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"James Moran" 1839 -Scottish bounty immigrant ship arriving NSW 1839

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The James Moran was a 538-tonne barque, made in St. Martins, New Brunswick by the renowned shipwrights named Moran. The Emigration Dept. engaged the ship in Greenock, a convenient port for Glasgow, on 21 August 1838 for the express purpose of carrying emigrants, which it did with some frequency.

In 1838, the James Moran, then only one year old, made its first voyage to Australia, sailing from Loch Broom for Sydney NSW on October 30, 1838 with 210 passengers, including 136 children (Source: Most of the passengers on board were from the far northwest of Scotland, victims of the Highland Clearances, and the ship starting from there obviated the difficult journey Highlanders would have had to get down to Greenock or Glasgow. They came to Australia under the extension to Scotland of the British government's bounty system for emigration, which previously entailed enrollment and embarkation in London. The Scottish extension had been advocated by Rev John Dunmore Lang, among others, including Scottish shipping interests. It finally was instituted and effectively operated from 1837-1840, with 20 ships (see Table listing them) carrying more than 5,000 Scottish bounty passengers to Australia during that period. "The strong Highland element in this emigration is indicated by the fact that, of the twenty vessels, twelve sailed from ports in the Highlands and five more from Greenock on the Clyde—a convenient port of embarkation for people from the Highlands" (Source:


An article in "The Colonist," an Australian paper run by Lang, records the James Moran as having reached Sydney on 14 February 1839, and included a letter signed by several passengers aboard the spanking new vessel that reassures prospective emigrants not to dread the hardships of the outbound voyage, having experienced plentiful provisions and courteous and solicitous treatment by the ship's doctor and caption (Source: Their grateful letter was written ten weeks into their voyage, during the James Moran's layover at Cape Town, which it reached on December 26th, and where 20 passengers left the ship on New Year's Day. Shortly thereafter the Cape of Good Hope lived up to its alternative name of Cape of Storms and stripped away the top of their foremast. Nonetheless the records show no fatalities on this voyage.

A concerted effort at that time was being made to encourage Scottish emigrants to Australia, since traditionally Scots preferred to go to Canada, America, and the American colonies, and the voyage to Australia was more arduous. The circumstances and competing forces concerning immigration were complex. They are excellently summarized here: Briefly, the Highland Clearances were forcing tenants from the land so that it could be leased for sheep farming. Tenancy had itself replaced earlier systems of reciprocal fealty between clan members and leaders, so that leaders had increasingly became landlords, holding land privately instead of on behalf of a community. Industrialization was replacing employment in such occupations as hand-weaving, with devastating impact on the Paisley weavers. Demand in Scotland was also down for many trades that were in high demand in Australia. The industrializing economy was subject to unpredictable slumps. The kelp industry had collapsed due to competing ingredients, the fisheries were stressed, the potato yield was down, the army was no longer a source of employment, and the population was expanding simultaneously, a problem made worse by desperate Irish immigrants. These factors combined to create unprecedented destitution, especially in the western Highlands and islands.

During the peak years of Scottish emigration to Australia, 1837-42, about 10,000 Scots left, about 5,200 as bounty emigrants, 1,500 unassisted, and 3,300 sent out by private operators under the colonial bounty system (as opposed to the Government bounty system). These 10,000 constituted nearly one sixth of the total immigration into eastern Australia in that period. The Scots had a profound influence on the region and and contributed substantially to its development, particularly since many brought useful skills, and they were renowned for being sober and industrious compared to the relative intemperance of the colony. Many formed ventures with Scottish partners, intermarried, and participated in Presbyterian congregations. "The migration was to have a profound effect on Scottish attitudes to Australia, and was to influence the growing class of investors, who regarded it as a sign that Australia might have a bright future as more than a despised penal colony or a droughty sheep-run from which ambitious adventurers could make quick fortunes" (Source:

The passenger lists for James Moran's February 1839 arrival is here:

On 13th March 1839, the James Moran departed Sydney for Batavia (Source:, and she is recorded back in Sydney offloading Scottish immigrants from Lochinver on 2nd November, 1839 (Source:

The James Moran made at least one other voyage, departing Glasgow for Sydney on 12th June, arriving 6th October 1841 with 163 immigrants. The passenger list for the 1841 voyage is here:

The James Moran was lost in the ice of the North Atlantic around 1857 (Source:

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