Book on Emigration

Leela Gujadhur Sarup


Leela Gujadhur Sarup is a historical researcher and author on colonial emigration. Her works are based on hard-to-find documents as they originally appeared in the records of the British Empire. We reproduce, with permission, an extract of an account provided by the Protector of Emigrants in Calcutta to the Government of Bengal. It talks about the remittances by emigrants to India in the early 1860s

From: Captain C. Burbank, 
Protector of Emigrants, Calcutta
To: J. Geoghegan, Esq., 
Officiating Junior Secretary 
to the Government of Bengal
Dated the 15th May 1866.

In obedience to the directions contained in your letter No. 1939 of the 4th ultimo, I have the honor to submit Annual Reports in Duplicates for each colony to which Emigrants were despatched from this Port under Act XIII of 1864 for the year 1865-66 together with the following general Report on Emigration.

2. These reports shew that the total number of emigrants, including women and children despatched during the period under review, amount in the aggregate to nineteen thousand nine hundred and sixty three, which is a considerable increase when compared with the operation last year, viz. : -
1864-65 ……………13,485
1865-66 ……………19,963

Colonial Emigration 19th-20th Century
Proceedings 1863 – 1869 Vol. 4

3. Mauritius : 15,115
British Guiana : 2,842
Trinidad : 1,498
Grenada : 185
St. Vincent : 223 
In the margin are briefly noted the names of the colonies and the number of emigrants imported by each respectively.

4. The proportion of females despatched to the different colonies was as follows : -
Mauritius : 29.16 per cent
British Guiana : 32.63 per cent
Trinidad : 37.30 per cent
Grenada : 44.30 per cent 
St. Vincent : 39.10 per cent

5. No Emigrants have been sent to Reunion, Natal, Jamaica, St. Croix, St. Lucia, or St. Kitts, during the past year.

6. During the year 2,861, emigrants have returned to Calcutta from Mauritius, 394 from British Guiana, and 492 from Trinidad.

7. I may here mention that the money savings besides jewellery brought back by the return emigrants belonging to Calcutta from British Guiana per ship “Clarence” is estimated at £10,817-1-8 sterling. The savings from Mauritius cannot be correctly ascertained, but it is presumed that the average amount brought by the people may be taken at Rs. 200/- per adult head. The savings from the Return Emigrant for Trinidad per ship “British Trident” just arrived are estimated at Rs. 140,000 .

8. The death rate amongst emigrants during transit to Mauritius so far as known is 3.41 per cent, and that to the West Indies is 7.98 per cent.

9. The melancholy loss of life which followed the wreck of the ship the ‘Eagle Speed,” bound to Demerara has already been reported to Government in my letter No. 552 of the 24th August last. The Ship “Countess of Ripon” bound to Grenada and St. Vincent has also been lost vide my report No. 172 of 5th Instant. No lives were lost at the time of the catastrophe as reported by the Surgeon Superintendent and no further particulars have been received.

10. The increase in the rate of mortality is due in a great measure to the prevalence of disease in lower Bengal for the past year. The health of the coolies in depôt was, however, satisfactory.

11. Colonial Emigration has nearly for the past two years been carried on under the provisions of Act XIII of 1864 and I believe that it is generally admitted that much good has resulted therefrom not only to the ignorant laborer, but also to those interested in the recruitment and transmission to the colonies. It has entirely removed many of the evils in the system of recruitment, which was in an unsatisfactory state before the Act came into operation as well as the disputes between the rival Agencies.

July 2010

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