In a recent blog post, I spoke about the Earl Grey Scheme which was an assisted emigration scheme to transport poor and destitute Irish girls to Australia. Similar schemes were in practice in the 1800s across Ireland. In this blog post, I will talk about the assisted emigration to Canada from Lord Fitzwilliam’s Estate in Coolattin, Co Wicklow.
At the time, Lord Fitzwilliam’s Estate covered 95,000 acres covering one fifth of Co Wicklow. The majority of rural Irish people lived under the British tenant system in deplorable conditions. If a family could not pay their rent, they were evicted. The tenants on Lord Fitzwilliam’s estate were no different although is reported that Lord Fitzwilliam was a very progressive landlord. Losing money due to the non-payment of rent, instead of evicting them in their droves (although some were evicted), Lord Fitzwilliam funded an assisted emigration scheme to Canada for approx. 6,000 tenants between 1847 and 1856.
We are very lucky that Lord Fitzwilliam’s estate at Coolattin was also very progressive when it came to the management of the estate. Excellent records survive of tenants who emigrated, those who stayed, evicted tenants and various tenant lists. The papers were donated by the Fitzwilliam Estate to the National Library of Ireland.
The Coolattin Lives website www.coolattinlives.ie has lists of the family names, the townland and some images. It also contains the reference number of the manuscript in the National Library of Ireland.
So, if you are Canadian or you have Canadian ancestors with Irish roots from around the South Wicklow, North Wexford, Carlow areas, you might be in luck. Also, if you are interested in reading more about the Coolattin Estate there is plenty of information online. The original Estate House was burned down during the 1798 Rebellion and the replacement house Coolattin House was completed in 1807. It is still standing and forms part of Coolattin Golf Club.
Happy hunting !
PS. Coolattin or Coollattin… seems to be spelt both ways in various documents. Just thought it was worth a mention before someone points this out.