Missing Emigrants: Gleanings from Petitions Presented under the Presumption of Life Limitation (Scotland) Acts

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On 11 June 1871 Robert Yuile wrote from Bathurst, New South Wales, to his mother in Glasgow. ‘Chear up old Womman’, was his semi-literate exhortation. ‘You will se me home yet with my pockets fool of money’. It was a promise he did not keep, for Robert was never heard of again, and when his mother died fourteen years later the fate of her globe-trotting son was still a mystery. Yuile was just one of a number of shadowy Scots whose disappearance without trace, often overseas, is highlighted in petitions generated by the Presumption of Life Limitation (Scotland) Acts of 1881 and 1891. Evidence from these neglected documents lies at the heart of this preliminary analysis of missing emigrants, whose presumed, but undocumented, demise caused their relatives to seek closure through legislation which would allow their deaths to be registered, a death certificate to be obtained and – in many cases – inheritance issues to be settled.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-38
Number of pages22
JournalScottish Archives
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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