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Highland and Island Emigration Society, HIES

The HIES Ship List information was generously supplied by
William "Bill" Clarke.

This site is dedicated to Peter J. McDonald's memory
as it was a very important project for him to have placed online
for all to search their roots from Scotland to Australia.

The emigration organised by the Highland and Island Emigration Society in the 1850's was the last substantial chapter in the story of the Clearances.  This society represented a short-term response to a specific problem in a particular geographical area.  The potato blight which brought on the Great Famine in Ireland earlier in the decade, struck the Isles and western Highlands in 1846.  Sir Charles Trevelyan, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, became very interested in the problems of the Highlands.  He properly saw emergency food supplies as a "useless palliative".  He wrote to the Sheriff Substitute of Skye, Thomas Fraser, concerning the necessity of adopting a final measure of relief for the Western Highlands and Islands by transferring the surplus of the population to Australia.  Trevelyan was joined in his concern and planning by two other distinguished civil servants, Sir John McNeill and Sir Thomas Murdoch.  These three were the backbone of the HIES in London although it is clear that much credit for the plan belongs to Thomas Fraser.

The support given to this project by the British public is amply demonstrated by the list of benefactors.  Queen Victoria gave £300, Prince Albert £105, three Scots Dukes £100 each, and various Members of Parliament, Anglican clergy, the Australian Agricultural Company, Mr Rothschild and many other prominent persons headed the list.  The Scheme ran from 1852 to 1857 and brought 4910 men, women and children from the Western Isles and western Highlands, mainly from Skye but the other areas were Harris, North Uist, Ardnamurchan, Morven, Strathaird, Raasay, Iona and St Kilda.
The passage was not easy, either.  The Georgiana experienced a mutiny by a gold-hungry crew, the Hercules has cases of smallpox, the Priscilla experienced many deaths from fever, and typhus broke out on the Ontario.

Taken from "The Scots in Australia A Study of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, 1788-1900" by Malcolm D Prentis.

TOTAL - 4,910 Souls Emigrating
This does not include the Births on Board:
Geelong 7, Portland 5, Adelaide 4 1/2, Melbourne 5 1/2, Hobart 4, Sydney 2.

Footnote:
It must be remembered that all of the Emigrants assisted by the HIES were travelling under the scheme laid down by "Her Majesty's Colonial Land and Emigration Commissioners" who charted the HIES ships and in most cases selected the emigrants. Mr Chant, the emigration officer mentioned in HIES records was an employee of the Australian Land Commissioners. They received their funds from the Colonial Government selling Crown Land in Australia.
Bill Clarke

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TO A HISTORY OF HIES
 

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