Book of Emigrants Historical Information

Cindy Lewallen - Aug 24, 2008

All of this information came from The Complete Book of Emigrants, 1607-1776 by Peter WilsonColdham, Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc:

Virginia was mostly founded by those who were compelled to it by economic necessity of legal process.   Emigrants to Virginia were mustered into groups in England by Virginia landlords or proprietors and indentured to servitude.   In return for passage, clothing, board and lodging, an indentured servant became the property of his master for a terms of years, after which he might expect to be given his freedom and some land.   The indentured servant was, in effect, little different from a transported felon:   both were slaves in every sense, and ranked as part of their master's estate to be bought and sold at will.   The headright system used in Virginia menat that planters could claim fifty acres of land for every indentured servant they brought over, and in time headrights and tobacco became established as accepted currency. Groups going to Virginia tended to have a common geographical origin, and to repeat an Enlish pattern of surname distribution in the area in which they settled.  

Emigration to New England was comprised   mostly by religious groups, and the passenger lists indicate people from widely separated geographical areas, though with a preponderancefrom East Anglia.   However, there were thousands of later emigrants to New England who were inspired by no religious motive, and many inVirginia who went voluntarily to find fame and fortune.  

Emigration was in full swing from 1625 until the onset of the English Civil War in 1642, which brought a temporary end.   Figures from Virginia give a figure of 1,200 immigrants for 1634, 2,000for 1635 and 1,600 for aftermath of a war and the miseries of Puritan government.

When the American colonies were experiencing labor shorages, children and young workers were spriited away by kidnapping and bribing.

America was seen a s a place to which undesirables might be sent.   For the Englishman, Virginia was a place where idle vagrants might be sent and New England was a hotbed of schismatics and separatists.   Virginia was largely peopled by the scourings from English prisons, vagrants,waifs and strays,andthose lured into migration by promises oflandan welath.   Francis Bacon stated in his "Essay on Plantations", It is a shameful and unblessed thing to take the scum of people and wicked, condemned men, to be the people with whom you plant.

The content of The Complete Book of Emigrants was taken from English as opposed to Irish, Welsh, Scottish or American records.

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