Kevin Brown Historian

History of health, medicine and naval history

Reviews of Passage to the World

“Many years ago I met a US Navy Officer who was born a Canadian and well recall his account of the many difficulties – often traumatic, he encountered once he had decided to become a US Citizen. The entire process was no easy time for both him, his immediate and extended family and, of course, his friends. His decision, however, was not brought about by poverty, famine, a wish to escape war or an oppressive regime or any of the other considerations which befell those who sought a new life for themselves and their families between 1807 and 1940.

In this richly informative work, we are treated to many of the reasons why so many people emigrated from Europe to North America, South America, Australia and New Zealand and of the many trials and tribulations they faced at a time which must have been dominated by an overwhelming worry and fear regarding the journey itself, the reception they faced and the future before them. For some, the decision was not theirs to make as British law courts handed down sentences of transportation to Australia but for all, the only certainty in all their lives was that there was no going back!

These were the days when no lengthy sea voyage was certain to be safe and, in any event, was an ordeal to be endured. Nevertheless, these peoples from different nations – united by a common determination, sought a completely new life where they could be free and be permitted fair reward for a fair day’s toil.

By tracing original documents and personal accounts regarding the `decision’ to emigrate, the journey to the port of embarkation, the voyage to whatever far-off land was the destination and the arrival in that new world, author Kevin Brown had provided a most understandable document which should become essential reading for those who are the descendants of such brave pioneering folk. For the first time, I have been able to understand the Emigration Trade – and was a trade in people!, the conditions – often appalling, on those early ships, the dangers associated with overcrowding, epidemics, fire, shipwreck, starvation and even cannibalism. Having survived all that, the reception on arrival was sometimes welcoming, sometimes hostile.

Altogether, this book – which is a triumph of meticulous research, left me wondering how many of those genuine descendants who now enjoy a much richer lifestyle actually appreciate how much their ancestors endured and how many never even survived journey.

The work contains an interesting selection of 35 B&W photographs placed together in the middle which add to the reality of the plight of those who made the journey.”

(Amazon Review, Ned Middleton)

“There can’t be many European families without members who upped sticks for new lives overseas, leaving behind relatives, friends and possessions, in fact, all they knew. Millions emigrated to the New World in the 19th and early 20th-centuries, many fleeing poverty, famine, persecution and war, others as convicts or pioneers. Whatever their circumstances and wherever they were headed, this fascinating new book focuses on their shared experience – the sea voyage to their adopted homeland at a time when such journeys were perilous and long. All these colourful stories from the archives give a rich insight into the emigrant experience, revealing, in the end, what a courageous, adventurous bunch of ancestors we had. Passage to the World is eye-opening and even inspiring. We could all learn a little something from this history of our emigrating ancestors. Our top choice!”

(Family Tree, 2013)

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