NQ Scottish History

Migration and Empire, 1830-1939

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Irish immigrants escaping famine at home were willing to work for lower wages than the average Scot. This, combined with existing tensions between Catholic Irish and a predominantly Protestant Scottish population, served to increase difficulties between the two communities.

With the rapid industrialisation of Scottish urban centres also came a sudden surge in migration from the smaller farms and fishing communities into the cities of southern Scotland, as landlords reduced their tenancies to make way for the more lucrative sheep industry.

During the time of the Great War, many traditions were lost, and young men in the 1920s had no one to teach them the trades of earlier times. With the sudden economic collapse that followed the end of the war, unemployment in the already overcrowded cities became unbearable, and many travelled to the colonies in search of better fortunes.

1) Background

• Scottish industrialisation
• Labour migration and urbanisation
• Unemployment and emigration

2) The migration of Scots

• Emigration and Scottish society
• Scotland and the industrial revolution

3) The experience of immigrants in Scotland

• Irish emigration to Scotland
• Other immigrant and migrant groups in Scotland
• Jewish testimonies

4) The impact of Scots emigrants on the Empire

• The Scottish influence
• Significant Scots and their contribution to the Empire
• Scots abroad

5) The effects of migration and empire on Scotland to 1939

• Scots seeking better fortunes abroad
• Immigration - an overview

6) Perspective

• Conclusions
• Bibliography
• Useful websites

Classroom materials

These are documents which are considered integral to the coursework and can be downloaded for use in conjunction with the information and resources provided on this website.

Video resources

These videos provide additional insight into the people, events and historical context of this topic.

Audio resources

Listen to a selection of interviews and readings which relate to Migration and Empire.

Historical documents

These online interactive historical documents have been produced from the archives of the National Archives of Scotland.