Who Are The Scotch-Irish?
There has been some controversy as to the term, "Scotch-Irish."
There are those who say the correct term is Scots-Irish, and that Scotch is an alcoholic beverage. There are those who claim the term is a complete fabrication and deserves no recognition.
The term Scotch-Irish is, in fact, a true Americanism, used by historians to separate the Irish Presbyterian migration of the 18th century from the Irish Catholic migration of the 19th century. British historians rarely use the term and favor what they consider the more correct term, of Ulster-Scot or the Ulsterman.
The American Irish Historical Society which was organized in 1897, tried to debunk the term as a new fangled notion, promulgated in America and born of sheer ignorance and pharisaical Calvinistic pride.
These Irish Presbyterians immigranting to America in the 18th century were escaping English tyranny and were truly Irish, as were their Scottish ancestors from across the sea in Scotland. The term Scot was born in Ireland over a thousand years ago when a tribe from the emerald isle, calling themselves "Scots," crossed the Irish Sea and settled in northern England. Here united with a tribe called the Picts they established what is now known as Scotland.
By 1610, King James' "Great Plantation" was well under way, this plan to remove the Catholic Irish from their lands and replace them with Scot and English Protestants. So when these Scots, now known as Scotsmen, crossed the sea and entered Ireland, they were in a real sense coming home.
There developed in Ireland, after the "Great Plantation," a division. In the south, the Catholic Irish, and in Northern Ireland, on the newly possessed land, the Presbyterian Ulsterman. By the time of the Scotch-Irish migration, beginning around 1700, the main distention between the native Irish and the Ulstermen was religion. After having lived in Ireland, some for over one hundred years, these people were as Irish in habits and blood as the "Native Irish."
When the Scotch-Irish first came to America, the Colonial officials referred to them variously as "Ulster Irish" or "Northern Irish" and sometimes as the "Presbyterian Irish." But the proof of there loyalty, perhaps lies in their choice of names for their newly formed towns on the Pennsylvania frontier. The land was dotted with names like: Derry, Tyrone, Donegal, Armagh, Coleraine, Antrim and the list goes on and on. Had these people considered themselves in any way Scots, why not Scots names.
Perhaps the first to use the term, Scotch-Irish, was Queen Elizabeth in 1573 when in a manifesto she said in part:
"....We are given to understand that a nobleman names "Sorley Boy," (MacDonald) and others, who be of the Scotch-Irish race, and some of the wild Irish, at this time are content to acknowledge our true and mere right to the countrie of Ulster and the Crown of Ireland...." and later continues
"...and therefore she offers the right of ownership and inheritance of land, upon the taking of an oath of allegiance to "any meer Irish, or Scotch-Irish, or other strangers...."
In America the first to use the term was by Sir Thomas Laurence, Secretary of Maryland when in June of 1695,he said;
"In the counties of Dorchester and Somerest, where the Scotch-Irish are numerous, they clothe themselves by their linen and woolen manufactures."
And an Anglican minister named George Ross wrote in 1753:
"They call themselves Scotch-Irish, and are the bitterest railers against the church (the Church of England) that ever trod on American ground."
For almost a hundred years the term seems to have disappeared, until the influx of the Catholic Irish during the potato famine of 1845-46. By this time the Scotch-Irish emigrants of the earlier century had all but lost their identity. They were the frontiersmen who, beginning in the early years of 1700, went forth into the American frontier opening new lands and intermarrying until they ceased to exist as a separate race. So in order to distinguish themselves and their ancestors for the newly arriving Catholic Irish they revived the rarely used term of Scotch-Irish and it stuck. So now after 150 years of common use it at last seems to express a historical reality, no other word is quite able to fulfill. Though the term "Irish Presbyterian might well have served in the 18th century, so many Scotch-Irish converted to other religions it would no longer be valid. The terms "Ulster -Scot" or Ulster Irish" do not seem to fill the need as well. So what we are left with, is what we are: the descendants of a group of people who refused to be held hostage under the tyrants boots either monetarily or religiously. A group of people who endured many hardships and much suffering to bring us to where we are today, and in so doing built for themselves a new home and for their descendants a new nation.
We are....... very proudly......... and forever !!!!!
"Scotch-Irish"F.W. Thorlton a Scotch-Irish Descendant
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Most recent update 01/10/2001