Payments to emigrants from Tiree to Canada in June 1846
Transcription of a list of payments made to emigrants from Tiree to Canada in June 1846.
Courtesy of His Grace the Duke of Argyll
In the fifty years before the potato famine, the population of Tiree doubled to over five thousand, making it one of the most congested areas in the Highlands and Islands. Continued sub-division of the island’s crofts had left most of them too small to support a family.
Poverty was endemic. Landless cottars, many of whom were ‘dependent of the charity of others for food’, comprised more than a third of the island’s population. A Free Church investigation into diet in 1846 found that potatoes formed over half of all food consumed.
In previous years, the smaller tenants and cottars had shown themselves reluctant to emigrate. However, when the potato crop failed in 1846 and the Marquis of Lorne promised assisted passages to Canada for the poorest, over a thousand from Tiree indicated their willingness to leave.