As we are now in the middle of 2017, it is interesting to note that this is the three hundredth anniversary of the first major phase of Scots-Irish migration into the Americas. The Scots-Irish is a name that designates those Scots who migrated into Ulster in Ireland from Scotland. The term “Scots Irish” appears as early as 1573. Another term, the Ulster Irish is sometimes used as well. But this term is sometimes used to indicate people from Ulster in Ireland who may have no Scottish background as well as those that do.

In terms of immigration to the Americas, it is important to remember that there are both immigrants who came from Scotland via Ireland and some who, during the same period were migrating directly from Scotland. The roles of the Scots and the Scots-Irish in American history are seen as quite different.

There is little doubt that there were Scots here even earlier than that! Some even claim there were Scots among the Vikings who came the North America about the year 1000. Many if these very early claims are hard to substantiate.

There is indication that Scots began the movement to Ireland about 1610 and then to the Americans in the 1700s, Cotton Mather (February 12, 1663 – February 13, 1728;), one of the major architects of the infamous Salem witch trials courted them for their fighting abilities and Protestantism. James G. Leyburn in his book The Scotch-Irish, A Social History (1962, University of North Carolina Press) divides the migrations into 5 major periods. 1717-18, 1725-29, 1740-41, 1754-55, and 1771-75

The first major wave of immigration is often attributed to years of drought, crop failure and high prices. A process known as “rack renting” has also been held to have played a part. Rack renting was a practice of raising the rent of property whenever the lease expired by basically renting it to the highest bidder. This would have meant that people who had been on the land for generations (leases were usually for 31 years) were nominally being evicted.

The earliest of these immigrants to the US entered the US in New England, bringing with the potato as a new crop. The potato was actually returning to the Americas since it was originally a crop found in South America.

The estimated 200,000 Scots-Irish who arrived between 1717 and 1775 arrived largely in Boston in the North and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and New Castle, Delaware. Those who arrived in Boston found a cold welcome whereas those arriving further south were happier with their welcome. Learning about the lands south and west, these people moved into the areas in Pennsylvania and Ohio and into Virginia and the Carolinas, Georgia Kentucky and Tennessee where the rent was cheaper and there was more land to be had. As an ethnic group they tended to cling together.

So here in 2017 we can celebrate the 300th anniversary of the immigration of the Scots-Irish into the Americas.



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You can check out more about the place and see some great reviews here.