Between 1650 and 1775 many thousands of Scots were banished to the American colonies for political, religious, or criminal offenses. In the aftermath of the English Civil War, for example, Oliver Cromwell transported thousands of Scots soldiers to Virginia, New England, and the West Indies. The Covenanter Risings of the later 17th century led to around 1,700 Scots being expelled as enemies of the state, and the Jacobite Rebellions of 1715 and 1745 resulted in an additional 1,600 men, women, and children being banished to the colonies. Moreover, from the 1650s to 1830, when it became illegal, banishment and transportation to the colonies was a traditional punishment for certain serious–but over time petty–crimes, thereby contributing even further to the Scottish population of colonial America.
In the more than twenty-five years since Dr. David Dobson first endeavored to account for the individual Scots who took part in this forced emigration (1984)–the ancestors of thousands of Americans living today–he has established himself as the undisputed authority on Scottish emigration to the New World. In the absence of official Scottish passenger lists for the period, he initially derived his information from the records of the Privy Council of Scotland, the High Court of Justiciary, Treasury and State Pagers, and prison records, the sources of the majority of extant information available on the Scots who were banished to the colonies prior to 1775. His initial success, however, did not stop him over the intervening years from hunting in ever more obscure sources in North America and the UK–sources such as the Aberdeen Journal, Caledonian Mercury, the Dumfries and Galloway Archives, Justiciary Records of Argyll, Calendar of Home Office Papers, and more. Dr. Dobson’s tireless efforts have produced this second edition of the Directory of Scots Banished to the American Plantations, 1650-1775, containing fully 30% more convict passengers than in the original.
For each person cited in this directory, some or all of the following information is provided: name, occupation, place of residence in Scotland, place of capture and captivity, parents’ names, date and cause of banishment, name of the ship carrying him or her to the colonies, and date and place of arrival in the colonies. The exact number of Scots banished to the Americas may never be known because records are not comprehensive; moreover, some Scottish felons sentenced in England were shipped from English ports. The contemporary English judicial system was harsher than in Scotland, which explains why the Hanoverian government had the Jacobite prisoners taken south to England for trial.
The first edition of this work has been enlarged by the addition of fresh material, particularly from American sources but also from more obscure sources in Scotland. Dr. Dobson has made some modifications as well; for example, some men who were thought to have been Covenanters are now classed as rebels and English transportees have been omitted, while the references used have been enhanced to facilitate further research. In total, somewhere between 4,000 and 5,000 Scots were banished to the Americas during the Colonial period (whereas England transported around 50,000 and Ireland in excess of 10,000), all of whom contributed to the settlement and development of Colonial America.