Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Food for thought about North Devon emigration

A few weeks a ago, the August 2012 edition of the Devon Family Historian landed in my mailbox - always a welcomed event and interesting read. Published by the Devon Family History Society, the journal is a fascinating glimpse into the research of other Devon family researchers and a record of the Society's events and activities.

I found this edition particularly interesting as the lead article, Faith, Fish, Farm or Family: Motivations for Emigration from North Devon, 1830-1900, by Janet Few, challenged readers to rethink their preconceptions about the reasons why our ancestors might have left their Devon homes. Few outlined clues to consider when evaluating why a family member moved - including date of migration, conditions at new/old locations, life stage, migration companions, occupations in old/new locations, and religion. She also lists reasons for emigration, ranging from economic, educational, familial, religious, political and social. Few then recounts her family's migration story to Canada. Their end destinations, Mariposa (near Peterborough)and Toronto, are well known to me (I grew up in the west end of Toronto). According to the research quoted by Few, 434,806 people left via a Devon port between 1840-1900. Nationally, 75% of Victorian emigrants moved to America, but Devonians headed for Australiasia, but in the case of those from North Devon, their destination was Canada.

Few's article has gotten me thinking about why William Huxtable Ball left Devon in the late 1858-1860. Was it for economic reasons? Were there other Ball family members who lived in the Gower area? Were there religious tensions? What was happening in North/South Molton and in the Gower which might have contributed to a push or pull out of Devon?

Always something to think about and more research to do!

Cheers, K.

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