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Collection AF51 - Emigration Files

Identity area

Reference code

GB 234 AF51


Emigration Files


  • 1885-1956 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

4.62 linear metres

Context area

Name of creator

Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland (1960-1999)

Administrative history

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

This series relates primarily to the Colonisation Scheme established under the auspices of Lord Balfour, Secretary for Scotland in 1886 as a response to the congestion and poverty amongst the crofting community. The Scheme concentrated on Lewis and Harris and was only operational between 1888 and 1889, sending out initially 12 families from Harris and 18 families from Lewis to Manitoba, Canada. These families inhabited two settlements: one called Killarney and the other called Saltcoats. Both settlements subsequently failed and the later series of files deals with the government response to that failure, especially efforts to recoup some of the financial outlay; the grievances of the crofters and the selling of the abandoned homesteads and land. Initially the Scheme was accounted a great success and efforts were made to extend it to East Coast fishermen and Shetlanders with the destinations of South Africa, British Columbia, Western Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania. Although some of the earliest files do have copy emigration schedules giving details of families, the series itself is mostly bereft of personal details and concentrates on the administration and financing of the Scheme. The only exception to this is the bundle of Imperial Colonisation Board forms AF51/211 which inventory the homesteads and families in the settlements in Manitoba.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

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Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Paper records

Finding aids

Full catalogue available through National Records of Scotland online catalogue at

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Notes area

Description control area

Description identifier

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Rules and/or conventions used


Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion




Rights area

Accession area