Scottish emigration, 1830s-1939

Scottish Emigration, 1830s-1939

Emigration Trends

  • Throughout the 19th century, and into the 20th century, masses of Scots emigrated to other parts of the world for various reasons.
  • These countries included Canada, Australia, United States, and New Zealand predominantly.
  • From 1830 to 1930, it’s estimated that 1.7 million Scots emigrated and settled in new lands.

Push Factors for Emigration

  • Economic hardship was a significant motivator for emigration, as industrialisation caused many traditional jobs to disappear.
  • The Highland Clearances displaced many Scottish people, prompting emigration.
  • Many Scottish farmers lost their land and livelihood due to the Agricultural Revolution which made farming more mechanised, reducing the need for labour.

Pull Factors for Emigration

  • The countries Scots emigrated to were often referred to as “lands of opportunity”, promising better prospects.
  • The prospect of owning and farming their land was appealing, particularly in countries like Canada and Australia.
  • For some, the sense of adventure and the romanticism of “starting anew” was a strong pull factor.

Impact on Scotland

  • The Highlands were particularly affected by depopulation, weakening the region.
  • Emigration intensified the process of urbanisation in Scotland as people left rural areas for the cities before deciding to emigrate.
  • Emigration also had a significant impact on the demographic makeup of Scotland, with a decline in the population in many parts of the country.

Scottish Communities Abroad

  • The nature of emigration often involved entire communities moving, leading to a transplantation of Scottish culture across the globe.
  • Still today, many elements of Scottish culture, including games, are celebrated in these nations.
  • Many descendants of these migrants still identify with their Scottish heritage today.