The SCOTCH-IRISH in AMERICA

Little has been written or is generally known about the Scotch-Irish. They have left to history few inscribed records, but they were quietly the people who settled the backwoods of America. To investigate this unwritten history we must go back to the time of Mary "Queen of Scots " and the wars between the Catholics and the Protestants. King James did not trust the Catholic Irish and removed them by granting their lands in Ulster Province to his loyal Scottish Kinsmen in 1608.

After his death in 1625 a new chain of circumstances begins. From 1641 to 1649 Ireland is rent from one end to the other. Most Scotch-Irish remained loyal to the Crown of Charles. However, John McAdam was a Captain in Cromwell's army. Needless to say, McAdams families were on both sides of the issues of the times and contact between them was nevermore.

After Charles was beheaded, Cromwell confiscated the lands of Charles' Loyalest, which he redistributed. The population had grown and a family who may have lived on 100 acres of land now generally had less than 12. Poverty began to spread among the residents of Ulster. Three seasons had failed to bring in crops, the famine of 1725 began to take a toll, factories were closed, and rents were on the increase. The Scotch had lived 120 years or so in their Irish County happily, but now there was little ways to just exist. The distress among the laboring class was terrible and they grew poorer by the day.

The Duke of Ulster wrote, "American agents are seducing the people with prospects of better homes across the Atlantic. There are now seven ships lying at Belfast harbor bound for Boston and Philadelphia. The worst of it all is it only affects the Scotch-Irish Protestants."Four generations contented and happy were now miserable and almost broken hearted. The old grandfathers of the homestead were laid under the sod; their sons and their son's sons were aged and infirm and now in their home were unutterable distress. Mothers and fathers besought alike to the young men and women praying "Haste away to the new continent: we have but a little while here to stay: go then, dear ones that we may see you go. Had it not been for their loyalty to their King, our children would have positions still. The savages we hear so much about in America can be no worse than our lot.

Once again, the children of the Grahams, Armstrongs, Gordons, McAdams, McCraes, Maxwells, McDonalds and others left for a new life. These were the families from the men who chiefly would build up the commonwealths of Kentucky and Tennessee. Among the Scotch-Irish were Daniel Boone, George Rogers Clark, Andrew Jackson, Thomas Jefferson, and Sam Houston. It was the Scotch-Irish troops that won the pivotal battle at King's Mountain and crushed the Indians of Alabama and overthrew Wellington veterans at New Orleans. In any event, they were compelled to leave the island of their birth and set out upon a new career in a strange new land. Bidding the old and feeble, whom they could not take with them, farewell forever, they turned their backs upon the past, with gloomy hearts leaving the green island, they went down from their native hills to the sea to return no more.

They boarded perilous over-crowed and suffocation leaky ships and were beaten about the Sea from September to November. In 1680, the Quakers and Swedes had made colonies along the rivers. By 1710, the Germans appropriated most all of the rich farmlands. The Scotch-Irish coming last would find nothing but bench lands. They did not know this when they left, but they were too poor to find fault or grumble about their fate in America.

Those who sailed for Boston were refused entry so they headed north or south. The poor and down trodden Scotch-Irish did find gentlefolks in the Germans and Quakers in Philadelphia, Chester, and Bucks Counties where they arrived. Those who came entered the Delaware River landed at New Castle or Philadelphia. In 1718, 1719, and 1720 large numbers of Scotch-Irish from Donegal, and Derry arrived in New Castle, Delaware. They were all Coventers (reformed Presbyterian) and were well educated.

In the following years they continued to arrived in large numbers. During one week of 1727, six shiploads landed in Philadelphia. In 1729 more than 5,000 came and in the years of 1773 and 1774 more than 30,000 came.

Rev. James MacGregor brought a body of Scotch Presbyterians from County Londonderry, Ireland and a Scotch-Irish settlement was made in Londonderry and Windham, New Hampshire. Samuel & William McAdam from Londonderry, Ireland was part of this group who settled in Windham about 1739.

Those arriving in 1727 went at once and settled on what is now described as Londonderry, Oxford, Highland and Wallace Townships in Chester County. They then pressed on towards the foothills, which was called Donegal. Later they moved into Lancaster County of Colerain and Drumore. These names was a testimony to their Scotch-Irish ancestry. Later they migrated to Northampton, Lehigh, Lebanon and Northumberland Counties as the Scotch-Irish first settled these counties.

The Penns had originally invited the Scotch-Irish to settle the back county as a buffer against the Indians. Soon there was no place for them to settle as most of the lands had been taken. Chester and Lancaster Counties were established in 1729 to accommodate the Scotch-Irish. Soon these lands were also gone.

