THE distributions of and to the people in want continued for the succeeding weeks of April on a very large scale.
Letters were written to various emigration agents respecting the cost of sending a number of the weavers and their families to Australia, but nothing at all definite resulted from these communications.
In course of the ordinary proceedings at the meeting held on the 28th of that month, the SECRETARY stated that he had written to Mr. J. D. Barbour, M.P., who was then attending to his Parliamentary duties in London, requesting that gentleman to call at the Australian Emigration Office, and, if possible, get definite information respecting the terms on which emigrants could be sent out.
Sir JAMES M. HIGGINSON stated that he still continued of opinion that Canada was the land of hope for the unemployed hands connected with cotton weaving, and he thought no time should be lost in making arrangements for that purpose.
The SECRETARY said he had already written Messrs. Richardson, Spence & Co., of Liverpool, to request that firm to be good enough to inquire on what terms sailing or steamship owners would carry one hundred emigrants to Quebec.
Mr. MILLAR understood that sailing vessels took out passengers at £4 10s. each adult, and half that sum for children not exceeding twelve years of age. He had gone into the account of probable cost, and after making allowance for extra expenditure, in the form of clothing, between three and four hundred pounds would be required. Even the highest of these sums might hardly pay all expenses, as they must be aware how far the scanty wardrobes of the people had run down during the terrible ordeal through which they had passed during the last six months.
Dr. CAMPBELL hoped that some prompt measures would be used to facilitate arrangements, for really the aspect of affairs seemed to look darker as the Summer approached. And yet, he feared that in case of any extensive emigration, the best and ablest men would be sent away.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. J. J. Richardson, J.P.) agreed with Dr. Campbell's observation, as to the ablest men being most likely to emigrate ; still, as they were well aware that even these people were gradually descending into mere pauperism, he would choose the lesser of the two evils. In his opinion, there could be no better use made of the means in hand than to place a number of families in the sure way of not only earning a living, but of materially improving their condition.
The Rev. Mr. BREAKEY suggested that they should write to Sir James E. Tennent, relative to obtaining direct aid from Government in getting a number of the people away from suffering and semi-starvation. He felt assured that, with the large experience of Sir James on all such questions, much good might arise from communicating with him.
The SECRETARY said he had already had some correspondence with Sir James E. Tennent.
A full report of the sums contributed to the Relief Fund was laid on the table by Mr. Millar. The details of that account were as follows :—
|Lisburn and its neighbourhood||£480||9||3|
|Other parts of the cotton districts||£147||4||6|
|Other parts of Ireland||£238||14||6|
|Northern States of America,||£1,376||16||8|
|Interest paid by Treasurer||£2||18||7|
|Total to April 25||£2,586||14||1|
After the items of these accounts had been read over, some conversation took place about the amount subscribed by the inhabitants of Lisburn, which, though large in individual cases, had not been so general as it might have been. It was, therefore, resolved—" That, seeing the liberality of persons at a distance from the scene of disaster, and as many persons in Lisburn and neighbourhood who had ample means of contributing to the fund had not yet given anything towards it, two or more gentlemen be appointed to wait on all such inhabitants and solicit subscriptions for their poor neighbours."
Mr. JOSEPH RICHARDSON said that probably Mr. Beatty would join the Chairman, Treasurer, and Secretary in collecting funds.
From the lists handed in by Sub-Committees in several districts, it appeared
that for the week ending the 18th of April, there were 104 looms idle and 117 in work in one section of the Maze, and 110 employed out of the gross
number of 257 looms ; another district shewed that 251 heads of families
At the general meeting, May 5th, Mr. RICHARDSON, of Lissue, rose and said that the barque Old Hickory, with breadstuffs from Philadelphia, having arrived at Belfast; he would suggest that she be chartered to take out emigrants on her return voyage. Should his proposal be agreed to, however, he would hope that the greatest care should be taken in selecting the right sort of persons to get free passages. His own private opinion was, that weavers who had not sought assistance from that Committee should be offered passages as well as persons whose names were on the lists.
The Rev. D. J. CLARKE fully agreed with what had been said by Mr. J. Richardson. He thought a favourable opportunity of getting families out to America then offered itself, and he would, therefore, propose that the firm of Richardson Brothers be requested to make such terms as they could with the captain of the ship. Acting on that idea, he had written out a resolution which he would propose, and which was to the following effect :-
"That a sum of £450 be expended in sending one hundred persons to Philadelphia, a preference to be given to married men with families, no emigrant to be above fifty years of age."
The proposition was seconded, and passed unanimously.
