Immigrants and Exiles: Scotland 1830-1930. A revision Guide



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Immigrants and Exiles: Scotland 1830-1930. A Revision Guide.

This revision guide should not replace your own active revision. Its purpose is to summarise the key points examiners would expect you to know and develop into meaningful, detailed answers.



Irish People Come to Scotland

You should have knowledge and understanding of:





  • The Push and Pull reasons why the Irish came to Scotland.




      • The increasing Irish population (doubling between 1791 and 1841) and the country’s lack of modern industries meant it was very difficult for people to live a secure life. They suffered general poverty, low wages and wretched living conditions.

      • They depended on farming and had very little land. They often sub-divided their land and eventually it became too small to live off. Smallholders were often evicted to make way for new farming methods. They became dependent on potatoes as a result. If they stayed in Ireland after the potato blight, their diet would have been dreadful.

      • In the mid to late 1840s the potato crops were destroyed by potato blight causing the death of many people. The British Government was far too slow to act and many landlords used the crisis to take away people’s homes.

      • Many could not pay the increasing rents on their farms.

      • Thus the Irish were desperate to escape the famine and some were forced to leave by their landlords.




      • Scotland attracted Irish Immigrants because of the available jobs due to Scotland’s growing industries and farming. There was a real need for the Irish workforce in Scotland and pay was better than in Ireland.

      • Examples of the kinds of work available: navvying, building, textiles, coal mines and general farm work.

      • Irish with skilled trades could earn much more by emigrating to Scotland.

      • There were job opportunities for men, women and children.

      • With the new ‘steamers’, it was easier, quicker and cheap to sail across to Scotland from Ireland. It was only a short trip to Glasgow and there were many sailings.

      • Housing was available in the growing Scottish cities.

      • Some families wrote back to relatives in Ireland to encourage them to emigrate to Scotland for a better life compared to Ireland.

      • Irish communities had established themselves in Scotland by 1900.



  • Where the Irish settled in Scotland, what they did and what their living conditions like.




      • Most Irish settled in Glasgow and the south west of Scotland. Some ended up in Dundee and others roamed the country looking for work.

      • There was some alarm in Scotland, especially Glasgow, at the large number of very poor people arriving from Ireland. Increased numbers of immigrants created pressure on housing. Remember, many Scots were moving away from the Highlands and coning to cities like Glasgow.

      • They often lived in the poorest housing with the cheapest rents. These houses were often in the most unhealthy, most run-down parts of town. So many Irish had to live in filth, overcrowding and degradation. Diseases flourished due to contaminated water supplies and poor sewage systems. The Irish suffered more because of their general weakened health.

      • In the late 19th century there were improvements made to the living conditions of all inhabitants of cities like Glasgow.

      • The Irish worked on farms, mines, jute factories in Dundee, navvy work building railways and canals, textiles factories and some turned to retail work.

      • They often worked for less pay or worked in low paid jobs. Many found it difficult to secure a decent job because they were Irish and Catholic.

      • Some Irish prospered but most had to work hard just to survive and had to do so in harsh conditions.

      • They found few amenities for their Catholic way of life so set up their own schools and churches.



The Irish and the Scots


You should have knowledge and understanding of:





  • The religious and cultural forces which kept the Irish community together.




      • Most of the Irish immigrants were Catholic and they were coming to a predominantly Protestant Scotland.

      • The Catholic Church was very important to the Irish immigrants in both religious and social ways. The church allowed them to continue to worship as they had done in Ireland; it gave them a place to meet; it organised youth clubs, football teams (Celtic, Hibs and Dundee United) and trips; it developed schools for Catholic children; it helped those in great need with clothes, food and a place to stay. The church was a great centre for mutual support. A good educated priest could supply advice and guidance to the new immigrants.

      • The Irish developed a sense of pride belonging to a church that cared for the most downtrodden of Irish immigrants. The Irish Catholic community felt they could rely on each other in times of need.

      • However, it could also mean that the Irish kept themselves to themselves in order to maintain their own customs and religious habits. This caused some resentment among Scots and did not help the Irish mix with the Scots.

      • Of course, many Irish Immigrants were from northern Ireland, e.g. Ulster and were Protestant. They set up their own branches of the Orange Order and supported Rangers Football Club. They often fought with the Catholic Irish.



