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Demographics of English migration

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Omar al Hashim View Drop Down
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    Posted: 17 Feb 2010 at 09:52
Reading a book yesterday it was describing serious differences between English and Australian methods of farming. In particular relating to biodiveristy in the fields. It made me wonder how these differences occured as Australian farming practices can only be descended from English ones and this topic is not one that is different for the different climates (the English way is better in Australia).
 
One possible reason I thought of was that the English who migrated to Australia were not farmers in England, and therefore did not really know how to farm before they came to Australia. Does anybody know if English farmers were migrating to Australia to buy land or whether it was primarily city people during the mid to late 19th century?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Feb 2010 at 15:58
More European settlers here were Irish than English. Near exclusive Irish-British would be a better designation for the first 50 years of European settlement.

Firstly, the settlers with the First Fleet were not aware that the seasons are opposite in the southern hemisphere. They planted their crops in autumn and were weeks away from death by starvation when the next fleet arrived carrying supplies. Of course, they learned quickly from this.

Secondly, all Old World people were bound to have problems here that they don't experience back home due to not having practiced animal husbandry here for thousands of years. Livestock in other parts of the world were selectively bred to make the most of their environment. A case in point: the merino sheep. Though better adapted than others for the aridity of the Aussie climate and landscape, it had no protection against Australia's more aggressive flies. As a result, farmers learned that practice of muelsing (sic?). Has we settled here thousands of years ago, selective breeding would likely have eventually produced a breed with a tough rear hide that could resist Aussie fly infections.

You are also correct in supposing that few who came here possessed experience in agriculture. Most came from the larger towns and cities early on, and were convicts. Of course, this changed. German migrants arriving here (from the 1830s) were free and very often came equipped with agricultural knowledge, allowing them to make the most of the poor soil and low rainfall of South Australia to establish very successful wheatbelts, vineyards and breweries. The Gold Rush also increased the number of free settlers and with that the number of former agricultural workers. But for the majority it was simply a matter of trial and error in agriculture. Thankfully this early lack of expertise was mitigated by a progressive and far sighted colonial government which did all it could to encourage successful farmholds (from supplying convict labour, to granting land with pardons to well behaved convicts, to ensuring equitably sized land allotments).

But to answer your first question, overall there doesn't seem to be a distinctly "English" way of farming in this period. The only thing "English" about it was the concept of a landed gentry and aristocracy, and this was not something the English brought to Australia at all. European methods of farming were brought here, which were altered according to a trial and error experience of working the Australian land, and were greatly enhanced by access to the cutting edge agricultural technology which was available to members of the British nation.


Edited by Constantine XI - 17 Feb 2010 at 15:59
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Omar al Hashim Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Feb 2010 at 14:53
IIRC muelsing wasn't developed until the 1890s, before then shepherds were responsible for cleaning the sheep periodically to prevent flystrike.
 
But otherwise I think we're in agreement that farming in Australia isn't really in a european style, rather being the result of trial and error by people who largely started with little farming experience.


Edited by Omar al Hashim - 23 Feb 2010 at 14:54
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Feb 2010 at 15:47
I don't recall saying that muelsing was developed early on, but thanks for the tid bit of info there.

One thing I do wish to mention now that it has occurred to me, is that we can distinguish between different forms of land ownership and labour laws among the different European colonial powers. Had Spain settled Australia, what we would likely see is a quasi-feudal arrangement called the hacienda. Basically the landlord owned the land and kept his workers in a state of bondage to him through a system of debts and obligations, so they effectively remained tied to his estate. Nothing like that occurred here, drovers and shearers were free to move where they wished and they frequently did so.

So Australia developed an enfranchised and well motivated system of freehold farms, rather than the large estates in Latin America which grew to produce politically very powerful gentry who effectively ran the country and stunted the development of urban growth or the development of the middle class (professionals, industrial workers, intellectuals etc).

The bottom line is that British property and labour laws likely resulted in an agricultural sector which was well run, but never grew too powerful to dominate politics or reduce agricultural workers to a state of servitude - which were features of colonial governments in other areas.


