ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Scotch-Irish Immigration to America

Updated on June 30, 2015

Some say the first Scots in the Americas were two slaves around 1010 during the time of Eric the Red on an Icelandic expedition to Vinland led by Thorfinn Karlsefni. The two were left there overnight to see if it was safe to establish a Norse settlement. They survived and most historians believe it’s the settlement found at L’Anse aux Meadows.

Although some claim a Scottish nobleman, Henry Sinclair, 1st Earl of Orkney, explored North America in the 14th century. But in any case, the first documented Scottish settlement in the Americas was in Nova Scotia in 1629.

It’s generally accepted the first Scots began arriving on American shores in the very early 1600s. Many more were to follow during the English Civil War (1642–1651) and the Catholic’s Jacobite rising of 1745.

They came for various reasons. Economic hardships and religious persecution were a few reasons. Some arrived with British Army regiments and decided to remain. Others came of their own free will.

Some came as a result of England purging their prisons whether they wanted to come or not. They may have been political prisoners, rebels, murderers or just petty thieves. Others came out of desperation. They had no hope of bettering their lives in a British Class system which kept them mired in poverty. Scots who had immigrated to Northern Ireland in the 1500s also immigrated to America in the early 1700's. They were referred to as the "Scotch-Irish" and comprised the vast majority of Scottish Colonists to come to America.

In America they all saw an opportunity to start anew. Since most had little money most came as indentured servants. They would sign a contract with a person willing to pay their passage. The typical contract called for a period of 7 years. The early Scotch-Irish colonists arriving in the first half of the 1600's tended to prefer colonies south of the New England states up until the Revolutionary war. However, many did settle in the original thirteen American colonies including a significant number at the Massachusetts Bay Colony. See:

The first notable arrival of Scotch-Irish to America was a group led by Rev. James McGregor hailing from County Londonderry in 1718. They arrived at Boston but most moved on to New Hampshire, where they established the town of Londonderry. The Scotch-Irish most often arrived in family groups or as part of a larger Presbyterian congregation.

However, their troubles were not over once they arrived. Initially, they were looked down on by immigrants from other countries such as the English, Dutch and Germans. They were viewed as uncivilized and lazy, although held in high regard as military combatants. And for that reason many were sent west to become Indian fighters. They quickly dispelled any notions of being uncivilized and lazy.

From 1763 to 1775 an estimated 55,000 Scotch-Irish from Ulster and 40,000 Scots arrived in America. They established several small colonies in East Jersey and South Carolina. These colonies were mostly made up of Quakers and Presbyterians who had experienced religious persecution by the Episcopalian Church of Scotland. Many Scotch-Irish later mass migrated to the New World because of the 1840s Potato Famine.

But the majority preferred Pennsylvania and states southward along the eastern seaboard to Georgia. Many Scotch-Irish Presbyterians opted for the religious freedom of William Penn's colony near Philadelphia in the 1720s because of clashing doctrinal differences within the New England Congregations. Eventually, they began migrating westward taking along their traditions which quickly became interwoven into the fabric of American culture.

The contributions Scotch-Irish has made to American culture are many. But, of particular note was their music, especially fiddle-music which later evolved into what is known today as "bluegrass," unique to the Appalachian regions.

If not for the Scotch-Irish, America might still be a British colony. In fact, there were a number of Scotsmen who signed the Declaration of Independence.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • JY3502 profile imageAUTHOR

      John Young 

      6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Yes, I did. Thanks for the catch. If I had been thinking about the year it was signed...oh well.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      do you make some mistakes in the last paragraph? i don't think James Monroe, James Buchanan signed the declaration of independence.

    • profile image

      Stevie B 

      6 years ago

      Great reading about the Ulster Scots.

      I'm from Glasgow Scotland but my ancestors all hailed from the Walled City of Londonderry, where the brave 13 Protestant Apprentice Boys defended the City against the Catholic King James.

    • JY3502 profile imageAUTHOR

      John Young 

      7 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Paradise, of course it is. And I wrote it all just for you! :-)

    • Paradise7 profile image


      7 years ago from Upstate New York

      Very interesting, as always. We have some relations on our mother's side which go back to Scotland.

    • JY3502 profile imageAUTHOR

      John Young 

      7 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      lovemychris and Donna Sundblad, I also have some running in my veins which is why I researched this topic.

    • Donna Sundblad profile image

      Donna Sundblad 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      I love how you tie in the influence on those who have immigrated here and made it their home in every sense. My grandfather was also an immigrant.

    • lovemychris profile image

      Leslie McCowen 

      7 years ago from Cape Cod, USA

      Love immigration stories.....

      My mom's best friend is from Scotland, and I just love hearing her speak. Love that accent.

      And, the bagpipes are the best part of any parade we have here in town. They always come last, and are just magical.

      That is the greatness of America...all the different cultures we get to experience.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)