As early as 1575 a number of Scottish scholars and merchants gravitated to the cities of Holland, Zealand, and Flanders because of the educational and commercial opportunities they offered. For their part, Scottish Covenanters went to the Netherlands to flee persecution under the Stuarts and to live among their Calvinist brethren. Probably the largest number of Scots found in the Netherlands were soldiers fighting in the service of the United Provinces in its 80-year struggle for independence against the Spanish Habsburgs and later France. The Scottish presence in the Netherlands was such that by 1700 about a thousand Scots lived in the city of Rotterdam alone. Over the course of the 17th and 18th centuries, some of these Scots or their descendants participated in the Dutch emigration to America.
For his latest book, Scottish emigration expert David Dobson has combed primary and secondary sources on both sides of the Atlantic in order to document these links between Scotland, the Netherlands, and America. Mr. Dobson provides over 2,000 separate references to this traffic. In each case, he states the individual’s name, occupation (soldier, merchant, student, etc.), date of the reference, and the source. Marriage entries typically give the Scot’s name and place of origin, those of his spouse, and sometimes the name(s) of parents, or more. In a few cases, the references are to Dutch persons who migrated in the opposite direction, attracted by Scotland’s offer of full naturalization. The author cautions researchers to note that the names brought to America by these immigrants were generally modified by the Dutch and, on occasion, provide no clue to their actual Scots origin.