Out of the Mainstream: Spanish Migration to Colonial Australia

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Gil Guerrero, Eva María (2020) Out of the Mainstream: Spanish Migration to Colonial Australia. Research Master thesis, Victoria University.


This thesis analyses the group of Spaniards who migrated to the Australian colonies in the nineteenth century. Southern-European migration to colonial Australia has been broadly researched in the case of Greeks and Italians mainly because their modest numbers in the 1800s dramatically increased in the following century. Spaniards, however, did not migrate to the antipodes as often as Greeks and Italians in the twentieth century. Still, in the previous century, their numbers were quite similar. This fact is noteworthy because nineteenth-century Spain still maintained some colonies in the Caribbean and in the Pacific, where migration was encouraged by authorities, and had historical and economic ties with its Latin American ex-colonies, which were preferred by Spanish migrants. Therefore, what were the motivations of the group of Spaniards who headed to the Australian colonies? The purpose of this research is then two-pronged: to investigate these motivations together with their migration experiences and to fill the gap in current research. The main focus of this research is to provide a wide-ranging account of the Spaniards who migrated to Australia in the colonial period, identifying their motivations and type of migration and analysing their occupations, social behaviour and degree of assimilation. Therefore, family reconstruction and prosopography methodologies were used to construct a database of the key life events of this population. This data was analysed using both a quantitative approach and a qualitative approach which has allowed the identification of patterns and connections. As a result of this research, some significant conclusions can be drawn: the first Spanish settlers to colonial Australia were convicts who established themselves in the colonies after serving their terms. Although migration to the Australian colonies was discouraged by the Spanish authorities, the strength of some pull factors, such as the gold rushes, attracted the first Spaniards to Australia. The lack of official incentives was overcome by some private initiatives, including the establishment of a Catholic religious mission in Western Australia and the chain migration in Victoria. In these two private initiatives, the combination of charismatic and reliable pioneers who offered financial support, and job opportunities were pivotal to their success. This investigation also examines and analyses valuable information on assimilation and transregionalism. In conclusion, this research on Spanish migration to colonial Australia will shed some light on Spanish migration, settlement and transcultural lives in colonial Australia.

Additional Information

Master of Arts (Research)

Item type Thesis (Research Master thesis)
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/41282
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 2103 Historical Studies
Current > Division/Research > Institute for Sustainable Industries and Liveable Cities
Keywords Spaniards; Australia; Australian colonies; nineteenth century; settlers; migration; settlement; transcultural lives; identity; assimilation; women
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