Details of Peter Robinson's Transport of Emigrants to Canada.

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Document ID 9601054
Date 11-02-1825
Document Type Official Documents
Archive Queen's University, Belfast
Citation Details of Peter Robinson's Transport of Emigrants to Canada.;British Parliamentary Papers, 1825, V11, (20), pp. 185-86, 221-24, 459-64.; CMSIED 9601054
                                                                  STATE OF IRELAND

                                                       MINUTES   OF EVIDENCE

                  Taken before the SELECT COMMITTEE appointed to

            inquire into the the Disturbances in Ireland, in the

                                                      last Session of Parliament;

                                                       13th May ----- 18th June



                         Ordered, by The House of Commons, to be Printed,
                                                                   11 February 1825.


...  Are you aware, that some experiment has been tried in the
county of Cork, with reference to emigration? -Yes.

When was that tried? -Last year, about this time twelve month.

Was there a disposition, on the part of the people, to profit
by the facilities to emigration which were then held out to
-There was.

Was their anxiety great upon the subject? -It was. At first,
they were anxious to avail themselves of it; then they got it
into their heads (they are a very suspicious people) that it
was some trap that was laid for them, and a great many of
those who were exceedingly anxious at first, held back, and
would not come; but that impression was removed at last, and
I think they were all exceedingly anxious to go.

Are you aware whether the persons in the country, the friends
and relations of the emigrants, have received any communications

from them subsequent to the period of their leaving Ireland?
I have seen a great many letters.

What have they stated? -All describing in terms of the greatest
satisfaction, the way in which they had been treated, and
pointing out to their friends the advantages of emigration
to Canada.

Is there now an anxiety on the part of the people to emigrate?
-Very strongly and there is great disappointment that it was
not going on when I left home.

Have any of them emigrated? -Yes; very many.

What were the ages of those that emigrated for the most
part? -From a month to the age of 60.

Did they emigrate in families? -Yes.

Where did they go to? -To America.

How do you reconcile that emigration with what you said
of their having a strong predilection for their native place?
-When the times became depressed and their means were
diminishing, they were glad to embrace any opportunity
that would afford a better prospect; and reports were
circulated that in America they would better their condition.

Were many letters received in that parish from persons that
went out? -Very many; through these the reports were circulated.

What class of persons do you mean to describe, as those who
go forth in such numbers from that parish, at the time of
harvest? -The very poor class.

Not the occupants of land? -Not the occupants of land; but
the very poor class that have no more than a quarter of an acre.

Then they are the persons who have crept into land, under this
practice of subdivision of property, which has taken place
without the authority or consent of the proprietor of the soil?
-They are generally of this class.

When you stated that a great number of people emigrated, were
the people who emigrated of a good description of people, well
disposed or not well disposed? -They were in general well
disposed people, and persons that have emigrated for the purpose of
bettering their fortune.

Generally speaking, should you say that they were the
industrious class, or of the idle class of your parishioners?
-There were some idle among them; but the idle and unoccupied in
general had no means of bringing them to the other side of the

Is it that the usual practice of the people of the county of
Clare to go abroad for work, have not you heard that it is
rather a distinguishing mark of difference between them and the
peasantry of Connaught, and between them and the peasantry of other
counties in Munster, that the peasantry of Clare do not go abroad for
-I have not heard so; but I believe they go from all the
counties to seek for work....

...  Do you know what is the expense of taking a family out to
Canada? - Sometimes three pounds a head pays in general for the

Do they usually take money with them? -They must take some.

How much do you suppose they take with them? -Some of them
take thirty, twenty, and ten pounds, according to their means.

                                                                        A P P E N D I X

NÞ 1.

       Return to an Order or the Select Committee on the Irish
                  Insurrection Act, dated the 22d May 1824; -for

      Copies of all COMMUNICATIONS received; since January 1823, at
      the Colonial Office, respecting the EMIGRATION from the South
      of Ireland; together with an Account of the Expenses incurred
      on account of such Emigration.

            Colonial Department,                  R.J. Wilmot Horton.
             29th of May 1824.

                                                 To R.J. Wilmot Horton, Esq. M.P.
                                                                   &c. &c. &c.

I HAVE the honour to report to you, for the information of
the Right honourable Earl Bathurst, that having received
directions from His Majesty's Government to proceed to
Ireland, for the purpose of superintending a limited
Emigration to the province of Upper Canada, I left
Liverpool on the 18th, and arrived at Fermoy, in the
county of Cork, on the 20th of May 1823.

