Scotch-Irish-L ArchivesArchiver > Scotch-Irish > 2008-07 > 1215977935
From: "John Polk" <>
Subject: Re: [S-I] Ephemera: one reason for leaving Ireland pre famine
Date: Sun, 13 Jul 2008 15:40:44 -0400
J.S. Reid's "History of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland" is accessible on
line at Google Books. It may be a bit one-sided but it is valuable as a year
by year chronology of events involving the church and its members. There are
accounts in it that can't be found elsewhere. Like anything else dealing
with Ulster-Scot history you take it for what it is worth and weigh it
against the other available evidence and interpretations.
I agree with Linda's general thesis that the primary driver for the great
S-I exodus to America in the 18th century was economic. On the other hand, I
believe the earlier S-I emigration to the Eastern Shore of Maryland in the
1680's can be attributed more to religious impulse than economic
considerations. In his history of the Scotch-Irish (p.128) Leyburn say that
the period 1685-88 brought some of the hardest times to the Ulster Scots in
Ireland. He was not referring to economic conditions but to religious
oppression following the accession of James II. By contrast, it should be
recalled that Maryland had passed an act of Religious Toleration in 1649
which provided that no (Christian) person should be persecuted on account of
religion, and the Eastern Shore was particularly open to alternative
religious persuasions. These factors produced the first real instance of S-I
migration as a identifiable group, not just miscellaneous individuals, and
it did help facilitate the main S-I immigration beginning three decades
later since this precursor provided a beachhead for them in the New Castle,
Delaware, and Philadelphia region. I have already commented on some of this
in earlier messages. In capsule form:
- It all started with a letter from the commissioners of Somerset County
Maryland in 1680 to the Presbytery of the Laggan (eastern Donegal) to supply
a "godly minister" to Somerset to look after the needs of the settlers
there. This was a bit surprising in itself since there were very few
Presbyterians in Somerset and William Stevens, the County Commissioner who
sent the letter, was a member of the establishment church. As
non-conformists, Presbyterians would generally be regarded more as
troublemakers than desirable additions.
- The Presbytery of Laggan took the letter seriously and circulated it
throughout Ulster to identify a candidate minister to send to Maryland. They
eventually settled on Francis Makemie of Ramelton who had just completed his
studies at the University in Glasgow and was ordained in 1682. Makemie left
for Maryland in 1683 at the age of 25.
- There is no evidence that Rev Makemie took a group of adherents with him
when he left, but it is clear that the Presbyterians of Ulster were feeling
very oppressed at this time. A failed event known as Blood's Plot was
unfairly blamed on some Presbyterian ministers in 1670's, some of whom were
banished, and this engendered a strong sense of persecution. The very public
case of Rev William Trail at Lifford in 1681-82 raised the intensity even
more. Trail, a member of a prominent Scottish family, was then serving as
minister in Ballendait, near Lifford. He and several other ministers were
accused of fomenting opposition to the Oath of Supremacy and illegally
calling for a fast in 1681. They were tried and imprisoned in Lifford for
eight months for refusing to pay the excessive fine levied against them.
They were released in Spring of 1682, but their case had been closely
followed by the Ulster Scot community and no doubt seen as another object
- This was exactly the time that Makemie was preparing to go to America.
Trail considered his own situation and made a decision to go as well,
arriving in Somerset County by June, 1683, when records show him officiating
at a marriage. It seems certain that he appealed to his congregation to do
likewise, for Ulster-Scots families with roots from the Lifford area began
to appear in Somerset records at this time. As already noted, James II
acceded to the throne in 1685, which ushered in the Killing Times for Covena
nters in Scotland and provided even more motivation to head for the
colonies. And so they did. By 1689 when the citizens of Somerset sent the
Address of Loyalty document to their new royal monarchs, William and Mary,
more than 100 of its 238 signers could be identified as Presbyterian. It
was, in the words of Somerset's leading historian, "preponderantly a
Presbyterian document." And in 1690 the first known use of the term
"Scotch-Irish", as we understand it today, was recorded in the Somerset
court records, the user clearly regarding them as an unwelcome addition.
- The emigration to Somerset largely subsided in 1690's because of the
improved prospects for Ulster Scots in Ireland after the Battle of the
Boyne. Nonetheless, a significant start had been made. Makemie spread his
faith in the mid-Atlantic region and established the first Presbytery in
America in 1706, with churches in Philadelphia and the New Castle area,
where some of the original settlers from Somerset relocated. It was exactly
to these places that the later main stream of S-I migration came when the
great movement that took them across Pennsylvania and down the Appalachians
commenced around 1715.
Havre de Grace MD
----- Original Message -----
To: "Beverley Clarkson" <>; <>
Sent: Saturday, July 12, 2008 10:40 AM
Subject: Re: [S-I] Ephemera: one reason for leaving Ireland pre famine
> Hi Beverley, unfortunately even though it is published that doesn't mean
it is right. Note the publication of Seaton: 1867 . That should raise a
flag immediately. There's been over one hundred years of research done and
published since then. Could this work be superceded?
> The answer is yes. If you check works of modern scholars who investigate
the claims of Seaton and others, you will find that much of his speculation
is debunked by evidence. One is that though the Ulster Scots complained a
lot about religious persecution they did not leave at the time when it was
fercest, which was in the 1630s in the time of Laud and the black oath. They
could not leave in the 1640s due to there being no boats due to civil war.