The Penns and their agents were quick to become prejudice against the back county Scotch-Irish settler who exceed their authorized boundaries. This prejudice was illustrated in a report to Thomas Penn from James Logan as follows. "These people, mostly from Ireland of the poorest sort of ye Irish". The Penn government refused to issue promised land patents and families had no clear title to their property. Some patents were not issued until 1794, but by then most original settlers had left.

In brief, these were the first Scotch-Irish settlements in America. It can not be said no Scotch-Irish were here before. A scattered few adventurers had come between1711-1714, but there was no distinctive immigration prior to 1727. After this date they began to pour into Pennsylvania. This was especially true after the "Battle of Culloden Field" in July 1754 as they now knew the House of Stewards would rise no more. They located on the west bank of the Susquehanna River. They did not build towns as the Germans did. They clanned upon wide scope over large areas and never huddled in villages. Where they lived was not without a name - Allen, Hempfield, Westmoreland, Monagham, Chanceford and etc. The names they gave their property were clear-cut and full of dignity.

Most of them brought their young wives from Ireland and not much more than an ax, saw, spinning wheel, 10 pounds in money, and the hemp clothes they wore. They titled the land and when it starved out they abandoned it and cleared another plot. They had little use for land titles, taxes and formal records. When pushed by a growing population they just moved farther into the wilderness. The Scotch-Irish always asserted "God helps him who helps himself". Another favorite was "you may have been born poor, but you don't have to be dirty". When the Scotch-Irish decided they were right, It would defy facts to show where they were ever proven wrong.

From the Susquehanna Hills of York County, Pennsylvania one can look over the Scotch-Irish Realm and know this was the Scots-Irish beginning in America. However, the Scotch-Irish did not remain long. Edmund Burke wrote in 1757 "the number of white people in Virginia is between 60 to 70 thousand. They are growing more numerous by the migration of the Irish. The English coined the term Ulster-Scots or Scotch-Irish on the strength of having lived in Northern Ireland. They do not succeed as well as the frugal and industrious Germans in Pennsylvania, so they sell their lands and take up new ground in the remote counties in Virginia and North Carolina. These are chiefly Presbyterians from the northern part of Ireland who in America are called "Scotch-Irish".

An important event that encouraged many Scotch-Irish to leave was Joist Hite. He purchased large tracks of lands in unsettled Western Virginia. With his Bible in his hand, he encouraged and introduced settlers from the south central part of Pennsylvania to the Shenandoah Valley. The first settlement was near Stannton, Virginia in 1736. The whole western part of Virginia was then known as Augusta County and began filling up with the York Co. Scotch-Irish. Joist Hite, known as the Loyal Land Company of Virginia, had land title problems with Lord Fairfax. Once again the Scotch-Irish settlers had no clear title to their land. Samuel and Samuel McAdams, Jr. appears in the records of the Loyal Land Company.

The French and Indian Wars was another major factor that prompted settlers to move out of the back county into safer areas. Settlements in York County and in Western Virginia were raided routinely by the Indians from 1755 to 1763. Found in this history is that Hugh McAdams' wife, Elizabeth was captured by the Indians and rescued by Virginia troops. A bayonet charge by the outnumbered Highlanders at Bushy Run on August 1763 led to peace and the Indian ravages ceased until the Revolutionary War.

After the French and Indian Wars life for the Scots-Irish remained rather peaceful. They began to receive their land titles, raise families and hold important community positions. However, peace did not last long, as the Revolutionary War put their life and property in extreme danger. Their homes were in the path of some of the most contested areas of the War.

After the Revolutionary War these families spread to the west to settle on lands they earned as payment for their military services in Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee

From this history of the Scots-Irish and other records we have gathered it is safe to assume many our McAdams ancestors arrived in Philadelphia between 1735 to 1770. There is always a possibility some left to join a family member or in-laws in America. The ones who came first encouraged other family members to follow. By the location we first find our families we can make a educated guess as to the date of our ancestor's arrival since they left no documented evidence in either Ireland or Scotland.

Most McAdams families that can located in Scotland and Ireland records appear to have remained there. Most seemed to have faired through the bad times in their prospective locations. There is almost no reference in either Scotland or Ireland to any American relatives. Some of the McAdames that left Ary, Scotland are reported to have migrated to Canada and Australia about 1900. Some Blackwater House MacAdam of Country Clare, Ireland migrated to Canada. What other migration records we are were of was due to troubles with the law and deported to Ireland or America.

For American McAdam - McAdams Records by States see:
American McAdam - McAdams by States including Imigration and War Records

 


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