An Inhospitable Welcome? Emigration to the Cape of Good Hope during the Great Irish Famine

Author: Ciarán Reilly (Maynooth University)

They are crying out at Natal, at the Cape, and at Port Philip for the labour which is useless, redundant and lethargic at Ballina and Glenties. It would be a long delayed mercy to Ireland and the colonies to let them have it.[1]

The Cape Colony, now modern South Africa, did not attract large numbers of emigrants from Ireland during the Famine years, perhaps as few as five thousand people.[2] Indeed, such a paltry figure represents only one half of one percent of the total number of people who emigrated from Ireland during this time. As Donal McCracken argues, South Africa was very much “the land the Famine Irish forgot.”[3] Yet despite these relatively small numbers, a significant amount of money was raised in the colony for Famine relief, and would be again in 1880 after distress and famine struck Ireland in the west.[4] The contribution was especially impressive given the distance and limited means of communications at the time. Indeed, it actually took until February 1846 for news to reach South Africa of the arrival of the potato blight in Ireland the previous September.

There were a number of reasons why the Irish did not undertake emigration to the Cape of Good Hope in large numbers in the 1840s. On a practical level, perhaps the most important factor was the price of passage, estimated at twelve pounds per person, four times what it cost to travel to the United States or Canada. In addition, the climate was considered “inhospitable,” and for more still distance was a huge drawback. For those wishing to escape the travails of colonialism, there was a reluctance to travel to another part of the British Empire, and where religion was concerned, Irish Catholics traveling to the Cape Colony could expect to find Dutch Calvinist inhabitants who were entirely skeptical of their faith. The outbreak of the seventh Xhosa War in the mid-1840s, widely reported in Ireland, also had a negative effect on potential Irish emigrants. Irish newspaper editorials wrote about the “savage” and “backward” character of the native population (including the Xhosa and Kaffir), and by extension the Western Cape.[5] Elsewhere, descriptions of Africa were entirely negative. In 1847 and 1848, for example, an exhibition about African Bosjesmans, or “bush people,” at the Rotunda in Dublin emphasized existing stereotypes.[6] For these and other reasons, most Irish emigrants considered other locations, including, in 1852, Peru.[7] This essay examines reactions in the Cape Colony to the Irish Famine and offers another reason why Irish emigrants did not venture to South Africa, particularly during what became known as the Anti-Convict Crisis of 1849 and 1850.


Pre-Famine Emigration

Irish emigration to the Cape of Good Hope began in earnest in the early 1820s, when more than five hundred people from Counties Wicklow, Longford, and Cork emigrated to the then recently annexed British colony.[8] Although these particular schemes were considered to have been badly advised and ill-planned, Irish communities survived throughout the colony, and Irish-owned farms with names such as Kildare, Dromore, and Dargle were evidence of this.[9] Thereafter a steady trickle of emigrants continued to southern Africa, possibly enticed by the hidden and relatively unknown interior there. Prior to 1845, there had been a number of suggestions that the Cape of Good Hope would be a suitable location for Irish emigrants. As early as 1840, William Porter (1805–80), the County Londonderry-born attorney general of the Cape of Good Hope from 1839 to 1854, suggested that emigration from Ireland would benefit both countries.[10] Porter and others frequently cited the lack of labor in South Africa as the chief reason why the Irish should consider it as a destination. In 1844, the Cork Examiner echoed these sentiments, calling on emigrants to consider the Western Cape, and in particular the flourishing town of Grahamstown.[11]

Not everyone in South Africa shared these sentiments. As early as 1838, editorials there spoke of the backward state of Ireland’s peasantry, noting, among other things, their “pitiful” living conditions and general poverty.[12] Yet despite these negative attitudes, there was an overwhelming response to Famine relief efforts, and money was gathered for Ireland throughout the Cape Colony.[13] Appeals usually took the form of religious sermons preached to remember the “famishing fellow subjects” in Ireland. In April 1847, the Baptist Church in Grahamstown held a collection to relieve the “famishing Irish,” while the Reverend Deveraux, a native of County Wexford, raised 295 pounds among his Catholic parishioners in the colony.[14] In July, the inhabitants of Cape Town presented more than five hundred pounds to the lord mayor of Dublin.[15] This donation was largely the work of William Porter, but also included the sterling efforts of the Catholic bishop, Patrick Raymond Griffith (1798–1862), who had arrived in the city in 1838.[16] Both contributed to the “Starving Irish” Committee, which was established in Cape Town in 1847.[17]


