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Passenger Traffic through Drogheda Port

Like brooks that grow from many mountain rills

The peasant-stream out Irish vales'341

flowed from

statistics alone a rather of the progress of Drogheda port

Tonnage paint incomplete picture
the first half of
the nineteenth as it was in the realm of to
during century, passenger transport
Britain that it made its mark. No official service to Britain out of
increasingly passenger operated
port prior to the of the local in the mid-1820s. The
Drogheda founding Steam-packet Company
commissioners were to record a decade later that 'the regular intercourse with Great
Britain, previous
to the year 1821, was carried on almost
exclusively by the
Post Office sailing
and the passage for its shortness and was
packets, by Holyhead being preferable great security,
then more than all the rest...'.342 from the area to cross the
frequented People Drogheda wishing
Irish Sea this means had first to travel to Dublin and embark from there. Some, however, may
have a less conventional course direct from Drogheda to Britain on
adopted by seeking passage
one of the colliers or other the The latter is however, to
freighters leaving port. option unlikely,
have been taken up to a very significant extent, especially post-1823.
The conveyance of passengers
between Britain and Ireland was Parliament in July of that year when it was
regulated by Act of
enacted that of vessels of less than 200 tons burden could take no more than twenty
unless licensed to so do customs at the in
by the
passengers authorities port merchant
vessels of 100 tons or less were restricted to a maximum of ten passengers without a
licence.343 from Dublin was time difficult and and neither
Embarking consuming, expensive
was or convenient. Little wonder then that relatively few bothered to
option particularly enticing
make the voyage. The of steam however, was to all that. less
growth navigation, change Nationally,
than 30,000 per annum travelled
to 1821,
according railway commissioner estimates, but

times this number were the steamer in 1836. Steam trans

approximately twenty making trip by
eased the difficulties of a sea voyage and between rival steam
portation significantly, competition
caused a considerable of fares. With the advent of steam navigation the
packet companies lowering
had therefore become less and more affordable. 15,600 were
crossing daunting passengers

steamers on the route in 1836, at a cabin fare of 125. and a deck
conveyed Drogheda-Liverpool
fare of 25. 6d., making the busiest for passenger services outside of
Drogheda port steamship
Dublin at that time.344 of those the were seasonal labourers in
Many making voyage agricultural
search of in Britain, but the proportion of travellers into this category to
employment falling prior
the 1840s is impossible to establish with any precision.
In 1841 the census commissioners instituted measures to estimate the extent of the annual

of Irish labourers to Britain for harvest work the summer and

migration agricultural during early
autumn. These workers were in poor circumstances. As a tended to travel
usually group they light
as most of their land was done on foot and the shorter the sea the further their
journey voyage
stocks of provisions a stone of meal) would take them.345 The mode of sea
meagre (frequently
to be was
they almost
therefore of paramount invari
transport adopted importance. Consequently,

341 Lines from the poem, 'The loss of the emigrants' by John Boyle O'Reilly who hailed from the Drogheda hinter
342 Second report of railway commissioners, p. 90.
343 Act 4 Geo. IV, c. 88: 'An Act for regulating vessels carrying passengers between Great Britain and Ireland'.
344 Second report of railway commissioners, p. 90, appendix B, pp 62-3; the Town ofDrogheda steamer did not ply in 1836.
345 Report from the select committee on the laws relating to Irish and Scotch vagrants, p. 10,H.C. 1828 (513), iv.

The Port ofDrogheda 1790-1850 241

travelled with as the favoured in to undertak

ably by steamboat, Liverpool destination, preference
a and more arduous on smaller vessels. Their enumeration was
ing lengthier voyage sailing
confined to deck passengers at Ireland's the summer of 1841, on the
embarking ports during
reasonable that economic circumstances would labourers from
assumption preclude agricultural
for cabin accommodation. Towards this end a police officer stationed at each office
sought and noted the county of origin of each purchaser of a deck ticket.The vastmajority of deck
passengers bound for Britain embarked for Liverpool at either Dublin or Drogheda. Dublin held
over one third of this market but almost a
slightly (thirty-four per cent), quarter (twenty-four per
cent) sailed from The census commissioners that their were
Drogheda. acknowledged figures
and did not represent the total number of migrant workers Ireland: 'no incon
incomplete leaving
siderable number of harvest labourers embark on board steam vessels which lie to on
the coast for the convenience of passengers, in the summer months'. The census nonethe
less provide hard data for the ports themselves,346 but a caveat should be sounded
their Deck as a whole could be as seasonal
concerning interpretation. passengers hardly regarded
migrant workers. Some would have been drovers livestock, others may have
intended to settle in Britain and some may even have to use as their
planned Liverpool principal
embarkation for North America. No distinction was made between these groups in the census
data. The commissioners did, however, estimate that 40,000 of the 57,651
perhaps passengers
could be as seasonal workers, but this was and without
surveyed regarded largely conjectural
serious foundation. Nevertheless, in of these the census are
empirical spite shortcomings figures
invaluable for establishing the relative levels of passenger business held by Ireland's ports in 1841.
The numbers of deck passengers enumerated each of Ireland's the
leaving principal ports during
summer of that year are illustrated in 6.1. It can be seen that the vast bulk of the business
was conducted and of these
by just four ports, Dublin and
Drogheda had the lion's share.347

Figure 6.1: Numbers of deck passengers from Irish ports during summer of 1841.

346 Report of the Commissioners appointed to take the census of Ireland,

for the year 1841, p. xxvi, H.C. 1843 [504], xxiv
(hereafter cited as Census, 1841).
347 Census, 1841, p. xxvi.
242 County Louth Archaeological and Historical

10 15 25
% female

Figure 6.2: Gender profile of deck passengers embarking from Irish ports, summer 1841.

Can further be
anything ascertained about the type of people that
left Drogheda port as deck
passengers in 1841? The census reveal that females were much in a
figures very minority among
those Ireland at this time, for just over
leaving ports throughout accounting thirteen per cent of
the total surveyed. The imbalance among those embarking from however, was
gender Drogheda,
even more remarkable and deviated from the national norm. The
significantly Drogheda
passenger was distinctive, with no other such a low proportion of female
profile quite port having
passengers. This
is illustrated in 6.2.318 Females were few and far between the contin
Figure among
in that year, accounting as did for over three cent of all
gents leaving Drogheda port they just per
deck passengers. This stood in stark contrast to other in the
every major passenger port country,
but the disparity between the percentage of females from
and the
Drogheda proportions
from the ports of Dundalk is and Dublin What
embarking neighbouring particularly striking.
could have been for the situation at
responsible apparently incongruous Drogheda port?
To answer this it is necessary to examine the evidence the 1841 census
question produced by
commissioners in greater It would appear that the cause in the
depth. principal underlying lay
socio-economic and of deck of those intent on
geographical origins Drogheda's passengers. Many
from the port had walked to the town. The
long distances vast
sailing already by the time they got
of those from the summer of 1841 hailed from the west of
majority embarking Drogheda during
Ireland and no less than cent of all deck The 12,573
comprised ninety-one per passengers.
Connaught who sailed from Drogheda that period made it the port most favoured
people during
from that 9,434 contrast, left from Dublin.349 The
by people province. Only Connaught people, by
data in the census report enables even more information to be drawn and reveals that the
bulk of the passenger custom for came from one of the
Drogheda port specific region Connaught:
county of Mayo almost half of all the deck passengers (i.e. 49.74 cent) from
supplied per sailing
This situation appears to have resulted from the Drogheda
Drogheda.350 target marketing by
348 Wexford, Waterford and Cork have been omitted from this chart because their combined passenger traffic
amounted to only 2.5 per cent of the total. Thus, very little summer occurred from the southern
counties; Census, 1841, p. xxvi.
349 Census, 1841, p. 450; The census commissioners considered all of the 12,256 Connaught males embarking from
Drogheda to be agricultural labourers, by comparison with 8,308 of those leaving Dublin.
350 Ibid., p. 450.
The Port ofDrogheda 1790-1850 243

who advertised a fare reduction in towns the route from

Steam-packet Company along Connaught
a few weeks before the season commenced.351 Seasonal workers from were
just emigrant Mayo
almost male and it was who the
entirely consequently they largely predetermined gender
imbalance among passengers Indeed, four per cent of all Mayo
leaving Drogheda. only emigrants
that summer were female.352 deck from Drogheda's
surveyed By contrast, passengers hailing
hinterland were few and far between: a mere 100 males and females came
relatively thirty-seven
from Louth, and 276 males and females from County Meath. In total
County thirty-eight they
accounted for only 451 deck tickets the summer of 1841, or just over three per cent of the
total sold. The hinterland therefore very little passenger business for the
community provided
local company at that time.353
And what of the age of deck passengers at this time? the
profile Drogheda's Unfortunately,
census data does not information on the structure of deck
provide specific age passengers
from individual as such information was for the general of
embarking ports only compiled body
on a of basis. However, since cent of deckers
emigrants county origin ninety-two per leaving
hailed from the of whom were male (i.e. almost
Drogheda Connaught, overwhelming majority
ninety-seven per cent), of the data for emigrants from
should that province
analysis compiled
a indication of the blend of ages from It emerges that 71.64
produce good sailing Drogheda. per
cent of male were between sixteen and and were
Connaught emigrants aged thirty-five years they
the sixteen to to
evenly divided between twenty-five and twenty-six thirty-five age categories.354 It is
reasonable to assume, therefore, that those from would have
embarking Drogheda broadly
conformed to this pattern.

