TheShipsList Home Page Search the Passenger Lists Search Ship Company Fleet Lists Ship Descriptions and Voyage Histories  
Find Pictures of Ships, Ports, Immigration Stations
Find Diagrams & Photographs Ships' RiggingSearch Ship Arrivals from Newspapers &c
Search Marriages at Sea, British Ships
Search Numerous Files for Famine Emigrants, 1847Find Reports & Lists of Ship Wrecks Search 1862 Lists & Shipping Information Search Immigration & Ship Related Off-site Links              
Diaries & Journals | Immigration Reports | Illustrated London News | Trivia | Frequently Asked Questions

The Illustrated London News ; Sydney Shipping Gazette (various)


The Highlands & Islands Emigration Society was a charity formed in 1852, to induce the emigration of impoverished Scots, thereby solving two problems, clearing redundant tenants (surplus population) from landlords' property and the colonies need for settlers. From 1852, up to the end of 1854, more than 4,000 persons emigrated to the colonies, with their passages paid in part by landlords and partly by loans advanced to the emigrants by the Society. The material included here, concentrates on one such emigration, with the passengers of the HMS Hercules, to Adelaide, South Australia and Port Phillip [Melbourne], Victoria. These emigrants were from Skye, North Uist, Harris &c. and initially it was intended that they "ferry" to Portree, Isle of Skye to embark on Hercules, however they subsequently sailed from Campbeltown, in Argyllshire.
(lithograph of Hercules at Campbeltown)
(passenger list for Hercules Adelaide arrival)

Sydney Shipping Gazette Vol. 10, No. 468 - 21st March 1853, p. 85

Emigrants by the Hercules

The following letter, from Sir C. Trevelyan to Sir John McNeill, explains the arrangements for sending out emigrants by H.M.S. Hercules:— (circa 1852)

The line-of-battle-ship which it has finally been determined to assign for the use of our emigrants is not the Belleisle, but the Hercules, which is a larger ship, and is now in the Thames.
The Hercules will be commanded by Commander Baynton of the Royal Navy, who was employed for several years on the north-west coast of Scotland—first on the naval survey, and afterwards in command of one of the war-steamers employed in the conveyance of meal during the famine ; and he is by character and experience in every way suited for the important charge which has been conferred upon him.
The Emigration Commissioners will select a surgeon-superintendent for the Hercules, who has already had charge of an emigrant ship, and has proved his fitness for the post. A second surgeon will also be appointed to assist the surgeon superintendent.
As the great majority of the emigrants by the Hercules will still be Free Church people, we will thank you to suggest to the authorities of that Church to select a discreet and able minister to take the spiritual charge of the emigrants, and also to appoint a qualified catechist and schoolmaster to be his assistant.
We shall put an ample supply of Gaelic and English Bibles and Testaments and other books on board the Hercules, for the use of the emigrants ; and I have written to Dr. McLeod, of Glasgow, to send 300 Gaelic Psalm Books and Catechisms to Mr. Fraser, to be put on board at Portree.
Our Committee has ordered Messrs. Silver, of London, to put on board the Hercules, in the Thames, clothing for 1,000 emigrants ; and the Emigration Commissioners have kindly undertaken to instruct Messrs. Silver in what proportion the clothing is to be prepared for each sex and age, which will be regulated by the lists of the emigrants for the Hercules, received by them from Mr. Chant. The Emigration Commissioners will also inspect the clothing, to ascertain that it is of a suitable and substantial kind.
The clothing will be consigned to Mr. McKenzie, the Secretary to the Portree Emigration Committee who will be responsible for its distribution, for the settlement of our account with the head of each emigrant family, for the execution by him of a promissory note, in duplicate, for the due repayment of the whole of our advances for the deposits and outfits of the several members of the family, and for the receipt of the usual letters of guarantee from the other adult members of each family.
I have much pleasure in informing you that, as the cost of sending emigrants by the Hercules will be less than that of sending them by freight ships, the Emigration Commissioners have consented to reduce the deposits of the emigrants by the Hercules to half the usual amount, that is to say, the deposits of married persons, and unmarried women, will be 10s. instead of £1, of children 5s., instead of 10s., of single men, members of emigrant families 1 instead of 2, of persons between 45 and 50 years of age, 2.10s. instead of 5, and of persons upwards of 50, 5.10s. instead of 11 ; and the charges against each family to be secured by the promissory notes will be regulated accordingly.
I am also happy to inform you that the Emigration Commissioners will give us the valuable assistance of Mr. Chant, to berth the emigrants by the Hercules ; and the comfort and harmony of all on board will, no doubt, be greatly prompted by the manner in which he will arrange the people from each neighbourhood in messes, as they successfully come on board. Mr. Chant will also, I am sure, give to Mr. McKenzie every assistance in his power, in the proper distribution of the clothing and the settlement of accounts.
The Hercules has been ordered to be immediately taken into dock to be examined and fitted ; but with every exertion that can be made, it is not likely she will be on the north-west coast of Scotland much before the 20th October [1852]. She will proceed by the Irish Channel to Portree and it is considered desirable that all the emigrants should come on board at that place ; those from Harris and North Uist being provided with passages to Portree in sailing or steam vessels.
The emigrants will be divided between the neighbouring colonies of South Australia and Port Phillip. The Hercules will lie-to off Adelaide, and the Government of South Australia will have steamers ready to land the emigrants destined to that colony. . . .end