Being a stranger in Ireland, I was ordered to act
under the advice of Lord Ennismore and the magistrates;
and in order to receive the full benefit of their
assistance, I made Fermoy my principal place of
residence. I was happy to find, that the very liberal
conditions proposed by His Majesty's Government to
such as were disposed to emigrate, met the cordial
approbation of all the gentleman to whom they were
communicated. Lords Ennismore, Kingston, and Doneraile,
Mr. Becher, M. P. Mr. Jephson, and the Reverend Dr.
Woodward, were most friendly to the scheme, anxious
for its success, and ready to give me every assistance
in their power.

On the 2d of June my final instructions arrived;
and as the gentlemen I was directed to consult, were
unanimously of opinion, that I should take as many
persons as possible from the disturbed baronies in
the county of Cork, which were at that time in a very
distracted state, I caused several hundred copies of
the MEMORANDUM, containing the terms of emigration,
to be distributed in the towns of Fermoy, Mitchelstown,
Doneraile, Charleville, Newmarket, Kanturk, Mallow,
and the villages within that circle. The noblemen
and the principal magistrates in the different towns,
condescended, in the kindest manner, to become the organs
of communications with the persons wishing to emigrate, to
take in their names and the number of their respective
families, as it was intented from these lists to make;
under their advice and direction, a final selection.

The whole business was conducted in the true spirit of
conciliation; for in every town or village from which
emigrants were expected, I called upon the Roman Catholic
priest, as well as the more respectable inhabitants, to
afford them an opportunity of asking any questions they
chose to put, or of giving them an account of the nature
of the benefit which Government offered, through me, for
the acceptance ot the poor.

Several priests entered into the matter with much zeal,
and one of them promised to read the Memorandum from the
pulpit, and to explain to his parishioners the great
advantage to themselves and families, which must accrue
from emigrating on such liberal conditions.

Not satisfied with giving all the information I could to
the magistrates, and calling upon the principal inhabitants,
I made myself accesible to all the people, and entered
patiently into their views and feelings, answering their
inquiries, and affording them as true a description of the
country as I was capable of giving. On these occasions it
was, that I found the benefit of being well acquainted with
Upper Canada, the place of their destination. I was able to
set before them the length of the journey, the obstacles in
their way, and the means of removing them. I explained the
manner of clearing lands and cultivating the virgin soil.
I dissipated their apprehensions concerning wild beasts,
and the danger of being lost in the woods.

Many, after being satisfied in regard to the excellence
of the soil and climate of Upper Canada, were anxious to
know whether, in case they liked the country, there would
be room for their friends, and whether they would likewise
be granted lands, and enjoy the same benefits and privileges
which were now offered to them. To these inquiries I made
answer, that I could not give them any positive information
as to the future intentions of Government, but this I knew,
that there was room enough in Canada for many more than
would ever come from Ireland; and that if they were
industrious and sober, they would be able, in a few years,
to send for their friends and relations themselves, if no
public assistance should at that time be given to emigrants.

The care thus taken to give every information produced the
happiest effects; the people received the proposals most
readily, and were exceedingly grateful for the kind
attention with which they were treated. I had been
frequently told, that much opposition might be expected
from the Roman Catholic priests, as if the plan, if
successful, would lessen their congregations, and
circumscribe their influence; but so far was this from
being the case, that in most of the parishes which I
visited, I found them on the best terms with the resident
Protestant clergymen, and instead of giving unfavourable
impressions of the plan, they most generally gave it their

There was a difference of opinion among many intelligent
persons, whom I found it advantageous to consult, regarding
the descriptions of persons that ought to be received. It
was contended, that a few respectable persons should be
taken by way of encouraging others, and of proving that
there was no deception, but that the measure was intented
chiefly for the relief and comfort of the poorer classes.
On the other hand it was justly remarked, that to receive
persons in tolerable circumstances, was not giving the
experiment a fair trial, for unless the paupers themselves
could be settled comfortably at a very moderate expense,
emigration, as a public measure, ought to be abandoned;
that there was no wisdom in affording to persons having
some property, the means of emigrating, because they had
already the power, if so disposed, of proceeding to Canada;
that there might be reason for not wishing that even small
capitalist should remove from such a country as Ireland,
and certainly strong reason for not giving them direct

After a little time the general opinion accorded with
the determination of His Majesty's Government, to make
such a fair experiment of an emigration confined to
paupers, as would not only settle its expediency on
the ground of expense, but what was of still more
consequence, show how far it was calculated to promote
the permanent comfort and happines of the person sent out.