A Sub-Committee was then formed to look after the requisites for the sea voyage, and to procure some additional clothing for the people.
The report that the Relief Committee was about to make preparation for sending out to some American port a number of the families connected with the cotton trade caused much excitement among those people. Applications for free passages poured in to an extent far beyond the means of meeting them, and on mature consideration it was considered that a much wider range than had at first been thought of should be taken in. It was, therefore, proposed that, instead of one hundred adults, twice that number should be placed on the list, the usual mode of calculation in the arithmetic of emigration agents being that of considering any two children under twelve years of age equal to one adult.
At that time, there were several representatives of different British colonies residing in London, and it was considered by some members of the Relief Committee that, as partially free passages on certain conditions were offered to the isles of Australia, application should be made for the purpose of ascertaining the precise terms on which a number of families would be landed there. Mr. John D. Barbour, M.P. for Lisburn, as has been already stated, after having been applied to by the Committee, was then making all possible inquiry on the subject ; and, in reply to the communication written him for that purpose, the following letter was received :-
" House of Commons, May 4, 1863.
"MY DEAR SIR,-Will you be good enough to state to the Relief Committee that, on receipt of your letter, I went at once to the Emigration Office, and had an interview with Mr. Knight, of Kensington, relative to the obtaining of free passages to Australia for one hundred families of cotton workers. The plan proposed by Government is, that a certain sum should be paid for each passenger, on what is called the assisted emigration system. This would involve a cost of about £5 a-head. You can consult our friends on the matter, and let me have your reply. I shall be happy to do everything in my power for the furtherance of the Committee's objects in this case.
"Very truly yours,
"JOHN D. BARBOUR,
" Hugh M 'Call, Esq."
The CHAIRMAN expressed himself very warmly on the subject of this letter. He said the different members of the eminent house of William Barbour & Sons had not alone been large contributors to the Relief Fund in the first instance, but from the commencement of the Committee's labours those gentlemen had made most successful exertions in obtaining from their army of customers in different parts of the world a large amount of subscriptions. As to the member for Lisburn, he himself, on more than one occasion, had sought official aid on a certain question from that gentleman, and he had pleasure in stating that in each instance Mr. J. D. Barbour displayed all the business ability that had marked the successful history of the Hilden firm.
Sir JAMES M. HIGGINSON fully concurred in all their respected Chairman had said regarding Mr. Barbour's attention to them, and also the reference made to what the members of his house had done in collecting outside subscriptions towards their funds. And, while he would propose that in the meantime the Committee should confine their attention to the Philadelphia affair, he would propose that Mr. Barbour's letter be placed on the minutes. He would add, "that a letter be written to that gentleman thanking him for his attention, and at the same time stating that the Lisburn Relief Committee had at length agreed to make the United States the place of landing for their emigrants."
At the ordinary meeting of Committee, on Tuesday, the 19th of May, Mr RICHARDSON, of Springfield, announced that he had finally settled with the captain of the Old Hickory for conveying a certain number of people to America, and every preparation was being made in fitting that ship for the comfort of the passengers.
On that occasion, some discussion took place as to the course to be taken with persons who, have first applied for free passages, and given the Committee considerable trouble in arranging for their passage and outfit, had then changed their mind, resolving to stay at home. It was ordered that any persons or families who had applied for free passages to Philadelphia, and, after having got their names on the list of emigrants, refuse to go with the ship on the day appointed sailing—viz., Wednesday, the 27th of the month—should not in future receive any rations from the Relief Fund.