'The Illustrated London News', January 15th, 1853

Highlands & Islands Emigration Society

The over-population of Skye, and years of distress caused thereby, had exhausted the inhabitants' means. To remove a considerable number to so great a distance as Australia was a costly operation. A passage to Australia costs about £15. Large sums were remitted from the colonies to facilitate emigration, and a way of escape appeared thus to be opened for the suffering Highlanders, if means could be found to supplement the deficiency in their own resources to such an extent as would provide the outfit and deposit, which the Emigration Commissioners require the emigrants themselves to provide as a condition of their receiving aid from the colonial funds. It was for the purpose of aiding the Highlanders to provide for these preliminary expenses, amounting on an average of all ages to £3 or £4 per head, that the Highland and Islands Emigration Society was formed. Originating in small beginnings in the island of Skye, the scheme of the Society and the detailed arrangements for conducting its operations were matured in Edinburgh under Sir John McNeille; and at length its management devolved upon a committee in London, composed of several influential noblemen and gentlemen, with his Royal Highness Prince Albert as patron, and Sir Charles Trevelyan for their chairman.

The rules adopted by the society are few and simple, and fully explain the principles on which the plan is founded.

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.

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 of from £1 to £2 for adults, and 10 shillings 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 deposits.

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.

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 sums advanced to them, which will again be applied in the same manner as the original fund.

The committee thus urged the great benefits which must accrue on every side from such a mode of relief:

The destitute portion of the population of the distressed districts will be placed in a position of comfort and independence; the colonies will be benefited by the immigration of a moral and industrious population, whose tastes are peculiarly congenial to the pastoral life of Australia; the general course of emigration will be improved by the prominence given in the plan to colonisation by unbroken families, including at least an equal proportion of females; and the industrial schemes contemplated for the improvement of agriculture in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, and of the fisheries on their coasts, may be carried out with more freedom and better prospects of success under when the surplus population has been removed.

His Royal Highness Prince Albert has been graciously pleased to express his approbation of the object and plan of the committee, and has given them full authority to announce his willing acquiescence to become the Patron of the undertaking.

Subscriptions to a considerable amount have been received; and since the end of May, 1852, when the society commenced its operations, it has sent to Australia from the distressed districts in the Highlands about 3,000 persons, of whom about 2,000 have gone from Skye.

HMS Hercules, 74, ultimately destined to become a floating barracks at Hong Kong during the sickly season, is now in the harbour of Campbeltown, at the entrance of the Firth of Clyde, receiving emigrants aided by the society, by an arrangement which they have made with the Admiralty and the Colonial Emigration Commissioners. A measure originally adopted solely with a view to preserve the health of the British soldiers stationed at Hong Kong, is made conducive to the relief of
HMS Hercules
Emigration from the Isle of Skye
"The Hercules" leaving the harbour of Campbeltown
(click on ship for larger image)
distress in the islands of Scotland caused by the excess of the population, and, at the same time, to the relief of distress, hardly less urgent, in Australia, caused by a deficient supply of labourers. It is pleasant to see so many beneficent objects effected, as it were, by one operation, and with an economy of means for which Government Commissioners and societies rarely get credit.

The Hercules has onboard 840 emigrants, of all ages, making, as has been stated, with those who have preceded them, above 3,000 sent by the aid of the society in the last half year. This emigration has been effected in unbroken families, many of them consisting of three generations, and has thus furnished a nearer approach that has yet been made to a correct system of colonisation, as distinguished from individual emigration. Each ship contains a group of families, accompanied by a religious instructor and schoolmaster - a small colony that carries with it in full strength and activity the domestic affections and sympathies that, amongst this people, have peculiar force and sanctity. In the letter from Colonel Phipps, which transmitted to the Society a munificent donation from the Queen, the immediate advantage to the colonies of conducting emigration on this system is clearly and truly stated. He says - "The only possible chance against a large portion of the emigrants deserting to the diggings lies in the system of family emigration. What are usually considered the prohibitory blocks to emigration - the old and the very young - are now most useful, as forming anchors by which a family would be held to a rural home, with plenty of space and plenty of food." The prospective advantages with reference to its moral condition, of peopling a colony with families, instead of detached individuals who have no domestic ties or sympathies, is too obvious to require illustration.

