Scotch-Irish-L ArchivesArchiver > Scotch-Irish > 2001-01 > 0980873127
Subject: [Scotch-Irish] Leyburn: The SI A Social History
Date: Tue, 30 Jan 2001 08:45:27 -0800
Hi, a few days someone tried to spark a conversation on this
book. It's been a while since I've read it -- and time to reread it.
I think anytime you learn about something, there's a process. At
first you need to find "beginner" level books that paint the big
picture. Then you can delve more into it, if you want. So in grad
school you can spend your time unlearning what you learnt in school.
A lot of the history in high school text books is not supported by
the leading edge of researchers. History is ambiguous.
So Leyburn is great, especially if you are starting out. He does
repeat the old myths. He assumes that they were all lowland Scots,
and starts his history in the early 1600's in Scotland. He then
describes a migration to Ireland. ANd then to the USA. This is the
SI myth. Some of it is true some of the time.
Actually, some of those folk were Irish or highlanders who came
earlier (especially in Antrim -- settled by the McDonalds). Due
to the 1641 Irish Uprising (caused much death and fleeing to other
lands) and the 1690 war, it's not clear that here was huge amounts
of continuity with the folk who came at the time of the Williamite
Settlement (after 1692). Lots of folk arrived then. Many were
Dutch, English, French, Danish, etc -- the Continental army of King
William. Many of the folk who did settle in Ireland in the ealry
1600's were English. The Scotch-Irish myth ignores them. And it
ignores the Irish Palatinates. It propagates a myth that there was
no admixture of Irish and Scot which does not appear now to be true.
However if you go into the history in more depth and pursue your
own family history, you will find that this myth isn't true in the
details, though it is true that many lowland Scots came to Ulster
in the early 1600's. My grandfather's paternal line probably came
with the McDonalds in the 1600's. It has lots of Irish surnames in
it too. His material line apparently came with the Scottish army
I think when he talks about America he is more factual.
For British history I'd use Hanna "the Scotch Irish". He reprints
contemporary sources for the plantation as well as early accounts
of the earlier British history in Ireland and Scotland.
As genealogists, we need to gather the 2000 foot view and then circle
down into the area of primary records very fast. When you are at that
level (ie reviewing lists of major settlers, printed in Hanna, looking
for our family), there is just raw information, that you do need
to know how to interpret correctly, and not a historian's interpretation
of events. Our individual ancestors, unless they were famous or
infamous, will not appear in history books in Ireland, but will in
records. So I now tend to read these books looking for leads into
stashes of primary records which I can access as well as more insight
into events of history.
So you may find, for instance, that the Scotch Irish Society is
more focused on promoting the history of the Scotch-Irish as a group,
but here on this list, which is more genealogical, we are more
willing to explore the nuances revealed by the records themselves.
When we are nose to nose with some ancestor, we lose the big perspective
that folks like Leyburn provide -- and we do need to periodically
back away and regain the big picture.
As I either mature or decay (depending on whose opinion you are
getting), I find I am less interested in the polemics that have
surrounded the Scotch Irish in the USA and more interested in
getting to the records.
This is kinda like family history anyhow. My grandfather always
said he was "pure Scotch Irish". Well except for a grannie whom
he said was Scottish. Well, she was half Ulster Scots and half
English. And he has Irish in there too. SO he really
is pure Scotch Irish! We're a bastard race, as the Rev Andrews
has said before. LIke the Americans. But as I zoom in on him,
what he said appears to be untrue. This didn't detract at all from
his ethnicity or sense of identity, which was very Ulster Scot.
Returning to Ulster in Ireland for me was very much a journey into
my own past because of him. Most of the people there share a
very subtle level of cultural values with me. These separated me
from mainstream America when I was young. Once I figured out I was
enculturated differently, I quit feeling alienated. Because my
granddad married an Irish-American gal, the family had massive
cultural problems, just like Ulster. So it is familiar to me too,
a particular tension, that in our family had nothing to do with
religion (we were all Protestant) and was purely ethnic.
And a pilgrimage back to the homeland is grand. I really am glad
I got to go to Derry and walk her walls once more. For the Scotch-
Irishman, this is the apex of life! <grin> 250 years later,
and so far away, we were still mounting the walls of Derry and
watching out for hordes of Jacobites. The Catholic goes to Rome
and the Moslem to Mecca. Us, we go to Derry. Leyburn is good at
depicting our heritage, and in a time when so many have forgotten
it, he's great.
We all should read him, and his presentation of the SI in the USA
One of the areas that I beleive the received myth is most wrong is
in ignoring the migration of the United Irishmen. They had primary
impact in the USA on the formation of our national culture (spelling
changes, holidays, etc), yet they are ignored while the colonial
migrators get all the glory.
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