View Full Version : Lost Ancestors?

Sue Mackay
19-07-2006, 9:31 AM
If you have lost ancestors in 1819 you might well find reference to them amongst the correspondence relating to the 1820 settlers to South Africa at the National Archives in Kew. Nearly 20,000 people applied to go on the government aided scheme, only a fraction of whom were accepted, but the letters from those who didn't emigrate contain a wealth of family history information as well as a great insight into conditions in the UK following the Napoleonic Wars. I have been photographing all the letters and transcribing them at home with the help of volunteers from the SA Rootsweb list. So far we have A-E online at


but it is worth typing in your name interests into the Find box as the 1820 scheme required people to go out in 'parties' with at least 10 able bodied men, and there are numerous lists of names and addresses of people wishing to emigrate contained in the correspondence of the person who applied to take them out. Often vicars or overseers of the poor wrote on behalf of large groups of parishioners who would otherwise be liable for poor relief.

19-07-2006, 9:49 AM
Sue, I don't have (as far as I am aware) any settlers in my trees, but had a look at these letters out of interest. What a great deal of information is contained therein, and they certainly make for interesting reading. I am sure that these will prove invaluable to a great number of researchers. :)

Sue Mackay
19-07-2006, 10:24 AM
Yes, the vast majority are from people who DIDN'T actually emigrate in the end, which is why I thought it important to get ALL the letters on line. I have had the pleasure of letting three people have copies of letters written in their ancestor's handwriting and they would never in a million years have thought of looking in files about emigration to South Africa!

19-07-2006, 11:01 AM
Fantastic effort and resource, Sue. Keep up the good work.

A couple of my grandmother's brothers settled in South Africa, but that was in the early 1900's - however, still worth checking out the family names 'just in case' :)

Best wishes

19-07-2006, 11:14 AM
Sue, you're doing such a good job.

I had a missing person, Charles King, such a common name. After searching for him for a long time, I finally found him mentioned in a will as having emigrated to South Africa.

Thanks to a post on this forum, I tried


I searched the archives for any Hartons (his mother's maiden name, and more unusual than King!) on the off-chance, and found Frederick Harton King, Charles Harton King, and others, who I suspect are his children :) I just need to research this further now, but I couldn't believe my luck.

Another Sue

Sue Mackay
22-10-2006, 8:33 AM
We now have A-R plus U and V on line at


S is almost finished, so then just T, W and Y to go

Want to know what the diet for the poor was in 1819? The following is taken from a letter written by Thomas Rowcroft MP concerning the people in Carmarthenshire, but I guess it was fairly typical of a lot of rural areas.

"The people among whom he now lives in his native country are much poorer & more wretched than the natives of India and are ready & desirous to emigrate anywhere – 5/- a week now subsists them, a man his wife & two children, or 3/- with parish assistance and even without complaint if they could obtain so much 10d a day for 12 hours measured field work, but 8d a day is more common or 7d to all certificates of their labour the 2d or 3d made up by the parish. Bread, meat, cheese, butter, beer or cow’s milk quite unknown among them but by name – a goat & a very small hedgeside probably for a few potatoes are all the additions they have thro’ the year to barley meal made into cakes by their own fires – this barley chiefly from Norfolk, the refuse only unfit for malting."

22-10-2006, 6:29 PM
Fascinating stuff! A real insight into the times. As far as I know I have no ancestors who went out in 1820, but some who went in the 1880s for a short period.