After the end of the French and Indian War there was alarm in England that the outflow of men, women, and children to the colonies would depopulate entire parts of England and Scotland. So, in 1773, the British Government took steps to stem the loss. Short of limiting or banning emigration to the colonies, it was proposed that data on emigration be compiled which would ultimately help the Government in curbing the exodus. In December 1773, every port in England and Scotland was required to submit returns, or reports, of this information to the Treasury. These returns were then carefully collated, copied, and collected into registers (now in the Public Record Office) which were to contain "a minute account of every individual person."
The registers relating to emigrants from England were originally transcribed by Gerald Fothergill and published in The New England Historical and Genealogical Register between 1908 and 1911. However, this transcription has been found to be deficient in certain areas, and so Peter W. Coldham has re-transcribed the data. It now includes all relevant information from the registers, showing port by port, in order of departure, the names of the ships, the name of each emigrant, his place of residence, occupation, age, and his destination in the colonies. So, in this new transcription, every emigrant officially recorded leaving from an English port between 1773 and 1776 is listed, in all about six to seven thousand persons!