Oxted & District History Society - Talk
Oxted & District History Society

Judy Hill, former History lecturer at the University of Surrey, gave an illustrated lecture to the Oxted & District History Society on the ‘Life of the Poor & Emigration from England in the Early 19th Century’.  The rapid rise in the population, together with the recession starting in 1815, led to an increase in emigration schemes.  The Swing Riots from 1830 onwards further unsettled landowners and parishes.

In the South of England, the Petworth Emigration Scheme enabled 1800 emigrants to go to Canada, funded by the extremely wealthy Earl of Egremont of Petworth House until his death in 1837.  Unrest in Petworth had resulted in riots, rick-burning and animal maiming by the unemployed.  The Petworth Scheme was ably organised by Thomas Sockett, Rector of St. Mary’s Church, Petworth, adjoining Petworth House.  Unlike other emigration schemes which often used overcrowded, insanitary ships, the Petworth Scheme used reputable shipping agents, seaworthy ships, good safety and sanitary arrangements and adequate food rations.  Additionally both a superintendent and surgeon were on board.  In Canada, transport and help were given to the emigrants to find work and accommodation in Upper Canada.

The Dorking Scheme bought into the Petworth organisation with subscriptions from the Parish rates.  Of the 632 who emigrated under the Petworth project in 1832, 77 came from Dorking, with a few from other parishes in the South East.


Life of the Poor & Emigration from England in the Early 19th Century: by Judy Hill