The Famine Exodus

The subscriptions continued, and by September 1847 it was estimated that the Cape Colony had collectively raised almost two thousand pounds.[18] Driving the continued interest was the fact that Cape newspapers widely reported conditions in Ireland, carrying accounts of the Famine crisis from their Irish and British counterparts. According to one correspondent in Grahamstown, there was “little or no improvement in the conditions of the lower classes of this unhappy country.”[19] While a number of causes were proposed for the continued potato blight, the Natal Witness, for example, believed that Ireland’s evil lay in the backward nature of agriculture. Coupled with this were regular accounts of the horrors of Skibbereen, Kilrush, and other Famine-ravaged centers.[20] Reports like these naturally provoked sympathy throughout the colony. One man who witnessed the arrival of Irish Famine emigrants in Port Elizabeth in 1848 noted how they were in “the last stage of poverty.”[21] Emigration from Ireland, according to the Witness, was now a necessity, not a novelty. The same editorial wondered how people could labor under terrible conditions in Ireland when there was plenty of land in the colony.[22] Others, too, felt strongly about the issue, including one Pietermaritzburg native who advocated bringing five hundred families to the Cape, both to ease their suffering and to enhance the colony.[23]

Similar ideas took shape in Ireland. The prospect of Irish emigration to the Cape Colony had been raised as early as February 1846, when a committee appointed by the Cork Board of Guardians met to examine the possibility of sending workhouse girls there. According to John Bernard, Irish emigration to the Cape in the six months prior to that meeting had taken place “to a large extent.”[24] Added to this, shipping agents, such as Ellis and Parnell, widely advertised passages to the Cape from their Ormond Quay offices in Dublin, while national daily newspapers regularly carried reports of successful emigrant voyages.[25] Provincial newspapers also championed the Cape of Good Hope, claiming that it was one of the colonies most suitable for emigration.[26] As an added incentive, free passage was provided by the British government where agricultural laborers (male and female) and a general host of skilled workers (including smiths and masons) were needed.[27] For the most part, however, not much came of these proposals, owing to the fact that the cost of travel, at twelve pounds per person, was usually more than officials were willing to spend, especially when passage to other destinations, including North America, was far cheaper.[28]

Indeed, not much came of these suggestions until 1849, when Irish Poor Law commissioners once again turned their attention to the Cape of Good Hope and a number of Poor Law unions took advantage of this. Behind this new interest in the Cape Colony was the advice that the commissioners had received from the Dublin-born cattle dealer John Charles Byrne.[29] Between 1849 and 1851, more than twenty ships carrying English, Scottish, and Irish emigrants landed in the ports of the South African province of Natal. Byrne and others argued that the Western Cape could accommodate thousands of Irish laborers, while those who undertook to venture east of the Cape (or to the interior of the country) were to be offered a bounty upon landing.[30]

As this essay will show, such attempts to colonize the Cape with Irish emigrants were frustrated by Anti-Convict protests that dominated Cape society throughout 1849 and 1850. As a result, the workhouse schemes were largely limited to sixty-one women who left from Wexford workhouses during those two years as part of what became known as the Earl Grey scheme, named after its principal architect, Henry, third Earl Grey, the secretary of state for the colonies in Lord John Russell’s Whig government. On May 8, 1849, the first group left Wexford for Plymouth via Dublin, where they traveled on the ship Royal Alice.[31] Upon reaching Cape Town, Commander J. M. Hopper commended the émigrés, noting that “their conduct throughout the long voyage, their good behaviour (never a word of complaint) and their attention to their own religious duties” was to be widely congratulated.[32] As a token of his esteem, the captain gave each of the women ten shillings to help them get settled in Cape Town, and later placed an advertisement in the newspaper Zuid Afrikaan in an effort to entice people to employ them.[33]

The success of this little-known scheme was helped by the fact that there were a number of Irish priests in Cape Town, including the Reverend Arthur McCarthy, who received the Wexford girls and secured employment for them, ensuring that that they did not fall victim to the vices of the city. This was something that ultimately helped perceptions of their character, and most of them quickly found employment.

