Longitudinal residential histories are used to examine the extent to which three rural areas in Britain had distinctive migration histories from the 18th to the 20th centuries. Migration flows into and out of the regions are used to examine the extent to which the regions were integrated into the British migration system, and the relative importance of rural to urban migration is assessed. Data were collected from a large number of family historians who provided life-time residential histories for their ancestors. This information provides a much fuller picture of longitudinal migration than analyses based on census or similar sources. Analysis reveals a high degree of short-distance mobility within regions and emphasises the dominance of London in longer-distance migration. Despite their different locations and histories, the three rural regions of NE Scotland, East Anglia and SW England displayed remarkably similar migration patterns. It is also suggested that the role of towns in the migration system has previously been overemphasised, with much migration taking place between small settlements and some movement from large cities to smaller towns and villages. The reasons for migration were also remarkably similar for all three regions, suggesting that all parts of Britain were responding in similar ways to processes of social and economic change from the 18th to the 20th centuries. The analysis challenges some accepted notions about migration in the past, and contributes to the debate about the extent to which British regions became part of a national economic and social system from the 18th century.