Scotch-Irish-L ArchivesArchiver > Scotch-Irish > 2000-07 > 0963681220
From: "Charles.Clark" <>
Subject: Re: McKeever
Date: Sat, 15 Jul 2000 13:13:40 -0400
> Hi Claudine,
> I think that all the attention that the Ulster Presbyterians get on our list (and neglect of the Anglicans) is a reflection that many who emigrated were Presbyterians. There were indeed many who conformed in Ireland and especially Ulster. I beleive that the descendents of the English border-folk for instance tended to be Anglican, as reflected even today in demographics in Fermanagh -- where many went.
I think that's parly fair comment, thouth there are other reasons. Your source material, as an American, seems to have been books such as Hanna, Leyburn, etc, written, as I understand it, by and for Presbyterian Scotch-Irish Americans. My source, as someone who was born in N. Ireland, has tended to be R.F. Foster's "Modern Ireland". Written from a different perspective and for a different readership. Although he was educated in Ireland and the USA, he wrote this while at the University of London, and has been more recently at the University of Oxford. ie he's writing as an English academic, though not entirely so.
An extract from page 215-216 of Foster suggests that "They appear to have been much less exclusively Protestant than popularly supposed, and included many Anglicans as well as Presbyterians: the predominant `Ulster Scot' stereotype does not stand up to the statistics, since about 100,000, mostly Catholic, probably came from the south in the same period. The Ulster Scots, however, stood out: possibly because, even in the New World, they remained ostentatiously separate. Even more importantly, distinctive Ulster Scot communities could evolve because Ulster women emigrated, too - a development not replicated elsewhere in Ireland, except Dublin,
until the nineteenth century."
Here's the extract from which this quote is taken:
Ulstermen were increasingly active politicians, on a national as well as a local level. They may not have been the automatic radicals often claimed, but they were radical enough to create an identifiable tradition. Even before the foundation of the United Irishmen in 1791, the Northern Whigs embraced democratic rhetoric; ideas of republicanism were floated early on, as well as a radical language that Presbyterian local politicians adapted in the nineteenth century. But even the superficial radicalization of some elements in Ulster society had gone along with a hardened and aggressive sectarian polarization in mid-Ulster: where competition for
land, and the economic fluctuations of the weaver's life, were already producing violent confrontations. By the 1790s this was already driving out Catholic families from north Armagh, the most densely populated county in Ireland, and south Derry.
That same economic uncertainty was also reflected in a much greater kind of emigration: the flow of Ulster families to North America. In Ulster, rents rose as linen prosperity increased; whenever the linen profits faltered, a crisis threatened. This pattern sharpened as the agricultural economy became less mixed; and when leases fell in from the 1770s, there were Catholics ready to bid for them. The traditional view that grasping Ulster landlords created the emigrant drain has not borne detailed examination - though there may be something to contemporary fears that draconian measures against rural violence (the `Steelboys') created a rush to
the ships. But the reasons lay deep in the structure of Ulster society, where a readiness to move and settle and subdue land was traditional. So was a religious and cultural apartness that enabled communities to emigrate and stay together.
The very nature of Ulster trade facilitated it: the ships that brought flax seed from America often returned with emigrants. North America remained the majority destination for Ulster, though the West Indies attracted many from the south. Up to 1720 New England had been the most favoured landfall; it was followed by Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York and South Carolina. Cheapness of land was as important a consideration as religious freedom; and perhaps more important than either was the origin of the ships that came to Ulster ports. The rate of emigration, though often exaggerated by contemporary impressions, gathered speed from 1720; probably
several thousand Irish people emigrated to America in the late 1720s. The prosperity of the 1730s led to a decline, but the rate picked up again by the 1760s, when about 20,000 took ship from the Ulster ports, climaxing in the early 1770s: at least 30,000 left between 1770 and 1774.
Ulster continued to dominate the picture. Two-fifths of the total of American emigrants in the colonial period came from Ulster - up to 250,000 souls. They appear to have been much less exclusively Protestant than popularly supposed, and included many Anglicans as well as Presbyterians: the predominant `Ulster Scot' stereotype does not stand up to the statistics, since about 100,000, mostly Catholic, probably came from the south in the same period. The Ulster Scots, however, stood out: possibly because, even in the New World, they remained ostentatiously separate. Even more importantly, distinctive Ulster Scot communities could evolve because
Ulster women emigrated, too - a development not replicated elsewhere in Ireland, except Dublin, until the nineteenth century.
Once emigration was an established fact, it set up its own self-perpetuating rhythm. Those who went were mostly indentured labour, travelling free; very few were either convicts or independent investors. The claims that they were farmers of substance generally stem from propaganda of one kind or another. Government attitudes were not yet in favour of the phenomenon, especially when it meant losing Protestants; but an interventionist line was never taken (plans in the mid-1770s to curb emigration were overtaken by events). The whole business of emigration was tightly organized even before the Famine exodus of 1740-41. By 1790 Doyle estimates
the number of the United States population of Irish stock at 447,000 - two-thirds of them originating from Ulster.