The Highlands and Islands Emigration Society

The Highland and Islands Emigration Society came about as a result of a report written by Sir John MacNeill on the destitution of the Highlands of Scotland. The Skye Emigration Society was formed in September, 1851 under chairmanship of the Sheriff-Substitute of Skye, Mr Thomas Fraser. McNeill, as head of the Scottish poor laws, went to Skye, and after talking with Fraser helped to organise a meeting in Edinburgh followed by a meeting in London with Sir Charles Trevelyan, Assistant Secretary to the Treasury, and others. They decided that to provide more effective assistance a larger organisation was required and a Committee was formed 'for promoting Emigration from the Western Highlands and Islands to Australia' with Sir Charles Trevelyan appointed as chairman.

The "rules and system of promissory notes" as set up by the Skye Society were incorporated into the HIES. The following 'Rules' were the guiding criteria used by the Society to determine who was eligible for assistance under this scheme.

Rules of the Highland & Island Emigration Society

1. The emigration will be conducted as much as possible, by entire families, and in accordance with the Rules of the Colonial Land and Emigration Commissioners.

2. Passages to Australia are provided by the Commissioners, from Colonial funds, for able bodied men and women of good character, and not exceeding a specified age, with a certain proportion of children, on production of a stated quantity and description of clothing, and on payment of a deposit from £1 to £2 for adults and 10s for children. For persons exceeding a specified age, a larger amount of deposit is required.

The emigrants asking for aid will be required to apply all their available means to defraying the expense of their outfit and deposit.

3. the Society will advance the sum necessary to make good whatever may be deficient for these purposes, as far as its funds will admit, in the Districts to which it may be determined to extend its operations.

4. The owners or trustees of the properties from which the emigrants depart, will be expected to pay one-third of the sum disbursed on account of the emigrants by the society. The emigrants will be required to repay to the Society the whole of the sum advanced to them, which will again be applied in the same manner as the original Fund.

Form of Obligation for Repayment of Advances

The Skye Emigration Society, having advanced to me ....£....s in money, and clothing, to the value of £..... in order to enable me and my family to emigrate to Australia, upon the condition that the whole amount so advanced being in all .... should be repaid by me and my family, in order to be again used by the said Society in assisting other poor persons to emigrate, I hereby bind and oblige myself on the expiration of twelve months from the date of my landing in Australia, to pay to Thomas Frazer, Esquire, Sheriff-Substitute of Skye, Chairman of the said Society, or to the Chairman of the said Society, for the time being, or to any person in Australia duly authorised by such Chairman to receive the same, the said sum of ... and on the part of my wife and children I engage that in the event of my not paying the said sum at the time above mentioned, the sum shall be repaid by my wife and children.

In witness whereof I have subscribed this obligation (which is written by my mark, I being unable to write), at Portree, this fifth day of May, eighteen hundred and fifty two years, before these witnesses.

(Note adult members of families to join the obligation)

No. 15
December 1851
Government Emigration Office Park St. Westminster

Regulations for the selection of emigrants, and conditions which passages are granted

Qualifications of Emigrants

The Emigrants must be of those callings which from time to time are most in demand in the Colony. They must be sover, industrious, and of general good moral character of all which decisive certificates will be required. They must also be in good health, free from all bodily or mental defects; and the adults must, in all respects be capable of labour, and going out to work for wages. The Candidates most acceptable are young married couples without children.

The separation of husbands and wives, and of parents from children under 18, will in no case be allowed.

Single women cannot be taken without their parents, unless they go under the immediate care of some near relative. Single women with illegitimate children can in no case be taken.

Widowers and widows with young children, persons who intend to buy land, or to invest capital in trade, or who are in the habitual receipt of parish relief , or who have not been vaccinated, or had the small-pox, or whose families comprise more than four children under twelve years of age cannot be accepted.

Payment towards passage

The contributions above mentioned, out of which the Commissioners will provide bedding and mess utensils, etc, for the voyage, will be as follows:-

Under 45 45 & 50 & under 50 UNDER 60

Married Agricultural Labourers, Shepherds, £1 £5 £11 Herdsmen, and their wives; also Female Domestic and Farm Servants, per head

Single men of any of the above callings and whether part of a family or not, each £2

Country mechanics each as Blacksmiths, Bricklayers, Carpenters, Masons, Sawyers, Wheelwrights And Gardeners, and their wives: £5 £8 £15 also females of the Working Class; not being Domestic or Farm Servants (when they can be taken) per head

Children under 14 per head 10s.

Passages to the port of Embarkation from Dublin, Cork, Granton Pier, and Hull, are provided by the Commissioners for Emigrants proceeding through these ports. All other travelling expenses must be borne by the Emigrants themselves.

Outfit Etc

The Commissioners dupply provisions, medical attendants, and cooking utensils at their Depot and on board the ship. Also, new mattresses, bolsters, blankets, and counterpanes, canvas bags to contain linen etc., their knives and forks, spoons, metal plates and drinking mugs, which articles will be given after arrival in the Colony to the Emigrants who have behaved well on the voyage.

The Emigrants must bring their own clothing, which will be inspected at the port by an officer of the Commissioners; and they will not be allowed to embark unless they have sufficient stock for the voyage, not less, for each person, than:-

FOR MALES; Six pair stockings; two pair shoes; two complete suits of exterior clothing

FOR FEMALES; Six Shifts; Two Flannel Petticoats; Six Pair Stockings: Two Pair Shoes: Two Gowns with sheets, towels and soap. But the larger the stock of clothing, the better for health and comfort during the voyage, which usually last about four months, and as the Emigrants have always to pass through very hot and very cold weather, they should be prepared for both; two or three serge shirts for men, and flannel for women and children, are strongly recommended.

The Emigrants should take out with them the necessary tools of their trades, that are not bulky. But the whole quantity of baggage for each Adult, must not measure more than 20 cubic or solid feet, nor exceed half a ton in weight. It must be closely packed in one or more boxes; but no box must exceed in size 10 cubic feet. Large packages, and extra baggage, if it can be taken at all, must be paid for. Mattrasses [sic] and feather beds will in no case be taken.

On arrival in the Colony, the Emigrants will be at perfect liberty to engage themselves to any one willing to employ them, and to make their own bargain for wages; but if they quit the Colony within 4 years after landing, they must repay to the Colonial Government a proportionate part of their passage money, at the rate of £3 per adult, for each year wanting to complete four years residence.