Forgotten Histories

The Lincolnshire Farmers in Paraguay

A desperate search for people to 'boom' a loan

by Mary Godward and Andrew Nickson

On sweltering hot days in December 1872 and January 1873 some 762 men, women and children from England were dumped on the marshy outskirts of the tiny village of Itapé in the Paraguayan countryside. Soon after another 130 were dumped near the village of Itá. In total, 892 ‘colonists’, including around 360 children, were brought to Paraguay, the largest programme of its kind to the country until the arrival of the Mennonites in the Chaco in 1926.

Together, they would go down in the footnotes of history as the ill-fated ‘Lincolnshire Farmers’. The story of how they came to be there is a shocking indictment of how the urban poor were used as pawns by international financiers and venal politicians during the Victorian period.

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Canning House's Forgotten Histories is a public history project, welcoming submissions from anyone with a fascinating story of relationships between Latin America, the UK, and the wider world which has spent too long waiting to be heard.

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