During the period from 13 May to 31 August 1841 an average of 877 deckers sailed from
each week.
Stereotypically they young men of a rural
from the west of
Ireland.The port, in this human traffic to the quays, added yet another
drawing major ingredient
to the town's and sense of place, the summer-time. The
identity particularly during prospective
voyagers in town are bound to have a certain amount of business for local
arriving generated
lodging and public houses while they awaited sailings for Liverpool. Equally, the imbalances in
their and would have contributed an additional and distinctive
regional origins, ages gender
ethnic flavour, albeit in a transient fashion, to the of social influences that gave the town
its character.

While some statistical information had been on seasonal labourers

compiled agricultural
Ireland the summer of 1841, the census commissioners failed to establish the
leaving during
numbers after the harvest in the autumn. A commissioner, Thomas Larcom, put
returning leading
the reason for this on record. He ascribed it to the general rush to disembark from vessels

to Ireland and stated that itmade enumeration such an impossible task that all attempts
at so were forsaken.355 neither the returned at in
doing Consequently, migrants landing Drogheda
the autumn nor the proportion in Britain can be with any of statisti
remaining quantified degree
cal Nonetheless, if the made the census commissioners that over two
precision. assumption by
thirds per cent) did return in the autumn is accepted, it follows that
(sixty-nine actually
considerable numbers of seasonal workers would once have travelled into Drogheda
migrant again
on their at that time of year. In
they would
homeward journeys the process have their
distinctive contribution to the and of town life.
fleeting dynamics atmosphere

351 Ibid., p. xxvi.

352 Ibid., p. 451.
353 Ibid., p. 450.
354 Ibid., p. 451.
355 Thomas 'Observations on the census of the population of Ireland in 1841', m Journal
Larcom, of the statistical
society ofLondon, vi (1843), p. 345.
244 County Louth Archaeological and Historical Journal

numbers of seasonal to sail from

continued to in subse
Large migrants Drogheda Liverpool
One claimed 1844 inthat 'during the past two or
quent years. Drogheda newspaper early August
three weeks, of
10,000 Irish labourers, from Connaught and Munster, sailed
upwards principally
from our quay, to in order to seek ...' The writer also maintained that itwas
England, employment
not the want of on Irish farms that drove labourers to but the
employment agricultural England,
wages to them in Ireland, and railed Irish farmers and landlords who
appalling paid against
'unfortunate men at the rate of 6d., and 8d. and some instances
commonly employed by the year
- wet .
lOd. per day and broken the labourer ,.'.356
days being charged against
For most of the first two decades of the nineteenth century the annual numbers sailing directly
from Ireland to destinations outside the United were small. to
Kingdom quite They began pick up
after the wars and somewhat of a surge during the typhus epidemic of
Napoleonic experienced
the late 1810s. However, even the 1819 and no more than
during peak years of
they 1820 reached

16,798 and 22,134, Most sailed

America.357 for North
It will therefore come as no
that there was very little by way of direct from Drogheda to destinations other
surprise emigration
than Britain the early to mid-nineteenth in view of its to
during century, especially proximity
and the choice and extent of transatlantic passenger services available from there.
Indeed, itwas often to choose from a range of vessels and dates of and to book
possible departure,
the passage from to North America at the offices of agents based in Drogheda itself.358
from other was also facilitated the inducement of a free which
Emigration ports by passage,
became available from time to time.
1842, In for advertisements in
example, appeared Drogheda
free from Greenock, Scotland, to New Zealand for certain
newspapers offering transport
of such as of land and their families, farm labourers and
categories people, purchasers
mechanics;359 advertisements in the papers in 1843, this time
again appeared Drogheda offering
free from Cork to and Port in Australia, and were received
passage Sydney Philip applications
locally by Surgeon Pentland of the Drogheda infirmary.360
From the very beginning of the 1800s vessels did, however, sail directly from Drogheda to
North American destinations, but such occurred on an intermittent basis. In mid
voyages only
1801, for the brig Acorn advertised that it was 'now at the quay of
April example, locally lying

Drogheda and will be ready to sail about the 15th of May' for 'New York or Philadelphia'.361
time was not deemed to be of the essence and even a decision on the destination
to be fluid. gaps in the local newspaper record the first twenty years
Unfortunately, major during
or so of the it extremely difficult to establish the of such voyages.
century make precise frequency
The one that is clear, however, is that were but A continuous run of
thing they anything frequent.
local from the early 1820s onwards is extant and thus it is to get a much better
newspapers possible
of the extent of this mode of from then on. In 1827 the
impression transport mid-May Drogheda
took on its outbound as it sailed to to collect a of
brig, Enterprise, passengers voyage Quebec cargo
timber forNorth Quay merchants, Messrs Smith and Smyth.362Initially scheduled to depart on 10
the was for the convenience of some until the
May, sailing postponed passengers following

356 Drogheda Conservative Journal, 3 August 1844.

357 An account of the total number of ships, British and foreign, which have cleared out, from the several ports of Ireland, for the
British dominions, and for theUnited States inNorth America, for theCape of Good Hope, and for New South Wales; their
tonnage, and thenumber ofpassengers; for the last ten years, in each year respectively, and for each country separately; distin
guishing convictsfrom passengers, pp 1-2,H.C. 1821 (310), xx.
358 Drogheda Conservative Journal, 1842-3.
359 Ibid., 19 February 1842.
360 Ibid., 16 September 1843.
361 Drogheda News-Letter, 18 April 1801.
362 Drogheda Journal, 11 April, 12 May, 26 September 1827.
The Port ofDrogheda 1790-1850



wishing to proceed to the above " Colonies"
-*- are
recommended to apply to Mr, John Behn?bd, jun.,
Cork, or to Surgeon Pentland, Drogheda.
Passengers approved of, for the October Ships, will be
from Dublin
conveyed Cork, free of expense,
Sept. 15th, 1843,
Plate 6.1: Newspaper advertisement of free passage toAustralia (Drogheda Conservative Journal, 23 September 1843).

the day after the fair business was less subject to deadlines
Tuesday, 'being ofDrogheda'.363 Clearly,
in those times and could be conducted on a flexible basis. The whose
reasonably Enterprise, regis
tered tonnage of 164 tons made it the largest vessel to the ferried
sailing belonging port,364 sixty
five emigrants on this voyage to the 'New World'.365 It the passage in six weeks.366 Five
were to before would sail from to North America
years elapse emigrants again directly Drogheda
and when these resumed the numbers were modest.
sailings embarking again quite Relatively
small contingents set out for and New York in the 1830s. The fares of
Quebec early 'independent
bed and provisions' were ?2 toQuebec and ?4 to New York.367On 14 April 1832 the brig Isabella,
of sailed from with 120 for Quebec,368 and a further
Workington, Drogheda emigrants sixty-six
made the voyage in 1833.369On 15 March 1834 the Isabella once again set sail from Drogheda to
Quebec. Chartered by local shipowner and broker, Patrick Boylan, it left Drogheda with 170
passengers amidst scenes of parents with their children'.370 On 5 May of
'heart-breaking parting
the same year,
own the Commerce sailed with passengers for New York.371
Boylan's brig, sixty-seven

363 12 May 1827.