Edited by Constantine XI - 23 Feb 2010 at 15:48
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Feb 2010 at 21:05
Originally posted by Constantine XI Constantine XI wrote:

I don't recall saying that muelsing was developed early on, but thanks for the tid bit of info there.

One thing I do wish to mention now that it has occurred to me, is that we can distinguish between different forms of land ownership and labour laws among the different European colonial powers. Had Spain settled Australia, what we would likely see is a quasi-feudal arrangement called the hacienda. Basically the landlord owned the land and kept his workers in a state of bondage to him through a system of debts and obligations, so they effectively remained tied to his estate. Nothing like that occurred here, drovers and shearers were free to move where they wished and they frequently did so.
But in the English colonies in North America the 'Spanish' system was taken to extremes - put 'plantation' instead of 'hacienda'. Huge land grants from the Crown laid the basis for the wealth of many, if not most, of the leaders of the revolution.
So I don't really think the difference in Australia was due to being colonised by the British.
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So Australia developed an enfranchised and well motivated system of freehold farms, rather than the large estates in Latin America which grew to produce politically very powerful gentry who effectively ran the country and stunted the development of urban growth or the development of the middle class (professionals, industrial workers, intellectuals etc).

The bottom line is that British property and labour laws likely resulted in an agricultural sector which was well run, but never grew too powerful to dominate politics or reduce agricultural workers to a state of servitude - which were features of colonial governments in other areas.
Australia was already winning test matches before English land tenure and labour laws reached such a point.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Feb 2010 at 21:43
Originally posted by gcle gcle wrote:

But in the English colonies in North America the 'Spanish' system was taken to extremes - put 'plantation' instead of 'hacienda'. Huge land grants from the Crown laid the basis for the wealth of many, if not most, of the leaders of the revolution.
So I don't really think the difference in Australia was due to being colonised by the British.


However, the British at this juncture underwent a change in their attitudes towards slavery that most other European colonial powers did not. Which is one of the reasons why the American example was not replicated in Australia. The British approach to establishing white settler colonies was different in the late 18th century compared to the early 17th, most markedly shown in attitudes towards slavery. While the practice of 'blackbirding' did take place, it's occurrence was very limited compared to what took place in the American colonies.

I would be curious to know your explanation for why the landed gentry system of rulership so prevalent in Latin America was not replicated in Australia, if administrative policies of the colonisers are not the cause.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Feb 2010 at 01:12
It isn't just a question of slavery (i.e. that is formal enslavement of blacks). The whole social structure of much of the American colonies - outside the cities - was modelled on Britain's schema of landed gentry (and there was no slavery in Britain itself). As long as they weren't Loyalists, possessors of royal grants kep their land in the republic kept. That arguably helped lead to the institution of slavery on a large scale, but it wasn't the result of it.
 
I don't know enough about Australa's development to usefully speculate on why Australia developed differently from the Americas. I suspect however that it has to do more with the period in which it took place rather than the national origin of the settlers/colonisers - for instance the far more limited power of the crown in the 19th century. 
 
The more interesting question possibly is why did the situation develop so differently in Australia from in England? Why no landed aristocracy in Australia as in England?


Edited by gcle2003 - 24 Feb 2010 at 01:18
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Feb 2010 at 02:30
Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

It isn't just a question of slavery (i.e. that is formal enslavement of blacks). The whole social structure of much of the American colonies - outside the cities - was modelled on Britain's schema of landed gentry (and there was no slavery in Britain itself). As long as they weren't Loyalists, possessors of royal grants kep their land in the republic kept. That arguably helped lead to the institution of slavery on a large scale, but it wasn't the result of it.
 
I don't know enough about Australa's development to usefully speculate on why Australia developed differently from the Americas. I suspect however that it has to do more with the period in which it took place rather than the national origin of the settlers/colonisers - for instance the far more limited power of the crown in the 19th century. 
 
