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#587007 - 22nd Sep 2011 12:45am Seeking Info On Birkenhead's Irish Influx
Erainn Offline
Smartchild

Registered: 28th Jan 2011
Posts: 555
Loc: London
Sometime ago, during a conversation with friends on the subject of Merseyside's Irish heritage, somebody raised an interesting point challenging the orthodoxy which prevails that Liverpool was more associated with people from Ireland,a common perception, by insisting that Birkenhead attracted, in terms of population per head, far more Irish emigrants than Liverpool. Would be interested to learn if anyone else has heard a similar claim or knows of any factors which would support that, for example did dock contruction,shipyard expansion coincide with the pre/post Famine period, offering perhaps more stable employment prospects than may have been existing at that time in Liverpool? Also heard that the nature of the river then meant it easier for ships from Ireland to dock on the Birkenhead side, again would be keen to learn if there is any credibility in that.


Edited by Erainn (22nd Sep 2011 12:47am)

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#587097 - 22nd Sep 2011 8:50am Re: Seeking Info On Birkenhead's Irish Influx [Re: Erainn]
bert1 Offline

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Registered: 27th Nov 2008
Posts: 7922
Loc: tranmere
I think a timeline needs to be established, far more accurate than i can put up now, going off memory. I think we can safely assume that the Irish went further afield than Liverpool during their main migration years, deeper into Lancashire and Cheshire. I would also assume there was always a trickle of migrants and a greater influx would have occurred around 1800 at the time of the rebellion and a bigger influx around the famine 1845 ish. These dates would coincide with the population increase around Birkenhead and also work being carried out on the Birkenhead and Wallasey dock system, also extension of railways. Until the Birkenhead dock system was up and running, Liverpool was the first port of call for any ships coming from Ireland and it was also used as a landing stage for the Irish to travel further afield, America etc. Birkenhead docks once up and running was seen as a safer place for ships to dock offering more protection from the eliments.
_________________________
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#587142 - 22nd Sep 2011 10:02am Re: Seeking Info On Birkenhead's Irish Influx [Re: bert1]
chriskay Offline
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Registered: 25th Oct 2007
Posts: 4868
Loc: shropshire
Although I have little knowledge of this subject, it may be that there was an influx in the 1880's associated with the vast number of Irish cattle imported into Birkenhead.
_________________________
Carpe diem.

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#587159 - 22nd Sep 2011 10:49am Re: Seeking Info On Birkenhead's Irish Influx [Re: chriskay]
Geekus Offline
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Registered: 26th Sep 2010
Posts: 1195
Loc: Wiki Wirral
Originally Posted By: chriskay
Although I have little knowledge of this subject, it may be that there was an influx in the 1880's associated with the vast number of Irish cattle imported into Birkenhead.


Birkenhead was the UK's leading port for Irish livestock traffic:-

http://www.oldwirral.com/birkenhead_abattoir.html

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#587161 - 22nd Sep 2011 10:58am Re: Seeking Info On Birkenhead's Irish Influx [Re: bert1]
Geekus Offline
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Registered: 26th Sep 2010
Posts: 1195
Loc: Wiki Wirral
Originally Posted By: bert1
I think a timeline needs to be established, far more accurate than i can put up now, going off memory. I think we can safely assume that the Irish went further afield than Liverpool during their main migration years, deeper into Lancashire and Cheshire. I would also assume there was always a trickle of migrants and a greater influx would have occurred around 1800 at the time of the rebellion and a bigger influx around the famine 1845 ish. These dates would coincide with the population increase around Birkenhead and also work being carried out on the Birkenhead and Wallasey dock system, also extension of railways. Until the Birkenhead dock system was up and running, Liverpool was the first port of call for any ships coming from Ireland and it was also used as a landing stage for the Irish to travel further afield, America etc. Birkenhead docks once up and running was seen as a safer place for ships to dock offering more protection from the eliments.