It was important for the Wexford Board of Guardians that positive reports of the Cape filtered back to the workhouse and the local community, in the hope that it would encourage more to make the voyage. Typical of these complimentary references was that of Catherine Lynch, who wrote that the “eating and drinking is very good, and the climate is delightful.”[34] Another of the passengers, Bridget Lynch, wrote glowingly of their situation, stating that five or six of the girls got employment in Cape Town, the rest going to other centers that were “purely English in their habits and manners.” Lynch stated that “on the whole I by no means regret coming to this place.” Employed as a dry nurse for one Mr. Watermayer in “The Gardens” in Cape Town, Lynch had her own “roomy bedroom” and was well looked after.[35] As a result of these glowing reports, it was decided to send another thirty-two girls from the Wexford workhouse, but owing to the escalating troubles at the Cape, their departure was delayed.[36] This second group, who it appears did not depart until February 1850, after an address was read to the guardians on their behalf, were not so lucky, and nearly all suffered from fever en route.[37] Their arrival in Cape Town was muted given the fact that emigrants were expected to be free from disease and mental debility, and to possess industry and morality.[38] Wishing to escape the obvious tensions that existed in Cape Town, as well as the anti-Irish rhetoric that abounded there, several women chose to settle in the district of Albany, in the Eastern Cape, which was, in their own words, “more English than Cape Town,” which was dominated by the Dutch.[39]


The Anti-Convict Crisis

As early as May 1841, the fourteenth earl of Derby, the British secretary of state for war and the colonies (the offices were later split before Earl Grey took over the latter one), proposed that Europeans condemned to long terms of imprisonment should be confined on Robben Island, off the coast of Cape Town, and liberated in the colony on the expiration of their sentences. However, with opposition led by Sir George Napier, then governor of the Cape, and with petitions forwarded to Queen Victoria and to both houses of Parliament, the scheme quickly folded. Another equally objectionable scheme of apprenticing convict boys in the colony was proposed by Lord Stanley in March 1842. Widespread condemnation followed, and eventually it too was abandoned.[40] However, in 1848 the idea was once again revived when Earl Grey, by then the colonial secretary, proposed that convicts (mainly Irish) would be sent to the Cape, initially to help build the city’s breakwater and other maritime projects and eventually to reside there.

What followed could hardly have been expected by Earl Grey. On May 16, 1849, following a large protest meeting, an Anti-Convict Association was formed and almost five-thousand people signed a petition against the establishment of a penal colony.[41] Robert Gray (1809–72), the Anglican bishop of Cape Town, handed the governor, Sir Harry Smith, a petition stating that the colonists were opposed to such a plan, which they said served no “proportionate benefit to the convicts themselves.”[42] On July 4, a further demonstration of public unity against the convicts took place in Cape Town, and despite what was described as thundery downpours and horrendous weather, it was estimated that a crowd of several thousand attended. This meeting, captured by the English artist Thomas Bowler (1812–69), who subsequently received numerous requests for copies of his painting, provided the first public demonstration of anti-Irish feeling at the Cape.

There was now among the colonists a widespread fear of Famine-related diseases, a further indication that Irish affairs were widely reported in South Africa. By this stage the horrors of Grosse Île, the quarantine station in British North America (Canada), and other such places where the Irish had fled by the thousands, were widely known. There was continued worry over the arrival of emigrant ships, particularly those carrying Irish natives. Indeed, throughout what became known as the “Anti-Convict Crisis,” ships entering Cape Town with emigrants were regularly checked. Reporting on the arrival of one batch of emigrants, a Cape Town newspaper happily reported that they were for the most part “respectable, intelligent and enterprising because they have paid their own fares.”[43]

