Why the English Sailed to the New World
By James Evans
An absorbing, unconventional approach to the mass migration from England to the Americas in the seventeenth century.
AN EVENING STANDARD NO. 1 BESTSELLER
'Marvellously engaging' THE TIMES
'Brisk, informative and eye-opening' DAILY TELEGRAPH
During the course of the seventeenth century nearly 400,000 people left Britain for the Americas, most of them from England. Crossing the Atlantic was a major undertaking, the voyage long and treacherous. There was little hope of returning to see the friends and family who stayed behind. Why did so many go?
A significant number went for religious reasons, either on the Mayflower or as part of the mass migration to New England; some sought their fortunes in gold, fish or fur; some went to farm tobacco in Virginia, a booming trade which would enmesh Europe in a new addiction. Some went because they were loyal to the deposed Stuart king, while others yearned for an entirely new ambition - the freedom to think as they chose. Then there were the desperate: starving and impoverished people who went because things had not worked out in the Old World and there was little to lose from trying again in the New.
EMIGRANTS casts light on this unprecedented population shift - a phenomenon that underpins the rise of modern America. Using contemporary sources including diaries, court hearings and letters, James Evans brings to light the extraordinary personal stories of the men and women who made the journey of a lifetime.
James Evans completed a doctorate at Oriel College, Oxford, following a first-class degree and a Masters in Historical Research. He is a writer and producer of historical documentaries for the BBC and Channel 4, and the author of MERCHANT ADVENTURERS: THE VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY THAT TRANSFORMED TUDOR ENGLAND. He lives in London with his wife and three children.
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- Publication date:
06 Jul 2017
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James Evans has written a marvellously engaging and comprehensive account of this ambitious undertaking and the men and women who accomplished it, often with the odds stacked against them. Here he tells the exciting, sometimes heartbreaking stories of the pioneers and explains what kind of world they dreamt of creating. It was one in which individual liberty and freedom was cherished: both became part of the modern American mindset. — Lawrence James, THE TIMES
Otto von Bismarck was once asked to identify the pre-eminent fact in modern world history. That America spoke English, he replied. In Emigrants, James Evans attempts to explain how and why that happened. ... Evans' book is an eloquent testimony to the fact that the commodity America has alwasy traded in, above all others, is hope. — Mathew Lyons, FINANCIAL TIMES
What led a person in 17th-century England to get on a ship bound for the Americas? James Evans attempts to answer that question by exploring both the push and pull factors involved ... His descriptions are vivid ... and he relates in a readable style the lives of people who chose to make the journey — Katrina Gulliver, THE SPECTATOR
Engaging ... Evans is vivid on the risks of going to a land that, for a good portion of the century, had little to recommend it ... Brisk, informative and ... eye-opening — Tim Smith-Lang, DAILY TELEGRAPH
With great vigour, Evans transports us back to this time of America's earliest immigrants. Many had already migrated across England, before landing in London and then heading off in search of a fresh start across the ocean. In this thought-provoking book, Evans uses contemporary sources, such as diaries, court records and letters, to cast vivid new light on a historic population shift, bringing to life the stories of English emigrants and their colonisation of the New World. All proving, perhaps, that mass migration is nothing new — FAMILY TREE MAGAZINE