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On account of its remarkable reach as well as its variety of schemes and features, migration in the Victorian era is a paramount chapter of the history of worldwide migrations and diasporas. Indeed, Victorian Britain was both a land of emigration and immigration. International Migrations in the Victorian Era covers a wide range of case studies to unveil the complexity of transnational circulations and connections in the 19th century. Combining micro- and macro-studies, this volume looks into the history of the British Empire, 19th century international migration networks, as well as the causes and consequences of Victorian migrations and how technological, social, political, and cultural transformations, mainly initiated by the Industrial Revolution, considerably impacted on people’s movements. It presents a history of migration grounded on people, structural forces and migration processes that bound societies together. Rather than focussing on distinct territorial units, International Migrations in the Victorian Era balances different scales of analysis: individual, local, regional, national and transnational.

Contributors are: Rebecca Bates, Sally Brooke Cameron, Milosz K. Cybowski, Nicole Davis, Anne-Catherine De Bouvier, Claire Deligny, Elizabeth Dillenburg, Nicolas Garnier, Trevor Harris, Kathrin Levitan, Véronique Molinari, Ipshita Nath, Jude Piesse, Daniel Renshaw, Eric Richards, Sue Silberberg, Ben Szreter, Géraldine Vaughan, Briony Wickes, Rhiannon Heledd Williams.
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Rhiannon Heledd Williams

Y Cyfaill o’r Hen Wlad (The Friend from the Old Country, 1838–1933) was the first Welsh-language periodical to succeed in the United States, and one of the longest lasting within the Welsh-American press. This paper looks at the strategies employed by its founder and first editor, William Rowlands, examining ways in which he created a literary sphere which appealed to Welsh-speaking Americans and supported the ways in which they were engaged in the processes of creating Welsh-language American culture. Looking specifically at religion, politics, language, literature and culture through a variety of narratives gives us a broad sense of the double-faceted Welsh-American identity in that period.

Although the monthly journal was considered to serve the Calvinistic Methodist denomination, it also contained a variety of news, education and cultural endeavours that strived to appeal to the nation as a whole. It also provided an open forum for discussion of social, political and cultural realms in their native tongue, ensuring they remain a distinct nation against the new backdrop of the United States. Immigrants from this minority nation created a new identity, as they entrenched themselves in their adopted landscape as American citizens, whilst maintaining a strong connection with the Old World and its values. This “transatlantic” connection was maintained through the aid of frequent correspondence and an array of literary contributions carried back and forth between both countries. These narratives combined portray a colourful insight into the migrants’ experiences of settlement, along with the features they considered central to the articulation of their multifarious national identity.

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Nicolas Garnier

The Victorian Era was marked by imperialism and remarkable territorial expansion. As a result of centuries of international conquest and cultural hegemony, the nineteenth century British world thus became an infinite and multifaceted world. The nineteenth century was also marked by ideologies that constructed the redundancy of some portions of the British population. Malthusian principles combined with the 1851 census data constructed female redundancy in the second half of the nineteenth century. Consequently, emigration societies organised the migration of “surplus” women to the British colonies, where educated women were needed. This geographical movement could also be of social and cultural nature since Victorian women were thus often offered better opportunities abroad.

The expansion of the British world during the era of New Imperialism also greatly impacted Evangelical societies which called for the international spreading of the Christian gospel. Overseas missions developed beyond Great Britain’s boundaries and offered further geographical opportunities to Victorian men, and more specifically to women. Single women, often deemed redundant by the British society, started to be accepted by missionary societies and some were sent to the remotest parts of the world. Such was the case for the women working for the China Inland Mission who were given geographical and social opportunities through their international evangelical work.

