‘Away we went from the East India Dock’: The Story of the Jack Family

portrait-john-jackIn late October 1883, the Jack family, John, Helen, and their two sons John Hill Hunter and James Whitson, left their home in Edinburgh for the port of Leith. Their luggage had already been packed and was delivered, ahead of the family, to the SS Iona anchored in Leith harbour, the vessel which was to take them to London. From there, the Jacks were to embark on a three-month journey to New Zealand. The departure in Edinburgh was a sad event. Aware of the fi nality of the Jacks’ decision to emigrate, Peter Gardner, a family friend, observed how unlikely it was that they would see each other again ‘in the flesh’. Perhaps Gardner was among those gathered in front of the Iona for the farewell; befitting the occasion, someone …

Migration and Poetry

Screen Shot 2016-01-24 at 16.42.34While exploring personal testimonies of migrants and their families back at home in Scotland, as well as records from Scottish clubs and societies, I have come across numerous examples of poetry written by Scots at home and abroad that relates to migration and the feelings associated with it. As it is National Poetry Day today I want to look at some of those poems and share them with you.

In many cases poems were a means to counter loneliness and feelings of sadness. Once the decision to leave had been made, the process of bidding farewell to friends and family began. The prospect of reunion was unlikely. The prevailing sentiments are expressed to the point by Robert Shennan when writing to his son John on his departure for New Zealand …