Immigration to Pembrokeshire in the 1600s

The 17th century was not a great time to live in Ireland. Between various wars, corn shortages, and widespread famine, many people understandably wanted to leave the island. One popular destination for Irish immigrants was Wales. Less than 90 kilometres away from Irish shores, this beautiful country had thriving industrial and agricultural sectors. However, Wales became a little too popular with Irish immigrants, and many wealthy Welsh citizens began to complain.

On the 28th of August 1628, the Justice of the Peace for Pembrokeshire wrote to the local council complaining that numerous poor Irish had landed in Pembrokeshire without official passes. The Justice also reported that Pembrokeshire fishermen were bringing the Irish over for 3 shillings a person!

He complained that many of his fellow countrymen were taking advantage of the wave of migration by smuggling immigrants into the county. He noted that the Pembrokeshire fishermen had even started making a profit by raising the price of passage from 3 shillings to 5 shillings!

The money the Irish paid did not guarantee them safe passage to a harbour. With the crackdown on illegal migration, many Pembrokeshire fishermen left their Irish passengers stranded on rocks and creeks, far from the major harbours.


Aubrey Gwynn, “Early Irish Emigration to the West Indies: Part II,” Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review 18, no. 72 (1929): 648-63.


Abarta Heritage, “Immigration to Pembrokeshire in the 1600s,” Ancient Connections, accessed August 8, 2023,