The Lincolnshire Farmers—a disastrous emigration scheme

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These pages centre on the history of a group known as the Lincolnshire Farmers, who were persuaded to leave England for Paraguay in 1872. The scheme was inadequately financed and supervised, and ended about a year later when the colonists were rescued and taken to Buenos Aires and Rosario for a better and a more secure life.

Their story has been written about in two studies and one article. There is an excellent study by Harris Gaylord Warren, published in The Journal of The Americas, vol. XXI, January 1965, pages 243-262. The other detailed study is by Juan Carlos Herken Krauer, published in the Revista Paraguaya de Sociología, Año 18, No. 52 (Setiembre/Diciembre 1981, pp. 33/107) “La Inmigración en el Paraguay de Posguerra: el caso de los ‘Lincolnshire Farmers’ (1870—1873)”. The published article is by Andrew Nickson and is published in Spanish and English. It is reproduced on another page of this website with the author's permission.

The surviving documentation can be found in the Biblioteca Nacional, Sala Alcorta “Informe Anual del Comisario de Inmigración de la República Argentina (1873/76)”, Buenos Aires 60441. There is a copy of this report in the Ibero–Amerikanisches Institut, Berlin. The English sources are in The National Archives, Kew, FO 118/150, ff. 261-9, being a number of passenger lists taken at Asunción at the moment when the settlers boarded the river steamers that carried them to Buenos Aires and Rosario in 1873.

Additionally, three personal accounts of the months spent in Paraguay, two letters and a personal reminiscence, have come to light, that the owners have given their permission to reproduce in these pages. Two, Tom Shrewsbury’s and Annie Kennett’s, tell a terrible tale of unpreparedness, corruption within the administration of the scheme and abandonment. The Edwards write with much greater confidence in the future.

The news of the plight of the settlers gradually reached the outside world. As a consequence, in the face of official inertia, the British communities living in Buenos Aires and in Rosario, the two most important cities in Argentina, mounted a rescue plan.

Under the leadership of Frederick R. St. John, the British Chargé d'Affaires (1872–1876) in Buenos Aires, funds were collected that paid for despatching river steamers northwards up the River Paraná to Asunción in order to collect the Lincolnshire Farmers and transport them to Argentina. Once there, they were assured of a fresh start.

These pages tell much of the story of this doomed emigration scheme. Our recent studies have brought together details that were once thought lost. Without doubt, more will emerge.

Jeremy Howat and Mary Godward

© The form of presentation is the copyright of Jeremy Howat, October 2010

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