The following links might also be of some interest:-

http://www.merseyreporter.com/history/historic/irish-immigration.shtml

http://www.bbc.co.uk/legacies/immig_emig/england/liverpool/article_1.shtml

http://www.mersey-gateway.org/server.php?search_word=irish&change=SearchResults

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#587167 - 22nd Sep 2011 11:19am Re: Seeking Info On Birkenhead's Irish Influx [Re: Erainn]
BennyBoy Offline
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Registered: 15th Nov 2009
Posts: 252
Loc: noctorum
If I remember rightly, there was a riot in the 1850/60's in the Farmers Arms with local residents and Irish migrants because they had come over and stolen all the work from them.

Pretty sure this is accurate, it is documented in Irby library

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#587172 - 22nd Sep 2011 11:28am Re: Seeking Info On Birkenhead's Irish Influx [Re: BennyBoy]
nightwalker Online   Reading

Old Hand

Registered: 17th May 2010
Posts: 374
Loc: new brighton
In an article on the Birkenhead Garibaldi Riots of 1862 (F. Neal, 1981) it states:

“According to the 1851 census, the Irish-born population of Liverpool borough was 84,000 (23 per cent of the borough population). If one includes the Irish in West Derby, and those parts of Toxteth then outside the borough boundary, the number was over 100,000. On the Wirral the Irish numbered nearly 8,000, most of these in Birkenhead.”

Birkenhead’s population in 1851 was about 25,000 so the Irish could have accounted for almost 33%. If you include the population of Tranmere, Oxton and Claughton it pushes the figure up to about 34,000 which makes the possible Irish proportion 23% - the same as Liverpool borough.

I’m not a great lover of statistics but the figures are interesting.

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#587179 - 22nd Sep 2011 11:42am Re: Seeking Info On Birkenhead's Irish Influx [Re: nightwalker]
Geekus Offline
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Registered: 26th Sep 2010
Posts: 1195
Loc: Wiki Wirral
Nice one, Nightwalker. Erudite as ever! happy

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#587755 - 23rd Sep 2011 11:09am Re: Seeking Info On Birkenhead's Irish Influx [Re: Geekus]
nightwalker Online   Reading

Old Hand

Registered: 17th May 2010
Posts: 374
Loc: new brighton
Cheers Geekus – never been called that before! Fascinating thread Erainn, worthy of further research, particularly on how the mass immigration affected the social and economic growth of Birkenhead.

Bert’s summary of the situation is excellent and his observations about the dispersal of the immigrants are borne out by WW Mortimer (where would we be without him). Writing in 1847 – when it was all kicking off – Mortimer wrote:

“Birkenhead, in common with several of the Western Ports of England, suffered from the late alarming influx of paupers from Ireland, - which commenced about November, 1846. Numbers, immediately after their arrival in Liverpool, crossed the Mersey to Birkenhead; some on the pretence of seeking employment, others of travelling into the interior, but, in almost every instance, with an intention to beg. Proceeding direct from the ferries to the parish offices, their numbers - principally women and children - were so great, their applications for food so urgent, and their destitution so apparent, that the ordinary laws of vagrancy were suspended, or rather defeated. In the first quarter of the year [1847] no less than upwards of two thousand who applied for assistance, generally at an advanced period of the day, were obliged to be provided with lodgings previously to their removal; and the state of the hovels, into which the unfortunate creatures were placed, made the want of a house of refuge, or night-asylum, for casual and houseless poor, very apparent. The parochial authorities took a temporary Fever Hospital, and other means were adopted, to arrest the spread of that sickness, which might otherwise have been anticipated as the summer approached from a continuance of the poverty and disease which was so largely imported during the spring from Ireland.”

In a footnote he wrote that:

“Between the 13th November, 1846, and the 13th of May following, 196,338 persons landed in Liverpool from Ireland in a state of destitution; of these, during that period, 41,180 emigrated, principally to the United States and Canada.”

It sounds like a chaotic situation, which presumably worsened as the Irish famine continued.

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#587829 - 23rd Sep 2011 2:44pm Re: Seeking Info On Birkenhead's Irish Influx [Re: nightwalker]
Erainn Offline
Smartchild

Registered: 28th Jan 2011
Posts: 555
Loc: London
What an insight into those days, many thanks for that, as you say it would be of interest to follow this subject a little further, as the stamp of Ireland certainly impressed itself upon the town, notably around the Docks, my own folks settled Brook Street, Coropration Road, along with many other families from Ireland. I imagine there must have been obvious factors that lead to some parts of the town receiving high levels of Irish settlers.

