Coffin ship

The term coffin ships is used to refer to the ships that carried Irish immigrants escaping the Great Irish Famine as well as Highlanders displaced by the Highland Clearances. These ships, crowded and disease-ridden, with poor access to food and water, resulted in the deaths of many people as they crossed the Atlantic, and led to the Typhus epidemic of 1847 at quarantine stations in Canada. Owners of coffin ships provided as little food, water, and living space as was legally possible – if they obeyed the law at all.

While coffin ships were the cheapest way to cross the Atlantic, mortality rates of 30% aboard the coffin ships were common. It was said that sharks could be seen following the ships, because so many bodies were thrown overboard.

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American History

Ethnic History

Economic History

Early and Antebellum America (1789-1860)

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