The more interesting question possibly is why did the situation develop so differently in Australia from in England? Why no landed aristocracy in Australia as in England?
 
Well, is not the formation of an "aristocracy" a function of time and accumulation? Now not to quibble but the underscored above is perhaps incorrect. In a way "land titles" in 18th century English America were more a function of speculation (think derivatives) than any reflection of social and political power. One need only review the experience of the Penn family in Pennsylvania to understand that process. However, the attempt to link the process with slavery as a projection of the landed gentry is dubious at best given the fact that whatever the symbolism sought, the grand mansions of the slaveocracy were the exception and not the rule and usually the product of financial investment rather than a socio-political process.  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Omar al Hashim Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Feb 2010 at 08:26

Originally posted by Constantine Constantine wrote:

One thing I do wish to mention now that it has occurred to me, is that we can distinguish between different forms of land ownership and labour laws among the different European colonial powers. Had Spain settled Australia, what we would likely see is a quasi-feudal arrangement called the hacienda. Basically the landlord owned the land and kept his workers in a state of bondage to him through a system of debts and obligations, so they effectively remained tied to his estate. Nothing like that occurred here, drovers and shearers were free to move where they wished and they frequently did so.

On the contray exactly that occured here. It just failed to establish a permanent hold due to labour shortages and the selector acts of the 1860s.
Think of people like John Macarthur the "Earl of Camden" who owned a large sheep station at Camden (the cowpastures) from shortly after settlement. His property and those of his contemporaries were based on feudal lines using indentured labour exactly like the Spanish system. Convicts were bound to his station.
Similarly the Squatters tried to setup that same system in other parts of the country as well. Got there first, setup large tracks of land, and brought in any labour they could find (mostly convict) to work their land. Where the system failed was that there were never enough convicts to satisfy squatter demand, the aboriginies were never interested in working for the squatters despite the government and squatters best attempts*, and there were no easy sources of foriegn labour (Africans, Indians, Islanders) to import as foriegn labour until at least the 1880s. When in the 1880s Australia did become rich enough to import coloured labour the white Australia policy was introduced to prevent it. That's why the labour movement strongly supported the white Australia policy - because it was intended to keep out coloured indentured labour and to prevent the establishment of a US/Fiji style class-racial division.

After the gold rushes the influx of people put pressure on the government to release more land. As the squatters weren't legal owners of the land, they just rocked up and squatted initally with the opposition of the government and later with a fee, the govt allowed small afforable selections to be taken up breaking up squatter land. It was this that started the system of freehold farming that we have today (though selections weren't freehold they became so eventually). Essentially before the selection acts of the 1860s Australia did have a hacienda/plantation system with an acute labour shortage. That labour shortage allowed the lower classes to force the hand of the aristocracy into allowing selections, the vote for non-land owners, the white Australia policy, and labour rights during the period from 1860 - 1914.


*I want to refine this slightly. Intially I don't think the Aboriginies had any understanding of what the squatters wanted since feudalism, land ownership, and even animal ownership were completely alien concepts. On the east coast after one generation most aboriginal tribes had been decimated or fled inland, meaning there were very few post contact aboriginies to work on squatter stations, and relations were such that they didn't want to anyway. As a result aboriginal labour on stations was generally just a handful of individuals, and those people would wander all over the region as per their culture despite the best efforts to keep them in place. In the inland where the land is poorer the aboriginal tribes weren't decimated by the influx of whites (because there was no influx of whites) and the aboriginies did figure out what the whites wanted and did end up in a semi bonded state to the stations that occupied their land (not so much bonded to the station owner as bonded to their ancestoral land that was now part of the station). This situation eventually lead to the Gurindji strike of wave hill station and the land rights movement

Quote However, the British at this juncture underwent a change in their attitudes towards slavery that most other European colonial powers did not. Which is one of the reasons why the American example was not replicated in Australia. The British approach to establishing white settler colonies was different in the late 18th century compared to the early 17th, most markedly shown in attitudes towards slavery.

