Let's talk about the Scots Irish and Ulster Scots Project

+14 votes

I've talked with a few WikiTree members who were surprised to learn that we even had a Scots Irish Project so I'd like to take a moment to bring the project out for a discussion. This just might be the right time especially with the new changes with the UK project: specifically that England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland each now have their own projects.

If you have not already been to the Scots-Irish and Ulster Scots Project, please drop in and have a look using the hyperlink in this sentence. If you would like to join, we would love to have your contributions. We are always looking for volunteers to help out with project tasks and development.

If you have any suggestions or improvements, this would be a great place to bring them up.

We look forward to your input.

Thanks & best regards.

in Requests for Project Volunteers by SJ Baty G2G Astronaut (1m points)

I see the Scots-Irish and Ulster Scots Project only as a unique project of particular relevance and special interest to people in the US; thinking of the Appalachian settlements, country music and American politics; and the NYPD. 

As Maria has suggested, from the point of view of Ireland, the Ulster Plantation is the most relevant umbrella under which to nestle any of the particular new settlement groups in Ulster after 1600. Just think of "Londonderry" the establishment of a new port in Derry, financed & promoted by London businessmen. 

"Plantation" may evoke certain images in the mind of some Americans more familiar with their own history, but if we are talking here about a project under the umbrella of the Irish/Ireland Project, to cover the whole wave of new immigration to Ulster following the Flight of the Earls, then we are talking plantation as it is understood in Ireland, about the systematic, crown promoted, well documented Plantation of Ulster with Protestant settlers in a land cleared of its native population.

The Scots-Irish in the US have their own rich and fascinating history to explore as descendants of Borderers and Covenanters transported to Ulster by the English; cleared out to tame their troublesome north. Things did not turn out so well for the Covenanting Scots in Ulster in particular, and there was a planned emigration to America.

This link offers an interesting overview of Irish/Scottish immigration in America https://reason.com/2005/07/01/the-fighting-scots-irish-2/

Interesting article Valerie.  Thanks for posting it.
Thank you, Valerie.  That is indeed an interesting article - and a good review of that book to keep in mind.

8 Answers

+6 votes

Since I'm one of those "WikiTree members who were surprised to learn we even had a Scots Irish Project," I'd definitely like to join up.  I've already added scots-irish to my tags and I'm part of the Ireland Project.

Suggestion: Remove the following line from the project page, since I understand that the United Kingdom Project is disappearing into the component nation projects:

Project members can also talk about project issues at the United Kingdom Project Google Community.

Will there be somewhere else for discussions, or will we work through G2G?

Another suggestion: Following the Scots-Irish Immigration to America link, the "1718 immigration" link doesn't seem to work.  Can this be fixed?

I'd be interested in contributing to a subproject tracing the 1718 immigration to North America, particularly for those who landed in New England.  I seem to recall that someone else here was already working on those from that immigration who landed in the southern colonies.

by Susan Anderson G2G6 Mach 2 (27.4k points)
edited by Susan Anderson
Another thought:  Many in that northern, Protestant community were not transplanted Scots.  There were English, Welch, French, even, perhaps, a few fleeing the religious chaos in the early 17th-century Germanies.  Once they were in Ireland, these others must have mingled, at least to some extent, with the Scots-Irish and Ulster Scots, and adapted to the prevailing culture.  It seems to me it would make more sense to broaden the base of this project beyond those with Scots ancestry.

I have no objection including those who came from England or current day Germany who inter-married and/or adopted the Scots Irish culture.  I think the qualifying characteristic is that someone identified themselves and their family as Scots-Irish.  If a Huguenot family who migrated to Ireland in the same period but continued to self-define as Huguenot, they already fall under the purview of the Huguenot Migration Project.

How do we, today, determine how they self-defined?  If Huguenot refugees in Ireland formed distinct communities, I can see that they should be considered part of the Huguenot Migration Project.  If they seem to have assimilated into a Scots-Irish community, but their multiple-great descendant has identified them as Huguenot, they would seem to belong to the SI&US group. (Sorry - having to type all that out gets to be a bit much - and, as an American, I do love my acronyms!)

I do think, though, that the project page should be edited to include the idea of culture, whatever the actual ancestral origins.  As it is, the title alone seems to exclude non-Scots.