364 Mac Cabe's directory, appendix, p. 17; Ships arriving book, Drogheda harbour, 1833-7 (Drogheda Port Company
365 Poor Inquiry (Ireland), appendix C, part 1, p. 60, H.C. 1836 [35], xxx.
366 Drogheda Journal, 26 September 1827.
367 Poor Inquiry (Ireland), appendix C, part 1, p. 60, H.C. 1836 [35], xxx.
368 Drogheda Journal, 14 April 1832.
369 Poor Inquiry (Ireland), supplement toappendix C, part 7, p. 21, H.C. 1836 [35], xxx; Census, 1841, pp 450-1.
370 Drogheda Sentinel, 19 April 1834.
371 Ibid., 7 May 1834.
246 County Louth Archaeological and Historical Journal

No further direct to North America were made for the remainder of the decade, a state of
affairs that was not unrelated to the fact that the Isabellas turned out to be an ill
probably voyage
fated one. News filtered back to around mid-summer 1834 that the Isabella had been lost
off the coast of Canada when the local press an extract of a letter, dated Miramichi, 13

May 1834, from the agent of Lloyd's shipping insurers:372

Isabella of Workington, Morris master, with 159 passengers for Quebec from
struck on the west side of St. Paul's at three o'clock a.m., 8th May, and in an hour went to
All the passengers and crew, on shore, and were relieved the
pieces. except eight, got by
stationed on the island. On the news Miramichi, a vessel with
persons reaching provisions
and clothes was immediately dispatched by the Commissioners of Lights; and the inhabi
tants sent a of clothes and other necessaries ...
large supply

Both local in addition, that the Isabellas passengers, on

newspapers reported, leaving Drogheda,
had men, women and children, a total that
comprised seventy-five fifty forty-three making slightly
conflicts with that given Indeed, it is also at variance with the total
by Lloyd's agent. marginally
number one of these at the time of embarkation. Such
passenger reported by very journals
are not unusual, however, as sources for passenger numbers this
discrepancies during period
abound with such inconsistencies. The numbers are therefore best taken as
quoted reflecting
orders of magnitude and seen as News of the safe arrival of the Commerce in
general approximate.
New York reached Drogheda in mid-July, and in light of the Isabella's fate itmust have been
greeted with some relief. Despite the lack of rigour in statistical reporting by journals of the
it is however, to construct a reasonable of these Overall, the
period, possible, profile passengers.
in from Drogheda in the early 1830s were male,
emigrants question embarking predominantly
females two to one, from various of the
by about and they comprised parts
outnumbering people
as well as from A breakdown, and age, of those who from
country, Drogheda. by gender emigrated

Drogheda to North America during 1832, 1833 and 1834 is outlined in Figure 6.3. The bulk of
those were and in the of Set against
life.373 the scale of emigration from
sailing young prime
Ireland as a whole, however, the numbers from were not very
embarking Drogheda significant.
Direct from to North America were rather and inter
passenger sailings Drogheda infrequent
mittent during the 1840s. In May 1842 the Lady Douglas, a brig chartered by Patrick Boylan, set sail
for New Brunswick, but the number of passengers it carried is unclear.374 The local press reported
that it took 160 but the official returns record that ninety-one were on
parliamentary emigrants
board.375 It is possible that neither of these be accurate as the
may fully government emigrant
office at New Brunswick recorded 107 arrivals on the Lady Douglas on 30 1842.376
emigrant June
No further left Drogheda for North America until 1845, when
the barque, Warrior,
emigrant ships
ferried to St New Brunswick.377 On its return the Warrior
forty-five passengers John's, journey
timber to for local and broker, Patrick The
brought Drogheda shipping agent Boylan.378 emigrants

372 Ibid., 21 June 1834; Drogheda Journal, 21 June 1834; the Drogheda Journal appears to have seriously misprinted the
total passenger number.
373 Poor Inquiry (Ireland), supplement to appendix C, part 1, p. 21, H.C. 1836 [35], xxx; Census, 1841, pp 450-1.
374 Drogheda Journal, 21 May 1842; Boylan's office was located on the North Quay.
375 Return of the number of emigrants who have embarked from the various ports of theUnited Kingdom during theyear 1842;
showing towhat parts of theworld theyhave emigrated, p. 2, H.C. 1843 (90), xxxiv; The census ofIreland for theyear 1851,
part vi, general report,p. cii, H.C. 1856 [2134], xxxi (hereafter cited as Census, 1851).
376 Copies or extracts of any correspondence relative to emigration, which has taken place since thedate of the last despatches which
were laid beforeParliament, for each of the colonies respectively,p. 120, H.C. 1843 (291), xxxiv.
377 Drogheda Conservative Journal, 29 March 1845; Sixth general report of the colonial land and emigration commissioners:
1846, pp 40-1, H.C. 1846 [706], xxiv; Census, 1851, p. cii; Patrick Boylan was once again the agent.
378 Drogheda Conservative Journal, 15 November 1845.
The Port ofDrogheda 1790-1850 247


Number of 10?
emigrants $0 IMALE
<10 10-30 31-50 >50

Figure 6.3: Profile of emigrants from Drogheda to North America, 1832-4 inclusive.


The well known Fast sailing Brig

IiuAy Douglas.
330 Tons Burden.
GOOD OPPORTUNITY is now afforded to all Per
A sons desirous of Emigrating to Upper Canada, and
the United States, as St. John's is a convenient port to
either of the above Settlements.
For Freight or Passage apply at Mr. BOYLAN'S Office,
North Quay, or on Board.
Drogheda, April 1, 1842.
Plate 6.2: Newspaper advertisement re emigrant direct from Drogheda to North America
sailings {Drogheda
Conservative Journal, 16 April 1842).
248 County Louth Archaeological and Historical Journal

on the outbound from therefore served as ballast. New

voyage Drogheda effectively fare-paying
Brunswick was once the destination for a further sixty-five aboard the Warrior, which sailed
from Drogheda inApril 1846.379The report of the Colonial Land and Emigration Commissioners
for 1847 and that of the census commission each indicate that no embarked
subsequent emigrants
from Drogheda for destinations outside of the United Kingdom in either 1847 or 1849,380 but
another return states that one vessel ferried an number out in each of
parliamentary unspecified
those the of simple clerical error cannot
out, the discrepancy
be ruled in
years.381 Whilst possibility
the surviving records could be due to the fact that the port of Drogheda was not
just possibly
under the of an official officer and that trading vessels, having discharged
supervision emigration
their cargoes in in an fashion, have taken on board as
Drogheda, may, impromptu emigrants
ballast for the return voyage on those occasions.382 If this did occur itwould not have been
as a select committee of the House of Lords in 1847 was informed that the
larly unusual, sitting
was common some in and census
in parts of the country.383 Furthermore, parliamentary
returns it is stated that two a total of 494 passengers to New York in 1848.384
sailings conveyed
However, passenger lists of at the port of New York indicate that no less than
immigrants arriving
four vessels from landed there in that The Anne sailed
Drogheda passengers year. brig, of Yarmouth,
with 106 passengers in late two of whom died on the but the 104
February,385 voyage, remaining
arrived at New York on 6 April 1848. The barque, Warrior, set sail inMarch and landed a further
in New York on 15 Another 130 arrived on board the Janet on 10
ninety-one emigrants May.386
October, and a month later, on 10 November 1848, more passengers arrived aboard the
Adeline-Cann,5*7 a vessel chartered local businessmen, B. Collins and There were
by J. Fanning.388
no such whatever in 1850.389
Set in the context of the as a whole, direct from to countries
country emigration Drogheda
other than Britain was miniscule, 0.19 cent of Ireland's total to
constituting just per emigration
such destinations during the decade to 6 June 1841. Why should the port ofDrogheda have held

