What was advertised in a colonial newspaper 250 years ago this week?
“For BRISTOL, THE ship RIALTO, DAVIDE MERIWETHER master.”
The Rialto was scheduled to sail for Bristol in less than two months, but the master of the vessel had only arranged for half of the cargo that the ship could carry.
In addition to shipping tobacco and other freight, the Rialto also provided passage for colonists who wished to travel to Bristol and, from there, on to other places in England or Europe. Such passengers may or may not have intended to return to Virginia or other colonies in the Americas. Many who made such a voyage did not have any plans to return to the New World.
Given the high rates of migration during the seventeenth and eighteenth century, motivated by a variety of push and pull factors that made life in Britain’s vast North American colonies appear filled with opportunities for social and economic improvement, it becomes fairly easy to imagine that Europeans traveled only one direction across the Atlantic. Not all migrants encountered the success they anticipated in the colonies. A good number of them ended up returning to Europe, a process called “return migration.” Thanks to the memoir he published after his own failed venture to the New World, William Moraley may be the most famous of the indentured servants and apprentices who departed from London, couldn’t make a go of it in the colonies, and ended up back in England. How many disillusioned colonists might have been traveling on the Rialto to Bristol 250 years ago?