Oswald Mosley

May 7, 2008

Oswald Mosley must rank among the most controversial figures in 20th century British politics. His radical views forced him out of the Labour party in 1930 and soon after he formed his own political party, the New Party, whose policies mirrored his own extremist beliefs.

Heavily influenced by Mussolini’s National Fascist Party in Italy, in 1932, the New Party was subsumed by the British Union of Fascists (BUF). BUF members wore black uniforms earning them the nickname ‘The Blackshirts’. The BUF’s policies were ostensibly isolationist. Although the party was not officially anti-Semitic, many of its members were openly anti-Semitic.

In October 1936 Mosley and the BUF planned to march through the East End of London, then noted for its large Jewish population. Hearing of the march, anti-fascist groups erected barriers in an attempt to prevent it taking place. This resulted in a series of running battles between anti-fascists and police.

The Battle of Cable Street, as the event was later called, resulted in the passing of the 1936 Public Order Act, to control extremist political movements. The event is commemorated by a red plaque in nearby Dock Street.

During World War Two, like most active fascists in Britain, Mosley was interned. After the war he formed the Union Movement, whose policies, compared to the BUF, were more democratic, encompassing European unity, rather than total isolationism. Mosley died in 1980.

The man who ardently opposed mass immigration can be found within the findmypast.com passenger lists.

Here is Mosley, alongside his first wife Lady Cynthia Curzon, on board the Majestic, bound for New York in 1926:

Passenger Lists - Oswald and Cynthia Mosley

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Their marriage in 1920, attended by many branches of European Royalty, was, for many, the high society event of the year. During the marriage it is rumoured Mosley embarked on an affair with his wife’s younger sister Lady Alexandra Metcalfe, and also the sisters’ stepmother, Grace Curzon.

Here is Lady Alexandra Metcalfe, onboard the Olympic, also heading for New York, in December 1928:

Passenger Lists - Alexandra Metcalfe

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In 1936, three years after Lady Curzon’s death, Mosley married Diana Guinness, née Mitford, one of the famous Mitford sisters.

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Ten Pound Poms

March 31, 2008

The phrase ‘Ten Pound Poms’ derived from the Britons who emigrated to Australia following World War Two on the Australian government’s assisted passage scheme.

The purpose of this scheme was to enlarge Australia’s population whilst supplying workers for the country’s growing economy and industry.

Britons were offered a way out of the rationing and deprivation of post-war life, shown visions of glorious sunshine and boundless possibility by a government desperate for an influx of labour.

They were offered the dramatically reduced fee for their passage only on the condition that they stay in Australia for a minimum of two years, or pay the full £120 fare back. This fee was prohibitively expensive for most.

The scale of the migration was such that some former troop ships were converted and dedicated to carrying Britons to their new home, such as the S S New Australia, formerly the Monarch of Bermuda.

As well as searching by name, it is possible to search the Passenger Lists by ship

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One of the most high-profile participants in the scheme was Albert Grassby, who emigrated in 1960 and went on to serve as Australian Minister for Immigration.

Grassby can be found in the new decade of the now completed Passenger Lists;

Passenger Lists - Albert Grassby

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One family that took advantage of the scheme was the Gibb family, from Didsbury, Manchester. The brothers Barry, Maurice and Robin would go on to find fame as The Bee Gees.

Passenger Lists - Gibb family

Another notable emigrant to Australia in the new decade was Carol Jones, formerly of Glamorgan in Wales. She married Ron Minogue and in 1968 gave birth to a daughter, Kylie, who would go on to become one of modern Australia’s most successful entertainers.

Passenger Lists - Jones family

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Carol Jones and her family can be found in the last decade of the Passenger Lists on ancestorsonboard.

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Explorers and Deception (Island)

March 27, 2008

Whilst looking at the last decade of the Passenger Lists we came across an expedition to an exotic sounding location: Deception Island.

Located in the South Shetland Islands the Island was historically used by seal hunters and whaling companies. In more recent times it was the focus of scientific research and, in 1955/56, was the subject of an aerial photography expedition.

