In the 1836 the Downton Parish sponsored a mass immigration to Canada. Approximately 220 individuals from Downton Parish and approximately 60 individuals from the Standlynch and Whiteparish set sail for Canada on the King William ship left on the 380 ton King William. According to the webmaster of this site, the number of people leaving was approximately ten percent of the population of this parish. You might wonder why a parish would sponsor such a bold move as assisting with the immigration of their parishioners, but if you review the history of the community at the time the reason for the mass exodus is clear. During the 1830's, the Downton Parish geographical area was experiencing a severe economic depression with several of the laborers unemployed. The unemployed laborers resulted from the introduction of new threshing machinery for the farming community. The Parish leaders did not see an obvious solution for the unemployment, so they came up with the idea to send the poor laborers to the colonies where they could find work and land.
The Wiltshire to Upper Canada, The Downton Story website provides one with more information regarding the circumstances and immigration process for this small group of immigrants. The site also includes an extracted ships list for the King William ship that is available for review. If you would like to see if your ancestor is located on this list, please click The Downton Story and then click on emigrant list. Have fun!