Several members of the country committees handed in lists of new names, stating that numbers of stout and energetic men had applied for free passages and failed to obtain them. One gentleman said that in his district he could find five times the number necessary to fill up any vacant places. At this stage of the proceedings, Mr. Carlile introduced a deputation from the Weavers' Society, who, he said, had an address to present. The secretary of the deputation (Archibald Pelan) said he had been requested to draw up an address to the Relief Committee. His brother work-people felt truly grateful for all that had been done for them, but especially for the plan of emigration about to be carried out. He would, therefore, beg leave to read the address ;—
"TO THE RESPECTED GENTLEMEN OF THE LISBURN OPERATIVES'
" SIRS,—We beg to tender you, with feelings of the deepest gratitude, our
hearty thanks for your kindness to us. We will always think with respect of
our townsman, the Secretary of this Society, who raised the standard of
emigration, and by his ability evoked the sympathy of distant parts of the
world in our behalf. In this noble work he was ably supported by the
benevolent Treasurer, who, as he has ever been, was very active in the
carrying out of the plan of relief. Kindly consideration for the distressed
has marked his career throughout life, but never before did he come out so
opportunaly as in the present instance. We beg to inform you, gentlemen,
that your scheme of emigration has
gladdened our hearts, and to your Chairman, Mr. J. J. Richardson, J.P.,
together with every other gentleman around the table, we owe a deep debt of
gratitude for his efforts to promote that movement. When we pleaded to be
sent away to some place where our industry would give us bread, he Said ' he
felt proud of his townsmen, who preferred to labour for their own support in
a foreign land, rather than subsist on alms at home.' With feelings of great
respect, we have also to thank the reverend gentlemen of the Board for their
zeal in our cause, as well as for their spiritual teaching, and, in many
cases, their private charities, which were administered in every case of
peculiar hardship. There are very few of us who have not been visited by our
pastors, and we gratefully acknowledge the influence exercised over us by
the wise and judicious advice at this most critical time. When in the land
of hope we will never forget one single gentleman, whether lay or clerical,
who had aided in obtaining for us the greatest boon that could be conferred
on a self dependent and energetic body of men, who, had it not been for your
benevolence, would have been pauperised. We are grateful for the wise and
judicious selection made of the class of men now in the greatest distress,
and also for the choice you have made of the place of our destination. In
conclusion, we hope that by good conduct and honest perseverance in the land
you have adopted for us, and which will be the scene of our future industry,
that we shall reflect credit on those by whom we have been so kindly
patronised. And now, trusting that the blessing of Almighty God may rest
with you, one and all, we remain, gentlemen, your obliged and grateful
"(Signed on behalf of the Cotton Weavers' Committee)
"ARCHIBALD PELAN, Secretary.
"Bridge End, Lisburn, May 19, 1863."
The Rev. W. BREAKEY had listened with very great pleasure to the address just read. He had often before heard of the literary ability said to be found in the ranks of the cotton weavers, but he certainly did not expect that even the ablest of them could have drawn up a document such as that read by Mr. A. Pelan. In his opinion that address, in style of expression and terseness of thought, would not discredit any collegiate student. He was delighted to know that the people selected as emigrants were so well pleased with the prospects before them.
The CHAIRMAN then assured the deputation that no time would be lost in making preparations for embarking, and A. Pelan and the other operatives withdrew.
Ordered—That a copy of the weavers' address be placed on the minutes.
Mr. W. STANNUS inquired whether any special accommodation had been set apart for the unmarried female emigrants—a few of whom, he had understood, were to be sent out by the Committee.
Mr. DAVID CARLILE said he could fully reply to that question. Early in the previous week Mr. McCall, Mr. Alfred Millar, and himself visited the emigration ship Old Hickory. They looked over all the berths, and in an after conversation with Captain Meade they pointed some changes necessary to have a separate range of sleeping places for the young women. Special attention to the Suggestions was paid by the captain, who promised that all should be attended to, so as to meet the required privacy for the females. On a later occasion Mr. Alfred Millar had again gone to Belfast, and inspected the arrangements. He would read the report which his young friend had drawn up on the subject referred to by Mr. Stannus :-
" I am happy to state that the fittings-up of the ship Old Hickory are rapidly progressing, and when all the berthing has been completed she will be a comfortable transport. That part of the vessel most appropriate for the accommodation of the unmarried females should be the small room on the starboard quarter. This would accommodate from four to six persons, and the door communicating with the midship portion of the afterdeck cabin can be secured by a bolt, to fasten inside.
Immediately opposite to this door are
berths which might be occupied by some of the married couples and their younger children. These married people would thereby have a proper supervision over the young girls during the voyage."
The suggestion contained in the report as to the arrangement of berths for unmarried females having been approved of, a vote of thanks to Mr. A. Millar was passed by the Committee. It was also ordered that that gentleman be requested to have the work done according to his own plans. During the discussion on the emigration question a letter was read from the Newtownards Relief Committee, inquiring whether the Lisburn Committee could accommodate in their ship a few families from that district, and in case that could be done the Newtownards Committee would pay at the rate of 70s. a-head for the passages of their people.
This proposal was discussed at some length, but after considerable attention had been paid to it, the Chairman inquired whether the list of free-passage emigrants from their own districts had been made up ? It was then discovered that every available spot in the Old Hickory would have its occupant, and not only was that the case, but many applications had to be rejected, so great was the desire on the part of the distressed people to get away from the scene of their sorrows.
Under those circumstances it was ordered that a reply should be written and posted to the Newtownards Relief Society stating that, as the emigrant Ship had already her full complement of passengers, their request could not be complied with.
