John and Ellen Crothers
... Jospeh and Ellen Crothers ...

 Joseph and Ellen Crothers: In England

1. Joseph and Ellen: Family Background

2. Joseph and Ellen Crothers: In England

3. The Voyage

4. In Tasmania

5. Joseph’s Police Career

6. Life at Pontville

7. Joseph's Estate


Joseph and Ellen were two of some 4 million people who migrated from Ireland between 1845 and 1914.

In 1851, 83% of the Irish population lived in the country, with the families of tenant farmers representing over half of them and the families of landless labourers making up the bulk of the rest.

“Mass emigration from Ireland began well before the Famine and continued afterwards…The Famine accelerated a process that had begun much earlier.” (ibid.)

Every year, some men would go over to England and Scotland to assist in the harvest. “Seasonal migration often acted as a prelude to emigration rather than an alternative to it. The cheapness of travel between Ireland and Britain and North America encouraged step-wise migration. An emigrant would walk to a seaport such as Derry (the emigration port for the Counties of Donegal, Derry and Tyrone), pay one shilling to cross the Irish Sea, save a few pounds from harvest work in the Glasgow or Liverpool areas and, finally, buy a transatlantic passage.” (ibid.) “In the case of Australia, it was clear that some form of government fare subsidy was a prerequisite for large-scale Irish emigration.” (ibid., page 72)

Joseph and Ellen’s decision to leave for Australia was probably made in Liverpool, perhaps as a result of becoming aware of workers and their families being sponsored to Hobart.

Between 1847 and 1852, a total of 586 332 paupers landed at Liverpool. (The Famine Irish, Dr Frank Neal, page 25 of The Manchester Genealogist, Volume 26, Number 2, April 1990) “Immigrants from Donegal and Northern Ireland, who were mainly Presbyterian or Protestant, went to Scotland, while those from Dublin, who were principally Roman Catholic, concentrated in Lancashire,” according to Neal (ibid.), Joseph may have deliberately chosen Liverpool with a view to travelling overseas from there later.

“The Irish settled in the poorest parts of the working class areas, around railway stations and docks.” (ibid.)

The 1851 Census, taken in Liverpool on 30 March, shows 67 601 Irish people, that is 27% of the total population of 249 633. Most, 57 383, gave no indication from which part of Ireland they had come.

There are five records of Joseph and Ellen’s time in Liverpool:

The Registration District of West Derby covered a semi-circular area around the central city of Liverpool. Family lore has it that Joseph spent time as a farm labourer in Derby before leaving for Tasmania. It seems his residence in Everton, West Derby, provides an explanation for this story. At the start of the nineteenth century, Everton was a rural township with only 499 inhabitants; by 1881, “it had almost 110 000 inhabitants and had become part of Liverpool.” (Ancestral Trails, M.D. Her, Sutton Publishing, Strand 2000, page 261)

There is a possibility Joseph’s police record may have survived. Full service records of British police officers were begun in the 1840s. There were detailed records of each recruit, kept in ledgers known as examination books.

Police forces were begun in 1829. By 1840, forces were advertising for “intelligent young men able to write and read writing.” Recruits had to be under the age of 35, at least 5 feet 7 inches without shoes and of a strong constitution. (The Boys in Blue by Sally Nex in Family History Monthly March 2006, page 19)

Joseph’s Liverpudlian police career appears to have been short, but evidently this was not unusual. “The early service records show a police force struggling to cope with severe discipline problems. Staff turnover was extremely high and policemen would be promoted one week but demoted or even sacked the next. Part of the reason behind this state of affairs was the nature of the job. With no form of communication between officers, policemen were mostly left to their own devices – patrolling their beat and investigating crimes with little or no supervision. The only check to this freedom was that they had to turn up at regular meetings with their sergeants.” (ibid.)

Perhaps, Joseph wanted to return to the job and saw emigration as his best chance of doing so. He may have thought of joining so many other Irish in America, but unemployment was becoming such a problem across the Atlantic that “in 1854 and 1855 a total of 30 000 unemployed immigrants sailed back from America to Liverpool.” (


Next: The Voyage