While the current political talk is of immigration into the UK, for many years it was of emigration away from the country that made the news. As a nation with strong colonial and Commonwealth links the ease at which the UK’s citizens could move across continents allowed millions to sail and later fly away, hoping for a better life.

Even today the United Kingdom has strong links to Australia, New Zealand, Canada and America while their roots were established many centuries ago.

The first emigrants: Indirect estimates suggest that between 5,000-7,000 people per year left the UK during the 16th and 18th centuries, heading to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States. From 1815 and 1914 it is said that 22.6m people emigrated from Britain.

Shipping out convicts: British prisoners were some of the first people to board ships and head overseas. Initially shipped to North America and the West Indies, the American Revolution in 1776 saw them re-routed to Australia from 1778. The practice was abolished in 1868 by which time 158,702 convicts had arrived in Australia from England and Ireland, and 1,321 from other parts of the Empire, making a total of 160,023 men and women transported.

Historical and economic emigration: The Irish Potato famine in 1845 forced many, who were at this point starving, overseas in search of economic stability. During a four year period around 1.5 million people moved from Ireland to Canada and other countries. Between 1820 and 1930 4.5 million Brits went to America. The shared language and technological skills allowed for the development of a strong Anglo-American culture.

The effects of colony: In 1858 Great Britain’s direct rule of India saw thousands leave the UK and head to the Indian continent where they were promised good jobs in the civil service which offered high salaries and the chance of promotion. The British stayed until 1947 when India was finally given its Independence.

Government plans to send Brits overseas: The promise of better jobs and the lure of land and housing enticed millions of British citizens to countries such as Australia and New Zealand. The Gold rushes in both countries in the 1860’s encouraged many overseas and assisted migration from the UK to New Zealand made it a more popular destination than America.

Establishing ties with Empire: In 1922 the British government passed the Empire Settlement Act to help Britons emigrate to the colonies and increase post-war ties. Between 1919 and 1922 13,349 ex-servicemen and their families moved to New Zealand. Child migration to Canada was also encouraged as war orphans were targeted by charities.

World Wars and emigration: During the Blitz and World War Two thousands of children were sent from war torn Britain to Australia and New Zealand. The Children’s Overseas Reception Board helped people send their children abroad safely. After the war some 3,000 children were sent to Australia, although many later returned.

Post war and beyond: The British still have a strong desire to travel and move overseas. It is estimated that every day 400 Brits emigrate. The most popular countries are Australia, America, Spain and New Zealand. Despite points systems being in place to control emigration to the likes of Australia and New Zealand as well as stricter visa requirements to locations such as America and Canada, some 1.3 million university level Brits are living abroad. Our video shows you where they go: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ube9GbQ5oCE


If you are looking to help continue the trend of emigration from the UK, PSS International removals is a family run company and our desire is to ensure your family receive a friendly, professional and stress free overseas move. We have specialised in international removals for over 32 years, so whether you are planning on sending a full or part household removal, excess baggage or a vehicle we recognise the importance in ensuring that our customers receive the same level of care and attention that we would expect ourselves. Contact us now for a free estimators survey, online moving and baggage quote.