MIGRATION AND MOVEMENT

(section under development)

The population history of Furness is characterized by migration phases, closely associated with the characteristic industries of Furness at various times. It is therefore intended that this page will give a general flavour of such occurrences.

 

Abbey activities

Coniston copper

Iron industry

Manufacturing industries

South Africa

 

Abbey activities

Furness Abbey developed to be at one time the richest abbey in the country; however, it can be assumed that the influx of monks is not proportionately significant and, anyway, the monks presumably did not leave any noticeable effect on the family history of later times. Sheep farming has continued in Furness from time immemorial and Furness Abbey participated in this activity; the monks of Furness Abbey were the earliest known participants in the iron industry, but probably quarried only outcrops and this activity was probably not sufficiently great to give rise to any significant migration.

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Coniston copper

Perhaps the earliest significant migration movement known and the first movement likely to have left any trace on the surnames of the district is that when Queen Elizabeth brought in German miners to help work the Coniston copper mines.

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Iron industry

In the first half of the 19th. century, iron mining activity steadily increased and, correspondingly, many miners were brought in; probably many of these stayed only two or three years, but many stayed to leave their surnames in the area. Many of these workers were already familiar with the work required but some were not; many Cornish miners came with their families (and some donated their surnames) and an even greater number of Irishmen came (without their families) but the Irishmen were largely unskilled and moved on leaving comparatively few Irish names in the district. The owners of the Furness mineral rights had proprietary rights in the other mining areas also and some of the migration was probably based on transfer under current employers. There were also iron and steel immigrants from Scotland and Wales (who were largely Presbyterians).

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Manufacturing industries

The development in the latter half of the 19th. century of iron and steel making, of ship building and of many smaller companies brought in employees appropriate to those industries. Many of these workers were already qualified in their work and some of these are believed to have been transfers from other establishments of existing employers.

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South Africa

Around 1880, the Furness mining industry was in decline and a number of miners emigrated to South Africa for the diamond mines. It is known that some of these men returned a few years later.

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Furness Family History Society. Established 1993. Affiliated to the FEDERATION OF FAMILY HISTORY SOCIETIES.