Despite the protests of the colonists and the sympathy of the governor, Sir Harry Smith, Earl Grey pushed ahead with plans to settle the convicts at the Cape, and duly instructed that the Neptune III was to leave Bermuda with three-hundred passengers on board. Among those were a number of Young Irelanders who had taken part in the failed uprising of 1848, including the by-then-infamous John Mitchel. Particular ire was directed toward him, with one editorial quite bluntly saying that the country had enough “John Mitchels.”[44] By and large, however, the prisoners, who did include a number of men from English and Scottish jails, were transported for crimes committed in the early years of the Famine; crimes, it seems, that were in the main committed simply as a means of survival. Take for example John Croghan, Peter McGrath, Pat Gannon, and Pat Brennan from County Roscommon, who were arrested for stealing sheep, cattle, and turnips in late 1846.[45] Another “convict,” Michael Morton from County Tipperary, was imprisoned for stealing a cow in 1847.[46] Despite the background of many of the prisoners aboard the Neptune, the Anti-Convict Association continued to label them all as “Young Irelanders” who had plotted treason against the crown and the “criminal offscourings” of Irish jails.[47]

Throughout 1849, Cape Town was described as being “in a state of open rebellion” as the inhabitants awaited news from London about their petition.[48] One transported Young Irelander, Terence Bellew McManus, recorded in his diary that as he passed Cape Town in September there was “regular commotion among the inhabitants against making this a convict settlement; in fact they won’t submit to it.”[49] In the same month, the Neptune finally arrived at Simon’s Town, some thirty miles to the south of Cape Town, with 282 prisoners (eighteen had died at sea) on board. There they were made to endure a five-month stay off the coast within sight of land.

Within days of the ship’s arrival, “vigilantes” roamed Cape Town, coercing people to sign an Anti-Convict “pledge” and desist from trading or having any dealings with those who would not sign it. The pledge also called on people not to give employment to convicts should they land, or indeed to welcome any stranger into their employment or home. A number of London merchants with business interests in the Cape formed a group to support the colonists. At Westminster, Charles Adderley (1814–1905), first baron Norton, pleaded the case of the Cape Colony, for which Cape Town later rewarded him by naming its main thoroughfare in his honor. This movement was also supported by a number of Irish merchants, like the Galway-born Hamilton Ross, by then the most influential businessman at the Cape. An indemnity fund was also established to provide for those who were at a loss for upholding the “pledge,” and revealingly included among its contributors a number of Irishmen. However, most vocal during the Anti-Convict Crisis was Cape Town’s fledgling Jewish community and the laboring classes, or the “coolies” as they were known, who feared that the arrival of the Irish would mean a loss of labor.[50]

Although the colonists refused to accept the convicts under any circumstances, over time there was a certain level of sympathy for John Mitchel. According to the nineteenth-century South African historian George McCall Theal:

Among the wretched prisoners on board the Neptune was the celebrated Mitchel, and, setting aside his political views and conduct, surely few men had fewer criminal propensities than he. To such a man to be regarded as unfit to set his foot on the soil of South Africa must have been galling indeed, yet he afterwards wrote that he greatly admired the conduct of the colonists and entirely approved of what they had done.[51]

Toward the remaining “convicts,” however, there was widespread antipathy. The Natal Witness accurately captured the mood, predicting that the “evil inwards” would bring “fifteen casks essence of vice, fourteen bales murderers’ intentions, ten parcels of forger’s conceit, three tins of pilferer’s plans, two cases undulated uncleanness, [and] seventeen cans preparations for mischief….”[52] Curiously, the same editorial lamented the fact that Ireland was still in the midst of Famine, obviously not associating the crimes that most of the Neptune’s prisoners had committed with destitution and starvation.[53] Elsewhere, in Grahamstown, for example, local banks prohibited the opening of accounts or trade with convicts.[54] Understandably, this opposition was widely reported, and in Ireland it was claimed that “the Boers were arriving with threats to shoot every convict they met.”[55]

