During the 17th century almost half a million people left Britain, most from England, to cross the Atlantic. It was an astonishing outpouring, vastly larger than from anywhere else – truly the ‘Great Migration’ of the English. It shaped North America, and it shaped the world as we know it.

Today, in places like England or the USA, people who move are usually viewed as immigrants. So it is wise to recall that, not long ago, many left England rather than trying to reach it, for various reasons though often out of sheer desperation.

Why did they go? Historian James Evans looks at different important reasons and at some fascinating characters who went, for whom religion was often not the most important factor.


Evening Standard No 1 Bestseller July 2017

“…A marvellously engaging and comprehensive account of this ambitious undertaking” (Lawrence James, The Times)

“…Eloquent testimony to the fact that the commodity America has always traded in… is hope” (Financial Times)

“…Engaging… vivid… informative, and… eye-opening, Emigrants is a fascinating book that gives real insight into the age that birthed the modern West” (The Daily Telegraph)

“Readers will want to revisit this book…  a vivid and thoughtful take on the ways that the hopes and concerns of many… English people contributed to their burgeoning empire” (History Today)

“With great vigour, Evans transports us back to this time of America’s earliest immigrants… a thought-provoking book [which casts] vivid new light on a historic population shift” (Family Tree Magazine – Top Choice).

“… An intriguing idea for a book and one which James Evans has executed masterfully” (Who Do You Think You Are?)