Scotch-Irish-L ArchivesArchiver > Scotch-Irish > 2009-05 > 1242672060
Subject: Re: [S-I] SCOTCH-IRISH Digest, Vol 4, Issue 120
Date: Mon, 18 May 2009 14:41:00 EDT
Marilyn - Do you subscribe to this mailing list? If so I will stop tossing
things in your lap. But if you don't, DO! It is this sort of response
that makes it endlessly fascinating.
In a message dated 5/8/2009 12:21:27 AM Pacific Daylight Time,
Date: Thu, 7 May 2009 16:23:33 +0000 (UTC)
Subject: Re: [S-I] Ulster "plantation"
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8
>Can anyone recommend a book that is good academic-level (using
>primary sources) history but well written, like the Steel Bonnets,
>about the Ulster plantation?
There is not a single book that presents the entire picture. This is true
of most subjects, but with this one there's a couple caveats:l the plantation
is not well understood for several reasons.
One reason is that its history is highly politicized by all parties. This
is largely true of much of Irish history (there is, as the semi-joke goes our
history and their history). However the plantation of Ulster remains highly
political because of recent political turmoil during which the plantation
was front and center. This continues. Historians come in three flavors: ours,
theirs and people in the middle. The people in the middle write unpopular
stuff that is ignored or blasted by the other two. Historians belonging to
group A write histories that support their myths and political agendas while
historians in group B do the same for their party. It's very hard to figure
out 'the truth' -- assuming there's a single truth there that all would agree
However the second reason is the one that really affects us here,
presumedly descendents of people who either claim to be from the North of Ireland or
who are still there (and a few spies <grin>). That is if we can't understand
the plantation we can't find our ancestors or understand them. This has
always been MY personal goal and pursuing it has meant shifting through a lot
of very interesting stuff, some kosher, some very unkosher. I cast out the
useless stuff and keep the stuff that works -- and I got the scars to prove it
The standard history of Ulster whose author attempted to steer a course
between the two clashing rocks of Greek myth (whose names I will not attempt to
spell!) is Bardon "History of Ulster". You can read his section on the
plantation and then turn to the back of the book where he has his bibliography
-- that's your door into what else there is. You seriously need to get the
big picture before you can fill in the details.
The big picture is that there was NOT "A" Plantation of Ulster. There was a
series. Each one was different and took place for different reasons. Each
one generated different types of records. Different people went to each one.
If you don't understand this you'll have a heck of a time doing genealogical
research in the era. Their histories are in different books.
Another thing to check first is the history in Falley's "Irish and
Scotch-Irish Ancestral Research". See "Plantation and Settlement Records". Why? You
asked for a book not a chapter! The reason is that her intention is probably
the same as yours: Find ancestors. So she focuses on primary records. If
you want to know what primary records exist without spending time pouring
through bibliographies then check out her chapter. One of the problems you run
into reading compiled histories (our, theirs and nobody's) of Ireland is
faulty or distorted interpretation of primary records. So become aware of what
The major problem is "Fenian History". It's somewhat a product of the
schools in the Republic. This is not an original thought of mine, by the way.
It's a lot like the stuff we Americans feed our elementary school children on
American history -- George Washington and the cherry tree, etc. Eventually
you must unlearn and relearn it, possibly several times over. (See a great
book I read on the American Revolution from the British point of view
("Redcoats and Rebels" and "The Cousins' Wars". ) You can assemble history several
ways! It's not a jigsaw puzzle where the pieces only fit one place.
Our problem is to find our ancestors and to put it together in a way that
facilitates that. Fenian history and most other history too, like American
history, presents a simplified version of the majority view. Our ancestors
were the minority and in the context of the entire island, on the losing side.
As we know, the victors get to right the history. You can read Fenian
history a lot. Your blood pressure goes up, you get angry, you might commit a sin
of giving money to some eejit to kill other people. You drink a lot of beer
and learn some really good music. But where are your ancestors in all this?
This is what started me searching. My family stories made no sense in Fenian
history. Something was seriously wrong......
Cyril Falls is an author who is identified as "orange" history, or British.
Personally I find him pretty dang neutral but that's because I glow orange
in the dark (I have been told <grin>). "The Birth of Ulster" explains things
pretty well. It makes sense to me. It is centered on documents and the
legal process. Though the Fenians claim it was an illegal process (and they are
certainly correct in how it was carried out and in the intention) it was
cloaked in legality because even in 1607 there were laws and everyone who
mattered were related to one another. If you dispossessed cousin so and so, then
possibly in fifty years his descendents could appear in an Irish or English
court and launch a countersuit -- which your descendents would lose unless
it was done 'legally'. A lot more legally than we Americans stole the land
from the Indians (excepting the Pennsylvanians).