This anti-convict and anti-Irish sentiment also deeply divided Cape society. The division was aptly portrayed in verse by the poet J.S. Nichol, who criticized the actions of those who upheld the “pledge” by intimidation and violence.[56] Likewise, the satirical journalist Samuel Sly used his lengthy newspaper columns to poke fun at those behind the Anti-Convict movement. In one stinging attack, titled “Neptune’s Song,” Sly ridiculed John Fairbairn, the editor of the Advertiser and a leading proponent of the Anti-Convict Association:


Bad luck Johnny Fleecebairn, you must be an ass,

Sure soldiers and sailors they can’t live upon grass,

You want to cut off their supplies it appears,

Take care they don’t cut off your long pair of ears!”[57]


Under trying circumstances, Sir Harry Smith praised the resolve of the army who, although effectively starved of supplies at Cape Town by the local population, remained calm and did not retaliate.


For the prisoners on the Neptune, anchored in False Bay off the coast of Simon’s Town, an unlikely hero came to their rescue. Born near Claremorris, County Mayo, in 1806, Robert Stanford, a retired army officer, was by then among the leading farmers of the Cape Colony and owned more than fifty-thousand acres of land. Recalling these times, Stanford wrote that he was “blessed with an ample fortune, a happy and increasing family and a passion for agricultural pursuits.”[58] The latter he had undertaken at great cost, bringing livestock and new agricultural implements from Europe, while he had also purchased a “cutter” ship to reach Cape Town to travel by water rather than by mountain.[59] Initially, Stanford had supported the blockade of the Neptune, although he is not believed to have taken any part in the public demonstrations that occurred in May and July of that year. However, his position soon changed when he was pressed to support the government during a meeting, in the “dead of night,” with Attorney General William Porter. Porter was determined to end the power of the Anti-Convict Association, which in his view had “degenerated into […] wanton destruction” and had become an “organized attempt to overawe the government.”[60] Stanford conceded, believing that by his “timely assistance open rebellion and civil war would be averted.” He was assured that his assistance would not have to last very long, as relief from London was expected to arrive soon.

Recalling the events that followed, Stanford wrote: “‘At 2 o’clock Oxen and Sheep were under way to Cape Town and Simon’s Town’ […]. ‘These gentlemen requested me to bring in supplies for six months.’”[61] Over the course of the next five months, Stanford and some others were said to have “‘ran the gauntlet with their wagons...both night and day’ and supplied the government with the necessary supplies.”[62] Significantly, in the course of his duties Stanford maintained that he did not want any “pecuniary interest whatever,” only to be paid the normal cost price for the supply of goods. There were a number of others who came to the aid of the government, including the Morkel family and William Cock, a member of the Legislative Council. However, Stanford was perhaps the most influential and the one who suffered the greatest intimidation and ostracization from the local community. Describing this alienation by friends, neighbors, and the general population, Stanford recalled: “Accounts of every description were sent in, banks refused to do any business with me, my servants were frightened off my farms, my family pelted in the streets with eggs, my children expelled from school.” He continues:

I was even refused medicine for my family. One of my children was taken ill at my farm forty miles from Cape Town. I proceeded to Cape Town for medical aid and to send the mother of the child out, and it would be scarcely credited, I would not be let have a conveyance from town to convey a doctor […] I followed in a few hours but […] we met my wife coming back with my dead child.[63]

From having an income of more than two-thousand pounds a year, he was, by this stage, in his own words, “reduced to a beggar.”[64]

By February 1850, Earl Grey realized that an impasse had been reached, and, conceding defeat, ordered that the Neptune was to proceed to Van Dieman’s Land (modern Tasmania, off the southern coast of eastern Australia), and the ship finally left Simon’s Town on February 21. All across the Cape the colonists rejoiced. In Cape Town, bells rang out amid widespread celebration. Historian George McCall Theal remembered how “Cape Town was illuminated that night, and the streets were filled with people congratulating each other that the colony had been saved. Yes, the colony, more still, all South Africa had been saved from pollution.” Discussing the occasion in his memoir, John Mitchel wryly remarked: “So the contest is over, and the colonists may now proceed about their peaceful business. Long may they sleep in peace without bolt or lock on their hospitable doors!”[65]