379 Seventh general report of the colonial land and emigration commissioners: 1847, p. 36, H.C. 1847 [809], xxxiii; Drogheda
Conservative Journal, 14 March 1846; Drogheda Argus, 9 May 1846 put the number at sixty-four.
380 Eighth general report of the colonial land and emigration commissioners: 1848, p. 37, H.C. 1847-8 [961], xxvi; Census,
1851, p. ciii.
381 Return of the number ofpassenger ships which have sailed from ports in theUnited Kingdom with emigrants on board, during
the lastfive years; distinguishing whether such ports are under the superintendence of an emigration officer or not; with the
number of such ships which have been wrecked or destroyed at sea, and thenumber of lives so lost, p. 10, H.C. 1852 (245),
382 In April and May 1847, for example, two large consignments of grain arrived in the port from Norfolk, Virginia,
U.S.A., for Messrs Smith and Smyth -Drogheda Argus, 1, 8 May 1847; vessels such as these may just have taken
passengers on board.
383 Report of the select committee of theHouse ofLords on colonization from Ireland; togetherwith minutes of evidence, pp 334-5,
H.C. 1847 [737], vi.
384 Ninth general report of the colonial land and emigration commissioners: 1849, p. 33, H.C. 1849 [1082], xxii - it is
that returns merely copied the figure of 494 from this; Return of thenumber of
possible subsequent parliamentary
on board, during the lastfive years;
passenger ships which have sailed from ports in the United Kingdom with emigrants
are under the an emigration officeror not; with thenumber of such ships
distinguishing whether such ports superintendence of
which have been wrecked or destroyed at sea, and thenumber of lives so lost, p. 10, H.C. 1852 (245), xlix; Census, 1851, p.
385 Drogheda Conservative Journal, 5 February 1848; Drogheda Argus, 12 February 1848.
386 A local newspaper, the Drogheda Conservative Journal, 1 April 1848, reported that ninety-five sailed out on the
Warrior, but the New York passenger lists do not indicate any deaths at sea, so the newspaper report may have
been slightly inaccurate.
387 The Famine immigrants: lists of Irish immigrants arriving at theport ofNew York, 1846-51 (7 vols., Baltimore, 1983), ii,
pp 293-4, 389; ibid., iii, pp 213-14, 293.
388 The Irish Advocate, 2 December 1848; Drogheda Argus, 2 December 1848.
389 Census, 1851, p. ciii.
ThePort ofDrogheda 1790-1850 249

such a small slice of the transatlantic business? The root cause was
passenger fundamentally

geographic, founded on Drogheda's proximity to the large British port of Liverpool, which
dominated transatlantic trade. As the nineteenth assumed a
century progressed Drogheda
role as a feeder to its British The low passenger volumes
growing port larger neighbour. emigrat
to North but a of the total emigration
ing directly America therefore
comprised tiny element
the port of Drogheda, as many of those who boarded local steamers for were in
through Liverpool
on the first stage of a that would take them across the
reality embarking just voyage ultimately
Atlantic ocean.

catered for substantial waves of North A?nerica-bound

Occasionally, Drogheda port quite
passage to the of 1837, for example, the numbers
emigrants seeking Liverpool. During spring
in en route to America, were so as to draw editorial comment from a local
arriving Drogheda large


We believe the mania of emigration to America was never more than during the
season. The roads into this town have, for some weeks, been
leading literally
crowded with persons about to from the land of their nativity many of whom, if
one from the appearance of their seem to have been in
may judge luggage, tolerably
comfortable circumstances. The of those individuals, such as are
majority particularly
artisans and labourers, have, we understand, received warm from their
- cases ...
transatlantic friends the latter having in many remitted them the necessary funds

It would seem, to from these comments, that passengers bound for America at this period
did not emanate from the most sectors of Irish Even so, the
economically deprived society.
of emigrants transformed quays into baleful theatres of sorrow. In
departure Drogheda's
1837, for the the harrowing scenes that
example, Drogheda Journal graphically depicted accompa
nied the of the Green Isle paddle-steamer as it left with a of
departure contingent emigrants:391

... of friends on the shore and the undissembled looks of sorrow and tears of
in every face
manifest ... an shout burst from the assembled multitude
anguish agonising
on the shore, which was but to the choking efforts of the parting
faintly responded by
friends on board. For a considerable distance the Boyne side were to be seen groups
of all ages and sexes their hands and their handkerchiefs as the vessel
wringing waving
and a Banathleath?92 those whom never more behold.
passed, uttering upon they might

Statistical evidence for levels of passenger trafficfrom Drogheda to Liverpool during the 1840s
is rather sparse and it is not to the extent to
fragmentary. Consequently possible precisely quantify
was to to North America via
which Drogheda port used by Irish people wishing emigrate either
or to Britain itself during this period. Nonetheless, the
Liverpool notwithstanding rudimentary
nature of the available data it is to a reasonable There is broad
possible piece together picture.
between the hard statistics published in the 1841 census that Drogheda
consistency report showing
commanded a of Ireland's traffic to
steamship operators significant proportion passenger

Liverpool (23.91 per cent of all deck passengers) and data compiled later in the decade when
famine the floodgates and vast numbers a new life in foreign lands.
opened sought
The crop first succumbed to serious attack in
country's potato by blight {Phytophtera infestans)
the autumn of 1845. The failure was but itwas to be the first of a succes
ensuing crop just partial,
sion. Food the winter of 1845 and of 1846
shortages experienced during spring consequently
turned out to be of the Great Famine. The numbers to America in
harbingers emigrating early

390 Drogheda Journal, 8 April 1837.

391 Ibid., 15 April 1837.
392 This was a pseudo-phonetic spelling for the valediction, Beannacht teat, commonly used in the Irish language.
250 County Louth Archaeological and Historical Journal

American and Australian

JPACHLET office,
TO SAIL on the22nd APRIL.

For St. JOHN'A N. B.

OXFORD,.Rathbone...l250... 19th
GLENVLEW.1500... 22nd
PATRICK HENRY.Delano,.1500... 25th
SHEFFIELD, Allen ... 1000 tons ... 1st of May.
ROSCIUS ... Collins ... 1550 tons ... 13th do.
These Ships are all of the first and largest class, and
were built expressly as Packets for the different Lines to
which they belong, and have long been celebrated for their
superiority of accommodation and swiftness of sailing.
A few respectable persons can be accommodated in the
Cabin, Second Cabin and Steerage of each of the above Ships,
on to
WM. MILEY, Steam Packet Quay, Drogheda,
or P. W. BYRNES, 36, Waterloo Road, Liverpool.
N.B?Passengers engaging for any of the above Ships,
will have their expenses paid, if detained in Liverpool moro
than 48 hours, after the day named for sailing.
Plate 6.3: Newspaper advertisement from American and Australian Packets Office, Drogheda (Drogheda Conservative
Journal, 16 April 1842).
The Port ofDrogheda 1790-1850 251

Plate 6.4: Print depicting the departure of an emigrant vessel from Liverpool (Illustrated London News, 6 July 1850).

1846 can therefore be considered as the first wave of the Great Famine exodus. there is
no record of the overall numbers who sailed from to the
surviving Drogheda Liverpool during
months of 1846, more and more were their on America. 3,080
early passengers setting sights
to seek from to America 9 May, a record
passed through Drogheda port passage Liverpool by high,
which was about treble the number for 1845. The
corresponding Drogheda Argus maintained that it
was more than double the number that had in any one It described these
previously gone year.
as industrious and and lamented their loss to the As
emigrants young, enterprising, country.
to America were ever to return, the became
people going unlikely Drogheda quays increasingly
sorrowful locations as after ferried the
steamship steamship emigrants away. The Drogheda Argus
a word of the scenes to be witnessed there in the spring of 1846:393
painted graphic picture

as we have
Walk down to the quay, done, about the hour any of our steam-boats leave the
- -
port. Look upon the dense of heads the straining eyes the
throng mourning clasped
hands of those who lean over the vessel's side towards the land, till she seems well nigh
and then the waving of handkerchiefs and hats from the shore, the convulsive sob,
the dishevelled hair, the beating of hands ... see the hundreds of brothers, sisters, lovers,
friends, the strand, to pace with the
running, running along vainly striving keep
as she courses ... that wild, -
and that unnatural cheer
rapid magnificent steam-ship along;
cheer!No, itwas a shriek, a wail... an sound, such as can be felt, palpably felt, but
not described ... a ... who this scene
cry of grief is the last response that has witnessed of
recurrence at our quay can dare tell us that a of this kind is desired.
daily parting