Legal processes always involve paperwork. The paperwork is what you need
when doing genealogy. There were HUGE amounts generated. Most of it we never
get our hands on and lots if not in Ireland but in England. Historians do use
this stuff and make some accessible to ourselves. Cyril is also a dang good
writer. He is well respected as a military historian - and since there were
many wars to describe here -- he's dang good at that. It includes
genealogies of the major families. To me this is the place to start though saying
this marks me as the enemy of the Fenian historian.
Read "The Catholics of Ulster" by Elliott. A lot of the good parts are in
the archives of this list, but not her extensive bibliography. She
re-addresses 'fenian history' and much 'orange history' too, especially the idea that
there are two biologically different groups of people there and that all the
ancestors of the Protestants came from Scotland and all the ancestors of
the Catholics were native Irish. She uses primary documents to disprove these
sacred cows. She also prepares you up for your DNA results. She shows that
the received history of the Irish in Ulster is not their history. It's the
history of their leaders, the ruling class. She is probably closer to the
truth than anyone else and must do a lot of documentation to prove her very
politicallly unpopular theories .... so she'll lead you to lots of primary
You can read "The Plantation of Ulster" by Philip Robinson. It is a
comfortable read for the non-scholar. My personal discomfort with Philip is that he
promotes the myth of separate races which he explains by examining surnames
in County Antrim, etc. Yet people could and did change surnames all the
time -- especially people who didn't have one till one was imposed by the
English. Robert Bell "The Book of Ulster Surnames" as well as various highly
respected surname studies debunk the idea. Yet historians (they don't study the
evolution of surnames) continue to write books on both sides of the Atlantic
based on concrete surnames and the belief that from the su rname you can
tell something about a person's culture, ethnicity, religion and (most silly
of all) their ancestors.
Obviously Phil is on the orange side of things. I do respect and appreciate
the work he's done helping Protestants there understand their heritage.
However his ideas could create a roadblock for many attempting to research
ancestors. This is my issue with such thought processes. PHil tends to assume
surnames can be used to identify ethnicity and doesn't 'prove' this. It's a
comfortable assumption for many.
For one thing, the reality was much more complicated than 'us' and 'them'.
County Antrim was invaded in the mid 1500s by armies of Scots highlanders --
McDonald forces -- who fought with the local Irish AND the English (holed
up in Carrigfergus). These highlanders were Catholic and Gaelic speaking.
After 50 or so years, eventually King James -- a Scotsman -- resolved matters
by giving most of Antrim to the Scottish McDonalds. No surprise there. They
were already there, shacking up with Irish women (no other kinds about). They
all spoke a common language and had a common religion. These highlanders
were not only good fighters but good at hearding cows. They were not good
farmers. Lowlanders were good farmers. The McDonalds were smart enough to know
in the new world y ou needed both so they readily agreed to the conditions
set by Cousin Jamie -- settle lowlanders there. If you are looking only for a
Protestant lowlander instead of what was really there in Ulster in the 1600s
ou won't find your ancestor.
To continue with this example, eventually some highlanders assimilated into
'Ulster Protestant" and some into "Ulster Irish". The Glenns are full of
Scots who are Catholic, Gaelic speaking, and not too fond of Dr. Robinson (or
me!). In some places, the local Irish assimilated into "Ulster Protestant"
because the only clergy were Gaelic speaking Scotsmen. The first Protestant
clergyman in Billy was an Irishman who preached in both Gaelic and Scots.
There was not the bifurcation between these two cultures that there is today.
That would seem to have sorted itself out in 1641. This is one example of a
microcosm -- Antrim -- whose history differs from that of County Down. And
their history is different from that of the rest of Ulster.
These were three separate plantations. Unfortunately the two private
plantations -- Antrim and Down-- were the most successful -- where the majority of
our ancestors lived. And they have the worse early records. However you
often find people searching for the history and records of King James' public
plantation (of the rest of Ulster) that took place after the Earls fled
Ireland and their land legally defaulted to the Crown. However your ancestor was
from County Down, that wasn't IN this plantation so you won't find much out
about your ancestors studying that history. Details, details.
A good history of King Jamie's plantation is "The Scottish Migration to
Ulster in the Reign of James I" by Perceval-Maxwell. Very detailed.
Also we tend to overlook Hanna "the Scotch-Irish" (free at ancestry and
burnt into CDS, etc). It contains source material -- Montgomery Manuscripts,
the Rev. Hill's stuff. Some of it is free at Google books. Or you can pay $100
for a reprint -- your choice! (I did, stupid me). It's what we got on the
private plantations of the McDonalds and the Hamiltons in Antrim and Down.
It's not in Perceval-Maxwell's book. If you check the list archives for
'google books' you'll find mention of the books I've found there and downloaded
(causing me to spend more money on a larger disk).
