British History is often presented in terms of empire and imperialism rather than in more human terms, while the essence of emigration is its human element. It was the most fundamental action working people could take in regard to their lives and their futures, yet often emigration is discussed in general terms of movement of 'peoples'. This book is intended to interrogate ideas of British identity through the political issue and human experience of emigration from Britain and Ireland from 1603 to 1914.
While British emigration is often portrayed as central to the development of the British empire, its principal destination, the United States, is least known in its history. British Emigration 1603-1914 is intended to discuss that essential characteristic of the phenomenon in relation to competing traditions of British and Irish identity.