The party of intrepid explorers can be found setting out to Deception Island in the Passenger Lists on ancestorsonboard.com:

Passenger Lists - Deception Island

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This list is a good example of the level of detail included in many 1950s passenger lists, which often include both exact date of birth and full address.

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Among other famous explorers in the Passenger Lists on ancestorsonboard.com, we found Ernest Shackleton, famed for his expeditions to the Antarctic, including the Endurance Expedition in which he set out, unsuccessfully, to cross the Antarctic on foot.

Shackleton can be found in 1921, the year before his death, travelling in somewhat greater comfort aboard the Aquitania to New York.

Passenger Lists - Ernest Shackleton

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Captain Lawrence Edward Grace Oates died on Robert Falcon Scott’s doomed Terra Nova Expedition to reach the South Pole, famously issuing the last words “I am just going outside and may be some time”. Oates can be found in 1899, travelling to Barbados in the Passenger Lists:

Passenger Lists - Captain Oates

Scott’s Terra Nova Expedition was beaten to the South Pole by a Norwegian party led by Roald Amundsen. Amundsen himself can be found within the Passenger Lists on ancestorsonboard, travelling to New York in 1927 aboard the Leviathan.

Passenger Lists - Roald Amundsen

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The RRS Discovery, the ship that Scott and Shackleton used for their first Antarctic Expedition, returned to the City of Dundee, where it had been constructed, in 1986. Now the centre-piece of Discovery Point, the ship is a popular tourist attraction and gives an insight into the age of exploration.

RRS Discovery

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RRS Discovery - Cabin

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RRS Discovery - Desk

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Passenger Lists statistics and graphs

March 25, 2008

Now that the Passenger Lists are a complete set we’ve been looking at trends and patterns in the long-distance movement of people by ship from the UK.

The overall number of passengers travelling for each 5-year period from 1890-1960 can be viewed below. Please note that the last bar is actually a six- rather than a five-year period (i.e. 1955-1960 inclusive).

Passenger Lists - total number of passengers travelling by decade

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The number of passengers travelling to the five most popular destinations, USA, Canada, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand, on the Passenger Lists can be seen here:

Passenger Lists - passengers travelling to the big 5 destinations

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Below is a graph showing the movement of passengers from the UK to the United States of America. It is worth noting that after WW1 and the Russian Revolution the USA looked to restrict immigration – the 1921 Quota Act restricted it to 3% of its foreign-born population of 1903 and the 1924 Quota Act to 2% of its 1890 population. This reduced its availablility as a destination for UK emigrants.

Passenger Lists - passengers travelling to USA

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This graph is for passengers travelling to Canada:

Passenger Lists - passengers travelling to Canada

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Passengers travelling to Australia:

Passenger Lists - passengers travelling to Australia

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Passengers travelling to South Africa:

Passenger Lists - passengers travelling to South Africa

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Passengers travelling to New Zealand:

Passenger Lists - passengers travelling to New Zealand

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Passenger Lists now complete with launch of the final decade

March 18, 2008

Search for ancestors from 1890-1960

The last decade of the Passenger Lists has now been added, allowing you to search from 1890 all the way up to 1960, for ancestors leaving the UK. There are now more than 24 million passengers, across 164,000 exclusive passenger lists.

The 1950s – Elvis, Egypt and Emigration

The 1950s is often seen as a conservative period, in relation to the more radical 60s. Despite this it saw the birth of the teenager, with Rock ‘n’ Roll music emerging from America, the ‘Beat’ writers and the seeds of the Civil Rights movement. The intensifying Cold War between the USA and the USSR was played out in a race for Space: by the decade’s end Sputnik I had been launched.

Britain’s prestige was dealt a blow with the Suez Crisis, in 1956. Rationing was slowly ending, National Service was in place, wide-scale rebuilding after the devastations of World War Two were bearing fruit and thousands of ‘Ten Pound Poms’ took the opportunity to start afresh in Australia. Commercial sea travel was in its last days, with air travel becoming more affordable and prevalent from the 1960s on.

