Plantation in Ulster

Source:The Scotch-Irish in America
Author:Samuel Swett Green

“The plantations in County Down and County Antrim, thorough as they were as far as they went, were limited in scope, in comparison with the ‘Great plantation in Ulster’ for which James I.’s reign will be forever remembered in Ireland.”[5]

Early in the seventeenth century “all northern Ireland,—Londonderry, Donegal, Tyrone, Cavan, Armagh, and Fermanagh,—passed at one fell swoop into the hands of the crown.”[6] These lands James proceeded to people with Englishmen and Scotchmen, as he had before planted Scottish and English colonies in Down and Antrim. Sir William Petty states, “that a very large emigration had taken place from Scotland after Cromwell settled the country in 1652.”[7] “He takes the total population” of Ireland in 1672 “at 1,100,000, and calculates that 800,000 were Irish, 200,000 English, and 100,000 Scots. Of course the English were scattered all over Ireland, the Scots concentrated in Ulster.”[8] Lecky says that “for some years after the Revolution,” meaning, of course, the English Revolution of 1688, “a steady stream of Scotch Presbyterians had poured into the country, attracted by the cheapness of the farms and by the new openings for trade.”[9] The end of the seventeenth century probably saw the last of the large emigration of Scots into Ulster.

The quiet of the Scotch immigrants was disturbed by various events during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. War disturbed their quiet. The Irish rebellion of 1641 caused them much suffering. It “dragged its slow length along” for years, and “until Cromwell crossed in 1650, and in one dreadful campaign established the rule of the English Parliament.”[10] The Revolution of 1688 was long and bloody, in Ireland. The sufferings of the Protestants in the north of Ireland who supported William the Third and opposed James the Second are well known, and Macaulay has rendered immortal the brave deeds of the defenders of Londonderry.[11]

The Scotch immigrants suffered from repression of trade and commerce. True, William III. encouraged the manufacture of linen and induced colonies of Huguenots who were driven out of France by the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes to settle in northeast Ireland. “The first blow struck” in the repression of industries, “was an Act which forbade the exportation of cattle from Ireland to England;[12] the second, when by the fifteenth of Charles II., Ireland, which up to this time in commercial matters had been held as part of England, was brought under the Navigation Acts, and her ships treated as if belonging to foreigners.”[13] It was in the reign of William III. that the woollen manufacture in Ireland was suppressed in the interest of the English manufacturer, and legislation which brought about this suppression was followed by “Acts forbidding the Irish to export their wool to any country save England—the English manufacturers desiring to get the wool of the sister kingdom at their own price.”[14]

The Scotch immigrants in Ireland were mostly Presbyterians. Under the mild ecclesiastical rule of Archbishop Usher they prospered. Later they were persecuted, and in 1704 the obnoxious Test Act was imposed by Queen Anne.

Throughout their stay in Ireland the Scotch immigrants, while they have intermarried with the Huguenots and Puritan English to a certain extent, have not intermarried with the Celtic Irish and have preserved their Scotch characteristics.[15]

The passage of more than one hundred years since The Scotch-Irish in America by Henry Jones Ford was first published in 1915 has rendered the book no less fascinating and gripping. Written in a thoroughly accessible way, it tells the story of how the hardy breed of men and women, who in America came to be known as the ‘Scotch-Irish’, was forged in the north of Ireland during the seventeenth century. This book is a comprehensive and very informative account of the history of the Scotch-Irish in America.