  • The differences between Scots and Irish and the relations between them. How the Irish slowly absorbed into Scottish life.




      • As previously mentioned, one cause of conflict between the Scots and the Irish was religion. There was a growing religious conflict between the Catholic Irish immigrants and the native Protestants.

      • Many Irish felt like ‘aliens in an unwelcoming society’.

      • The Scots were suspicious of the Irish with their different habits and culture. Their prejudice created hostility. Some Scots were concerned about the habits of the Irish leading the Scots astray. There were claims about the Irish being thieves and troublemakers, but they were unfounded claims.

      • The Scots knew about the reputation the Irish had for being drunk and violent. Again, this made it difficult for the Irish to get on with the Scots.

      • Irish were sometimes discriminated against in the job market just because they were Irish and Catholic.

      • Many Scots disliked the Irish because they thought they were taking jobs away from them.

      • Many Scots disliked the Irish because they thought they were taking houses away from them.

      • Many Scots disliked the Irish because they would often work for less pay than the Scots and some Scots would lose their livelihood.

      • Some Scots thought the Irish had lower standards and were generally less educated and inferior.

      • Violence would often break out between the Irish and the Scots.




      • However, Scots employers found the Irish to be good, reliable workers who were quick to learn. Some thought they worked harder than Highland Scots.

      • The Irish made a vital contribution to Scotland’s growing wealth.

      • Much of the drunken behaviour blamed on the Irish was no worse then the behaviour of the Scots.

      • Many Irish got involved in Trade Unions to help workers, both Scots and Irish, improve their pay and conditions. More and more Scots began to realise that the Irish were having as hard a time as themselves and the only way to improve their lives was to join together to fight for a better standard of living.

      • Some Irish got involved in the campaigns to get men and women the vote.

      • Large numbers of the Irish Catholic community fought in the First World War and their efforts helped the Scots accept them into Scottish life.

      • Marriage between Scots and Irish increased and this greatly helped the Irish fit into Scottish life. Some did, however, frown upon such marriages.

      • Some Irish changed their names to more Scottish ones.

      • Irish children born in Scotland did absorb themselves more in the Scottish ways than their parents had done.


Scottish Emigration


You should have knowledge and understanding of:





  • The Push and Pull reasons why the Scots left Scotland.




      • Many Scots were forced to leave due to the poor economic conditions at the time. There was a decline in the kelp industry, the herring fishing and general unemployment in the lowlands. (Remember, the Irish immigrants were competing for jobs also.)

      • Of course there was the great distress in the Highlands caused by the Clearances. The crofters were forced off their land to make way for sheep and later on, deer. These new sources of income for landowners required few employees. The crofters couldn’t turn to working on kelp or fishing due to their decline. Many had subdivided their already poor land to provide for their sons and the croft was becoming unprofitable. Many saw emigration as the only solution. Most crofters would have preferred farming abroad than factory work in the cities of Scotland.

      • The government changed the law and made the landowners responsible for the well being of their tenants. So to avoid the costs of supporting the poor on their land, many owners forced or helped them to emigrate.

      • Scots too were affected by their own potato blight in 1848. Their diet was poor and monotonous.

      • Living conditions for both Highlanders and Lowlanders was very poor.

      • The population of Scotland at the time was increasing, causing more overcrowding and increased competition for jobs, land and housing.

      • For those in work, the conditions were tough with long hours and low pay.

      • A few were forced to go abroad as convicts. Van Deiman’s Land in Australia became a convict settlement.




      • Many Scots emigrated because of the attraction of a better life abroad. Relatives who had already emigrated wrote back describing the opportunities and the better lifestyle they had and tried to persuade others to join them.

      • There were opportunities for families to grow up in a healthy and abundant environment.

      • There were many wealth creating opportunities for the willing emigrant. Skilled workers and professionals left Scotland to obtain better pay, greater opportunities and to escape times of hardship.

      • Land was generally cheap and abundant.

      • It became easier to emigrate, as travel became quicker.

      • Some emigrated because they had heard about gold being found in these new lands and men were making their fortunes. The actual truth once they got there was very different.

