Free immigration to Tasmania 1803-1946

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Government sponsored immigration 1831-1837

In 1831 the British government started to encourage immigration by poorer Britons due to unemployment problems in the UK.  There were two schemes:

  • The Bounty System – For single females to be employed as domestic servants. These women generally paid half their fare (about £8) and the Colonial Government the other half.
  • The ‘£20 advances’ scheme for skilled married men with young families.  These were skilled labourers mechanics, then later agricultural labourers.

Money from land sales was used to pay for the schemes.

The government trialled large-scale family emigration.  Their arrival glutted the labour market so most could not find work. The Colonial Government suspended assisted immigration until there was a better scheme.

Chelsea pensioner immigrants also became a burden on the Colonial Government. They came out to Van Diemen’s Land in the years 1832-3 on the ships Science, Cleopatra, Waterloo, Wellington, Manfield and Adelaide.  These retired soldiers had free passage to the colonies but few resources when they arrived.

In 1837 Lieut.-Governor Franklin suspended assisted immigration to Van Diemen’s Land, save for a few single female domestics, because:

  • There was not enough money from land sales for the various schemes.
  • Many immigrants were a burden on the government.
  • Settlers were unwilling to take whole families into service.
  • Higher wages in New South Wales and South Australia attracted people to leave the state, leaving the Colonial Government bearing the cost of the passage from England. 
  • People in the colony thought the wrong type of people were immigrating.

In 1835 Governor Arthur asked that labourer immigration stop as labourers displaced convicts in assignment.  Van Diemen’s Land was primarily a convict colony. Arthur wanted the immigration of wealthy people who could employ convicts.

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