Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (20):British Parliamentary Papers, female orphan emigration returns

British Parliamentary papers:

female orphan emigration returns

These scans of  xerox copies I made in c. 1980 may prove useful to some people. I recently found them among my research notes on Cartesian philosophers!

The first document is from the Select Committee of the House of Lords appointed to inquire into the operation of the Irish Poor Law, and the expediency of making any amendments to its enactments. Sixth Report. Appendix to Minutes of evidence, BPP HC 1849-49, vol 16, No. 507, pp.64-66. It tells us which Irish Poor Law Unions the orphans came from and which ship they traveled on.

You will notice the misinformation regarding the first two vessels. Unfortunately it does not include information about vessels that arrived later, in 1850.

The appendix is online here somewhere but I haven’t been able to find the exact page,



The next document is from BPP HC 1850 (XXVII) Commissioners for administering Laws for the Relief of the Poor in Ireland. Third Annual Report Appendix B pp.132-34 . You will notice this is where the figure 4114  female orphans  comes from but my Barefoot, vols I and II has slightly more, about 4150, from memory. I assume the number in the database will be closer to the second figure. Please excuse my shonky scanning.

Luckily nowadays one can gain access to these things online. Try



Which reminds me…I’ve been hearing people say things like many of the orphans married more than once or the orphans often married more than once. Both ‘many’ and ‘often’ imply a measure. I was wondering has anyone actually counted or is it just a general impression, even an anecdotal one? Is it one in five, or 100 out of 300, or 400 out of 4000? And what percentage of marriages is each of these?

I’m having a little trouble with my post on the ending of the Earl Grey scheme. Soon come.

Glac bog an saol agus glacfaidh an saol bog tú …which reminds me of Yeats’s “tread softly for you tread …”

8 thoughts on “Earl Grey’s Irish Famine Orphans (20):British Parliamentary Papers, female orphan emigration returns

    • THanks Kaye. It looks like there isn’t a lot specifically related to Margaret’s Irish background. You may have to imagine it for yourself. I hope there is something in my early blog posts, at least up to post seven or eight, that will help you do that. Maybe also find out what you can about Tipperary Town during the Famine? Best of luck with it.


      • Thank you Kaye and Trevor! Do either of you know of documents that describe how Surgeon Superintendents were chosen, and who made each choice, for each of the Earl Grey ships?


      • Becky,
        Robin Haines, Doctors at Sea, Palgrave, 2005 will give you a good history, and analysis of the importance of the Surgeons to the Australian voyages in all. Basically the Emigration Commissioners chose the surgeons. Some surgeons only made the one trip and settled in Australia, others made many, Strutt for example continued as a SS until he was 62yo. The Commissioners built up a register of doctors they could use, some naval surgeons, some private. They even sought references for their choice, not always reliable , naturally. The SS’s duties were carefully defined by Parliamentary acts, See Passenger acts for eg. Robin’s book should have specific references to follow up. She was always a devotee of good substantive notes. Best wishes, Trevor


  1. The Watchorn Family Recollections of early Melbourne MS 11657 (record id: 21698155) is in the Australian Manuscripts Collection at the State Library of Victoria. It includes a description of the voyage on the New Liverpool.

    There is also a description I think of the Thomas Arbuthnot voyage written by its surgeon used in the book with a title something like on “A decent set of girls”. I tried finding the book in the library so that I had the full details but could not. You should know what I’m talking about. If not email me and I will follow up. It has a reference to the “keening”.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.