Acting therefore agreeably to this determination, I confined
myself strictly to the selection of persons of no capital
whatever, and who might more properly be called paupers,
satisfied that if such succeeded in Canada, persons
disposed to emigrate, having some property, would be
sufficiently encouraged, since they would have the fullest
evidence before them, that industry and prudence, without
their advantages, would in time ensure success.
In regard to the former conduct of those who applied
to emigrate, I made no particular inquiry, being convinced,
that a change of circumstances so great as that of becoming
propietors of land themselves, and far removed from the
influence of the turbulent, the selfish and designing,
would effectually cure the discontented. Moreover, it was
judget expedient by the gentlemen under whose guidance I
acted, to take them out of a troubled district, that some
of the more fiery spirits might be disposed of, and
consequently those left behind would find more steady
employment, and be induced to live in greater tranquillity.

On the 2d [nd?] of June I began to advertise for emigrants,
and to distribute copies of the terms on which Government was
disposed to send them to Canada. Before the end of the month
I had distributed 600 tickets for embarkation, a greater
number than I could have taken; but I acted on the
presumption that some would keep back from sickness,
or imaginary fears and apprehension, or the advice of
friends. The event proved that I was right, for on the
1st of July 460 only were embarked, but I was able,
next day, to select 108 more, making in all 568, which
was a many as could be accommodated. During the time
that I was collecting the people, two vessels of about
500 tons each were engaged in the Thames to carry them
from Cork to Quebec; these vessels were amply supplied
with provisions, and every comfort, in case of sickness,
that could be imagined. Two medical officers of experience,
one for each ship, were employed. The vessels and stores
were strictly inspected, and they were in every respect
as well found as if they had been fitted out by a company
of passengers for their own convenience, safety and comfort.

Thus, in rather less than a month from the time of issuing
the proposals, the emigrants were on board, and the ships
ready to sail; such was the promptness of Government in
making its arrangements, and the active exertions of the
nobility and magistrates in enabling me to select the
requisite number. For their kindness in thus forwarding
the object of my journey to Ireland, as well as their
attentions to myself, I feel exceedingly grateful.

During the voyage nothing happened of importance;
the rations were abundant and comfortable; the men
were allowed cocoa for breakfast, and nearly half a
pint of spirits, which was perhaps not too much.
The women and children were allowed tea and sugar.
The best proof of the attention paid to them on the
voyage, arises from the good health which they enjoyed,
as only one woman and eight children died in the passage,
and these from the small-pox, which had unfortunately
got into both ships, and not from any causes that could
be attributed to their change of circumstances or situation.

It may be worth remarking, as it is so characteristic of
the fondness of the Irish people for potatoes, that the
men preferred them to the cocoa, which they refused for
several days to taste, till they saw the officers of the
ship repeatedly breakfasting upon it. The children, during
sickness, called constantly for potatoes, refusing arrow
root or any other aliment more congenial to their
situation; and nothing could prevail on man, woman or
child, to eat plumb-pudding, which, as is usual on
ship-board, was part of the Sunday's dinner.

Few of them would eat the best English cheese, and
when it was served out as part of their ration,
it was most commonly thrown overboard.

We arrived at Quebec in the Hakesby, on the 2d [nd?]
of September, after a passage of eight weeks; the Hebe
had been in port two days. I shipped the people from
the transport on board the steamboats without landing
them, and proceeded to Montreal on the 4th, having been
detained only two days. We were much facilitated in our
progress by the orders which His Excellency Lord Dalhousie
had given before our arrival to the quarter-master-general,
to find provisions and transport as far as Prescott, in
Upper Canada, a distance of about 320 miles.

We reached Montreal on the 6th, and finding the means of
transport ready, I forwarded the emigrants by land
immediately, without stopping in Montreal, to Lachine,
distant ten miles. Here we remained two days, and then
set out in boats to Prescott, the crews of each consisting
of emigrants, with two Canadians to guide and steer.
Notwithstanding the rapidity of the river and unskilfulness
of the men, few of whom had ever been in a boat, we got to
Prescott on the 15th. A commissary had preceded us with one
month's provisions; but finding no commissariat establishment
at Prescott, and being unwilling to incur what I considered
an unnecessary expense, I receipted the month's supply, and
allowed the commissary to return to Montreal.

Here I likewise parted with the two surgeons, Mr. Hamilton
and Mr. Dixon, whose indefatigable attention to the
emigrants, and kind and benevolent treatment, cannot
be sufficiently praised: such was their zeal and anxiety
for the success of the emigration, that they volunteered
their services from Quebec to Prescott, a distance of
more than 300 miles, and were of great service in
preserving the health of the emigrants while passing
up the river in boats, which was the most tedious and
difficult part of the journey. I could not see them
depart without regret, and tendering to them my grateful
acknowledgments, as the good conduct of the people during
the whole voyage and afterwards, may in a great measure
be attributed to their steady and humane attention to
their wants.