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Notable passengers on board in the 1950s

There are lots of famous faces and notable names in the final decade of the Passenger Lists. One of Hollywood’s greatest stars, Gregory Peck, can be seen aboard the Queen Elizabeth in 1950:

Passenger Lists - Gregory Peck

Matt Busby, the manager of Manchester United for many years can be found travelling with his team in May 1950, where Manchester United undertook their first tour of the States. Busby, whose tragic ‘Busby Babes’ died in the Munich Air Disaster in 1958, led the club to success in the European Cup in 1968.

Passenger Lists - Matt Busby

Other notable passengers in the 1950s include Max Factor, Gloria Swanson, Cecil Beaton, Jack Buchanan and Bill Haley.

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Find your ancestors in the Passenger Lists

Search by person or by ship name alone. You can now also narrow your search with the name of a travelling companion. A comprehensive guide to searching the passenger lists can be viewed here

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Our premium Explorer Subscription offers you unlimited access to over 500 million records on findmypast, including the passenger lists, and costs £89.95 for 12 months – the equivalent of just £7.50 a month. The Voyager Subscription gives you 30 days’ unlimited searching of all the Passenger Lists for only £14.95. You can also view the Passenger Lists on a pay-per-view basis. It costs 10 units to view a transcription and 30 units to view, print and save the full-colour digital images.

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Sailing suffragettes

February 28, 2008

March is Women’s History Month and to celebrate we have found some pioneering women in our Passenger Lists.

It was 90 years ago, with the Representation of the People Act 1918, that women over the age of 30 were enfranchised. Ten years after, in 1928, this was extended allowing representation on equal terms with men. One family played an enormous part in the movement to allow women the right to vote; establishing organisations, leading protests and involving themselves in direct action to heap pressure on the establishment in the name of women’s rights.

Richard and Emmeline Pankhurst (nee Goulden) set up the Women’s Franchise League in 1889, with the intention of gaining women the right to vote in local elections. Richard Pankhurst was a perennial campaigner for ‘struggling causes’. Following his death, in 1898, Emmeline Pankhurst founded the more radical Women’s Social and Political Union. This organisation, with the motto ‘deeds not words’ encouraged and perpetrated direct, and often violent, action to highlight their cause and their determination.

Pejoratively termed ‘suffragettes’ the movement chained themselves to railings, staged protests in Downing Street and one of their members, Emily Davison, threw herself under the King’s horse at the Derby, dying a few days later in hospital of the injuries that she sustained and becoming a martyr for the cause of women’s suffrage in the process.

Emmeline Pankhurst can be found on the exclusive Passenger Lists on ancestorsonboard, 6 years after Emily Davison’s protest, travelling to New York.

Emmeline Pankhurst 1919

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The Pankhursts’ daughters Christabel and Sylvia joined their mother’s movement, undertaking protests and enduring arrests. Adela, Emmeline’s youngest daughter emigrated to Australia in 1914, becoming a founder member of the Communist Party of Australia.

She can be seen travelling to begin her new life Down Under in the Passenger Lists:

Passenger Lists - Adela Pankhurst

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Sylvia and Christabel can also be found on the Passenger Lists, Christabel moved the USA in 1921 where she became an evangelist.

Passenger Lists - Christabel Pankhurst

Sylvia can be found in the latest decade, travelling to Bombay, India.

Passenger Lists - Sylvia Pankhurst

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Steamboat Walt

February 18, 2008

There are many famous names and figures amongst the Passenger Lists, from every conceivable walk of life. One man, who appears twice in the new 1940s Passenger Lists, was a giant of the film industry, whose surname is synonymous with both a hugely lucrative entertainment empire and a cartoon mouse.

Walter Elias Disney is listed first on 7 December 1946, aboard the Queen Elizabeth, sailing to New York. He is travelling with his wife, Lillian, as well as Perce and June Pearce.

Perce Pearce was a writer and producer, working with Disney on feature films such as Fantasia and Bambi. Both are stated as having 119 Wardour Street in Soho, the centre of the British Film business, as their last UK address.

Passenger Lists - Disneys and Pearces

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Disney also appears in 1949, once again sailing to New York aboard the Queen Elizabeth. This time, as well as Lillian, his two daughters are travelling with him. He is listed as a ‘Film Producer’, and once more 119 Wardour Street is stated as his last UK address.

Passenger Lists - Disney family

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