About Transatlantic Migration - North America to Britain and Ireland 1858-1870
These records are the only surviving ships' passenger lists at The National Archives of Ireland for ships returning to Britain and Ireland from North America between 1858 and 1870.
Because of the threat of an imminent uprising by Fenians and their supporters in Ireland, the government in Dublin Castle required that the major ports in Britain and Ireland submit their incoming ships' passenger lists to them for scrutiny.
This Index contains all the details recorded on these documents as well as fully correlated list of ships and details of their voyages. Over 42,000 people are recorded most of whom were of Irish, English or Scottish origin.
These passenger lists are probably the earliest and largest group in existence for ships leaving North America for Great Britain and Ireland. Passenger lists in the Public Record Office at Kew do not start until about 1878. The index names almost 42,700 passengers who travelled between December 1858 and June 1870.
It is not possible to determine reasons for travel. However, police reports from Liverpool show a number of Irish returning because it was impossible to find work in the United States. It is likely that some claimed poverty for the purpose of being repatriated courtesy of the ratepayers of Liverpool. In addition, pressure from the 'Know Nothing' movement against Irish Catholic immigration in the US may have caused a certain amount of reverse immigration.
It is almost certain that many of the individuals listed as merchants would return to North America at a later date. Furthermore, some 440 of the travelers listed their nationality as American. Many of the children traveling with their parents were listed as the same nationality as their parents. They were obviously born in North America and may have returned either with their parents or as adults since they would have had dual citizenship.
In 1852, the English Parliament enacted legislation known as The Passenger Act of 1852, which dealt with the regulation of carriage of passengers by sea. This 1852 Act was amended on 14 August 1855 to become The Passenger Act of 1855. Article 100 of this Act meant ships passenger lists must be sent to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in 1858. These passenger lists form the basis for this index.
Article 100 required that:
...the Master of every Ship Bringing Passengers into the United Kingdom from any Place out of Europe, shall within Twenty-four Hours after Arrival, deliver to the Emigration Officer or his Assistant, or in their Absence to the Chief Officer of Customs at the Port of Arrival, a correct List signed by such Master and specifying the Names, Ages, and Callings of all the Passengers embarked and also the Port or Ports at which they respectively may have embarked and showing which, if any of them, may have died, with the supposed Cause of Death, or been born on the Voyage...The Act also provided sample passenger listing forms. Not all of the passenger lists in this study consistently follow the samples provided in the Act.
On 6 December 1858, a suggestion was sent by Edmund Hayes, Solicitor General of Ireland, to the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland's Office. The suggestion was:
That a letter should be written to Mr. Sec. Walpole (the Home Secretary) calling his attention to the 18.19 Vict. Cap. 119 Sect. 100 and requesting that orders may be sent to the Emigration & Customs Officers at the several ports in Great Britain at which Passenger Vessels from N. America usually arrive to the effect that the list of passengers from America together with any information which they may receive as to such passengers may be at once transmitted to this office for the information of His Excellency (Lord Lieutenant of Ireland). In the present state of Ireland the early receipt of the above intelligence is considered important. CSORP 19641
Whitehall responded and letters were issued on 11 December 1858 from the Custom House, London, to the various ports. As a result, the passenger list of the ship Edinburgh arriving Glasgow, Scotland 25 November 1858, was sent to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, the first of over 800 which have survived in the National Archives of Ireland.
The letters from Custom House, London to the various ports were translated into Port Orders by each port and there are references to those orders on passenger lists, particularly those ships landing at Southampton - HM Customs Commissioners Order dated December 1858 No. 334 and for Bristol Order 117.
The "present state of Ireland" referred to above, was the unstable political situation and growth of militant Irish nationalist groups.
By 1870, following the failure of the Fenian insurrection in Ireland in 1867, the British authorities considered the Fenian threat over and consequently in a letter of 4 July 1870 George Dickins, from the Custom House, London, informed Thomas H. Burke of Dublin Castle that the Commissioners of Her Majesty's Customs were discontinuing the reports of the names of passengers from America. (CSORP 17437).
What do the index records include?
The online index records include the following:
The passenger lists 1858-1867 reside in three boxes of the Chief Secretary's Office Unregistered Papers in the National Archives of Ireland, while the lists received between 1868-1870 are intermingled with other documents boxed according to the date of recording with the other papers of the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland - Chief Secretary's Office Registered Papers (CSORP).
The years 1858, 1859 and 1860 (after May 1860 lists from Liverpool, London, Queenstown and Londonderry are not included) are fairly representative of the ships and passengers arriving from North America. After 1860 the passenger lists represent mostly ships arriving in Southampton and Glasgow. Indices to the Chief Secretary's Office Registered Papers show that passenger lists from Liverpool, London, Queenstown and Londonderry were received by the Chief Secretary's Office, yet those lists are not in the CSORP boxes. It appears, they were sent to the Inspector General of Police and thus do not survive in the National Archives, though there are some exceptions.
The compiler, James P. Maher, would like to thank Gregory O'Connor, Archivist, of the National Archives of Ireland for the opportunity to do this project and assistance in describing Papers and giving access to the Police Reports. Thanks to Capt. Hughes, who in 1940, created an Index to Passenger Lists, 1858-1867. Also thanks to Mary Jane Brown for her assistance in proofing, sorting records and support.