393 Drogheda Argus, 9 May 1846.

252 County Louth Archaeological and Historical Journal

The continued 1846, but the exodus to America slowed

population haemorrhage throughout
down autumn time in line with seasonal trends: about 200 of those from to
by travelling Drogheda
the last three weeks of were destined for America, whereas about 600
Liverpool during September
from the west of Ireland, were to via the Drogheda to
people, principally emigrating England
sea route each week.394
The winter of 1846-7 and starvation on a scale never before
brought hunger experienced,
vast numbers to flee the country. became the favoured for those
causing Liverpool option lacking
the means to procure a
passage to America and the escalating numbers arriving
in that

1847 were such as to cause alarm the authorities and the resources
January great among put city's
under severe strain. On 4 1847, for 3,189 Irish pauper were in
January example, immigrants
receipt of relief in Liverpool, but a fortnight later the number had rocketed to 18,053 and on 28
it reached 24,297. In less than a month the number had increased almost and
January eight-fold
the situation seemed to be out of control.395 On 16 1847 the head constable of
spiralling February
M.M.G. the mayor of that Lawrence, with a
Liverpool, Dowling, presented city, George report
which he had compiled on the daily arrivals of paupers by steamship from Ireland. It showed that
between 13 and 16 February, inclusive, a of five weeks, a total of 30,039
January period people
arrived in Liverpool from Ireland, 7,935 of whom had embarked from Drogheda and 11,569 from
Dublin.396 Dublin and therefore handled 38.51 and 26.42 per cent of the traffic, respec
in line with, their of
tively, proportions broadly though slightly up on, corresponding percentages

Plate 6.5: Print depicting a roll-call on the quarter deck of an emigrant ship (Illustrated London Nexos, 6 July 1850).

394 Ibid., 3 October 1846.

395 Copies of, or extractsfrom, any correspondence addressed toHer Majesty's secretary of statefor theHome Department, relative
to the recent immigration of destitute Irish intoLiverpool, p. 9, H.C. 1847 (193), liv.
396 The head constable noted that the large arrivals commenced on 9 December 1846.
The Port ofDrogheda 1790-1850 253

34.16 per cent and 23.91 per cent of the deck passenger traffic ferried to Britain during the
summer of 1841. In 1847 Drogheda port still ranked second to Dublin, just as it had at the
beginning of the decade. People also travelled to Liverpool from ten other Irish ports during this
but their numbers were small with the Dublin and Drogheda
period, relatively by comparison
the port that ranked third, for catered for just 9.2 per cent of all Liverpool
figures. Sligo, example,
bound passengers during this five-week period early in 1847, and in last position came Portrush
with a mere 0.12 cent of the business.397 6.4 illustrates the of men, women
per Figure proportions
and children the carried to from the ports of Ireland
among passengers Liverpool principal
during period.
Men the biggest far and accounted for fifty-six per cent of all passengers
comprised category by
at at that time. This is in view of the fact that Ireland's poor
landing Liverpool hardly surprising
law system operated on the of denying relief to able-bodied men, them
principle thereby forcing
to travel in search of employment. However, a than average number of children
higher travelling
on the to route reduced the proportion of men among the passengers to
Drogheda Liverpool
was on a
per cent. Indeed, the number of children embarking from
almost par with
Dublin, i.e. 1,713 from the former as to 1,751 from the latter port. Furthermore, on a
basis, more children sailed from Drogheda at this time than from any other in
proportionate port
the country with the exception of a from which few passengers sailed in any
Sligo, port relatively
even more were ferried
event. Nonetheless,
children by the Drogheda steamers, they still
a little over one in five of the passengers. The of women
only comprised proportion embarking
from Drogheda, however, was in line with the national norm and, at twenty-nine per cent,
was over two per cent above the for the as a whole. Entire families therefore
just average country
formed a small of the voyagers.
relatively proportion
The five steamship sailings per week out of Drogheda (subject toweather conditions) during
the early part of 1847 conveyed an average weekly total of 1,585 people to Liverpool, but numbers
could fluctuate to some extent.398 On 4 1847, for Lord while
February example, Brougham,


D Children
passengers 6000

i rrm
z3 I S"
f s ?
6.4: Profile of passengers in Liverpool from Irish ports, 13 January to 16 February 1847 (inclusive).
Figure arriving

397 Copies of, or extractsfrom, any correspondence addressed toHer Majesty's secretary of statefor theHome Department, relative
to the recent immigration of destitute Irish into Liverpool, p. 16, H.C. 1847 (193), liv.
398 Ibid., scheduling arrangements were such that there tended to be no outbound sailings either Sundays or on
or a Thursday).
one other day at mid-week (usually aWednesday
254 County Louth Archaeological and Historical Journal

to the House of Lords in London on the distress in occasioned the influx

reporting Liverpool by
of Irish paupers, stated that 692 had landed from Drogheda on the last two days of January
Would-be in fell into two main economic those bound
arriving Drogheda categories:
for America and to The former had to have at least to
going England. enough money pay for
the voyage from Liverpool to America in addition to the costs involved in to in
getting Liverpool
the first were in more comfortable circumstances than their
place. They generally England-bound
counterparts, many of whom were in a situation.400 It was the latter category of emigrant
that often presented the most on the streets of A local newspaper, for
pitiful spectacle Drogheda.
in that 'women and children have been with
example, reported mid-February actually contesting
- so
cattle for of raw which were on the Steam-Packet many
pieces turnips lying Quay completely
as to be unable to walk on board the and in such a state as to excite fears as to
prostrated packet,
whether could survive the The numbers nonetheless, continued to rise
they voyage'.401 embarking,
and during the firstweek inMarch 1847 over 2,500 sailed from Drogheda.402
Whilst the evidence not allow
does an exact of the total number who
surviving computation
embarked from for Liverpool in the harsh Famine of 1847, it is to make a
Drogheda year possible
reasonable estimate from returns furnished Edward
general by Liverpool stipendiary magistrate,
to a from Ireland
Rushton, parliamentary inquiry. His statistics showed that 296,231
people landed
at Liverpool in the period from 13 January to 13 December 1847, inclusive, of whom 50,000 had
arrived on business, and 130,000 were in the of to the United States. 'Half
process emigrating
naked and over 116,000, made the remainder and for them
starving' paupers, numbering up
Britain was the final destination.403 that Drogheda steamers 23.91 cent of
Noting transported per
deck from Ireland in the summer of 1841 and that the
passengers entering Liverpool correspond
ing proportion for a five-week period in January/February 1847 (forwhich figures are available)
was a similar 26.42 cent, it is reasonable to assume that the proportion
remarkably per conveyed by
the for 1847 as a whole was somewhere in the of twenty
Drogheda Steam-packet Company region
five per cent. This would suggest that approximately 74,000 embarked at Drogheda port in 1847,
about 32,500 of whom travelled to en route to North America, 12,500 were on business
and the 29,000 were whose concern was to reach Britain itself. A
remaining paupers prime graphic
of the relative sizes of these is in 6.5. It would therefore be
representation categories given Figure
to consider all as the Famine
wrong passengers Drogheda port
leaving during totally destitute.
Almost seventeen cent of at
those in 1847 travelled on business, many of
per landing Liverpool
whom would have been livestock dealers their animals. This
accompanying relatively high percent
not a as the
age does imply correspondingly large number of different business travellers, however,
same livestock dealers and made a of round to in
frequently routinely multiplicity trips Liverpool
the course of their trade. Indeed, Patrick Ternan, the secretary of the
Drogheda Steam-packet
attested in May 1847 that a mere cabin on were
Company, twenty-five passengers, average,
from to each week, that its business passengers, in the
conveyed Drogheda Liverpool indicating

399 Hansard's parliamentary debates, third series, txxxix (London, 1847), p. 770.
400 Drogheda Conservative Journal, 9 May 1846, 27 March, 1May 1847. Those heading for America were principally
from a rural background, but not exclusively so. Drogheda Argus, on 12 June 1847 stated that a very large propor
tion of the money withdrawn from the Drogheda was taken out
Savings Bank during the previous six months by
people who had since emigrated toAmerica.
401 Drogheda Argus, 13 February 1847.
402 Ibid., 6 March 1847.
403 Copy of a letteraddressed to her majesty 's secretary of statefor theHome Department, byEdward Rushton, Esquire, stipendiary
magistrate ofLiverpool, bearing date 21st April 1849, p. 1, H.C. 1849 (266), xlvii; Report of the select committee on poor
removal, p. 358, H.C. 1854 (396), xvii; Captain Denham's report on passenger accommodation in steamers between Ireland
and Liverpool, p. 8, H.C. 1849 [339], li.
The Port ofDrogheda 1790-1850 255