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Nicole Davis

Henry and Sophia Morwitch led urban lives in diverse cities of Europe and Australasia for a century from the 1830s to 1930s as part of mostly small Jewish Diasporas – a group with complex relationships to both the British Empire and colonies in which they settled. By the time of their return to England and subsequent deaths there in early decades of the twentieth-century they had become wealthy through commerce and property investment. This chapter examines their international and transcolonial migrations, travels, business ventures, and immersion in the urban environments of Britain, Europe and Australasia over a period of seventy years. It utilises the life story of one couple, which spanned great distances and spaces of time, in order to explore how migrant identities might develop in the urban settler colonial context. Their story lives illustrate the interconnectedness of the physical and social spaces of the nineteenth-century world through entwined networks created by ties of family, religion, commerce, political ideology, social groups and regional loyalties.

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Briony Wickes

In his landmark 1986 study, Ecological Imperialism, historian Alfred W. Crosby asserts that whilst man may have been the powerful director in the projects of Victorian expansion, he was partnered by an unstoppable animal force: “a grunting, lowing, neighing, crowing, chirping, snarling, buzzing, self-replicating and world-altering avalanche.” Since the publication of Ecological Imperialism, a growing number of historians have demonstrated the material impact that nonhuman creatures have had in the real-world colonisation of continents, revealing the diverse ways that animals have shaped these histories. Yet animals were also inextricably bound up with the imaginative work of nineteenth-century settler emigration. In particular, I advocate a reappraisal of the vital roles of sheep in Victorian emigration literature. Although they have been endlessly categorised as mindless, absent creatures in contemporary literature and culture, sheep are also tied to a powerful religious genealogy that connects the species to complex notions of pastorship, submission, and sacrifice. Sheep farming in Victorian settler stories is thus part of an emigrant narrative of belonging and attachment to the land. Reorienting the focus from the hearth to the pasture, this chapter interrogates the relationships between emigrant shepherds and their sheep in novels of emigration and settlement by three Victorian writers, Anthony Trollope, Samuel Butler, and Charles Reade.

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Géraldine Vaughan

The purpose of this chapter is to highlight some of the recent developments in the study of Victorian Irish migrations to attempt to answer the question – what was distinctive about Irish migrations within the wider context of British and European migrations? In the light of contemporary historical writings, the exceptionality of Irish migrant destinies seems to have diminished in significance, and the reasons for it have to be seriously examined. Accordingly, this chapter first examines the general trends in Irish Victorian migrations, and then focuses on Irish women, Irish Protestants and the varying forms of Irish identities abroad.

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Elizabeth Dillenburg

Founded in 1875, the Girls’ Friendly Society (GFS) began as an organization to assist girls travelling to cities in Britain for the purposes of work. However, by the turn of the century, it increasingly focused its efforts on imperial matters and in particular on facilitating the emigration of working-class girls to the colonies. Yet emigration and the task of empire building proved more difficult than the organizers had envisioned. Using GFS reports, newsletters, correspondences, and memoirs, this chapter traces the challenges faced by the GFS, focusing in particular on its operations in South Africa. Through its emigration programs, the GFS sought to fashion imperial-minded girls who would in turn reinforce social and racial hierarchies within South Africa, but their efforts met with resistance from British girls, who opposed conditions in the colonies, and from African girls, who protested against their exclusion from the organization. Moreover, debates between branches in Britain and South Africa exposed fundamental misunderstandings about the complexities of colonial life. These contestations highlight the contradictions of the GFS’s professed commitment to “the care of the girlhood of the empire” and call into question the solidity and meaning of class, racial, and gender hierarchies that underpinned British society in South Africa and the wider empire.

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Claire Deligny

This chapter addresses the intersections between migration and psychiatry in Lancashire from 1865 to the passing of the 1905 Aliens Act. Primarily based upon the analysis of administrative archives as well as casebooks for the Lancashire public lunatic asylums and the local press, this study aims at delineating how individuals, whether transnational, return migrants or seasonal workers, would find their way to the asylum. The research both highlights the various itineraries of migrants and the practical and ideological difficulties associated with their presence in the lunatic institutions. This article aims at retrieving the migrants’ experiences as well as the practical responses and adjustments introduced to reconcile mobility and institutionalization until the introduction of restrictive immigration legislation at the beginning of the 20th century.