In reaction to the Potato Famine many landlords in Ireland evicted impoverished tenants, enabling them to be rid of the encumbrance these people could become on their already struggling estates. Some landlords, hoping for a more humane way to ease the burden looked to assisted emigration, sending surplus tenants overseas with incentives.
In the years between 1847 and 1856 nearly 6000 “surplus” or unviable tenants from the Fitzwilliam Estate, County Wicklow, Ireland were sent across the Atlantic to Canada. The estate was over 85,000 acres, covering one-fifth of the entire county of Wicklow and had more than 20,000 tenants. 383 of these tenants were sent to St. Andrews, New Brunswick on the Star, their voyage funded by their landlord. They had been promised three months’ work on railroad construction in New Brunswick, after which they might be kept on. In comparison to the vast majority of famine emigrants, they appear to have been in an enviable position. However, they were received by an ill equipped emigrant welfare system and a railway company unprepared for their numbers. The experience of these emigrants highlights the inadequacies and conditions they met with upon starting a new life in New Brunswick, including periods of continued destitution and reliance on the province for support. Yet, despite these issues a large number of Star immigrants remained in and contributed to St. Andrews and the surrounding area with lasting results. This database contains the records of those families who left the Fitzwilliam Estate on the Star during these clearances.