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Remittance man

Posted by Lotg on November 13, 2004

While discussing our ancestory, my mother used the term 'remittance man' to describe one of my great grandfathers. She said, "we suspect he was a 'remittance man' but of course, no-one in the family will admit that".

I'd never heard this term before and she explained that these were men who were either useless or superfluous to the family - who were shipped off by their families to Australia and paid a remittance to stay here. eg. They were trouble makers, non achievers, or perhaps just the youngest of the sons.

Remittance man or no, that particular great grandfather was a postmaster at Fermoy in County Cork before he was sent out here. After he came here he became a station hand, soon was promoted to boundary rider, and eventually became a substantial and wealthy landowner in Henty, NSW. They named a locality after him - Haycroft. Eventually he died in his 50's and his Irish widow - who couldn't manage the properties - sold them all, moved to Nhill in Western Victoria and set up a general store in the area. Eventually she had several, and they still remain in the Haycroft name.

So I guess Remittance Man, eventually done good.

In researching this, I also discovered something I didn't know. That his mother was probably an Irish woman, his father was Cambridge educated, English gentry (for want of a better word) with large estates in County Cork, and I'm sorry to say to all those Irish people out there, I suspect he was one of those who took land from the Irish in order to boost his wealth. Not one of the nicest pieces of my ancestry - but not much I can do about it either. I'm now trying to dig deeper and find out more about this guy - and see what he really did to achieve his dubious 'success' but records from this end are scant. So if anyone out there from Ireland can point me somewhere where I could find out stuff like that I'd be most grateful.

BUT back to the original topic. Is anyone else familiar with the term 'remittance men' and did it originate out of the UK or was a term coined here in Australia? And I assume if they sent men to Oz for that reason, they possibly also sent men to America for the same reason - so is it a U.S. term too?

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