Scots-Irish descent, Hatfield, Scotch-Irish

The Origins of the Scots-Irish

Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt discussing the migration patterns amongst the Scots-Irish by Dr. David Dobson, who has devoted years to the extraction of information pertaining to the Scots-Irish (or Scotch-Irish). Among his well researched publications is Scots-Irish Links, 1575-1725. In Two Parts [Part One & Part Two]. This work identifies some 1,200 Scots who resided in Ulster between the early 1600s and the early 1700s. In a number of cases, David Dobson provides information on the person’s spouse, children, local origins, landholding, and, of course, the source of the information. Also of interest see Searching for Scotch-Irish Roots in Scottish Records, 1600-1750, which is a roadmap to the available sources in Scottish libraries and archives that could assist persons of Scots-Irish descent. Please see the end of this article for purchase information for other publications on this subject. 

Since the medieval period there had been a continuous small-scale migration from Scotland to Ireland, many of the migrants being ‘gallowglasses’ or mercenary Highland soldiers. From the fourteenth century onward the Scottish Clan Donald significantly increased its power and influence in the western Highlands and Islands. The head of Clan Donald was the Lord of the Isles. The territory controlled by Clan Donald extended to Ireland when, through marriage, it established a branch in County Antrim in the fifteenth century. Scotland’s King James IV successfully reduced the power of the Lordship of the Isles–which he abolished in 1493–and the power of Clan Donald diminished. Clan Campbell began to expand its lands in Argyll, where the MacDonalds had once been supreme. This contributed toward an exodus of MacDonalds and their septs to Ireland.

The settlement by Scots in Ireland during the early modern period began in the late sixteenth century. Turlough Luineach O’Neill married Agnes Campbell, widow of James McDonnell of the Glens and the Isles, and resulting from this in 1580 a force of 2000 ‘Redshanks’ [Highland Scots mercenaries] came to Ireland. The objective was to support the native Irish in their struggle against the Tudor English, who were attempting to gain control of the whole island of Ireland. These fighting men differed from the later Scottish immigrants in that they were Gaelic-speaking Highland Catholics. These men are likely to have been recruited in Argyll and other territories controlled by Clan Donald and would have sailed from various bays and sea-lochs there. The lack of contemporary records, however, means that, apart from the leaders of this expedition, the majority of men or their origins cannot be identified.

The next wave of emigrants from Scotland arrived in Down and Antrim as a result of two Ayrshire lairds, James Hamilton and Hugh Montgomery, acquiring land there from Con O’Neill in 1606. Around the same time, Randall McDonnell, a descendant of the Highland redshanks, was granted much of northern Down. Despite being a Catholic, McDonnell encouraged Lowland Scots Protestants to settle there. The establishment of the Plantation of Ulster itself was a direct consequence of the Flight of the Earls, when the elite of the indigenous Irish abandoned their struggle with England and took refuge in the Catholic lands of Europe in 1607. King James then divided their lands and allocated them to English and Scottish landowners, known as “undertakers,” who undertook to settle the lands with British Protestants.

The Scottish landowners overwhelmingly came from the counties of Ayrshire, Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, Kirkcudbrightshire, and Dumfries-shire and would have recruited settlers for their Ulster estates from among their own territories in Scotland. For example, Hamilton and Montgomery would have brought people from Ayrshire and in all likelihood shipped them through the port of Ayr, while the MacClellands enlisted settlers from their lands in Galloway and are likely to have shipped them via Kirkcudbright to Londonderry.

Scottish migration to Ireland unfolded in distinct stages, firstly the Highlanders and Islanders in the late sixteenth century, then the Hamilton-Montgomery Lowlanders, followed by the Plantation period from 1610 to 1630, in the 1650s following the close of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, in the 1670s following the failure of the Covenanters Risings in Scotland, and finally in the 1690s resulting from successive poor harvests in Scotland. While the Highlanders arriving in the late sixteenth century were Catholic, the Lowland Scots arriving during the seventeenth century were mainly Protestant, Episcopalian at first and after 1641 overwhelmingly Presbyterian, apart from a few Catholics such as the Hamiltons, from Paisley, and their servants who settled in Strabane.

