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‘If they would come to America’ – Inheritance As A Form Of Chain Migration

by Familia Ulster Genealogical Review: No. 21, 2005


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by Peter Gilmore

"The nearly 1,000,000 emigrants who left Ireland for the United States between the close of the American Revolution and the Great Famine had various reasons which ultimately led to their relocation.

In the case of at least a few, the promise of property bequeathed to them in the wills of relations who had emigrated to America previously added significantly to the case for boarding emigrant ships.

This article will examine examples of this practice (evident in the wills made by settlers of Ulster origin) derived from wills made in Western Pennsylvania in the first half of the nineteenth century."

This article looks at how migration through inheritance can be thought of as a form of chain migration, in that those who had already migrated and had established themselves provided the means by which others could migrate.