Another advantage attending the cause pursued by this Society is, that it provides, in a more natural and less objectionable mode, for the great object of the Female Emigration Society. Of the unmarried adults sent out by the Highland Emigration Society, the great majority have been females, members of emigrating families, who have gone to the colony under the care of their parents and other near relations. Everyone who has seen these Highland emigrants must have been struck with the air of sedate respectability that belongs to even the poorest amongst them. In abject poverty they have nothing of the reckless or disreputable aspect that so often accompanies it. This is no doubt due to the humble and simple piety that is interwoven with their whole existence. They are no sooner collected in a depot, or onboard ship, than they establish family worship, and conduct it with reverence and composure in the midst of persons who are engaged in other and very different occupations.

The emigrants on board the Hercules are from the islands of Skye, North Uist, and Harris. They were brought from those islands in the Celt steamboat, hired by the society for their accommodation, the season being too far advanced-too cold and boisterous-to admit of their being exposed without hazard to their health on the decks of the steamboats that ply to those distant islands. Many of the families had been reduced to such straits before leaving home, that for some weeks it had been found necessary to supply them with food, for otherwise they must have starved before the steamboat arrived to take them away. It is no doubt an acceptable recompense to those who have taken part in promoting the success of the Highland and Islands Emigration Society, to know that by their aid 3,000 human beings, who, for the last five or six years have been hopelessly struggling with misery, have been rescued from the suffering and the moral evils of such a condition, and have been placed, with their descendants for some generations, beyond the reach of want, as surely as anything in human affairs can be considered sure.

It is to be hoped that a society constituted and conducted as this has been will not be permitted to decline for want of means to carry on its operations. At least a year must elapse before any part of the money it has advanced can be recovered and become available. In the meanwhile, much wretchedness remains, which, with ampler means, might at once be permanently relieved. Anyone who can spare £3 may have the gratification of placing one suffering fellow-Christian beyond the risk of want for the future. Doubtless, there must be many thousands of persons in the kingdom who would gladly contribute such a sum for the accomplishment of that object; and, through the agency of this society, they have every facility for effecting it.

The Hercules sailed from Campbeltown on December 26th and, after contending in vain for five days with adverse and boisterous weather, she anchored off Rothesay, in the Isle of Bute, where she is awaiting a favourable wind. So far from their having been any loss of life, the emigrants received an addition to their number while they were at sea.

A few days before the sailing of the vessel, the Provost and magistrate of Campbeltown entertained at dinner in the town hall, Captain Baynton and the officers of HMS Hercules - the Provost occupied the chair and the guests included some of the most influential gentlemen of the district. The toast of "Captain Baynton and the officers of HMS Hercules," was drunk with great cordiality and was followed by various toasts having reference to the benevolent object of the meeting. . . . .end

After weathering the storm, the Hercules departed again on January 14th 1853. Soon after, there were outbreaks of smallpox and typhus which required a three month stay in quarantine at Cork, Ireland. There were fifty-six deaths, which resulted in seventeen orphaned children having to be returned home. Many of the emigrants were assigned to other ships and in the process, many family groups were separated for the voyage to Australia. About 375-380 emigrants embarked again on Hercules, and departed from Cork, April 14th 1853, arriving at Adelaide July 26th 1853. The remaining emigrants, with numbers per ship, port / date of departure and port /date of arrival (date format yyyymmdd)

No   Shipname   Port / Date of departure   Port / Date of arrival
10   Calabar   Southampton, 1853-05-04   Adelaide, 1853-08-01
41   Bankers Daughter   Liverpool, 1853-05-19   Geelong, 1853-09-03
39   Australia   Liverpool, 1853-06-01   Melbourne, 1853-09-20
63   Neptune   Plymouth, 1853-06-07   Adelaide, 1853-10-25
35   Charles   Liverpool, 1853-06-29   Melbourne, 1853-10-03
8   Caroline   Liverpool, 1853-07-07   Moreton Bay, 1853-11-13
32   Argyle   Plymouth, 1853-07-25   Melbourne, 1853-10-15
25   Olivia   Plymouth, 1853-07-30   Adelaide, 1853-11-14
12   Epaminondas   Southampton, 1853-08-29   Adelaide, 1853-12-24
11   Bermondsey   Plymouth, 1853-09-02   Melbourne, 1853-12-05
16   David Malcolm   Plymouth, 1853-09-21   Adelaide, 1854-01-04
13   Poictiers   Southampton, 1853-09-22   Melbourne, 1854-01-06

return to top


TheShipsList®™ - (Swiggum) All Rights Reserved - Copyright © 1997-present
These pages may be freely linked to but not duplicated in any fashion without written consent of .
Last updated: March 15, 2006 and maintained by and M. Kohli