On the 18th I left Prescott, and proceeded across
the country in waggons to the Mississipi river, a
distance of about 60 miles, and arrived on the 22d.
Here I found that orders had already been given by
His Excellency Sir Peregrine Maitland, to afford me
every possible facility in placing my people on such
lands as were vacant and grantable in this neighbourhood.
His Excellency had also the goodness to place at my
disposal many articles useful to settlers, which
remained in the king's stores, and took a very warm
interest in the success of the undertaking.

The township of Ramsay, which the Mississipi intersects,
appeared to me exceedingly eligible, but I found that
rather more than one-half had been settled three years
before by Scotchmen from the neighbourhood of Glasgow.
The adjacent townships, Huntley, Goulburn, and Pakenham,
was also partially settled by disbanded soldiers and others.
Being anxious to settle my people as near each others as
possible, I determined to examine carefully what lands
remained in these townships at the disposal of Government,
and fortunately I found a sufficient number of vacant lots
fit for settlement. I therefore located in the township of
Ramsay 82 heads of families; in Pakenham 29; in Bathurst 1;
in Lanark 2; in Beckwith 5; in Goulburn 26; in Darling 3;
and in Huntley 34; making in all 182. As there were no
barracks or Government buildings in the neighbourhood,
and the whole party without shelter, my first care was
to provide log houses for them, and that on their
respective lots. Fortunately the autumn was unusually
dry and warm, and I completed this object by the 1st
of November.

To do this I was obliged to go to some additional
expense, as the settlers were not sufficiently
acquainted with the use of the axe to put up log
buildings themselves. However, I feel well assured,
nothing tends so much to fix the attention of the
emigrant to his newly acquired property, and to
ensure his becoming a permanent settler, as a
little care and attention in placing him on his

I have much pleasure in being able to state, that
although the detailed account of the expenditure
cannot yet be made out, as there is a cow and some
little articles still to be supplied, it will fall
within the estimate; so that this part of the
experiment proves most satisfactory. The second
part of the experiment, "how far an emigration of
the poorer classes to Canada, is calculated to
promote their permanent comfort and happiness,"
will be best proved by a reference to the letters
of the persons sent out, some of them so late as
the 20th of February, stating their good health
and complete satisfaction with the country and
climate, and earnestly inviting their friends to
join them; and to the fact, that every head of a
family will have from three to four acres of land
cleared and ready to plant this spring.

I therefore feel warranted in stating, that the
emigration to the province of Upper Canada,
committed to my superintendence, has completely
succeeded.  I have the honour to be, Sir, your
most obedient humble servant.
                                                                   P.(Peter) Robinson.

MEMORANDUM of the Terms on which the Government
has agreed to convey a limited Number of Settlers
from Ireland to Upper Canada, under the
Super-intendence of Mr. Robinson, and to locate
them upon Lands in that Province; and also of the
Conditions upon which such Lands shall be granted.

SUCH emigrants as the superintendent shall accept,
shall be conveyed from the place of embarkation,
in Ireland, to their lands in Upper Canada, wholly
at the public charge, and provisions shall be
furnished them during their voyage, and for one
whole year after their location upon their respective

Such farming utensils as are absolutely necessary to
a new settler, shall also be found for each head of a
family or person receiving a grant of land.

No person above the age of 45 years shall be conveyed
to Upper Canada at the public expense, unless under
particular circumstances; in the discretion of the
superintendent; and no person above that age shall
receive a grant of land on his arrival in that colony.

Every male above 18 years of age, and not exceeding
45 years, to whom a certificate shall have been
given by the superintendent, that he was accepted
by him as an emigrant settler to receive lands in
Upper Canada, shall on his arrival, receive a
location ticket or order for 70 acres of land,
in such part of the province as the lieutenant-governor
or person administering the government shall assign.
And in order that such emigrants as shall be
industrious and prudent, may have an opportunity
of extending their possessions and providing for
the respectable maintenance of their children, an
additional tract of 30 acres adjoining every such
grant of 70 acres, shall be reserved by the Crown
ungranted for the space of ten years after the
location of the lot of 70 acres, to afford an
opportunity to the propietor of such larger tract
of purchasing the same within the period; by paying
the moderate sum of 10 l. [œ?] sterling.

The order or location ticket for 70 acres to be
given to the emigrant upon his arrival, shall
express certain duties of settlement and
cultivation, the same in proportion as are
required by the Government to be performed on
lands granted in Upper Canada to other settlers,
and the period to be allowed for the performance
of such duties, shall be also expressed in the

So soon as the settlement duties shall have been
performed, the party may obtain his patent on
paying the expense of preparing the same; which,
it is supposed, will not exceed 2l. 10s. sterling
on each grant.