As it is, the title alone seems to exclude non-Scots.

This site has a good definition of what Scots Irish is:


They do include English settlers in the second wave.

Thank you for the reference.  Yes, the that Ulster Scots society does include the English settlers in that second wave and it does sound like they were all "planted" in the Plantations.  So, that answers that question.

I had the feeling, though, when I tried to identify one group of ancestors in County Armagh, that the English-descended communities remained fairly distinct from the Scots-descended ones.  Did they all self-identify as Scots-Irish?  Religiously, they seem to have remained distinct.

My point about the project's title was simply that it, and the project page, both talk about Scots.  I think the project page should explicitly define its scope to include non-Scots or, perhaps, become a subproject of an Ulster Plantations project, which would have room for the Scots and other groups, such as Anglo-Irish or Huguenots, as well.
+5 votes
I am also interested in the Scots-Irish migration to New England as well as other parts of North America.  I have ancestors who arrived from northern Ireland to New Hampshire in 1718.  Is it just a matter of identifying ancestors for the appropriate sub-project?  I guess that is a place to start.
by Caryl Ruckert G2G6 Pilot (189k points)
Caryl, would you like to discuss coordinating our efforts?

I have no idea how to go about finding ship manifests or passenger lists for those who sailed from Londonderry in 1718.  Do you?  The alternative might be to start with identifying those who landed in Maine.  My ancestor apparently started there, then went south to the Connecticut Colony to put down roots, probably very much like yours went to New Hampshire.

Susan I would like to coordinate efforts with you.  I am not sure about ship's manifests but I really haven't looked to hard into that.  Here is one my New Hampshire Scots-Irish immigrants John McNeil.  Here are some of the sources I used for him.  He arrived about 1718.

History of Hillsborough County, New Hampshire. D. Hamilton Hurd. Philadelphia: J.W. Lewis & Co., 1885, Chap. 1. p. 40-42

Genealogical and Family History of the State of New Hampshire: A Record of the Achievements of Her People in the Making of a Commonwealth and the Founding of a Nation". Stearns, E.S., Whitcher, W.F. Parker, E.E.,Lewis Publishing Company. Harvard University. 1908 Vol. 3. p. 1085

Bolton, Charles Knowles. Scotch Irish Pioneers in Ulster and America. Boston: Bacon and Brown, 1910. Reprint. Heritage Books, Bowie, MD, 1989. p. 264

Copely, William. "Scotch-Irish Settlers in New Hampshire, 1719-1776." In Historical New Hampshire (New Hampshire Historical Society, Concord), vol. 50:3/4 (Fall/Winter 1995), p. 224

Here is some sources for Sources-Ireland-Province-County-Passenger_Lists that I have found.

Thank you, Richard.  Most unfortunately, none of those sources you list cover the 1718 ships which ported from Londonderry.  This seems to be typical for my attempts to tackle the problem.

Caryl,  I haven't established a profile for my participant in that 1718 immigration, since I can find out almost nothing about him.  What I have found is in the Research Notes of his grandson's profile: David Spear  One of the problems I've had is that the name can be spelled so many different ways, so I wouldn't even want to guess at this point at the immigrant's LNAB.  He may have been "David Spier" - or Speir or Speer or Spear or Spiers or Spiere or ....

Bolton is also among the sources I found (p. 220), although I'm using an archive.org copy of the 1910 edition, so I don't know whether the pagination matches your reprint.

The other sources I found for my guy are: 

The Barbour Collection of vital records for Windsor, Connecticut (AmericanAncestors.org - subscription)

Henry Reed Stiles, ''The History and Genealogies of Ancient Windsor, Connecticut, including East Windsor, South Windsor, Bloomfield, Windsor Locks, and Ellington'', v. 2, ''Genealogies and Biographies'', Hartford, CT: Press of Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company, 1892.

I haven't begun going through the Maine sources for information about arrivals in Brunswick, where David supposedly ported.  Since Rich's list of sources for passenger lists didn't pan out, that would seem to be the next step.  Do you have any indication of where your John McNeil ported?


