The Diaspora

How many?         Where to?        When?       Why?        Scottish diaspora

How many Lobbans emigrated?

I have used the index of Lobban/Loban individuals in the Syd Lobban Collection of Trees to estimate what fraction emigrated. To do this I used the places of birth and death, and where these were indicated with doubt I looked at Syd’s notes in order to classify them. I separated people not born in Scotland (almost all descendants of the emigrants) and the people for whom death place was not known. The results are shown in the chart below, and of a total of about 2400 people, 11% emigrated, and they generated as offspring about 18% of the total. But given that 22% of the people have unknown death places, I then calculated the percent who emigrated out of the percent born in Scotland with known deaths (subset of 1442 people, 260 emigrated*), and the bottom line is 18% emigrated. As a point of comparison, The Scotsman stated, “A significant proportion of people born in Scotland – at least 20 per cent – live elsewhere in the UK or overseas, according to a 2009 Scottish Government report. ”

Diaspora statistics based on Lobban/Loban individuals in Syd Lobban’s Collection of Trees (total 2410). Data in the middle column shown in pie chart below.
Fate of Lobban and Loban individuals in Syd Lobban’s Collection of Trees, based on my index. Numbers in percentages of 2410 total. “Born outside Scotland” implies that they also died there and distinguishes them from Emigrated who were born in Scotland but left. Click to enlarge

* To be clear, this is not the total number of Lobbans+Lobans who emigrated, as there would likely have been a similar fraction of those with unknown places of death. In addition there are founders known overseas who are not in any of Syd’s trees.


I also coded those who were soldiers killed in wars (mostly World War 1 and 2, but one in the Spanish Civil War). More about them under the WW1 and WW2 pages (see tabs).

There are 260 individuals, but many emigrated as families.  I use a cut-off date of AD 1914 for privacy reasons, and also because in the 20th Century migration became much more common. (Look at the 1881 UK distribution map to see that in that year most of the Lobbans and Lobans in the UK were still in Scotland.)

Where did they go?

The following links lead to brief accounts of Lobban men or families who emigrated and established families in other countries (counting England, for the purposes of this survey). I have included for interest a few other people who stand out in the records for having died in some exotic place (a slave owner in Jamaica, a tea plantation manager in India), even though their intent in going to those places was not immigration. Even though a great many Scots emigrated to Ireland in the 17th Century (when records are sparse), I found little indication of Lobbans among them, either in the statistics for the people in Syd’s trees, nor in Irish Census records.


United States (and former British colonies)


Australia and New Zealand

Elsewhere (Holland, South Africa)

Streets named after a Lobban/Loban may give clues as to where the families went, but we have not been able to do much more than locate the streets and  guess which immigrant family the streets commemorate (see Trivia)

When did they leave?

The earliest Loban known to have left Scotland and settled elsewhere was William Loban (1596–aft. 1637), who went as a soldier to Holland in 1620 and married into local families, with the Dutch authorities spelling his name Laban. Although the geographic origin of this line is unknown, Y-DNA analysis has shown it to be part of the NE Scotland Lobbans haplogroup (details).

Two pioneers showed up in North America in the 1700s, and both have mysterious pasts in Scotland in spite of known birth dates and places. John Lobban (1734–1822) arrived in the Virginia Colony before 1759 and Thomas Loban (1757–1817) arrived in New Brunswick, Canada before 1785.  We have now placed the former in the Y-DNA tree, and deduced the probable family origin of the latter.  The earliest Lobban settler in Australia, Alexander Lobban (1802–1876) first arrived in 1829 as a convict and was joined by his family 7 years later when his sentence ended. However, the majority of the people summarized in the accounts linked above emigrated in the second half of the 19th Century or the first years of the 20th (note my cut-off date, above).

Those who left in the days of sailing ships had long journeys in crowded, often unsanitary conditions, as described for William Nichol‘s first trip with assisted emigrants (free people, not convicts) to Australia (here).

Why did they leave?

Ross Murray wrote an account of the attraction of emigration for his book on the history of Isabella Murray, who emigrated with her husband John to the Manning district of New South Wales. Whereas Alexander Lobban had arrived as a convict and eventually settled in the Manning district, the Murrays came by choice with assisted passages in 1848, by which time transportation of convicts had become uncommon. You can read this account here.  He also gives an excellent account of the conditions of travel to Australia at the time.

The bigger picture of the Scottish Diaspora

References for exploration:
Edinburgh U. Scottish Centre for Diaspora Studies
Scottish migration before 1700
Angela McCarthy, 2012. The Scottish Diaspora since 1815, Oxford.
Tanja Bueltmann, Andrew Hinson, Graeme Morton, 2013. The Scottish Diaspora. Edinburgh.
Marjory Harper, ‘Crossing borders:  Scottish emigration to Canada.’ History in Focus, 2006.

For background on rural life in Scotland from about 1750:
Alexander Fenton, 2008, Country Life in Scotland: Our Rural Past. Edinburgh: Burlinn Press (but not listed in their catalog).

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Page created by Chris S. Lobban,  27 Nov 2018, last revised  1 July 2020.