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By Alexander Murdoch (auth.)

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Example text

Irish emigration grew in conjunction with the Irish linen trade. The expansion of the linen trade in Ireland after 1690, with access to English markets in the aftermath of war in 1696 and a dramatic growth in trade after the end of the War of Spanish Succession in 1713, made it possible for emigration to occur. Its effect on Irish migration to England and Scotland is unknown (although it has been suggested that there was substantial return migration from Ireland to Scotland in the early eighteenth century), but the linen and flax trade opened up new trading links to North America, where the Irish exported linen cloth, and brought back American flax as traditional sources for it in the Baltic became difficult to access on account of the war.

Economic change and migration created a stronger British identity by the 1740s and 1750s through increased migration within Britain and Ireland, although this has been little studied, as well as drawing more people into the experience of emigration to British colonies and, increasingly, making it possible for some to return along the trading links which had made it possible for them to leave. This happened earlier as well. The Irish minister Isaac Taylor left his congregation in 1720 after complaining to his presbytery that 40 British Emigration 1603-1914 he was not receiving his stipend, but returned in 1722 and attempted to resume as minister to the same congregation.

In terms of what little we know of the emigrants themselves, it is difficult to estimate their numbers, as government did not keep statistics, with the significant exception of the register of emigrants compiled in 1774 and 1775. The first census was not taken until 1801. We have even less evidence to help us with the motivation for emigration, although from research carried out to date some points can be identified. Emigration was not yet occurring on a sizeable scale. Given the size of a rapidly growing British population, emigration was not comparable to that which took place from England in the seventeenth century or that which would occur from 1850 to 1914 from both Britain and Ireland.

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