Quick Fact Rowntree A-Z

Irish immigration in York

Victims of the potato famine fled to escape starvation in their homeland. In the 1840s York’s population of Irish increased from 500 to 2000, coming as they did on the direct railway lines across the Pennines from Liverpool.  Most lived in the poorer crowded areas around Walmgate, Bedern and Minster Yard.

This new influx of immigrants into a relatively static population brought challenges to the authorities in York who fought to keep York free from disease and contagion as the central city population increased.  In his study of Poverty at the turn of the century Seebohm Rowntree evocatively describes their difficult lives, for example, Irish women on their doorsteps smoking their clay pipes.

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