U.S. Emigrants
D Britain-boundPaupers

Figure 6.5: Estimate of passengers leaving Drogheda port for Liverpool, 1847.

main, neither nor the most comfortable of conditions.404 This, in turn, that
sought enjoyed implies
their were of modest scale.
Nonetheless, the Famine victims that flocked to to
Drogheda seeking passage Liverpool
a even were in transit can
sight and their presence
presented frightful though they only have
exacerbated the local climate of destitution and On the streets and in
deprivation, dejection.
the 'hollow cheek' and 'sunken infused terror and
public places ubiquitous eye' simultaneously
into the beholder,405 an added sense of to the traumatised
despair bringing depression already
local and in a very disconcerting and way on
community impacting demoralising Drogheda's
street ambience. The most extreme distress to be witnessed on the streets of the town was
Famine victims from the west of Ireland for These many of whom bore
heading Liverpool. people,
a cadaverous were not entitled to relief at the kitchens as their
appearance,406 Drogheda soup
names were not on the local relief lists. Their nonetheless drew instant and
plight occasionally
from the of the town, albeit on an ad-hoc basis. The
spontaneous compassion people following
report published by the Drogheda Argus in February 1847 gives a vivid and poignant portrayal of
the distressed state of some of those their way the town:
making through

The number of mendicants on the streets is daily and of these are

increasing very many
poor creatures from the western counties, to make their way to On
endeavouring England.
a of a man and his wife and two children, arrived here
Thursday evening family consisting
from the neighbourhood of Ballina, had been three weeks on the road
County Mayo. They
... The wretched had no means of farther, and in down Street
family going passing Shop
the woman fell exhausted her the child she carried in her arms was
by sufferings evidently
- a an
second carried her husband of the ravages of
dying by presented appalling picture
famine, whilst the man himself seemed alive. The mother and child on
hardly lay prostrate
the side of the street, a crowd around, and a small collection was made to preserve

404 Drogheda Conservative Journal, 8 May 1847.

405 Drogheda Argus, 9 January 1847.
406 Ibid., 13 February 1847.
256 County Louth Archaeological and Historical Journal

their lives. A was and nourishment for them. On the

lodging procured, provided yesterday
children died. The are however This is but one of the almost innumer
parents recovering.
able cases of destitution witnessed the crowds here from the west.407
amongst daily arriving

starvation, famine and distress meant boom times for the

Ironically, widespread steam-packet
of Ireland as demand for to their owners with an
companies rising transport England presented
to make increased Their treatment of Famine victims to
opportunity profits. seeking passage
was more and than
by business
determined considerations the profit motive
Liverpool by compas
sion or However, what had become a seller's market in sea transport to came
humanity. Liverpool
under threat in 1847 with demands from the authorities that sanction
Liverpool government
measures to health and curtail the spread of disease from sick and Irish
safeguard public starving
In the government announced in the House of Commons that two vessels were to be
paupers. May
as in the and that a custom-house officer would board every vessel
deployed hospital ships Mersey
coming in with deck passengers and hoist a yellow flag if disease was found. A medical officer
would then the passengers and have fever cases removed to But of most
inspect hospital ships.
concern to was the notice with which were served, that continued
shipowners they warning
of fever cases could result in their vessels under The new
carrying being placed quarantine.408
had the potential to business if ships were due to fever among
regulations severely disrupt delayed
passengers. To circumvent this, the steam-packet of Dublin, Dundalk and
companies Drogheda,
a notice passengers that thence
Newry collectively responded by publishing informing intending
forward they would be subject to medical inspection before being allowed on board and that
destitute unfit to support themselves their own labour would be refused passage. These
persons by
alone would have been a considerable on many unfortunates
procedures imposition poor
to get to but their tribulations were to increase further. In addition, the steam
desperate England
took the opportunity to enhance their any and obviate cost
packet companies profitability implica
tions arising from the new measures increasing by the deck fare to
to five

1847.409 Prior to that it cost two to get from to so the

mid-May just shillings Drogheda Liverpool,
had been hiked to two-and-a-half times that on the route.410 The
charge up previously obtaining
sudden announcement took people and increased stress and to
by surprise brought hardship
Famine victims in in the of a passage across the
impoverished arriving Drogheda hope securing
Irish Sea. Many who had reached the town to the announcement of the fare
immediately prior
increase could not afford the new and had little but to resort to or to
charge option begging
their in an effort to make the difference. For some, however, the
selling meagre possessions up
fare an obstacle and for them became a forlorn
higher presented insuperable reaching Liverpool

From that point onward the healthy and able-bodied with money to pay the new
only enough
inflated fares could for deck Would-be nonetheless continued to pour
qualify passage. emigrants
into Drogheda and an article from the Meath Herald in the Freeman's
newspaper, reprinted Journal
in late October 1848, that a in which are not observed
reported 'scarcely day passes strangers
or Dublin -
their way the sea of the misery which
wending towards ports Drogheda flying from

407 Ibid., 20 February 1847.

408 Hansard's parliamentary debates: third series, xcii (London, 1847), pp 524-6.
409 Drogheda Conservative Journal, 15 May 1847; Drogheda Argus, 15 May 1847; the establishment of a common deck
fare would have also helped to placate critics in Liverpool, some of whom maintained that the dampening effect
on fares brought about by competition between steam-packet companies induced increasing numbers of
paupers to travel to their town.
410 Drogheda Argus, 20 February 1847; Drogheda Conservative Journal, 17 April 1847.
411 Drogheda Argus, 15 May 1847.
The Port ofDrogheda 1790-1850 257

Plate 6.6: Print of government medical inspector's office at Liverpool (Illustrated London News, 6 July 1850).

threatens to visit their homes upon the arrival of winter'.412 Those the voyage to
making Liverpool,
however, had little prospect of a In 1849 a H. M. Denham on
pleasant voyage. report by Captain
accommodation aboard steamers from Ireland to Britain was to
passenger plying presented
Parliament. In a indictment of the facilities afforded to deck
damning by steamship operators
passengers it described in horrifying detail the conditions to which accommodat
appalling people
ed on the decks of these vessels were Denham stated that he had been informed by the

During the years 1847 and 1848 there were frequently from 600 to 800 deck passengers on
board of one steam-vessel at a time, arriving from the ports of Dublin, Dundalk,
and crowded on deck, mixed the cattle and besmeared with their
Sligo, together amongst
dung, clothed in rags and saturated with wet (the spray of the sea having washed over them
the voyage), so that on their arrival, from the fatigue of the passage, the want of
proper food and clothing, many of them have been unable to go ashore without assistance,
to all appearance were not to survive many
days; and
and the hardships of such unfor
tunate deck are a wind, as the
passengers frequently augmented by contrary paddle
steamers are not able to make the passage (with a strong east wind) in less than from 18 to
20 hours ... and on many occasions women have been confined or delivered on the passage

412 The Freeman's Journal, 25 October 1848.

413 Captain Denham's on in steamers betiueen Ireland and Liverpool, p. 6, H.C. 1849 li.
report passenger accommodation [339],
258 County Louth Archaeological and Historical Journal