Susan, I think Boston but I would have to verify that.  I found some hits for Spear in https://archive.org/details/scotchirish00boltrich/page/270  and information about Maine in https://archive.org/details/scotchirish00boltrich/page/190

Do you want to create a freespace page where we can gather sources and makes notes?  I haven't visited these ancestors and sources for a while.  I need to review.
Yes, Caryl, I think a freespace page would be wonderful for this.  Do you want me to try to create one?  I've never done it successfully.  You have a lot more experience at this than I do.  Let me know how you want to proceed.

Alas, I'm familiar with the two Bolton references you found for Spears, but thank you for looking.  They may be part of the same family, especially the one who went to Worcester in Massachusetts (William was a Name in my family of Spears, so David-the-immigrant could well have come over with a brother named William; he definitely had a son named William), but, until I can pin down my David, I have no way of telling.  I'm less optimistic about the John and Robert in Pennsylvania.  There were probably also Spears, by what I've found, in the ships which ported in the southern colonies.  Unfortunately, it wasn't an uncommon name.
Susan,  I put together a quick page https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Space:Research_and_Notes_for_Scots-Irish_Migration

Please go to the page and send me a trusted list request or send me your email so that I can add you as a manager.
+5 votes
i am also interested in the Scots-Irish project.  My father's 6th great grandfather was potentially born in Ayrshire, Scotland, last name of Kennedy, was a Presbyterian  and member of Faggs Manor Church in Philadelphia PA.
by Laura Nixon G2G6 (7.8k points)
Hi Laura,   I've added your name to the list of participants.  I see you already have the Ireland and Scotland Project badges.   Welcome.
+3 votes
Following on from what Susan say below about people from other countries being transplanted to Ireland.

Should we rename the Project Irish Plantations to embrace all origins involved ?   What do folk think?
by Maria Maxwell G2G6 Pilot (160k points)
I like that idea Maria. I know of 1 or 2 people interested in the Anglo-Irish. Maybe we can get some one from the England Project to help out there. In my research, I also came across a group of Jewish emigrants to Ulster in this time frame, I'll have to see if I can find them again.
Opps, I was just informed that Emigrate means to leave one's country to live in another, Immigrate is to come into another country to live permanently and Migrate is to move, like birds in the winter.
I wouldn't use the word 'Plantation'.  You grow crops in plantations, not people.  And it does have a very negative connotation with slavery.
The Scots Irish (Ulster Scots) people have a distinct history and heritage.  If we widen the scope to include other groups, and then change the name, it won't be the Scots Irish and Ulster Scots Project anymore.

The number of Scots Irish migrants to the US is huge.  I think that widening the scope may make it very unwieldy.

If there is enough support to warrant an Irish Migration Project, I have no objections to creating it but I would be opposed to changing the project name and parameters of this project.
I think we should keep the focus on the Scots Irish.  "Scots-Irish" is an identity group here in the U.S. separate from other Irish migrations.  Just my thoughts.
Plantation has a very specific meaning in this sitution, nothing to do with planting crops, and is well established.  Better to use the right word in the right context, with explanation if necessary in project documentation.  I don't think people would get offended if they understand the specific meaning in context.

I also agree Scots Irish and Ulster Scots as terminology have well established meaning and identities, but I would not be averse to the project being more inclusive of others who were in Ireland for a few generations and then moved elsewhere.  I agree they are likely to have intermarried with the Scots Irish, especially the Hugenots from France and Moravians from the Germanic regions.
If I saw a project called "Irish Plantations", I would immediately think of geographic areas, buildings, and crops.  I certainly wouldn't think of people who settled there and moved on.
Churches get planted, so do populations.  It may depend on what you are used to terminology-wise (culture specific) if you only see "plantation" as having one meaning.

Plantations in 16th- and 17th-century Ireland involved the confiscation of land by the English crown and the colonisation of this land with settlers from the island of Great Britain.

(From Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plantations_of_Ireland)

This is a well understood term within British and Irish history.

I feel that going broader is going to make the project unwieldy more difficult to manage. Where do we draw the line?  Do we need a formal project statement?  If we include all people that immigrated to or from Ireland...that is not a project that I am interested in.  The word "Plantation" works for me in this context.  I like Linda's definition above.  That is my understanding too.