Each tract of 70 acres so granted, shall be subject
to the payment of an annual quit-rent to the Crown
of 2d. per acre, to be paid half-yearly, in such
manner and subject to such penalties and forfeitures
in the case of failure, as shall be expressed in the
patent, and the same quit-rent shall be charged also
upon the grants of 30 acres; it shall, however, in
every case, be in the option of the propietor to
reduce the quit-rent at any time on payment of 20
years purchase, and with respect to the original
locations of 70 acres, no quit-rent shall be
chargeable until five years have expired from
the time of the location.

As it is intented that all persons who shall be
thus assisted by the Government in removing to
Upper Canada, shall be actual settlers in the
province, it is necessary it should be clearly
understood, that if the conditions of cultivation
and improvement, to be specified in the location
ticket, shall not be performed within the period
prescribed, or if the person locating any lot
under the present system, shall before receiving
his patent for the same, withdraw from Upper Canada,
and remain absent for the space of six months,
without sufficient cause to be allowed by the
lieutenant-governor of the province, the land so
assigned to such person may be given to another

                                                                   LOCATION TICKET.

                  Not transferable.                         Land Board,
District of Bathurst.

      WHEREAS A.B. born at        of the age of         years, has
been conveyed to this country at the public charge, under the
superintendence of Peter Robinson, Esq. and has produced a
certificate of his being  accepted as an emigrant settler to
receive lands in Upper Canada, and has taken the oath of
allegiance; We do assign to him 70 acres of land, being the
                         part of lot NÞ    in the         concession of
                        in the district of             for which, having
cleared half the width of the concession road
bounding the said seventy acres, and having
cleared and fenced three acres and a half within
two years from the date hereof, he will be entitled
to receive a grant free of any other expense than
the usual fee of
                                                for the patent.

An additional tract of 30 acres, adjoining the said
70 acres, will be reserved for the space of ten years,
to commence from this date, which the said A.B. will
be entitled to receive a grant for, upon paying the
sum of 10l. [œ?] sterling.

The said several tracts of land to be liable to a
quitrent of 2d. per acre, payable at such time and
in such manner as set forth in the Memorandum published
by the authority of the British Government, for the
information of the said emigrants.

      Given under our hands at          this        day of      18
                                          In Council, 9th February 1824.
                                                            Approved in Committee of the Council.

(signed)   W  Dremmer Powell, C

                   (signed)    P.M.
                                                                         (A true copy.)      John Small,

Clerk of the Executive Council.

The most correct estimate of the expense of conveying emigrants
to Canada, and settling them on their lands, is to be found
in the Appendix to the Report of a Select Committee of the
House of Commons on the Employment of the Poor in Ireland,
during the last Session of Parliament, and is as follows:-

                                    For every Man  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  - œ.35.
                                     -  every Woman   -  -  -  -  -  -  -  - 25.
                                     -  every Boy between 14 and 18  -  -  - 25.
                                     -  every Child under 14 years of age  - 14.

This includes all expenses, such as superintendence, medical
assistance, provisions, a cow, farming utensils, &c. as
described in the Memorandum.

The Estimate applied to the actual emigration that took place,
gives the following results:-

œ.   s.   d.

             182 Men   -   -   -   -       at œ.35         6,370  -    -

             143 Women -   -   -   -       -    25         3,575  -    -
                  57 Boys between 14 and 18    -    25         1,425
             186 Children  -   -   -       -    14         2,604
                                    Actual expense incurred  -   -   - 11,789 10  10«
                                    Leaves a surplus of      -   -   œ. 2,184 9    1«

From which the services of the Superintendent are to be
remunerated. The result of this practical experiment shows
that the Estimate was calculated on sound principles;
and there is every reason to believe that future
emigrations may be carried into effect at even a
less expense, although the ocurrence of casualties
might swell the amount of particular items, and it
would not be safe to make a calculation upon other data.

                                                                  Actual EXPENSE incurred.

Expenses incurred by the Navy Board, for             œ.   s.   d.
transport, provisions, medicines and medical
attendance, from Cork to Quebec    _     _         3,771  17   7
Embarking at Cork   _   _   _   _   _   _             17  13

Transport from Quebec to their lands; provisions
until located; building houses and placing them
on their land; blankets; farming utensils; seed,
corn and potatoes for planting; one cow to each
family, and provisions one year after location     8,000  _    _

œ. 11,789  10  10«