Old St. Andrews



The Irish Immigrants



The first flood of poor Irish hit St. Andrews in 1817, when the conclusion of the War of 1812 made the seas navigable for the general public once again. The Overseers of the Poor for Charlotte County immediately petition the Provincial Government for assistance in dealing with this crisis, noting: "That in consequence of the extraordinary influx of emigratns from ireland into this part of the province during the last season, this parish haas been incumbered with the maintenance of a number of aged, feeble and diseased persons, and in some instances whole families, in a most wretched and distressed situation." This was the immediate reason for the creation of a Poor House, which was begun by private subscription in 1819. St. Andrews was an oveflow port for Saint John in this department. When Partridge Island could handle no more, the ship was sent on to St. Andrews and Hospital Island became the quarantine station for hundred of these unfortunates over the next few decades. Though numbers are uncertain, it is thought that as many as forty or fifty immigrants were also buried there. The Irish placed a notable financial burden on the local economy and, as Ron Rees show so admirably in Some Other Place Than Here, it was often felth that the sooner the immigrants moved on to New York and Boston, the better for the local ratepayers. The Directors of the St. Andrews and Quebec Railway made a deal with the Earl Fitzwilliam, an Irish landlord to was willing to partially finance about a hundred emigrants for one year. They arrived in 1847, and made possible the first construction of the railway. The Irish presence in St. Andrews made a permanent impression on the Town. A perusal of the telephone book show perhaps more Irish names than English. A great many bones were buried in the old Catholic Cemetery at Mary Street, though sadly very few markers remain to mark their graves. Later in the century there was some complaint, probably justified, that though the Irish had been a significant workforce in St. Andrews for a very long time, they had not received preferrment to the same exent as the sons of the Loyalists. A trip though the old Anglical cemetery at the head of King Street seems to confirm this complaint. Many of the names inscribed on the ancient gravestones are synonymous almost with St. Andrews, while few in the old Irish cemetery can claim this distinction.