Scots on the Chesapeake, 1621-1776. Revised Edition


Author: Dobson, David
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: viii 204 pp.
ISBN: 9780806356075


There has been a Scottish element in the population of the Chesapeake since the early seventeenth century. For example, the Scottish population was increased significantly around 1650 when Oliver Cromwell exiled 900 Scots prisoners of war to Virginia and Maryland in the aftermath of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms 1638-1651. (Many of these transportees were Covenanters–militant Presbyterians who were opposed to the religious policies of the Stuart kings.) During the eighteenth century, there was a constant stream of Scots indentured servants sailing from English ports bound for Virginia and Maryland.

Overshadowing all other factors stimulating Scottish immigration to the Chesapeake, however, was the rapid growth and expansion of the tobacco trade, which by 1740 was dominated by the port of Glasgow. This resulted in a proliferation of Scots merchants, factors, and their servants throughout the region. From towns like Norfolk and Portsmouth the Scots factors controlled operations throughout the Chesapeake. The success of the American Revolution ended this arrangement, and although Scots immigrants still arrived, the emphasis on settlement was elsewhere in the Americas.

This book supersedes David Dobson’s earlier work Scots on the Chesapeake, l607-l830 [Baltimore, 1992] and is restricted to the colonial period. Since 1992 many more references and primary sources have been located, which has enabled this substantially expanded edition (one-third larger than the original) to be compiled. The references are overwhelmingly taken from primary sources such as probate or testamentary records, court records, indenture agreements, jail registers, registers of deeds, contemporary newspapers, and journals, Loyalist claims, militia papers, monumental inscriptions, and government records located predominantly in Virginia, Maryland, Scotland, and England. The people listed are all believed to be Scots, though a handful may have been of Scottish origin but born in America or Ireland. The author has identified each Scot named in the book by one or more of the following characteristics: details of birth, marriage and death, occupation, age, date of emigration, place of settlement, and family relationships. The new edition also contains a supplementary chronological list of all ships known to have sailed between Scotland and the Chesapeake before 1776 that brought the majority of Scots to Virginia and Maryland prior to the American Revolution; this should facilitate identifying the vessel and route taken by these immigrants.

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