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Scotch-Irish or Scots-Irish: What's in a Name? (Notes)

An Essay by Michael Montgomery, University of South Carolina

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1 Billy Kennedy, The Scots-Irish in the Hills of Tennessee (Londonderry, Northern Ireland, 1995). For supplying citations of Scotch-Irish to him, the author gratefully acknowledges Michael Scoggins, Richard MacMaster, and Warren Hofstra.

2 Patrick Griffin, The People with No Name: Ireland's Ulster Scots, America's Scots Irish and the Creation of a British Atlantic World, 1689-1764 (Princeton, NJ, 2001); James Webb, Born Fighting: How the Scots Irish Shaped America (New York, NY, 2004).

3 A different view is found in Kerby A. Miller et al., Irish Immigrants in the Land of Canaan: Letters and Memoirs from Colonial and Revolutionary America, 1675-1815 (New York, NY, 2003), who state (p. 24) that Ulster Presbyterian immigrants are "most commonly known in the United States today as the Scots-Irish." They do not indicate the basis of this judgment.

4 The historiography on Ulster immigration is extensive and varied. Although both academic historians and popularizing ones have assigned Scotch-Irish the core meaning of descendants of seventeenth-century Presbyterian settlers from Scotland, rarely do they state explicitly its boundaries. For the best general survey of the subject, see James G. Leyburn, The Scotch-Irish: A Social History (Chapel Hill, NC, 1962). For the best synopsis of the scholarly literature, see Kenneth W. Keller, "What is Distinctive about the Scotch-Irish?" in Robert D. Mitchell, ed., Appalachian Frontiers: Settlement, Society & Development in the Preindustrial Era (Lexington, KY, 1991) and Maldwyn Jones, "The Scotch-Irish in British America" in Bernard Bailyn and Philip D. Morgan, eds., Strangers within the Realm: Cultural Margins in the First British Empire (Chapel Hill, NC, 1991).

5 Maxwell Perceval-Maxwell, The Scottish Migration to Ulster in the Reign of James I (London, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1973). Reprinted in 1990 by Ulster Historical Foundation, Belfast.

6 The case for distinctiveness is most often made on the basis of religious expression, folk culture, and especially speech. For the latter, see Michael Montgomery, "The Many Faces of the Scotch-Irish," Familia (2000) 16:24-40; Michael Montgomery, "Eighteenth-Century Nomenclature for Ulster Immigrants," Journal of Scotch-Irish Studies (2001), 1:2:1-6; Michael Montgomery, "Ulster-Scots: A Language of Scotch-Irish Immigrants," Journal of Scotch-Irish Studies (2001), 1:2:125-37. Keller, op. cit., 85, believes that no one cultural element distinguishes the Scotch-Irish, but rather that they had a habit "to combine a series of customs, attitudes, and institutions that became distinctive in combination, rather than in any individual component."

7 Calendar of Patent and Close Rolls of Chancery, as cited in Leyburn, op. cit., 329.

8 H. Dalrymple, Decisions of the Court of Sessions from 1698 to 1718, ed. by Bell and Bradfute (Edinburgh, Scotland, 1792), 1:73/29. See Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue, s.v. toung.

9 John Polk, "Oldest Use of the Term Scotch-Irish in the Americas?"

10 Charles A. Hanna, The Scotch-Irish or the Scot in North Britain, North Ireland, and North America, 2 vols. (New York, NY, 1902).

11 R. J. Dickson, Ulster Immigration to Colonial America 1718-1775 (London, England, 1966); reprinted with an introduction by Graeme Kirkham (Belfast, Northern Ireland, 1987). In his introduction to the reprinting of Dickson's book, Kirkham suggests that "It seems certain that some upward revision of the figures presented in Ulster Immigration to Colonial America will be necessary for at least part of the period" (xiv).

12 This U.S. Scholarship Panel met in Staunton, Virginia, in September 2003. It comprised eight American academics (including several historians of immigration): Katharine Brown, Warren Hofstra, Kenneth Keller, Richard MacMaster, Kerby A. Miller, Michael Montgomery, Anita Puckett, and Marianne Wokeck. It agreed that it may have been much higher, but that 150,000 was a minimum figure for those coming from Ulster between 1718 and 1776 and one-half million for those coming between 1680 and 1830.