The Anti-Convict protests and the case of the Neptune made for a pivotal moment in the history of the Cape Colony. For the colonists, it was a defining time in their relationship with the British Empire, raising questions about sovereignty going forward. While the protest in Cape Town was said to be primarily about the establishment of a penal colony and dissatisfaction with local government, it also said much about attitudes toward the Famine Irish. The fear of convicts and those carrying “famine fever,” as experienced with such intensity in cities such as Quebec and Montreal, gave rise to widespread hysteria in Cape Town and throughout the Cape Colony. For many, the Neptune was simply “the pest” or the “plague ship.” While various emigration schemes to the Cape of Good Hope were considered in Ireland by Poor Law commissioners and others, eventually they failed to succeed for a variety of reasons. The treatment of the Irish during the “convict crisis” ultimately stymied any significant migration of people during the Famine years—although there were exceptions, and the opposition in Cape Town stood in stark contrast to the way emigrants were treated in Natal, in the Eastern Cape, when they arrived as part of the Byrne settler scheme of 1851.[66]

In August 1850, Robert Stanford was received at court by Queen Victoria and knighted for his services during the Anti-Convict standoff.[67] As partial compensation for the troubles that he had endured, both financial and otherwise, he was awarded five-thousand pounds.[68] Not content with how he had been treated by his former friends, neighbors, and countrymen, and still reeling from all that he had lost, in 1858 Stanford published a memoir, Loyalty and Its Reward, which understandably met with mixed reaction in the Cape Colony. Stanford died on December 20, 1877, in Charlton-upon-Medlock in Lancashire, England. Today, the village of Stanford, about seventy-five miles from cosmopolitan Cape Town, bears the name of the County Mayo man who came to the aid of his fellow countrymen in the close of 1849. Indeed, it was Stanford’s onetime wish that the town would be renamed Ballina-Stanford, in honor of his home place in County Mayo.


[1] Belfast Newsletter, November 24, 1848.

[2] For an overview of the Irish in South Africa, see Donal P. McCracken, “Irish Settlement and Identity in South Africa before 1910,” Irish Historical Studies 28, no. 110 (November 1992): 134–49.


[3] See Donal P. McCracken, “The Land the Famine Irish Forgot,” in The Hungry Stream: Essays on Emigration and Famine, ed. E. Margaret Crawford (Belfast: Institute of Irish Studies, 1997), 42.

[4] The Cardigan Observer and General Advertiser, March 20, 1880.

[5] See, for example, Freeman’s Journal, February 12, 1848.

[6] Freeman’s Journal, January 20, 1848.

[7] Natal Witness (Pietermaritzburg), March 12, 1852.

[8] See, for example, G. B. Dickason, Irish Settlers to the Cape: History of the Clanwilliam 1820 Settlers from Cork Harbour (Cape Town: A. A. Balkema, 1973).

[9] McCracken, “Irish Settlement,” 136.

[10] William Porter, The Porter Speeches (Cape Town: Trustees Estate Saul Solomon, 1886), xli–ii.

[11] Cork Examiner, June 14, 1844.

[12] See, for example, Grahamstown Journal, January 3, 1838.

[13] Grahamstown Journal, May 8, 1847.

[14] Grahamstown Journal, April 24, 1849.

[15] Belfast Newsletter, July 6, 1847. See also J. L. McCracken, New Light at the Cape of Good Hope: William Porter, the Father of Cape Liberalism (Belfast: Ulster Historical Foundation Publications, 1993).

[16] Ironically, Griffith’s lasting legacy can be seen in St Mary’s Cathedral on Roeland Street in Cape Town, which was dedicated in 1851 and built with donations from Ireland while it was still in the grips of the Famine.

[17] McCracken, New Light at the Cape of Good Hope, 74.

[18] The Cornwall Chronicle, September 11, 1847.

[19] Grahamstown Journal, February 13, 1847.

[20] Natal Witness (Pietermaritzburg), April 16, 1847. See also Grahamstown Journal, January 16, 1847.

[21] Friend of the Free State and Bloemfontein Gazette, August 9, 1851.

[22] Natal Witness (Pietermaritzburg), September 17, 1847.

[23] Natal Witness (Pietermaritzburg), March 9, 1847.

