Do you know about Remittance Men? Many don’t. You may even have one in your family tree, but don’t yet know it.
Remittance Men were somewhat tragic figures, strewn across British colonies, including New Zealand. Banished by their wealthy families for their wayward lifestyles or embarrassing ways, they were, in effect, paid to never return. Their name comes from the regular remittance that was sent to them. It was hoped that these men, young and old, would be ‘righted’ of their inappropriate behaviours and attitudes in their new country. It was also a good way to push the ‘black sheep’ out of the family picture.
It seems Remittance Men were rarely rehabilitated and that life in the colonies was no motivator for change. Remittance Men were renowned for their laziness and ability to purchase and consume large amounts of alcohol. Coupled with their notoriety for blagging accommodation and inability to cope with their new status in life, Remittance Men were disliked and often talked about in hushed tones.
It was obviously a huge challenge, adjusting to their new station in life. Indeed, a search for the term Remittance Man in Papers Past will throw up page after page of suicide notices.
I am researching Remittance Men for an upcoming article and would be very interested to know if any of my readers have such a character in their family tree. Or, perhaps you have a lone character that you can’t trace who might fit this description.
Email me at moorfnz@gmail if you have information you would like to share, or if you have someone you feel may have been a Remittance Man.
Helen @ Hunting Kiwis