take a crack at this.
First congratulations for having such a wonderful diary . . .don't we all
wish . . .:-} if we were talking about a Canadian arrival, then this
would make a lot of sense to me, although 1835 might be a little early,
however . . . .this appears to me like an "assisted
emigration" scenario. I don't think there was ever formal "assisted
emigration" to the US, but there certainly were also "private" or
"public-private" emigration schemes, clubs, societies, from England
(Britain) to the British Colonies. Some of these were in the form
of assistance, and also self-help groups, often under the auspices of the
"commissioners" or "guardians" of the various Parishes. They self-help
groups operated a bit like a pyramid scheme, with emigrants paying into it
weekly, monthly (?) and monies paid assisted the first groups, and
subsequent members the second etc. etc.
Different time period and country of example, but here are a couple of posters
Some great info about such groups ca. 1869 to the "colonies"
The way these groups operated differed a great deal, some blocked a number
of passages on some shipping lines, and simply passed the savings on to the
emigrants, others would also pay them start-up monies upon arrival . . so
much per adult, so much per child etc. . . and they would receive the money
from an agent of the group, or maybe agent of the shipping company, or from
a "head of the group" who might have travelled with them.
Your diary entry sounds a great deal like those groups, although thirty
shillings a head sounds like a very Princely sum in 1835 !! I sure wish
your emigrant had elaborated a little more on the process. I'd love to be
able to include the diary here on the TSL website, if you are agreeable :-}
|Re: [TSL] Thirty shillings a head paid by commissioners? by Sue Swiggum <>|