This was corroborated at itwas to board

testimony by the tide surveyor Liverpool port, whose duty
steam vessels from Ireland. He attested to
incoming having experienced great difficulty crossing
decks due to close of and to the of passengers to avoid the cattle
crowding people anxiety they had
to share the decks with. In his estimation deck were 'the lowest and poorest of
passengers grade
and, in many cases, almost without and when it occurs that those vessels have
society, clothing;
weather and adverse winds, the time of passage is and there
rough considerably lengthened, being
no shelter for deck from wet and
their cold must be very Denham's
passengers,suffering great'.414
was much to the of the and in a feeble to contest
report chagrin steam-packet companies attempt
its findings, William the agent in asserted
McElroy, Drogheda Steam-packet Company's Liverpool
that livestock on the decks of that vessels were off with boards and that the
company's partitioned
number of deck carried aboard its Brian Boiroimhe steamer 1847 was
largest passengers during
580.415 Even vested interest opens the of understatement, the
though McElroy's possibility
admitted figure of 580 deck passengers on the ship is in broad conformity with the numbers
mentioned in the statement in 1850, a from
Liverpool police anyhow. Ironically, following report
the select vestry of the Board of Trade ordered that the master be of the Brian Boiroimhe
for his
prosecuted overcrowding ship.416
Not content to on written and oral evidence from third parties alone, Denham also
thirteen steam vessels at first hand, which he found 'the mire and stench' of the
inspected during
areas cattle, horses, and 'difficult to encounter'.
occupied jointly by people, sheep, pigs poultry
The agent stated that the amount of deck space
Drogheda Steam-packet Company's Liverpool
for passengers aboard its vessels varied to the numbers of and of
appropriated according people
livestock to be carried. He also admitted that no space was reserved below decks to which deck

could resort for shelter. the reasons was that 'the between-decks and
passengers Among given
holds, filled with livestock and merchandize, the latter would not be safe'.417 In a
being invariably
letter to the M.P. for Drogheda, Sir William Somerville, further the company's
McElroy justified
that itwas necessary for the steadiness and of the to have the heavy
practices by stating safety ship
below and the (i.e. on deck.418 However, the
weight light weight passengers) Drogheda company
was no means in failing to reserve below decks for the shelter of deck
by unique space passengers
and a similar situation existed with the Dublin and Newry lines. It was no wonder that Denham

concluded that 'the recent to

government for its interference, to the sufferings of
appeals mitigate
the poorer class of passengers between Ireland and Liverpool, are too well borne out ...'419 He was
of the view that steamship were of their own volition, to introduce satis
clearly operators unlikely,
conditions for the conveyance of deck passengers.
No enumeration of those for ever took the latter half
leaving Drogheda Liverpool place during
of the 1840s and there is a dearth of hard statistical evidence on this Some
consequently subject.
isolated can be found in local but these are for
scraps newspaper reportage particularly inadequate
the years 1848-50. Nor was there an enumeration conducted at itself.
ongoing systematic Liverpool
Estimates of the total numbers landing there from Ireland were compiled by the police for 1847
and 1850, but as annual were to some extent and did not
figures they incomplete they generally
differentiate of origin. These estimates are in Table 6.1.
by port given

414 Ibid., pp 7-8, H.C. 1849 [339], li.

415 Drogheda Argus, 7 July 1849.
416 The Liverpool Mercury, 10 January 1851.
417 Captain Denham's report on passenger accommodation in steamers between Ireland and Liverpool, pp 10, 31-2, H.C. 1849
[339], li.
418 Drogheda Argus, 7 July 1849.
419 Captain Denham's report on passenger accommodation in steamers between Ireland and Liverpool, pp 9-10, H.C. 1849
[339], li.
The Port ofDrogheda 1790-1850 259

Year Paupers Emigrants/Others Total Pauper %

1847 116,231 180,000 296,231 39
1850 77,765 173,236 251,001 31

Table 6.1: Deck passengers at from Ireland, 1847, 1850.420

landing Liverpool

In addition, the 1851 census commissioners estimates of the annual numbers

published rough
of Irish people emigrating from Liverpool during the period 1842-50, based on the loose and
that Irish per cent of the total from
imprecise assumption people comprised ninety emigration
that Indeed, the commissioners themselves the fact that their figures
port.421 freely acknowledged
were and they had
less than satisfactory admitted that 'little doubt that this estimate is below the

truth, inasmuch as the from has, in many been almost

emigration Liverpool years, exclusively
Irish...'.422 These annual are therefore best assessed as orders of magnitude and
figures general
should not be taken too Their main value is in the trend in Irish
literally. illustrating general
out of these and a
emigration Liverpool during years by implication suggesting corresponding
trend in the numbers of America-bound from and Dublin, Ireland's
emigrants sailing Drogheda
embarkation for Liverpool over this period (see 6.6).
principal ports, Figure
can never fill the void created of concrete on
These statistics by the absence data the numbers
from but be the best available indicator of the trend in passenger
embarking Drogheda, they may
volumes out of Drogheda the 1840s. On the not unreasonable that
port during assumption
market share of passenger traffic to remained at a
Drogheda's Liverpool steady twenty-five per


1842 1843 1844 1845 1846 1847 1848 1849 1850

Figure 6.6: Estimated Irish emigration from Liverpool to North America, 1842-50.

420 Report from the select committee on poor removal; togetherwith theminutes of evidence, appendix, and index, pp 358, 593-4,
H.C. 1854 (396), xvii - the 1847 figures listed on the above table were submitted by the stipendiary magistrate
for Liverpool, Edward Rushton, in a letter dated 21 April 1849 to the Home Secretary, but they just covered the
period from 13 January 1847 to 13 December 1847 inclusive, and did not refer to the full calendar year; the
figures for 1850 are also incomplete, as returns were discontinued
during the period from 19 January to 22
March 1850; Captain Denham's report on passenger accommodation in steamers between Ireland and Liverpool, p. 8, H.C.
1849 [339], li.
421 Census, 1851, pp cii-ciii.
422 Ibid., p. hi.
260 County Louth Archaeological and Historical Journal

cent or thereabouts the 1840s, the trend in Irish from to

during escalating emigration Liverpool
North America would a similar rise in the numbers in Liverpool from the
strongly suggest arriving
port of This is evidence of numbers of
Drogheda. supported by newspaper particularly high
America-bound from for in the of 1850.423
emigrants embarking Drogheda Liverpool spring
Although the Famine
brought emigration from Ireland, the traffic in human agony was
not all one of those in remained in Britain for a much shorter
way. Many arriving Liverpool period
than they had intended and were soon to find themselves back to Ireland. This came
about as a result of rules entitlement to relief in In order to
statutory governing poor England.
for aid a claimant had to have settled status within the in which the claim was
qualify parish being
made. This status could be established in a limited number of ways. The avenue was
principal by
virtue of birth in the in but it could also be attained an annual house
parish question, by paying
rent of at least ten no were accommodated. in
pounds, provided lodgers Apprenticeship England
could likewise constitute for a claim to settlement, and Irish women could it by
grounds acquire
in this was not to Irish men. Therefore, for those unable
marriage England, though option open
to establish it as their of settlement status in an was, in effect,
place nativity, English parish
founded on economic This, in terms, made it a the
principles. practical privilege beyond general
reach of impoverished Irish immigrants.424For destitute Irish in Britain this law had grim implica
tions. poor relief and unable to establish settlement status were liable to be taken
People seeking
before a to have their removal to their native enforced law. In this way
magistrate parish by English
local authorities were to force Irish back to Ireland a
empowered people should they become
burden on coffers. It was a situation that had suited as it
public traditionally English employers
allowed them to avail of Irish labour while at the same time to
migrant providing legal authority
remove back to Ireland those in dire straits to seek poor relief. Thus, whether or
forcibly enough
not a poor was on whether or not circumstances
person deported basically hinged compelled
him/her to for poor relief. In with this there existed another
apply parallel statutory provision
destitute Irish could, of their own volition, to to be sent back to
whereby people apply magistrates
Ireland at Such were described as back to Ireland, as
parish expense.425 people being 'passed'
distinct from those 'removed'. Therefore poor to Ireland at the expense of
being people returning
authorities in Britain two main those who travelled and
parish comprised categories: voluntarily
those who were forced back under the laws of settlement and removal.
This situation until the Five Years Residence Act,426 which came into force in
pertained August
created a new restriction the removal of from a in which
1846, whereby paupers parish they had
lived a minimum of five years became once a moved from one to
illegal. However, person parish
another he lost all the benefit of his five years residence. This had serious as an inter
of residence could result in his
removed should he return at a later date. The
ruption being
of therefore did not the same as settlement status: in
principle irremoveability provide security
short, settlement was but was not.427 Nonetheless, a person
permanent irremoveability qualifying
under either in a became entitled to poor relief as as he lived there
heading particular parish long
and needed it.

