Downton Parish
 1st group leaves
 1836 200+ leave
 Arrival in Quebec
 Talbot Settlement
 Emigrant List


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Downton Mass Exodus
1 in 10 people leave for Canada

Wiltshire, England

When they left

On April 7, 1836, the parish of Downton saw almost 10% of it's population leave in a parish sponsored emigration to the wilds of Upper Canada.

220 souls from the Wiltshire parish of Downton, along with 59 others from Standlynch and Whiteparish left on the 380 ton King William, which was chartered on behalf of the parish with the express purpose of carrying the emigrants to Canada.

The emigrants, being mostly poor agricultural labourers, left being anxious to join friends and relatives who went to Upper Canada on the American ship Louisa the previous year, and who sent back good reports from either Bathurst district or Lake Erie.

Why they left

The agricultural depression of the late 1820s remained into the mid 1830s. Thousands of agricultural labourers were jobless throughout England. Wiltshire was particularily hard hit.

There were between 50 and 100 men who were permanently out of work.

The harvest from 1828-1830 had been poor. The parish put the men to work on the roads or in gravel pits.

From 1830-1836, things only got worse, and there was no end in sight. Although there was plenty of land in the parish to support people, the wisdom of the day said that pauperism was a character defect, so society could offer no permanent help.

How they left

His Majesty's Government changed the law to allow a parish to borrow funds to pay for the passage of paupers to a British colony.

The government began to recognize emigration as a solution to society's ills, the poor classes would be better off in the colonies.

Downton borrowed 1000 pounds, on which Lord Radnor agreed to pay interest.

With the help of John Denham Pinnock, Esq. Agent General for Emigration, a suitable ship was found.

It arrived in Quebec the week ending May 28th, according to A.C. Buchanan Acting Chief Agent of Emigration at Quebec.