We've "always" known that my great-great-Grandfather, Thomas Crewe, came from "Oldham, Lancs", but I don't think we ever truly understood WHY.
When Mum was still alive (before I married my second husband and moved away) we spent many an hour in the Queensland State Library, local libraries (hers and mine, as we lived in different areas and I had membership in three different libraries and those libraries had different microfiche and microfilm sets) .. and the Queensland State Archives. It was at the latter of these that I finally found the passenger list that confirmed the arrival date of Thomas and his wife, Sarah Ann. It was that same passenger list that gave the information that they had no children at that time, so great-grand-Aunt Bessie must have been born in Queensland.
Context. Some years ago I had great enjoyment in watching the archaeology show Time Team. I got my husband hooked on it as well. We spent many hours while he was having treatments watching the 20 years' worth of shows, including all the specials. More than once. That led, rather naturally, to other shows fronted by Tony Robinson, such as the "walking" series and the "Worst Jobs in History" series.
This episode of Worst Jobs (Georgian era) really gave context to my Lancashire family's work environment. We didn't have any mule scavengers (that I have yet found, anyway), but we did have piecers, self-actor winders (or self-actor-minders), throstle piecers, reelers, and the like. The last paragraph of this article is put to the lie by Tony's experience in the Georgian era episode. The children were at risk, it was "continually straining", the children could not relax for even one second of their 12-hour work shift, lest they lose a foot, or fingers, or a whole hand.
Add to the above that the war in America (US Civil War) had a massive effect on the cotton mills in England, causing many to be jobless and in the workhouses, and it is much easier to understand why so many were so willing to leave home and travel on ships across the world to start new lives elsewhere.
Context is everything. When you consider that the conditions on the ship on which my great-great-Grands' travelled were compared to the Black Hole of Calcutta, yet the passengers who survived expressed their thanks and gratitude to the ship's captain and crew for the voyage—it shows just how bad things were "back home" in Lancashire.
(Rewatching the Georgian Worst Jobs episode also gave me a better understanding of just what my gr-gr-grands' sisters were doing from an early age (having discovered their occupations from census returns) .. and how small one of them must have been to still be doing piecing/throstle-piecing at the age of 18. Was she small because that's how her genes made her, or because of bad nutrition / near starvation? Questions that will never, now, have answers.)