The migrants of the seventeenth century sailed from various ports in southwest Scotland, and landed in Ulster ports from Strangford to Londonderry. The Scottish ports were Girvan, Ballantrae, Irvine, Port Glasgow, Ayr, Kirkcudbright, Dumfries, Glasgow, Port Patrick, Largs, and Greenock. These ports originally were engaged in trade or fishing, but as Scottish settlement in Ireland increased, trade increased, and with more merchant ships bound for Ireland the opportunity to emigrate there increased. East Ulster ports had strong links with Largs, Ayr, and Kirkcudbright; Ayr also had such with Belfast and Londonderry. The Scottish port books of the period, though far from comprehensive, do reveal trading routes and the commodities exported or imported; however, little or no data survives that would identify passengers. Fortunately, burgh and church records (as well as certain family papers) do on occasion identify people bound for Ireland, and even refugees returning after the Irish Rebellion of 1641. The port books, the kirk session records, and certain family or estate papers can be consulted in the National Archives of Scotland. The port books of Londonderry, Coleraine, Carrickfergus and the Lecale ports for the years 1612-1615 have been transcribed and published, which provides insight to the trading links and therefore immigration routes at the time of the Plantation.

Additional publications by Dr. David Dobson on the Scots-Irish:

Later Scots-Irish Links

Scots-Irish Links, 1575-1725, Part Three 

Scots-Irish Links, 1575-1725, Part Four

Scots-Irish Links, 1575-1725, Part Five  

Scots-Irish Links, 1575-1725, Part Six 

Scots-Irish Links, 1575-1725, Part Seven

Scots-Irish Links, 1575-1725. Part Eight  

Scots-Irish Links, 1575-1725. Part Nine

Image Credit: The Hatfield Clan of the Hatfield-McCoy-feud, a both prominent and infamous West Virginia family of Scots-Irish ancestry. Public domain, via wikimedia commons.

Genealogy, Civil War, Lost relatives

Genealogy Isn’t Just Finding Dead People

Editor’s Note: The following post about how to find your relatives, including how to determine whether they’re alive or dead, and if they’re alive how you might find someone who appears to be “lost,” is by Denise R. Larson. This article appeared in the 12/30/2014 issue of “Genealogy Pointers.”

Genealogy is usually a vertical construct with ascending or descending generations, which uses the imagery of a soaring, multi-branched tree and its deep roots to visualize how a family has grown, spread, and at times intertwined through many generations.

There are a couple of new uses of genealogical methods that are horizontal in their approach to finding family members. One looks to the past to help adoptees find their birth parents. The other looks to the future to find lost or out-of-touch family members who can mentor a youth transitioning from foster care to adulthood.

Both types of looking-for-the-living searches use a variety of resources: hard-copy guides, directories, and documents; online databases; and personal contact over the phone and in person.

Not sure if someone is still in the land of the living?

If you already have the name of the person you’re looking for but are not sure if the person is still alive, go ahead and do an online search of the Social Security Death Index (SSDI), which was started in 1936 for persons born in 1865 or later. Several websites offer free access to the SSDI database. They can be found by doing a Google search for “Social Security Death Index.” If the person is located, then it’s time to order a copy of the Application for a Social Security Number (SS-5) to obtain all the personal information provided at the time of the application. As the Social Security Administration states on its website, www.socialsecurity.gov, “A deceased person does not have any privacy rights.” The application can be a gold mine of names, dates, and leads as to where to look next for living relatives. Continue reading…

San Francisco, Gold Rush Era immigration

Gold-Rush Era Migration to California

Editor’s Note: The late Louis J. Rasmussen pioneered in transcribing ships’ passenger and overland passenger lists of individuals who braved the arduous cross (or around)-country journey in their migration to California beginning in 1849. Please click the links to see more information about his extensive works San Francisco Ship Passenger Lists Volume I [1850-1864], San Francisco Ship Passenger Lists Vol. II [1850-1851], and San Francisco Ship Passenger Lists. Vol. III: November 7, 1851 to June 17, 1852.

The cumulative effect of the massive rush of souls seeking their fortunes – by wagon, rail, steamship, or sail – transformed California from a sleepy backwater of the former Mexican Republic to Statehood in scarcely two years. Mr. Rasmussen captured the impact of this remarkable population upheaval in the Introduction to the second of his ship passenger volumes, which is excerpted below:

By 1851 the State of California had become a country unequaled almost in history for the rapidity with which the emigration of other countries sought residency. California became a sort of depot toward which everybody was pushing, and at which everybody stopped. Those who did not remain permanently either returned home or visited some other territory or country near the Pacific shores.

The Oregon Territory could serve as an example. In 1848 the territory was comparatively unknown, less known by far than California. By the year 1851, men were rushing into Oregon sowing her soil with wheat and converting her lofty pines into building material. A large percentage of the 1851 Oregon population had gone there from California.

The Sandwich Islands profited also by California. A new market for the rich products of the tropical soil of the Islands was opened by the settlement of California–and the island received accessions in the way of emigration. Mexico and several South American States were also areas in which men settled, after first acquiring financial stability in the mines and commerce of California.

During the first quarter of 1851, competition was fast bringing down the cost of travel between the United States and California. Continue reading…

Pocahontas

What do We Know About Pocahontas and Her Descendants?

