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Britons seek U.S. relations online

Britons seek U.S. relations online

Britons can check if they are distantly related to Tom Cruise or Halle Berry with the help of a website which sheds light on the millions who migrated to the United States in search of a new life. Passenger lists from thousands of ships that left Britain and Ireland packed with migrants between 1820 and 1960 were published on a genealogy Internet site on Thursday. The ancestors of many famous Americans, including Hollywood actors Cruise and Berry, were among those who risked everything to make the voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. New arrivals helped swell the U.S. population from 9.6 million in 1820 to 76 million by 1900. Migrants left Britain and Ireland for many reasons -- to escape poverty and persecution, to join their families or to try to make their fortune. Simon Harper, managing director of the website, www.ancestry.co.uk, said it celebrates the "brave and colourful individuals who played a significant role in shaping what has become modern America". According to the site, Oscar-winner Berry's maternal grandmother was less than a year old in 1912 when she sailed on the "Merion" from the port of Liverpool, northwest England. In 1850, Cruise's great-great-grandfather Dylan Henry Mapother emigrated from the town of Flint, north Wales, to Louisville, Kentucky. Businessman Donald Trump has Scottish ancestry through his Gaelic-speaking mother, Mary, who set sail on the "Transylvania" in 1935. Tales of unknown strangers falling in love and marrying at sea are also revealed. Among those who tied the knot were Longford Manderson, 28, and Sarah Chalker, 23, who fell in love aboard the "Prince Albert" in 1858. Ancestry.co.uk's database gives each migrant's name, age and job and their destination. Other details include the names of the family members travelling with them and who paid for their journey. Access to the passenger lists is free until November 30. No resposnibility can be taken for the content of external Internet sites.

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