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Thursday, 09 February 2012 10:06

Ravenstein's "Law of Migration"

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Ravenstein's "Laws of Migration"

Ernst Georg Ravenstein was born in Frankfurt, Germany in 1834 and came to England in 1852.  He married and worked as a cartographer in the War Office from 1854 to 1872.  After retiring, he formulated his laws which he published between 1876 and 1889.

 In simple terms these are as follows.

  1. The majority of migrants move only a short distance in any one migration.

  2. Migration proceeds step-by-step.

  3. Each current of migration produces a counter current.

  4. Females are more migratory than males within the county of their birth, but males more frequently venture beyond that county boundary.

  5. Most migrants are adults; families rarely migrate out of their county of birth.

  6. Migrants moving long distances generally go by preference to the great centres of commerce or industry.

  7. The natives of towns are less migratory than those of rural areas.

  8. Large towns grow more by migration thatn birth rate.

  9. Migration increases as industries and commerce develop and transport improves.

  10. The major direction of migration is from agricultural to industrial or commercial centres.

  11. The major cause of migration is economic

These rules can help the family historian in the following ways.  Remember though that these rules were set in the latter third of the 19th century when travel was most commonly by foot or horseback.  The development of the rail network would suggest spreading the search a little further afield and of course with 20th and 21st century transport systems and the urge for adventurism you should look to destinations all over the globe.

  1. Use law 1 to spread out from the known parish of birth within a 10-30 miles radius (the contiguous parish lists can help with this). Only a quarter of all migrants move 20-30 miles from their parish of birth.

  2. Use law 2 to follow your ancestors on their journey from birth place to resting place.  This could for example follow a line from rural to small town to industrial town and finally a commercial city.

  3. Law 3 would answer why for example a young girl of 7 or 8 would be found in her home village in one census and then in a nearby town in the next age 17 or 18 working as a servant.  She might then return to the home parish to marry and then move onto to the bigger town with her husband but return to her home village to give birth to her offspring etc.

  4. In law 4 as mentioned in item 3 here females often move to work as domestic servants so look close to home in nearby large houses or towns if not found at home in a census.  For males spread the search further afield and also check any military establishments across the country.

  5. Law 5 may point you to that missing child (look also at boarding schools in neighbouring counties if the child is still of school age).  If grown up then search further afield since as an adult he or she may have flown the nest but still within contact distance to the home parish,

Naturally this is not a hard and fast set of rules but it may help you search for that elusive or lost relative that has caused so many headaches in the past.

Read 21029 times Last modified on Tuesday, 24 October 2017 15:20

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