In Australia colonists were continually asking for agricultural
labourers. In order for the
Wiltshire labourers to emigrate, assistance for the passage had to be found;
main form of assistance came from the Colonial Office;
the SA Government sent part of the revenues from the sales of land to the
Colonial Office for paying passages of emigrants - they also nominated the sort
of emigrant they wanted. Despatching
the emigrants was managed by a small branch of the Colonial Office at #9 Park
St, Westminster known as the Colonial Land and Emigration Commissioners;
they chartered ships, vetted selection of the emigrants, collected
deposits emigrants had to pay and looked after them at the port of embarkation.
Arranging for would-be emigrants to get in touch with Commissioners in
Park St was done by agents employed by the colonial government.
These agents included parish authorities (“the vestries”) working
under the supervision of the Poor Law Commissioners.
Attempts were made to get landowners and parish vestries to contribute to
the cost of emigration but farmers who paid the bulk of parish rates refused.
So Lord Bruce was instrumental in forming the Wiltshire Emigration
Association which took shape in 1850.
Wiltshire Emigration Association
Bruce and a secretary ran the Association from an
office in Marlborough. The
Association paid the railway fares from Chippenham to Plymouth and saw that the
emigrants turned up; Bruce put ads
in local papers at Christmas time 1850.
Emigrants included a compact little group from Shalbourne and a
sprinkling from villages near Swindon, from Manningford, Urchfont, Great
Cheverell, Berwick St Leonard and Warminster.
Most of the labourers had left school by the age of 9.
Bruce not only paid some deposits, but travelled with the
largest party to Plymouth and inspected the 2 ships on which they were about to
embark - the 'John Knox' and the 'Marion'.
emigrant was given a bible and a prayer book by the Emigrants’ Employment
John Knox was routed to Port Philip in Victoria and the Marion to
Port Adelaide in South Australia. Keros and his family were allotted to
the Marion. Click on Marion
to see references to the 150th Anniversary celebrations at Edithburgh, a description of the voyage and its ultimate wrecking and the saving of