Scot-Irish Presbyterians
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Migration of Scottish Presbyterians to Ireland and then to America

The Scots-Irish were Scottish folks who had migrated from the Lowlands of Scotland to the ancient province of Ulster in NE Ireland.

Scottish settlers began to come in large numbers to Ulster in the early decades of the 1600s. James I, the English monarch, sought to solidify control by transferring land ownership to Protestants and by settling their lands with Protestant tenants (English and Scottish). Scottish settlers continued to come to Ireland throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

In the 1700s many of them migrated to America, settling largely in Pennsylvania, Virginia & the Carolinas.  As Presbyterians, they moved to escape persecution from the Church of England, high rents, and economic deprivation.

The Scots-Irish largely came to colonial America in family groups, often such that members of an extended family settled near one another in America, whether they immigrated together or separately. Some Scots-Irish immigrants came to America as part of larger group or congregational migrations, meaning that an entire group or congregation of Presbyterians together moved from one locality in Ireland to one locality in America. It is thus very important to trace persons that immigrated with a Scots-Irish ancestor or were associated with the ancestor in America.

In some cases, the immigrating group was led by a minister. In such instances, the minister may be traced back to the church he served in Ireland. Most of the immigrants who accompanied him would be from the same area. However, a group or congregational migration may have drawn from a larger area than just one town or parish in Ireland.

The Tennessee census bureau has reported that one out of five Tennesseans is Scots-Irish.  They are also known as Ulster Scots.



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Last updated March 26, 2002