Introduction. The response of people overseas, particularly those of Irish descent and but also those who had no connection with Ireland, was an important part of private relief. The first donation for Irish relief was raised in India at the end of 1845 by British troops serving in Calcutta. It was followed by the formation of the Indian Relief Fund in January 1846 that appealed to British people living in India to begin similar collections. Their appeal raised almost £14,000. The Freemasons of India contributed £5,000 to Ireland. A contribution of £3,000 was also raised in Bombay in the space of just one week. The Government of Barbados gave a donation, partly inspired by a donation given by Ireland to them some years earlier. In 1847 and 1848, committees in Australia raised over £10,000. A portion of money was also set aside to assist emigration from Ireland to Australia, but was eventually returned to the donors because the committee could not decide whether the emigrants to be helped should be paupers or able-bodied emigrants. Other donations came from South Africa (£550); St Petersburg, Russia (£2,644); Constantinople (£620); the islands of Seychelles and Rodrigues (£111 and £16); and Mexico (£652). The geographical range of contributions shows that public interest in relieving the Famine had spread far beyond Ireland and Britain: it had become an event of international significance.
Document I. Relief from Barbados
Source. The Liberal (Barbados), 15 February 1847.
The harrowing accounts of the daily increased numbers of deaths from starvation in the above countries have caused in London the establishment of the British Relief Association—an auxiliary committee has been formed in Barbados to aid in carrying out the benevolent objects of the British Association. It is hereby notified to the public that subscriptions have been opened at the office of the Colonial Treasury and at the Colonial and West Indies banks where the donations of the charitable are most earnestly supplicated.
Document II. The House of Assembly, Barbados
Source. Editorial, The Liberal (Barbados) 15 February 1847.
A Bill will be introduced in the House of the Assembly at its next meeting to grant a sum of money for the same purpose [giving aid to Ireland]. We trust the amount will be worthy of our legislation, and of the occasion for which it is to be granted. As a correspondent has stated, Barbados owes Ireland a great deal of gratitude for substantial aid in distress. The princely sum of £20,000 was contributed by the citizens of Dublin for our relief after the dreadful hurricane of 1780. What would that amount to at present? … Let us suggest to our country friends, small cultivators and labourers, that food is the article most needed in Ireland, and more valuable at the moment than gold. … They are without food. A yam, a quart of corn—anything that will be eaten and will reach Ireland will be acceptable. … And in this way, the poorest of our labouring friends may contribute to the wants of the destitute and starving brethren in Ireland. Oh how we should rejoice to see a ship sail out of Carlisle Bay with a cargo of our native provisions, contributed as a free will offering of Christian amity, by the free peasants of Barbados to their distressed brethren in Ireland.
Document III. Donations from Tobago
Source. From Lieutenant Governor Graeme to Earl Grey, Colonial Secretary, Government House, Tobago, in Parliamentary Papers, Copies of Despatches to the Secretary of State from the Governors of Her Majesty’s Colonial Possessions 53, 1847, p. 15, 4 May 1847.
My Lord, In pursuance with the sixth resolution, unanimously adopted at a public meeting held in this island for the purpose of taking into consideration the destitution which prevails in Ireland and parts of the Highlands of Scotland. I do myself the honour to place in the hands of your lordship the first of two sets of exchange notes for £150 and £160-3-5, making a total of £310-3-5. Although this is only a mite in comparison with the gigantic efforts made by the other provinces for the relief of our destitute fellow country-men, Your Lordship will learn with pleasure that the negro population of Tobago have come forward on this occasion with much liberality and good feeling.
Document IV. Donations from Antigua
Source. From Governor Higginson to Earl Grey, Colonial Secretary, ‘Copies of Despatches to the Secretary of State form the Governors of Her Majesty’s Colonial Possessions’, Parliamentary Papers, 53, 1847, p. 16, 11 May 1847.
I have the honour to report, for the information of your lordship, that the private subscriptions collected in this island for the relief of the distressed Irish and Scotch, amounted to £646-2-3 sterling, of which £444-12-3 was remitted to Messrs Latouche, Co. Dublin, for the former, and £200-10 shillings to Henry Brook Esquire, Banker, Glasgow, for the latter. It was gratifying to observe that many of the emancipated race* readily united with the other classes of the community in contributing to this charitable object.
Subscriptions for the same purpose have also been raised in other islands, but I have not been informed of the sums realised.
*slaves in British colonies who were liberated after 1833
Document V. The Sultan of the Ottoman Empire
Source. The Times (London), 17 April 1847.
A letter from Constantinople mentions an act of liberality on the part of the Sultan which does him great credit. Upon hearing of the suffering of the Irish, the Sultan caused to be handed to the Honourable Mr Wellesley, £1000 to be disposed of by him in the best way towards their alleviation.