The 1650s were a bit better -- Cromwell. He did not persecute them. He
thought at first he might have to but they were loyal to him. They didn't
leave in the 1670s with the restoration of the increasingly more Catholic
Stuarts and the threat of persecution. They didn't leave in the period
leading up to the Glorious Revolution despite very dire signs: the purging
of Protestants from the army, etc. They fought with King William through the
1690s. Even in the early 1700s with the passing of the penal laws meant to
> ics tha
> t also disenfranchised them and remove them from public office, they did
not leave. They didn't leave until economic hardship fell upon them.
> I didn't make this up. I read about it in a number of books an articles --
and slumbered through some lectures. You should read Leyburn "The Scotch
Irish" for starters before you make up your mind. Others have tirelessly
plotted out the periods in the 1700s of greatest migration and mapped those
to periods of economic hardship in Ulster. In all cases, the periods of
great mass migration corresponded to economic hardship. Most certainly NOT
religious persecution. There is a big difference between being thrown into
prison for your faith (1630s) and not being able to hold public office
(1700s). The latter certainly causes one to bear nasty grudges but it
doesn't threaten your life. Not having food DOES.
> I suspect myself that many also left due to civil strife. These periods
tended to correspond with economic hardship, so it is probably not possible
to differentiate who left because of being burnt or threatened out of their
village by gangs of marauders (whose families they had themselves
terrorized, most likely). All leading up to the United Irish situation, in
which case we KNOW that many left due to the political situation. Had they
gone to church and not joined in the civil unrest, their religion woul not
have mattered. They were being persecuted for what we call these days
domestic terrorism. Of course many innocents get swept up in these
occurances and become its victims.
> So if you would like to try to build the case that the Ulster Scots left
for America due to religious persecution, you will have to contend with
disproving what has been written about it in the last 50 years or so.
> As 'genealogists' without formal or even informal training in the areas we
explore, we are very vulnerable to becoming victims of old, outdated
scholarship because we don't understand that just because something is
published doesn't make it correct, just because something's old doesn't make
it so, and so on. We do not have the critical skills that ask : When was
this work published? On what basis does the author make his allegations?
what proof does he offer? How did his peers and more recent scholars view
> The genealogy journals are full of articles that will educate us about how
to guage the authenticity of a statement but many of us don't read them.
We're 'bottom feeders', like catfish. Whatever floats down from above, a
long time after it died, perhaps, we consume, without regard to quality.
Don't be a bottom feeder....think about what you put in your brain.
> Seaton is very useful for information about specific churches and
congregations and also their history. That's his forte. He was not, even in
his day, a scholar of Irish history. By the way, it's not hard to become
one. You can buy or borrow many books on Irish history and learn. Then on
encountering a statement like he made, even without reading Leyburn, your
hackles would rise. If they were leaving due to religious persecution they
left 100 years later than it occured. That's okay ...these things 'build'!
But if you don't get food in your children's mouths today, they may die
tomorrow. That's what the data strongly suggests.
> You are certainly free to propagate old myths but if you do it here you
need to be prepared to provide evidence supporting your allegations. The
only way for us to succeed in family research is to improve our research
skills and to learn to read critically.
> BTW: the topic is mass migration. there were always individuals who didn't
follow the major movements of their day. So to those who want to email me
with info about your family, please don't. what your family did is not of
interest to scholars --- what 100,000 families did IS. Here's where
genealogy, which is concerned with one particular family and history --which
is interested in mass movements unless your ancestor was famous -- diverge.
So we always need to remember as individuals our ancestor might have gone
left when 100,000 of his contempories went right. But we do not want to
confuse history and genealogy or we'll be .... confused. At some point that
confusion will result in an immense brick wall that can only be overcome by
backtracking to discover what erroneous conclusionn it was that took you
down the wrong track.
> Also we know about the Eagle Wing already. It was one boat and it didn't
even succeed in leaving. And afterwards, they gave up and didn't try to
leave for another generation. It's a lovely story but no evidence of reasons
for mass migration (or any migration at all past 0).
> Have a great day!
> Linda Merle
> -------------- Original message --------------
> From: "Beverley Clarkson" <>
> > I just returned from an amazing visit to Dublin, Newry and Belfast. It
> > GREEN there! I cant wait to return!
> > Others have wondered on this list why our ancestors left the emerald
> > and while our moderator has provided lots of insights, I ran across a
> > specific reference and thought I would share it. The quote may be
> > my handwriting was pretty scrabbly, and of course you are only allowed
> > pencils in PRONI:
> > Source: *Extracts from the History of the Presbyterian Church in
> > Ireland, *James
> > Seaton Reed, Belfast 1867 p. 143 Vol I
> > " The presbytery in Ulster, despairing of enjoying their religious
> > at home began to look out for some more forward regions abroad and
> > their attention to New England. They accordingly resolved to send a
> > as a gentleman farmer to ascertain the condition of the country and if
> > necessary to select a place of settlement that might be most
> > effected.
> > The persons sent on this mission were Rev Mr John J Livingston and a Mr
> > William Wallace. After going to Londonderry in the spring of the year
> > and thence to Plymouth, they were delivered by various untoward
> > circumstances from proceeding further and they returned to Ulster in the
> > month of May where they found their brethren resolved to endure for some
> > time longer their religious privations."
> > I didnt have time to read more, but it clearly expresses an early
> > for relocation.
> > Beverley
> > -------------------------------
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|Re: [S-I] Ephemera: one reason for leaving Ireland pre famine by "John Polk" <>|