423 Drogheda Argus, 20 April 1850.

424 Report from the select committee on poor removal; togetherwith theproceedings of the committee,minutes of evidence, appendix,
and index, p. 25, H.C. 1854 (396), xvii.
425 Act 17 Geo. II, c. 5: 'An Act to amend and make more effectual the laws relating to rogues, vagabonds, and other
idle and disorderly persons, and to houses of correction'.
426 Act 9 & 10 Viet., c. 66: 'An Act to amend the laws relating to the removal of the poor'.
427 Report from the select committee on poor removal; togetherwith theproceedings of the committee,minutes of evidence, appendix,
and index, pp 24-6, H.C. 1854 (396), xvii.
The Port ofDrogheda 1790-1850 261

However, the influx of destitute Famine in Ireland the winter of

huge people fleeing during
1846 and spring of 1847 led to demands, especially from the authorities in Liverpool and The Times
for new to facilitate and the removal of paupers back to
newspaper, statutory provisions expedite
Ireland. This culminated in the enactment of the Poor Removal Act in 1847, largelywhich
circumvented and administrative difficulties inherent in earlier laws by 'any
legal empowering
officer, or overseer of any or union in to take and convey
guardian, relieving parish England
before two of the without summons or warrant, who shall
justices peace, every poor person
become to any in and who he may have reason to believe is liable to be
chargeable parish England,
removed ...\428 From that point on, and union officers the power and
parish poor-law possessed
of constables as far as taking before for removal was
authority police poor people magistrates
concerned.429 The of this Act the floodgates for the of paupers to
passing opened deportation
Ireland and Irish that had the masses to in
steamship companies conveyed impoverished England
the first now substantial business in them back The port of
place gained transporting again.
became the principal exit for the return traffic and the authorities there lost little
Liverpool point
time in mechanisms in for of paupers back to Ireland. In
setting place large-scale transportation
early July 1847 the Manchester Guardian published a report from its Liverpool correspondent,
that 'arrangements, on terms to the been made the agents
stating very favourable parish have with
of the various Irish steamers for the conveyance of Irish
paupers to the ports Dundalk, of Dublin,

Belfast, and ...\430 Within a matter of days, the first consignment of 200
Newry, Drogheda, Sligo
was to Ireland.431 Deck fares from to ports on the east coast of
paupers despatched Liverpool
Ireland, which cost British local authorities between 2s. 6d. and 35. each, added further to the

affluence of owners.432
wealthy steamship
Under the new were set ashore in Ireland the captain of the
system deportees simply by
steamer them. The whole was conducted without any form of communica
transporting procedure
tion with law authorities in Ireland even the in were
poor though people question invariably
destitute.433 Once landed, a pauper had to fend for himself, no matter how dire his situation may
have been. The law transferred to the nearest their of birth or
envisaged paupers being ports place
residence in Ireland, but in this did not The that were
practice always happen. regulations adopted
to the law allowed authorities to convey to any Irish as as
implement English paupers port long
their consent was obtained.134
in common with other ports, had received paupers removed from England
Drogheda, forcibly
even to the of the Poor Removal Act of 1847, but what had been a trickle was soon to
prior passing
resemble a torrent.435 returns of the number of removal orders in
Parliamentary granted England
and Wales the Great Famine are as local authorities in many cases
during incomplete pleaded
to furnish the information on the basis that no documents existed from which to extract
it. The data that was collected, however, shows the number of removal orders in 1847 to
be more than double that of the year, and these returns also reveal that approximately
two-thirds of those issued in and Wales in 1847 were in Lancashire. Thus, the
England granted

428 Act 10 & 11 Viet., c. 33: 'An Act to amend the laws relating to the removal of poor persons from England and
429 Section two of the Act gave similar powers to officers of Scottish local authorities.
430 Manchester Guardian, 7 July 1847.
431 Ibid., 10 July 1847 (quoting a report from the Liverpool Mercury).
432 Report from the select committee on poor removal; togetherwith theproceedings of the committee,minutes of evidence, appendix,
and index, p. 50, H.C. 1854 (396), xvii.
433 Ibid., p. 36, H.C. 1854 (396), xvii.
434 Ibid., p. 38, H.C. 1854 (396), xvii.
435 Minutes of proceedings of board of guardians, Drogheda Union, 1April 1847.
262 County Louth Archaeological and Historical Journal




> 10000

?" 6000


1846 1847 1848 1849 1850 1851 1852 1853

Figure 6.7: Annual numbers of paupers sent to Ireland from Liverpool, 1846-53.

bulk of these removals would, in effect, have been from This evidence was corrobo
rated in 1854 when a select committee removal received a
parliamentary investigating poor
statement from the vestry clerk of the annual numbers sent back to Ireland
Liverpool detailing
between 26 December 1845 and 25 December 1853. The 15,008 returned in 1847 was an all-time
in annual returned to
high and almost treble the 1846 figure of 5,313.437 The trend numbers being
Ireland from over the 1846-53, inclusive, is illustrated in 6.7.
Liverpool period Figure
No records exist to the numbers of paupers to return on the to
quantify compelled Liverpool
sea route, but there is strong evidence that many also made the trip voluntarily, their
fares being to the select of
by the Liverpool authorities. Charles Hart, secretary vestry
went on record in July 1847 to state that paupers 'of whom there is almost a
Liverpool, daily
considerable number' consented to sent from to the of
actually being Liverpool ports Drogheda,
and Portrush.438 It was a that got no popular support in the town of
Newry, Sligo practice
however. On the contrary, the shipment of paupers to became a
Drogheda, Drogheda port
sensitive issue and caused some rancour in the town. The removal was as endan
system perceived
health and the manner in which it was conducted sometimes incensed local public
gering public
In 1847 the Drogheda newspaper
opinion. mid-May Argus reported:

A in our river on six cases of fever on The

ship arrived Tuesday last, with board. patients
were removed to our fever and are well; and we can state on the
temporary hospital doing
best that in the unfortunate home from a few
authority immigrants shipped Liverpool
weeks there was far more of fatal sickness than in those over ...439
ago appearance going

436 Return of the number of orders of removal granted byjustices of thepeace inEngland and Wales, for each of the lastfive years;
specifying thenumber of thesewho were Irish and Scotch paupers removed to theirnative countries, p. 13, H.C. 1850 (666), 1.
437 Report from the select committee on poor removal; togetherwith theproceedings of the committee,minutes of evidence, appendix,
and index, p. 369, H.C. 1854 (396), xvii; these annual returns covered the period from 26 December of each year
to 25 December of the following year. Although the return was headed 'number of paupers passed to Ireland ...'
it appears that it referred to all paupers whose return to Ireland was funded from Liverpool's public purse.
438 Charles Hart to the mayor of Liverpool, 2 July 1847 (NA, Kew, London, Home Office records, HO 45 (OS)
439 Drogheda Argus, 15 May 1847.
The Port ofDrogheda 1790-1850 263

The of paupers who were not natives of the town at all constituted a
major grievance. On 1
1847 the mayor of Drogheda, Mathews, wrote to the chief secretary for Ireland, Sir
July James
William Somerville, at the behaviour of the Liverpool authorities and cited a
protesting bitterly
incident to his case:
particularly appalling support

I find on that five fever cases were to the docks in a cart, and
inquiry brought Liverpool
forced on board for this port. I enclose a medical certificate of the state of one who should
have on the quay, had I not made for her taken to the fever
perished arrangements being
These have no claim on us, more than Christian
what and
hospital. persons humanity
dictate, and I trust that the government will interfere to our town
charity prevent being
turned into one vast lazar-house: or if such persons must be removed, let them be sent to
the places on which are
they legally chargeable.440

The mayor stressed his concern at the level to which local had been aroused the
passions by
arrivals of paupers from and the fear that 'if such be
Liverpool expressed proceedings persevered
in, the inhabitants of Drogheda will resist the landing of the poor creatures, and if once excited,
not confine themselves to mere resistance'.441
Thus the poverty witnessed on the streets of Drogheda did not from within the
always spring
a town a
local community. As seaport the drew hoards of unfortunates from large part of Ireland
in search of a better life in Britain or North America, but it also had to contend with an inflow of

destitute from Britain, the Famine years. The ambience of

deportees particularly
during prevailing
an influx of
poverty was therefore swollen considerably by wasting bodies with pallid countenances

and other desolate concomitants. As cargo for local however, this lamentable traffic
substantial revenue in sea fares and in the process enriched shareholders in those enter

440 James Mathews, mayor ofDrogheda, to Sir William Somerville, chief secretary for Ireland, 1July 1847 (NA, Kew,
London, Home Office records, HO 45 (OS) 1816).
441 Ibid.