13 Griffin, op. cit., 1.

14 Perceval-Maxwell, op. cit.

15 David N. Doyle, Ireland, Irishmen and Revolutionary America 1760-1820 (Dublin, Ireland, 1981), 72-76.

16 Wilma Dykeman, Tennessee: A Bicentennial History (New York, NY, 1976), 14-15

17 John B. Rehder, "Scotch-Irish" in David Levinson and Melvin Ember, ed., American Immigrant Cultures: Builders of a Nation (New York, NY, 1997), 767-73.

18 Michael J. O'Brien, A Hidden Phase of American History (New York, NY, 1919), 337. O'Brien had foremost in mind the ten volumes of the Proceedings of the Scotch-Irish Congress (Cincinnati, OH, 1889-1902).

19 Leyburn, op. cit., 328-29.

20 Leyburn, op. cit., 327-34; Thomas F. Hudson, "Source of the Name Scotch-Irish" in Jack W. Weaver, ed., Selected Proceedings of Scotch-Irish Heritage Festival, II at Winthrop College (Charlotte, NC, 1984), 1-10; Wayland F. Dunaway, The Scotch-Irish in Colonial Pennsylvania (Chapel Hill, NC, 1944).

21 Griffin, op. cit., 2.

22 Thus, while not unknown, Scots-Irish (used as early as 1736) was much less frequent than Scotch-Irish. Kennedy, op. cit., 29ff, presents several eighteenth-century examples of Scots-Irish that are not authentic. They are quotations into which the author has interpolated the term for other wording in the original.

23 "The Rev. William Becket's Notices and Letters Concerning Incidents at Lewes Town, 1721-1742," Manuscripts of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 21.

24 Editor's preface to "A Letter from James Murray," Virginia Gazette, September 30-October 7, 1737, 62:4.

25 Carl Bridenbaugh, ed., A Gentleman's Progress: The Itinerarium of Dr. Alexander Hamilton, 1744 (Chapel Hill, NC, 1948), 160.

26 Charles Woodmason, The Carolina Back Country on the Eve of the Revolution, ed. with an introduction by Richard J. Hooker (Chapel Hill, NC, 1953), 50.

27 Ibid., 23.

28 Griffin, op. cit., 175, calls Scotch-Irish "an eighteenth-century term of derision."

29 William Byrd, "Letters of the Byrd Family," Virginia Magazine of History and Biography (1928), 36:354.

30 Pennsylvania Gazette, 10 June 1756.

31 R. W. D. Connor, Race Elements in the White Population of North Carolina (Greensboro, NC, 1920), 85.

32 R. G. Albion, ed., Philip Vickers Fithian: Journal, 1770-1771 (Princeton, NJ, 1934), 8-9.

33 W. B. Hesseltine, ed., J. G. M. Ramsey: Autobiography and Letters (Nashville, TN, 1954), 1, reprinted with an introduction by Robert Tracy McKenzie (Knoxville, TN, 2001).

34 For a study of the proportion of early Tennesseans from Ulster as opposed to from elsewhere, see Michael Montgomery and Cherel Henderson, "Eighteenth-Century Immigrants from Ireland to Tennessee: A Report Using First Families of Tennessee Files", Journal of East Tennessee History, forthcoming. In an informal survey accompanying the research for this study, the authors found that from family tradition Tennesseans were, without exception, familiar with Scotch-Irish and not Scots-Irish.

35 Maldwyn Jones, "Scotch-Irish" in Stephen Thernstrom, ed., Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups (Cambridge, MA, 1988), 895-907; Rehder, op. cit.

36 Dictionary of the Scots Language, s.v. Scots.

37 David MacRitchie, "The Adjectives 'Scottish', 'Scots', and 'Scotch'," Scotia, The Journal of the St. Andrew Society (1907), 1:72-73.

38 Mairi Robinson et al., eds., Concise Scots Dictionary (Aberdeen, Scotland, 1985), 588.

39 Ulster Scot was the title of a Belfast Newsletter column started around 1870 by the Rev. Henry Henderson. This may represent the first use of the term. I am grateful to Graham Walker for this information.

40 Angelique Day, Patrick McWilliams and Noirin Dobson, ed., Ordnance Survey Memoirs of Ireland Volume Twenty-Six: Parishes of County Antrim X: Glynn, Inver, Kilroot, and Templecorran (Belfast, Northern Ireland, 1994), 106.

41 William H. Patterson, A Glossary of Words in Use in the Counties of Antrim and Down (London, England, 1880), vii-viii.

42 John Braidwood, "Ulster and Elizabethan English," in G. B. Adams, ed., Ulster Dialects: An Introductory Symposium (Holywood, Northern Ireland, 1964), 35.

43 Kennedy, op. cit., 29.

44 Leyburn, op. cit., 330.

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