Sunday, January 24, 2010

Edinburgh Register of Aliens

A few days ago, Strath from New Zealand alerted readers of our forum to a potentially very interesting source of information.

It is a transcription, I imagine, of core information in Edinburgh Registers of Aliens recorded between 1794 and 1825.

It lists first names and surname, age, place of birth, residence, residence - pre-arrival, residence in Scotland, occupation, port of arrival, date of arrival, date registered, notes.

The first page of the PDF says
"....The first is a handwritten volume of declarations given in by foreigners before the Magistrates as to their origins, occupation, length of time in the Country and the intended duration of their stay in Edinburgh. Most declarations were made in 1794.....
The Registers in the second series are bound volumes of pro-formas of questions to be asked and answered before Magistrates regarding the name, origins, status, occupation, age and intentions of foreign visitors. Also given in these volumes, are the current addresses of the respondents as well as the names of the British ports through which they first entered the Country. They cover the period 1798-1825."

These were troubling times, and clearly the authorities needed to know more about resident foreigners. France declared war on Britain on 1st February 1793, in early September, the French National Convention began the 'Reign of Terror' measures to uphold the principles of the French Revolution.

In 1795, Napoleon had his first success in invading Italy, by capturing Milan; and other cities and areas were captured subsequently. The war between Britain and France ended in May 1802 with the the treaty of Amiens, though it began a year later when Britain declared war on France. In May 1804, Napoleon Bonaparte was proclaimed Emperor of France, though he wasn't crowned until December; and in 1805 he was crowned King of Italy.

Most of these foreigners were from France, Italy and the USA, but others came from Austria, Brazil, Denmark, Switzerland, Finland, Germany, Holland, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland.

There were a lot of medical students, almost all from the USA, and some people had quite unusual occupations, though there none listed as spies.

Not surprisingly, all their addresses were in or around Edinburgh; but their ports of arrival were all over Britain.

Clearly, this resource is full of interest.

I suggest you download the Register of Aliens for yourself.

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