If you live in the southern United States, you may find during your LDS family search that you have ancestors from many different countries and from many different cultures as well. One of the many groups of people who originally came to the south, were the Scots-Irish. Although you may be familiar with the term “Scots-Irish,” as part of your heritage, not everyone fully understands what this term actually means.
Who the Scots-Irish Were
The Scots-Irish term often refers to those people who were born and raised in Scotland, but who moved to Ireland later in life. In some cases, several generations of Scottish families lived in Ireland, before they migrated to the United States. The people are also known as Scotch-Irish, or Ulster Scots. If you consider the major impact these people made on the United States several centuries ago, they are often referred to as Borderers. The Borderers joined many other settlers who came from Northern England, Southern Scotland, and the North of Ireland during their migration. They first settled in North Ireland, and then moved to North America.
When the Scots-Irish settled in America, they lived in large family or kinships, which often made record keeping confusing, because they often shared the same surname. This can also be a challenge for you during your LDS family search, when you try to find your Scotch-Irish ancestors. If you find that a couple was married with the same last name, this doesn’t mean that they were siblings, or even first cousins. They may have lived within the same kinship group.
The Migration of the Scots to Ulster
Before the sixteen hundreds, the Scottish who originally migrated to Northern Ireland lived at poverty level. Their only means of survival were the small farms they owned, ant what milk and wool they could produce from their few sheep and cows. More people began to settle in the Lowlands of Scotland, but they wanted more fertile lands to farm. In So saying, in the early 1600’s these settlers made the short journey, by sea, to the sparsely settled, fertile land in the Northern part of Ireland. When the settlers had been living on this fertile land for a few years, the British government took over this land, and turned it into the Ulster Plantation. The English government encouraged English and Scottish settlers to settle on this land, thus everyone living on the Ulster Plantation had to speak English, and become Protestant. In the 1690s and early 1700s it is estimated that over fifty thousand Scottish Settlers moved onto the Ulster plantation, which covers most of the Northern counties in Ireland to this day.
The Test Act of 1704 required that all religious officials, such as clergy, people in the military, employed as civil service workers, municipal court employees, and those who taught in schools and Universities, must be of the Anglican faith. The Scots-Irish, who were of the Presbyterian faith, were stripped of their religious officialdom. Scots-Irish clergy could no long perform marriages on the Ulster Plantation. If you are looking for marriage records for your Scotch-Irish ancestors, it may be helpful for you to view the records of Anglican marriages.
Migration to the United States
There were other important factors that played a big part in the settlers’ migration to the United States. For instance, repressive trade laws were more favourable to the English, instead of the Irish, and rent on their land was raised after a farmer’s lease had expired. This caused farmers to go bankrupt. Although they leased their farm lands for approximately 31 years, they started to expire around 1718. Between 1714 and 1718, there were several factors such as drought, sheep raiding their crops, Small Pox and other diseases that took a heavy toll on the Scots-Irish farms. In 1718, 1 thousand settlers migrated to Boston by ship, and from then on ships brought more and more settlers to the new world, so they could make a fresh start.
Now that you have an idea of whom the Scots-Irish were, and why they migrated to America, now you will learn how to tell whether your ancestors were Irish or Scots-Irish. There are several questions that you can make note of to help in your research. For instance, find out whether your ancestors were protestant in general, and especially Presbyterian. You may also want to find out whether they came from the Ulster region, whether the females in your family line had an Irish given name with a Scottish surname. Did the Men have Scottish given names? Answering these questions will give you more insight into your family’s history. It is important to note that the Scots-Irish brought the custom of the names they gave their children to this country. For example, if a couple had a son, he was most likely to be named after his paternal grandfather, whereas their daughter would be named after her grandmother. Many children, male and female alike, were often given biblical names. If you know your ancestor’s given name, it will help you find more information for your LDS family search.
There is another thing you must consider when searching for your Scotch-Irish ancestors. Did they sail to America from Northern Ireland, and once they arrived, where did they finally settle. Some of the Scots-Irish settled in Pennsylvania, where as others settled in Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and along the Southern United States. The fact that the Scots-Irish settlers had to migrate to Ireland, then to the United States, helped them to become hard workers, and developed their fearless and often brash mannerisms. Although they may have been violent at times, the Scots-Irish settlers played a vital role in American History. The cultural customs and speech mannerisms are still visible in the South, where these descendants lived for centuries.