"So Called Scots-Irish:" Ed Adams researched this misnamed people for his own Adams line, and agreed to let me add this to the discussion.  I have modified Ed's original document, and responsibility for all mistakes added herein are mine alone! Ed is descended from Samuel Adams (of Botetourt Co., VA - date and place of birth unknown), and his father-in-law, William I. Adams (b. circa 1717-23 in Antrim County, Ireland - also of Botetourt Co., VA) who came from Ulster. Here is the story of Ulster:

The Ulster Plantation is modern day "Northern Ireland," which is part of the United Kingdom and the subject of much news over attempts to bring peace to this violence torn region. The Ulster Plantation was formed in the early 1600's by King James I of England (who was also James VI of Scotland).  What we today call "Northern Ireland" dates to c600 AD, and perhaps earlier, when Vikings overran this part of Ireland, and the fragmented Irish kings were unable to completely repel them.  These legends survive as oral tradition in modern day Ireland.  England since the time of the Normans had been unable to subdue the Irish - yet refused to withdraw from the island - for fear of giving its strong enemies - such as Spain and France - a friendly foothold, so close to its borders.

Elizabeth's soldiers - just prior to her death - subdued, in a very bloody fashion, a Irish rebellion in the north. James declared the rebel chiefs property as forfeited to the crown, and offered to Scottish Presbyterians the opportunity to settle in the Ulster provinces. This solved multiple problems ( in the short term) for James. The Scottish lowlands were horribly impoverished and overpopulated.  Scottish noblemen wanted more grazing lands for sheep herding. The Irish were Catholic, and James wanted protestants to secure his borders.  Hundreds of thousands of Scots settled in Ulster. Conditions were harsh, filled with war and famine.  

Between 1700 and 1800, hundreds of thousands of these Scots came to America. They were called "Scots-Irish" (note by FOC, the Scots humorously refer to Scotch as only "the drink," not to themselves.  This is always stated with a mandatory twinkle to the eye.) to distinguish them from the native, Catholic Irish. They were not Irish, but did come from Ireland.  At the time of the Revolution, they represented about 10% of the population. They were poor, rugged and courageous settlers, who carved the frontier and bore the brunt of the Indian attacks on the colonies.

There are many reasons for immigration from Scotland to Ulster. The reason would typically depend on the time of their migration. The principal move of Scots to Ulster began when James I of England (also James VI of Scotland) made it policy to settle Scots in Ulster. His decision was an attempt to deal with a multitude of domestic troubles. Landowners in Scotland wanted fewer tenants. Crime and theft in the lowlands was becoming rampant as the clan orders were breaking down, food supplies dwindled. He also was faced with Irish Catholics who would not submit to English rule. His "solution" was to settle Scot Presbyterians in Ulster. This would free up tenancies, give land to Scots and create a counter force to the ever troublesome Irish.

However, Northern Ireland proved a temporary home for many of the Ulster Scots. Most did not receive land as promised. Conflict with the Irish was constant. In 1700, the English mercantile policies effectively destroyed the woolen industry of Ulster, and a huge number of Scot-Irish migrated to America.  Given this mixed background, one might expect the Scots-Irish to do anything in the revolutionary war, as opposed to "real" Irish, who were patriot to their dogs.


Many of these people came to North America through New Castle, Delaware, and at first settled in the surrounding area (New Jersey, and Chester, Pennsylvania).  Most did not remain, and generally migrated down the Great Waggon Road into VA, NC, and SC.


Reference: The Scotch-Irish A Social History, James G. Leyburn, The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 1962, ISBN 0-8078-4259-1


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Copyright ©2000, Dr. Frank O. Clark. These documents may be freely used for private purposes, and included in your own genealogy. However, these documents are copyrighted and may not be sold, nor given to anyone who may attempt to derive profit from same.