A desultory conversation here ensued, in which those members of committee took part who were opposed to making any section of the United States a landing-place for the weavers. Several of the gentlemen present were arguing that the emigrants should be sent to Canada, as they had some fear that the young and stalwart men whom they were about to send to Philadelphia might be pressed for the army, seeing that the war was then carried on with the most determined energy on both sides, and that very high bounties were paid for recruits. In reply to these observations,
Mr. Millar said, " He was
well aware that most erroneous impressions had gone abroad relative to the
results of emigration to the Northern States of America. Some people
entertained the idea that every man capable of bearing arms landing at the
ports of New York or Philadelphia was liable to be forced into the army and
to be sent off to the seat of war. Nothing could be more opposed to facts
than such conceptions. The truth was that the rights of British subjects had
hitherto been faithfully guarded by the American Government, and that,
except natives of this country thought fit to volunteer as soldiers, their
claims to remain as civilians were held especially sacred. There was another
matter which should not be overlooked in relation to the United States—the
citizens there had contributed upwards of fifteen hundred pounds to their
funds, while the people of Canada—some of the wealthiest of whom had been
brought up in the neighbourhood of Lisburn, and who were applied to for that
purpose—had not given a single cent. towards the relief of distress. He
would, therefore, say that if the accession of new blood into any country
was of great advantage to it, the Northern States of America had special
claims on the Lisburn Relief Committee in that respect—(hear, hear)—and he
thought that it would be only showing their high appreciation of the
philanthropy of those citizens to send them there. Irrespective, however, of
these considerations, the demand for labour in Philadelphia was very active,
and he believed that all the working men about to be sent out would obtain
employment very soon after landing. It was, therefore, most important that
the emigrants, whose means were so limited, should not have to travel into
the interior in search of work."
After some further discussion on the matter, it was finally resolved that the destination of the good ship Old Hickory should be the City on the Delaware, as suggested by Mr. Millar, and by the next American mail letters were sent to the house of Messrs. Thomas Richardson Co., as well as to Mr. Thomas O'Neill, announcing the fact, so that some preparations might be made for receiving the passengers. The ship having been comfortably fitted-up for the emigrants, and all possible preparation made for their accommodation, it was arranged that the people would leave Lisburn by the early train on the morning of Wednesday, the 27th May. From the Belfast papers of next day we take the following report :-
Yesterday morning, two hundred and fifty-three persons, lately under the
care of the Committee of the Lisburn Relief Fund, left Belfast, in the Old
Hickory, Captain Meade, for Philadelphia, in Search of that relief from want
and destitution which, in consequence of the failure in hand-loom weaving,
was denied them at home. It had been arranged that those intending to
emigrate should assemble at the Lisburn station of the Ulster Railway at ten
o'clock, and at that hour immense numbers had collected to see the emigrants
off, and to bid them farewell. The scene was a very impressive and affecting
one. Two hundred and fifty-three individuals—including many of the finest of
the peasantry—were on the platform, bidding farewell to old friends and
acquaintances, in a few hours to leave, perhaps for ever, the place in which
they were born and the friends whom they loved. Among those on the platform
of the Lisburn station were—John D. Barbour, Esq., M.P. ; William Gregg,
ESq., J.P. ; Joseph Richardson, ESq. ; Robert Barbour, Esq. ; John Millar,
Esq.; Hugh M'Call, Esq. ; B. Megarry, Esq. ; D. Carlile, Esq. ; Alfred
Millar, Esq. ; Rev. Mr. Clarke, Rev. Mr. Hall, Rev. Mr. Breakey, Rev. Mr.
Kelly, P.P., Rev. Mr. Pounden, Rev. Mr. Johnston, Rev. Mr. Franks, and Rev.
Mr. Wright, Methodist ministers. While the employees of the Ulster line were
engaged in preparing the special train which the manager of the railway
company had been good enough to place at the disposal of the Relief
Committee for the conveyance of the emigrants to Belfast, Mr. Archibald
Pelan, secretary of the Weavers' Society, stood up at the end of the
platform and delivered an admirable address to his brother emigrants. After
alluding at some length to the low state of remuneration which for years
before had been the rule in the weaving trade, and the terrible privations
which had been endured by the male and female operatives during the early
part of the previous previous winter,
and before the time when their never-to-be-forgotten friends had taken their
cause in hands, he said that a noble work had been successfully carried out
by the gentlemen of the Relief Committee—a work which he hoped would be
remembered with gratitude not only by the weavers who were about to be sent
over the seas to a land of plenty, but by the working men of all classes who
had seen the exertions made on behalf of the cotton operatives. He also
trusted that they would never forget the good Samaritans at home and at a
distance, whose generous contributions had enabled the Committee to help
them to tide over the past five months, and had also given them free
passages to America, where their industry would be so much better rewarded
than it was ever likely to be in their own land. A hearty cheer from the crowd followed this stirring address, after which The Rev. Mr. Breakey gave a few words of cheering advice to the emigrants. A new world, he said, would be opened up for them when they landed at Philadelphia, and he felt sure that brighter days were in the distance. But much of their prosperity in the country for which they were bound would depend on their own energy, uprightness, and sobriety.