Pocahontas, the legendary Native American princess who saved the life of Captain John Smith, has been the subject of many forms of art and literature – from Colonial paintings to Disney movies. The reality of Pocahontas, and of her descendants, is a more complex topic generally colored by legends more than facts. It’s rare to find information that deals only with known facts without the pull of the colorful stories. The following post discusses the known facts and lineage of Pocahontas, as well as provides literary resources to help you learn more should Pocahontas and her descendants be part of your family history or research.

“She was of a ‘Coulour browne, or rather tawnye,’ and her age was somewhere between twelve and fourteen. She probably was round-faced, with the fore part of her ‘grosse’ and ‘thick’ black hair ‘shaven close,’ and the very long ‘thicker part’ being ‘tied in a pleate hanging down’ to her hips. Her hands almost certainly were ‘pretty.’ Her ‘handsome lymbes,’ breast, ‘slender armes’ and face may well have been cunningly tattooed. And she probably wore a headband or crownlet and copper-decorated beads and earrings, her head and shoulders being covered with red colored powder ‘mixed with the oyle of the walnut, or Beares grease.’ In winter this paint ‘armes (in some measure) against the Cold’ and ‘in Summer doth check the heat’ while helping to defend ‘from the stinging of Muskeetoes which here breed aboundantly, amongst the marish whorts, and fenburies.’

“Her name was Matoaka, but they called her Pocahontas, the appellation possibly being derived from the Algonkian adjective meaning ‘playful, sportive, frolicsome, mischievous, frisky.’

“She was a member of one of a confederacy of some thirty well-organized, thriving agricultural and fishing tribes, who lived in approximately 160 villages widely scattered over much of the lower section of the Chesapeake Bay, and had a total population in the neighborhood of 9,000. And she was one of the many children of Powhatan, the confederacy’s overlord or supreme ‘werowance.'”

Thus begins the late Stuart Brown’s diminutive biography of the legendary Native American princess who saved the life of Captain John Smith of Jamestown fame. Mr. Brown, an attorney and antiquarian bookman by day, devoted much of his spare time to recording everything that could be found out about Pocahontas and her progeny. His biography, entitled Pocahontas, which occupies a focused 36 pages, uses only contemporary or near-contemporary facts pertaining to Pocahontas’s appearance, words, and actions. It is fully documented and features a number of reproductions of engravings made of the princess, her father, and scenes from early 17th-century Virginia. Continue reading…

Freedmans Village, researching African American Genealogy

African American Genealogy – Finding Your Roots

Editor’s Note: The following piece from our archives by the late Carolyn L. Barkley contains excellent resources and tips for researching African American Genealogy.

Over thirty years have passed since Alex Haley’s Roots captured the imagination of the nation and helped fuel an explosion of interest in genealogical research. During the intervening years, thousands of individuals have begun the journey to discover their past. As they have added to their knowledge, the genealogy “industry” has added exponentially to the richness of the resources available and to the technology that makes possible convenient access to those resources. The media has recognized the widespread interest in genealogy in general, but African American genealogy in particular. Shows such as the PBS series “History Detectives” have showcased the opportunities to learn more about our ancestors and their experiences. Henry Louis Gates Jr., director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard, hosted a series of television programs showcasing genealogical research, and especially the use of genetics in genealogy, in uncovering the roots of celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey and Chris Rock. His new book, In Search of Our Roots: How 19 Extraordinary African Americans Reclaimed Their Past (Crown, 2009) documents this research while profiling celebrities like May Angelou, Whoopi Goldberg, Tina Turner, and Quincy Jones. Given the continually increasing wealth of resources available to researchers as well as the frequency with which new information is brought to our attention through the media,, now is an extraordinary time to begin researching African American roots.

The African American research process begins like any other:

  •  Gather together your family’s documents, letters, photographs and memories. Organize them using standard genealogical practices and forms. Books such as Val Greenwood’s The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy (3rd ed., Genealogical Publishing Co., 2007) and George Morgan’s How to Do Everything with Your Genealogy (McGraw/Hill Osborne, 2004) will assist in this process.
  • As you organize your family archive, begin to verify the information in original sources such as births records, marriage licenses, death certificates, wills, deeds and military records. Books such as Elizabeth Petty Bentley’s County Courthouse Book (3rd ed., Genealogical Publishing Co., Spring 2009) and Christine Rose’s Courthouse Research for Family Historians: Your Guide to Genealogical Treasures (CR Publications, 2004) will help you determine where specific records are located. You will also want to check online resources such as Family Search, provided by the Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter-day Saints to gain additional clues.

After verifying information gathered from your family and documenting the names, dates and geographical locations you’ve discovered, your next step is to research individuals in each census beginning with the 1930 federal census and moving backward in time, generation by generation. Continue reading…