The historians have largely avoided studying migration (from anywhere to
anywhere). They are just now 'coming on board' with books like the
afore-mentioned one in an earlier email. There are several on migration to America
(Ulster Scots always pay a big role in these books) that are important to
understand as they study the KINDS of people who came. No, not their ethnicity,
but their social class, their skill sets, where they came from, how they got
here, where the ships did and didn't go. Understanding this stuff helps you
find them in Ulster.
Perceval-Maxwell's book provides a very good history of the progression of
the greater plantation ("Of Ulster) during its first 30 years or so, through
periods of economic growth and decline that is beyond the scope of 'just'
the public plantation but relevant to regional history.
Can anyone recommend some additional books, as David asked, scholarly?
>Also, what is/are the "disputed" elements mentioned in this?
Oh dear... now there's a nest of worms! Where they precisely came from is
one. Where in Scotland. The newly published book's author would seem to be
making the case they came largely from the south west. Donno. I know some came
from eastern Stirling as the planters were from there and brought over
people with the same surnames as my own Scots ancsestors from taht area. Pretty
obvious to me just due to my having spent much time researching in the
I suspect someone would dispute everything I said above! It slashes through
almost everyone's versions of the Plantation.
Another dispute is how many came. All the contemporary accounts describe
how short they were of British men See Hanna for records. While King James
would have liked to have run the Irish in the Atlantic (sometimes the Fenians
claim he did), they needed the Irish to bring in the harvests so most Irish
surnames are in the same areas where they were in the 1500s (See Hanna for
starters and Begnal's spy documents therein). Needing the Irish to keep from
starving was a common theme through Ulster history and kept people from
implementing many of the ethnic cleansing schemes they would have liked to have
done. Thus the colonies were always at risk of being overrun, as they were
several times. In the 1630s an unknown number returned to Scotland due to
Bishop Laude and the Black Oath. Then more (though fewer than Protestant
versions of history probably claim) were murdered in the Rebellion in 1641, etc. So
how many were there in the 1650s when Cromwell's army came? No one knows!
one knows the religions of the people there (we got no church records,
after all....so we're guessing and playing games with extrapolations of numbers)
or their numbers for sure, though there are plenty of theories. But as a
genealogist who says "Count the baptisms" -- I can assure you there are not
many records to count -- so we don't know, do we? We're making it up!
Historians sometimes do that and get away with it.
Some think the plantation brought over huge numbers of people to produce
today's majority of Scots (overlooking English, Walsh, French, Dutch, German,
etc, settlers too) while others would maintain they are largely native Irish
with confused identities and with a little more education they'll stop
doing Scottish dances and start reciting Irish poetry..... People disagree on
the impact of the plantation too. Frankly I tend to ignore a lot of
this....I'm looking for well document facts that can help me find and undestand my
ancestors (I'm a Brit-mutt: English, Scots, Irish, Ulster Scots....maybe that's
why I feel this way! All my ancestors killed each other...I knew this at
There are still many bleeding wounds. WHen you poke at some of this history
people get very very upset if you imply something that is a very integral
part of their identity isn't as they see it. You have to step very carefully
to avoid injury or injuring others and to respect that the way they
experience their history is their reality. Otherwise they clam up and won't share
family history with you.
And that's why I, for example, wanted to understand where the story came
from of my ancestors (a small huddled group of defenseless Scots settlers)
being mowed down by English soldiers, women and children, in their villages and
their respect and awe for the Irish earl -- whom they much prefered as an
enemy because he fought honorably. In Bardon's "History of Ulster" I first
learned of how the English killed everything for 30 miles around Carrigfergus
in the late 1500s/early 1600s (I forget!) and caused a famine. Further out
they slaughtered villages of both Irish and (highland) Scots and did mow down
women and children. We were far enough away to survive.
And so my Andersons were in northern Antrim long before the early muster
lists in 1630, part of the McDonald people. Everyone, I am told, on the north
coast of Antrim knows the Andersons came with the McDonalds as well... I
didn't know ! Though of course that's just oral history too. It certainly
explains my grandfather far better than his being of lowland stock. This nasty
deed, largely only remembered by historians, is considered by them to be the
nastiest deed in Irish history. It's hard to agree --- there being so many. I
vote for the one whereby they killed all the cattle of the Munstermen in
the Desmond Wars so 90% of them died in one winter during Elizabeth's wars as
the nastiest deed, myself. Whatever. It was a nasty one and apparently my
ancestors were there.
The last lot of earls get real bad press in the English histories and it is
hard to not believe some of it (being myself rather orangish), though
apparently some of my ancestors found them to be quite honorable enemies and so
through this inherited vision, a form of post traumatic stress (according to
a psychologist), so do I.
**************Recession-proof vacation ideas. Find free things to do in