The Fitzwilliam Clearances 1847-1856

by Jim Rees

Mum was the first one in the family to come down with the stomach flu and fever. Cliff was next and today it hit me with a double whammy plus my head was so dizzy that I felt like I was on a ship in rough seas.

In April of 1848, 383 surplus tenants of Lord Fitzwilliam estate in Wicklow, Ireland boarded the ‘Star’  for a voyage that would take 37 days. Sixty-three passengers were badly stricken with illness, nine of whom died before the ship arrived in St. Andrews. If they thought the worst was behind them, it certainly was not. Plus the dream of the men getting employment on the building of the railroad turned into a nightmare.

Between 1847 and 1856, in an attempt to re-organize his 80,000 acre Coolattin Estate, Lord William Fitzwilliam removed  6,000 men, women and children and arranged passage to Canada. The vast majority of these people were sent to Quebec for settlement in Ontario but one group was shipped to St. Andrews, the men to work on a new railway line.

Surplus People - The Fitzwilliam Clearances 1847-1856  is the end result of four years of research and writing by Jim Rees, coupled with the contributions of archivists and historians in Ireland, New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario, and details the story of thousands of famine refugees from County Wicklow sent to Canada.

The story of their arrival in St. Andrews  -- most sick, starving and destitute -- is a focus of this extraordinary book which identifies specific families and follows their progress from their tiny holding in Ireland to their new lives in New Brunswick.

Sent out on the sailing vessel "Star", these wretched emigrants spent weeks at sea before being landed on a windswept quarantine island off St. Andrews where several died of disease and exposure. When finally landed, they discovered that no preparation had been made for their arrival and most were forced to endure privations that can best be described as inhuman.

The horrific conditions on Grosse Ile, the quarantine station at Quebec, are described, depicting images which still have the power to shock. Typhus spread like wild fire, and up to fifty deaths a day occurred in the summer of Black '47. No one could have predicted the deluge of human misery which was about to descend on Grosse Ile.

During the course of his research Jim Rees compiled a database of the names, ages, family relationships, size of holding, townland of origin, and in some cases name of ship and dates of departure and arrival, of all 6,000 tenants. Details of how to access this information form an index in the book

Inquire at your library to find out if there is a copy of Surplus People - The Fitzwilliam Clearances 1847-1856  by Jim Rees available or contact:

Dee-Jay Publications
3 Meadows Lane

Arklow, Co., Wicklow


Query 1147
Lynch - Chandler
: Andrew Jackson Lynch was born in Petersville, New Brunswick in 1846. He had brothers John and Tom. Andrew migrated to Yakima, Washington and married Margaret Maria Chandler in Tacoma, Washington in 1891. He died in 1923. I would like to find information on his parents and siblings.
Robert L. Bozorth
13921 94th Ave., NE Kirkland
WA, 98034, USA.

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