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#587831 - 23rd Sep 2011 2:47pm Re: Seeking Info On Birkenhead's Irish Influx [Re: bert1]
Erainn Offline
Smartchild

Registered: 28th Jan 2011
Posts: 555
Loc: London
Thanks Bert, useful info.

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#587844 - 23rd Sep 2011 3:13pm Re: Seeking Info On Birkenhead's Irish Influx [Re: nightwalker]
Geekus Offline
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Registered: 26th Sep 2010
Posts: 1195
Loc: Wiki Wirral
It would be interesting to know Nightwalker what the pre-Famine statistics for the Irish population in Wirral were.

Parkgate was, of course, once an important port and thousands upon thousands of Irish 'harvesters' passed through the area particularly in the 18th and early 19th century.

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#588795 - 25th Sep 2011 4:41pm Re: Seeking Info On Birkenhead's Irish Influx [Re: Geekus]
nightwalker Online   Reading

Old Hand

Registered: 17th May 2010
Posts: 374
Loc: new brighton
Originally Posted By: geekus
It would be interesting to know Nightwalker what the pre-Famine statistics for the Irish population in Wirral were.

Parkgate was, of course, once an important port and thousands upon thousands of Irish 'harvesters' passed through the area particularly in the 18th and early 19th century.

The problem, geekus, is that most of the statistical information readily available comes from the census returns. The 1851 census was the first to ask for place of birth, the previous ones were either just a head count or asked whether born in the same county.

The only relevant information I can find from the 1841 census about Birkenhead is that there were 1270 houses occupied by 8223 people of whom only 2752 ( just about a third) were natives of Cheshire. Interestingly, the figures for the mainly rural parish of West Kirby were 314 houses occupied by 1669 people of whom 1399 (84%) were Cheshire born. That still leaves 270 people who were born out of county which seems high for an age when it was said that most people in rural areas never travelled more than 15 miles from the place they were born.

I’ve done a lot of family History research for friends and invariably I come across Irish ancestors from 1851 onwards. Many were living in various parts of Wirral, not just Birkenhead. What is interesting is that some of them had children born on the Wirral in the 1830s (at least two in the 1820s) which indicates that there was a small but steady flow of immigration in the early years of the century. Perhaps some of the Parkgate harvesters stayed on to replace the large numbers of the Wirral agricultural labour force which moved off the land to seek their fortunes in the rapidly expanding Birkenhead and Tranmere in the 1830/40s. (My ggf is an example: born in 1815, the son of an Ag. Lab. in Greasby, in 1841 he was working as a Carter in Tranmere. Three of his brothers were also working and living in Birkenhead or Tranmere).

Much more research to do!

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#588881 - 25th Sep 2011 7:44pm Re: Seeking Info On Birkenhead's Irish Influx [Re: nightwalker]
Geekus Offline
Forum Addict

Registered: 26th Sep 2010
Posts: 1195
Loc: Wiki Wirral
You're right about the stats Nightwalker, but it might be worth looking at the records relating to the Poor Laws to get an idea of what was really going on. The Neston House of Correction, for example, opened in the early 1750's and had to repatiate literally thousands of Irish vagrants every year. There are quite accurate records for this establishment, certainly up until the early 1800's. In one notable period, between 1783-4, over three thousand Irish vagrants had to be repatiated.

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#589007 - 25th Sep 2011 10:13pm Re: Seeking Info On Birkenhead's Irish Influx [Re: Geekus]
Geekus Offline
Forum Addict

Registered: 26th Sep 2010
Posts: 1195
Loc: Wiki Wirral
Originally Posted By: geekus
You're right about the stats Nightwalker, but it might be worth looking at the records relating to the Poor Laws to get an idea of what was really going on. The Neston House of Correction, for example, opened in the early 1750's and had to repatiate literally thousands of Irish vagrants every year. There are quite accurate records for this establishment, certainly up until the early 1800's. In one notable period, between 1783-4, over three thousand Irish vagrants had to be repatiated.


Lol! ...sorry but can't spell repatriate! smack

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