Free immigration to Tasmania 1803-1946

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Immigration boards and committees

When the convict assignment system stopped in 1840, the colonists realised they had a labour-shortage problem.  Although the British Government was not in favour, the colonial government liked the Bounty System and were willing to vote £60 000 towards immigration costs in 1841.

From 1813-1842, 795 assisted immigrants cost the Colonial Government about £12,000.

In 1848 the British Government voted £30,000 to be used for immigration to the penal colonies.  This was primarily to send out the wives and families of convicts. Part of this money was used to bring out the families of military pensioners who themselves worked their way out as guards on convict ships.  The men though had trouble finding land or employment.

In 1851 the Colonial Land and Emigration Commission sent out two shiploads of Irish female immigrants. These women easily found work. 

The discovery of gold on the mainland affected Van Diemen’s Land. Lots of men left to try their luck on the goldfields.

In the following decades various committees and boards managed and encouraged immigration. Despite this, the number of assisted immigrants dropped. In 1866 only 53 migrants arrived.  Despite efforts to publicize Tasmania, only about 700 persons arrived from 1866 to 1882. 

New regulation in 1882 promoted immigration and almost 2,000 arrived between 1883 and 1885.

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