I like the definition presented here http://www.ulsterscotssociety.com/about.html  

I made a comment above, under "Lets talk about the Scots-Irish and Ulster Scots Project" - it think that comment would had had more relevance here.
First, a historical question:  Were the Scots-Irish and Ulster Scots settled in Ireland on the Plantations, or were they settled in distinct areas, outside the Plantations?

If they were settled on the Plantations, then it would make sense to have a Plantations project, with the Scots-Irish and Ulster Scots as a subproject to that.  The Anglo-Irish (as adherents of the Church of England/Ireland rather than as outright Calvinists) who settled on the Plantations would be a separate subproject.  Both subprojects would, I think, have to state explicitly that they aren't limited to those with Scots or English ancestors, that they address cultural identities.

If the Scots settlements were physically separate from the Plantations, then it would make more sense to have two projects.

The Scots-Irish immigration to the American colonies (north, middle and south) would fall into a borderland between the Irish Scots-Irish subproject and something within US History.

Anglo-Irish immigrants to North America might be a separate problem.  My own ancestral batches went to Canada pretty much in the mid-19th-century time frame of the major Catholic migrations, but most probably for different reasons. I don't know how typical they were.

By the way, "plantation" was the term used in contemporary documents to describe not only the 17th-century settlements in Ulster, but also New England tracts opened up for settlement into the 18th Century.  In one region, its meaning changed.  That doesn't invalidate the earlier and more wide-spread meaning.
Plantation is not the sole source of Scots in Ireland, or Irish in Scotland, the two nations have been crossing back and forward over the Irish Sea since before Pontius was a Pilot. ;)
This category will explain the Undertaker/Servitor/ Native Irish organization for the Ulster Plantation https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Category:Plantation%2C_Ulster

The initial scheme wasn't very successful, many estates were abandoned, providing openings for others with cash and enterprise. Some Scots were "encouraged" to emigrate as workers for those who had managed to establish themselves in Ulster; others were transported ruthlessly, there are stories of children hunted down in the Scottish hills and delivered as house servants to Ulster.

This map gives an overall picture of the pattern of immigration https://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/plantation/settlement/index.shtml

"The Ulster Plantation" was the initial policy for the re-settlement of Ulster, though just the opening phase of a big change in the demographics of Ulster.

You might like to compare the Ulster plantation scheme with that organized as a system of "Undertakers" to populate New England http://www.swarthmore.edu/SocSci/bdorsey1/41docs/15-win.html

And yes, there have always been close connections between Ulster & Scotland - there's a shared ancient kingdom, and perhaps someone would like to give some thought to the McDonnell/McDonald naming difficulties for one particular group who wafted back and forth for several generations.
+3 votes

I've been working on The Irish military diaspora and I'll bet that a lot of the United States Revolutionary War members were Scots-Irish or Anglo-Irish. If anyone is interested in that time frame, I could use the help.

by Richard Devlin G2G6 Pilot (234k points)
I think I might be interested.  From some of my research/reading as much as 50% of the Revolutionary Army was Scots-Irish.  Please know I don't always have a ton of time to put into it.  However, I find all of the research is fascinating.
+4 votes
Please add me to this project. The ancestors of my County Down ancestors who went to the US in 1856 were originally from Scotland (main surnames: Adair, Jamison, Kinnear, Little, Martin, Piper) Thanks so much!
by Beth Golden G2G6 Mach 1 (11.8k points)
Hi Beth,  that's you added as a participant - welcome !
thanks so much! I look forward to connecting with cousins, sharing info, and linking my 1800s ancestors back to theirs in Scotland!
+3 votes
Count me in. My Clan MacGregor ancestors immigrated from County Doneghal to Massachusetts.
by Alan Pendleton G2G6 Mach 1 (14.2k points)

"If they rob us of name, and pursue us with beagles, Give their roofs to the flame, and their flesh to the eagles! Then vengeance, vengeance, vengeance, Grigalach!" - from Walter Scott in "The MacGregors' Gathering" 

Hi,   I've contacted you direct to take your interest forward.
+4 votes
Please sign me up for this project.
by Linda Hawkes G2G6 Mach 3 (37.3k points)
Hi Linda,   I've added you to the list of participants in this project - welcome.

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