34 min

7: The Left Behind Wives of Cornwall Departures – 400 Years of Emigration from Britain

    • History

When we speak of emigration we tend to think of the people who leave to go abroad. But what about the families and communities left at home? 


In 19th century Cornwall this was a pressing question. As the once-thriving local mining industry went into decline, thousands of men left each year to find better paid jobs abroad. They were often gone for years, leaving wives and families to cope alone and rely on remittances that didn’t always come. It was an experience shared by thousands of Cornish families over several generations.


Mukti Jain Campion speaks to Dr Lesley Trotter author of The Married Widows of Cornwall to find out how these so-called “left behind” wives survived and why their stories are so important to understand the full story of migration. Amanda Drake also shares a poignant letter sent by her 19th century ancestor which gives a glimpse of the heartbreak and struggle that many such wives had to endure.  




A Culture Wise Production for the Migration Museum


Producer: Mukti Jain Campion


Readings: Adrian Preater and Joanna Purslow


Title Music: Shakira Malkani


The Young Man of Cornwall: Traditional, Cornish words by Anthony Snell, arranged and performed by Dalla




Image credit: Osbert Parker from his video Timeline, as featured in the Migration Museum's Departures exhibition.


Exhibition: This podcast accompanies the exhibition Departures: 400 Years of Emigration from Britain at the Migration Museum in London. For more information, visit: www.migrationmuseum.org/exhibition/departures.

When we speak of emigration we tend to think of the people who leave to go abroad. But what about the families and communities left at home? 


In 19th century Cornwall this was a pressing question. As the once-thriving local mining industry went into decline, thousands of men left each year to find better paid jobs abroad. They were often gone for years, leaving wives and families to cope alone and rely on remittances that didn’t always come. It was an experience shared by thousands of Cornish families over several generations.


Mukti Jain Campion speaks to Dr Lesley Trotter author of The Married Widows of Cornwall to find out how these so-called “left behind” wives survived and why their stories are so important to understand the full story of migration. Amanda Drake also shares a poignant letter sent by her 19th century ancestor which gives a glimpse of the heartbreak and struggle that many such wives had to endure.  




A Culture Wise Production for the Migration Museum


Producer: Mukti Jain Campion


Readings: Adrian Preater and Joanna Purslow


Title Music: Shakira Malkani


The Young Man of Cornwall: Traditional, Cornish words by Anthony Snell, arranged and performed by Dalla




Image credit: Osbert Parker from his video Timeline, as featured in the Migration Museum's Departures exhibition.


Exhibition: This podcast accompanies the exhibition Departures: 400 Years of Emigration from Britain at the Migration Museum in London. For more information, visit: www.migrationmuseum.org/exhibition/departures.

34 min

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