Don't let slaves confuse you too much. The only major difference between a convict and a slave is that children of convicts aren't slaves. Otherwise the big difference between Aus and the US is that the slaves were white, and thus blended in after a couple of generations, and almost exclusively male, and therefore there were few children. The lack of women in early Aus meant female convicts could marry up the social chain, and male convicts didn't have any children, or had aboriginal children. Our slave class died out or dissappeared into white and aboriginal communities.
If you could breed convicts the way you could breed slaves then the story would've been completely different.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Feb 2010 at 09:14
In passing, I noted the following descriptive from Constantine:
 
"Had Spain settled Australia, what we would likely see is a quasi-feudal arrangement called the hacienda. Basically the landlord owned the land and kept his workers in a state of bondage to him through a system of debts and obligations, so they effectively remained tied to his estate..."
 
Unfortunately, what is described above is more or less the 19th century, post-colonial manifestation, of a rather different original settlement pattern within the flux of history. I know that Daniel Nierman and Ernesto Vallejo prepared a great coffee table book, The Hacienda in Mexico (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2003) but their descriptives captured the Mexico of the Porfiriato and not the institution of the hacienda within the colonial context. For that, the original works of Francois Chevalier remain the standard reference even half a century after their composition. In his magnum opus, Land and Society in Colonial Mexico (Eng. ed. 1963) and an earlier study translated into English as The North Mexican Hacienda: Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries (1954), one readily notes the differences between the "frontier" environment and the much different atmosphere generated by Independence and the disestablishment of Amerindian autonomy.
 
By the way, this classic is still available in its original French:
 
_____. La formation des grands domains au Mexique: terre et societe, XVIe, XVIIe et XVIII siecles. Paris: Karthala, 2006.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Feb 2010 at 02:40
Originally posted by drgonzaga drgonzaga wrote:

Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

It isn't just a question of slavery (i.e. that is formal enslavement of blacks). The whole social structure of much of the American colonies - outside the cities - was modelled on Britain's schema of landed gentry (and there was no slavery in Britain itself). As long as they weren't Loyalists, possessors of royal grants kep their land in the republic kept. That arguably helped lead to the institution of slavery on a large scale, but it wasn't the result of it.
 
I don't know enough about Australa's development to usefully speculate on why Australia developed differently from the Americas. I suspect however that it has to do more with the period in which it took place rather than the national origin of the settlers/colonisers - for instance the far more limited power of the crown in the 19th century. 
 
The more interesting question possibly is why did the situation develop so differently in Australia from in England? Why no landed aristocracy in Australia as in England?
 
Well, is not the formation of an "aristocracy" a function of time and accumulation? Now not to quibble but the underscored above is perhaps incorrect.
I put 'arguably' in the second sentence to acommodate the iew that maybe it did help lead to slavery (since slavery at least in the conventional picture of it in the South depended on large estates). As far as I know the first statement is correct. Only Loyalist holders of royal land grants (like, e.g., Fairfax) had their estates confiscated.
Quote
In a way "land titles" in 18th century English America were more a function of speculation (think derivatives) than any reflection of social and political power. 
Speculation yes. However, as Franklin and the Henrys for instance were well aware the grant of land rights was very much a matter of political 'pull', which is why they offered the bribes they did in order to get them. 'Royal' grants were of course not actually granted by the king, but by the appropriate ministers.
Quote
One need only review the experience of the Penn family in Pennsylvania to understand that process. However, the attempt to link the process with slavery as a projection of the landed gentry is dubious at best given the fact that whatever the symbolism sought, the grand mansions of the slaveocracy were the exception and not the rule and usually the product of financial investment rather than a socio-political process.  
As I thought I indicated I didn't like linking the process with slavery either, though I wasn't prepared to argue the point.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Feb 2010 at 02:43
Omar's account makes a lot of sense to me in accomodating original Australian structures to prevaling ones in (rural, anyway) Britain.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Feb 2010 at 02:57
I agree.
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