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  Emigration Records

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Highlands and Islands Emigration Society

Between 1852 and 1857, the Highlands and Islands Emigration Society assisted almost 5000 individuals to leave western Scotland for Australia. We have selected the following popular sources from the National Archives of Scotland's Highland Destitution series (HD) to help you find out more about this scheme.

1852-1857 Highlands and Islands Emigration Society Passenger Lists

The Highland and Island Emigration Society was set up by private subscription to alleviate destitution in the Highlands by promoting and assisting the emigration of Highlanders to Australia. Their passenger lists for the years 1852-1857 have survived and are organised by ship and by family and record the name, age and residence of each emigrant (HD4/5) as well as occasional notes on their health and situation. This is one of the few sources for emigration held by the National Archives of Scotland. To find out more about sources for Emigration held by Scottish archives, go to the Knowledge Base.

You can now access the index to the register online below. Fill in the fields below for a simple name search, or follow the links to browse the database, search by freetext, or try a more advanced search.

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You should bear in mind that other passengers sailed on the ships used by the assisted emigrants. None of these other passengers are listed in the database. Official ship passenger lists only exist from 1890 and these are held in The National Archives in London.


Highlands and Islands map, 1847

image of small map
To see a map of the affected areas (National Archives of Scotland reference HD6/1) click here.

Chart showing the population of Skye

Click here to see a document outlining the population of Skye from 1755-1841.

Letter from the minister of Kilmuir, 1849

image of small envelope
To read a transcript of a letter written by the minister of Kilmuir parish, Skye, describing the conditions endured by his parishioners, click here
To view an image of the first page, click here

Petition of inhabitants of Balmeanach and Peinchorran, Isle of Skye, 1849

To see an image of this petition, dated 30 November 1849, click here
To read a transcript of this petition, click here

Highlands and Islands Emigration Society Rules, 1851

Front cover of HD4_6   To read a transcript of the criteria for assistance with emigration, compiled by the Highlands and Islands Emigration board, click here

Mutiny on Board "The Georgiana", 1852

The Georgiana was one of the ships that carried assisted emigrants to Australia. It left Glasgow on 13th July 1852 carrying around 300 passengers and shortly before its arrival in Geelong nearly 4 months later, a mutiny occurred on board and the crew deserted the ship. To read a contemporary newspaper account of this dramatic event, click here.

Any enquiries about the sources listed above, should in the first instance be addressed to the Scottish Archive Network.