The Rev. D. J. Clarke offered a fervent prayer on behalf of the people, and invoked God's blessing and guardianship for their safe passage across the ocean.
When the carriages were brought to the platform, Mr. Rice, station-master, had the women and children comfortably seated in the first instance, and Mr. John Stevenson having provided an ample supply of cakes and currant buns and distributed them among the families, the men took their places, and several members of the Relief Committee having joined the company, the train was started amid loud cheers and waving of handkerchiefs by those on the platform and their friends in the carriages.
On arriving at the Belfast terminus, Mr. Robert Hamilton, of the firm of Messrs. Richardson Brothers; Mr. Barkley, and Mr. Craig, had a number of their carts in waiting, and on these the luggage, and also the women and children, were conveyed to the quay, at which the ship had lain from her arrival. There were in all 123 adults, 103 young persons under twenty-one years of age, and 27 infants. The appearance of the people, taken altogether, was much better than could have been anticipated after the severe season through which they had passed. Most of the operatives were young and stout-looking, and their aspect seemed the reverse of sorrowful. There was much hopeful feeling evident in every countenance, telling how highly gratified they felt at the prospect of trying their fortunes in the new world of the West.
By half-past four the vessel was hauled out of the harbour, and was towed down the Lough by a steam-tug. A quantity of flannel for the children, and a large number of caps, shoes, and stockings, and a supply of soap, provided by a private subscription raised by Mr. Joseph Richardson, were distributed amongst the emigrants, and were received most thankfully, many of the recipients expressing their surprise and gratitude at the kindly and thoughtful feeling that gentleman had shown them. Mr. R. Hamilton brought a great many Bibles on board, and each family was presented with a large and small copy. Mr. Alfred Millar, who had taken much interest in the arrangements for the people's comfort during the voyage, was busy all forenoon in the interior of the ship getting the berths regulated, and showing each batch of emigrants the separate rooms that had been prepared for them. Before the good ship arrived at Carrickfergus Roads, the people had been inspected by the medical officer, and the roll of the Government agent was called over and found correct.
The Treasurer of the Relief Fund placed in the captain's hands an envelope containing cash orders of ten shillings each for every head of a family among the emigrants. The orders were drawn on Messrs. T. Richardson & Co., of Philadelphia, to be paid on the ship's arrival at that port.
When the vessel was opposite Cultra, the members of the Relief Committee, who had conveyed them so far on the voyage, left on their return to Belfast, and as the little steam-tug started on its way, the emigrants gave them three hearty cheers, while the others bade them God-speed.
In addition to the interest taken by Mr. Barbour, M. P., respecting the proposed scheme of colonial emigration, Sir Emerson Tennent, to whom letters had been written on the subject, had made a run through the different offices in London and failed to obtain even the slightest promise as to the Government granting free passages to the cotton weavers of Down and Antrim. The following communication will shew what were that statesman's opinions on the subject :—
" Warwick Square, London,
June 1st, 1863.
"MY DEAR SIR,—I find by the Belfast papers that the Lisburn Cotton Operatives' Relief Committee have sent out by emigrant ship, bound for Philadelphia, a number of the suffering families of your neighbourhood, and for whose support during the past Spring your Committees have made such successful exertions. With the opinions of Sir James M. Higginson and Mr, Millar as to the desirability of making America the place of their destination, I fully agree. The voyage thither will be comparatively short, and there is no doubt that employment will be had for the men almost as soon as the vessel reaches the port. As I have already written you, the emigration agents here would only take over to Australia a certain number of adults on the part payment system. That is, each emigrant to hand in five pounds ; and as I understand that your Committee have been able to send out the people to Philadelphia at even less than that sum, the arrangement promises to be much more favourable than anything to be anticipated from the Australian proposal.
" Believe me, my dear Sir,
" Very truly yours,
" J. E. TENNENT.
" Hugh M'Call, Esq."