      • Many organisation (some run by the government) provided assistance with the fare for those wishing to emigrate. Organisations such as the Highland and Islands Emigration Society helped fund emigration to Australia.

      • The British Government’s main efforts to help people emigrate came in the 1930s and were an attempt to reduce unemployment at home.

      • Charities like Barnardos helped children emigrate and there were charities to help handloom weavers.

      • Single women were always in demand in the new lands and they were giving much help to emigrate.

      • Some individual Highland landowners and wealthy people acted independently to help people emigrate. Some landowners would cancel debts, let crofters sell their stock and help with the passage abroad.

      • Agents would give illustrated talks on the benefits of emigration and very often the atmosphere created by these crowded meetings would inspire many to leave. Pamphlets were handed out also.

      • Newspapers would carry adverts describing the better lives waiting for those who emigrate. They would also carry letters or stories about famous and highly successful emigrants.

      • Successful emigrants would sometimes come back home to try to persuade as many people to emigrate as possible.

      • The governments of some of the new countries would offer inducements of land and help with travel costs. They did this to help open up their country and to develop its economy.

      • It may have been the attraction of the better climate abroad that would be enough to convince someone to emigrate.

      • A number of Scots emigrated in the 19th century as missionaries to try to convert people to Christianity.


The Scot Abroad


You should have knowledge and understanding of:




  • Where Scots went to and how they got there; what difficulties they put up with once they got there; what part they played in developing the countries they went to; what did they do and why were they welcomed; and finally the name and stories of some famous Scots, for example Carnegie and John Muir.




      • Scots emigrated all over the world but most went to Canada, America, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Of course many went to England rather than go abroad.

      • The lengthy journeys to overseas places took a long time on sailing ships but as steam ships took over in the later 19th century, the journey times were reduced.

      • Many travelled in cramped, miserable and unhealthy conditions. In some cases, dreadful diseases caused their deaths.

      • Some Scots faced harsh climates and difficult terrain in their new homes. Many areas contained untamed wildernesses. Others got good land at cheap prices, ready to plough and lots of sunshine.

      • Natives of the countries Scots went to often tried to resist losing their land to the new emigrants but lacked the military strength to win. Some Scots killed natives to get their land for farming and mining and others helped in the destruction of the native’s way of life.

      • Scottish emigrants often enjoyed great success overseas, as well as in England.

      • They were successful in industry, finance, politics and education

      • Success was especially due to their education and their skills.

      • The Scots were welcomed because they had skills in farming, banking and industry. They were prepared to work hard and most had a basic education. Scots appeared to adapt better to different conditions presented to them and many were used to the harsh conditions. They proved to be very adaptable.

      • They created and developed large farms and these farms produced wool and meat for export.

      • Scots played a very important part in developing the societies to which they emigrated.

      • Some made great fortunes from their work and some of these millionaires used their wealth to help less fortunate people, including people still in Scotland.

      • There were some very enterprising and famous Scots. John Alexander MacDonald from Glasgow became Canada’s first Prime Minister. John Muir from Dunbar created America’s first National Park and his pioneering work on environmental issues has been widely copied. Andrew Carnegie, whose family came from Dunfermline became the richest man in the world but believed his wealth should be used to help others.

      • Scots took part in the gold rush of the 19th century, not only in America but also in Victoria and New South Wales in Australia. These gold rushes saw men abandon their place of work in the hope of becoming wealthy by finding gold. It was a risky life with profits available but ruin also. Gold rush ‘towns’ emerged and life in these places was rough.

      • The experiences of the convicts sent to Australia varied greatly from some being given a great deal of freedom to some being treated cruelly. The system ended in 1868 because Australia was now well developed as a place for free settlers.

      • The Gaelic speaking Highlander was not always welcome by other settlers.

      • Not all Scots were successful; some gave up and returned home. Many lacked the money to achieve much in their new world. Some just could not make their land fertile or profitable. Others found the gold rush to be all hype and lies.

      • Most Scot emigrants had a real desire to remember their Scots heritage. They formed piped bands, organised Highland Games, set up Caledonian Societies, wore Highland dress at special occasions, retained their language and dialects and made sure they celebrated important days like Burns Night and New Years Day in true Scottish fashion.




J Davidson Immigrants Revision Guide The Gordon Schools


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