[24] Cork Examiner, February 26, 1846.

[25] Nation, September 12, 1846.

[26] Tuam Herald, June 14, 1849.

[27] Cork Examiner, February 2, 1846.

[28] Cork Examiner, February 26, 1846.

[29] Commissioners for Administering Laws for Relief of Poor in Ireland: Third Annual Report with Appendices (Dublin: Alex Thom. & Sons, 1851), Appendix B, 184. On p. 30 of the report, the commissioners praise the quality of soil in Natal.

[30] Freeman’s Journal, March 10, 1849.

[31] Ibid.

[32] Ibid.

[33] Zuid Afrikaan (Cape Town), August 6, 1849.

[34] Wexford Independent, December 29, 1849.

[35] Tom and Teresa Wickham, “Female emigration from Wexford Workhouse,” Journal of the Taghmon Historical Society, 7 (2007): 55–56.

[36] Wexford Union Board of Guardians Minute Books, June 16, 1849, Wexford County Archive. The names of the emigrants are listed in the minute books.

[37] Wexford Union Board of Guardians Minute Books, January 26, 1850. See also Wickham, “Female emigration from Wexford Workhouse,” 58.

[38] Wickham, “Female emigration from Wexford Workhouse,” 50.

[39] Freeman’s Journal, January 1, 1850.

[40] George McCall Theal, History of South Africa since September 1795, vol. 3 (London: S. Sonneschein, 1908), 69–70.

[41] Daily News, August 11, 1849.

[42] Ibid.

[43] Reported in the Freeman’s Journal, October 15, 1849.

[44] Freeman’s Journal, September 13, 1849.

[45] Outrage Reports, Roscommon, 1846, National Archives of Ireland.

[46] Morton later owned a hotel-come-public house near the mining village of Jones Valley in Queensland. Today, a plaque on the wall commemorates the fact that he was transported on-board the Neptune in 1849. See, accessed 12 April 2017.

[47] Reported in the Belfast Newsletter, September 18, 1849.

[48] Times (London), September 15, 1849.

[49] Freeman’s Journal, December 15, 1849.

[50] Morning Post, December 14, 1849. See also Wexford Independent, December 19, 1849.

[51] Theal, History of South Africa, 79.

[52] Natal Witness (Pietermaritzburg), August 31, 1849.

[53] This was reflected in other South African newspapers such as the Grahamstown Journal, which reported on the condition of the “poor Irish.” See, for example, Grahamstown Journal, September 29, 1849.

[54] Grahamstown Journal, July 7, 1849, and December 9, 1849.

[55] Dublin Evening Mail, November 21, 1849.

[56] J.S. Nichol, Lines Written on the Occasion of the Cape Town Anti-Convict Association, Attaining Its Climacteric, by Closing the Shops, Injuring the Community, and Attempting to Starve the Opponents of the Pledge (Cape Town: William Sammons, 1849).

[57] Christopher Holdridge, “Laughing with Sam Sly: The Cultural Politics of Satire and Colonial British Identity in the Cape Colony, c. 1840–1850,” Kronos, no. 36 (November 2010): 29–53, accessed January 11, 2018,

[58] Robert Stanford, Loyalty and its Reward; or, Justice versus law, at the Cape of Good Hope in the nineteenth century. An account of the case of Sir R. Stanford (London & Cape Town: Mathew, Chevens & Bryant, 1859), 4.

[59] Annalize Mouton, Stanford 150: Portrait of a Village (Stanford, South Africa: Village Life, 2008), 16.

[60] Stanford, Loyalty and its Reward, 6.

[61] Mouton, Portrait of a Village, 16.

[62] Ibid.

[63] Mouton, Stanford, 21–22.

[64] Ibid., 23–24.

[65] John Mitchel, Jail Journal; or, Five Years in British Prisons (New York: Office of the “Citizen,” 1854), 223.

[66] Between 1849 and 1851 more than twenty ships carrying English, Scottish, and Irish emigrants landed in the ports of the South African province of Natal.

[67] Essex Standard, August 16, 1850.

[68] The Star, January 3, 1878.