Scots have been emigrating
since medieval times to other parts of Europe, and
further afield (perhaps even to North America from
as early as 1000 AD). In the seventeenth century
many Scots took advantage of new opportunities in
Ulster, the Americas, Africa and the East Indies,
while many criminals and rebels (of widely different
political and religious opinions) were banished
to the North American colonies until 1776 and to
Australia from the 1790s until 1868.
Over 2 million Scots
emigrated between 1821 and 1915, aided, latterly,
by steamship companies, railways, and emigration
societies. The popular
image of the emigrant Scot is of a refugee from
the Highland clearances, but emigrants left all
areas of Scotland: Highland and Lowland; urban and
rural. Poverty and land hunger account for a high
proportion of emigrants, but many skilled tradesmen
emigrated temporarily to take advantage of high
wages in growing American towns. It is estimated
that, by the end of the nineteenth century, a third
of emigrants returned to Scotland sooner or later.
Among the most famous emigrants were the industrialist
Andrew Carnegie and the author Robert Louis Stevenson.
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The text above is a summary
of a longer article on emigration in the SCAN
Knowledge Base, which also contains a bibliography
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Frequently Asked Questions
My ancestor emigrated from Scotland. How can I
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societies and other bodies that assisted emigrants?
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