Searching for Scotch-Irish Roots in Scottish Records, 1600-1750


Author: Dobson, David
Publication Date: 2007
Reprint Date: 2008
Pages: xii 107 pp.
ISBN: 9780806353173


The aim of this groundbreaking book is to identify source material in Scottish libraries and archives that could enable people of Scotch-Irish (Scots-Irish) ancestry (i.e., the Ulster Scots) to locate their Scottish roots.

The origins of the Ulster Scots is a familiar story. The English Crown’s concerted effort to re-settle substantial number of Scots Presbyterians in Ulster in order to check the Catholic Irish began in 1607 under James I. By 1690 the Protestant Presbyterian Synod of Ulster was created, which represented 120 congregations out of a population of nearly 150,000 Scots and their descendants. Following the demise of the Stuart kings in 1689, the status of the Presbyterian Scots-Irish declined. All public office holders in Ulster were required to be Anglicans, and the Presbyterians were required to finance the Episcopal Church of Ireland. Such facts, together with changing economic circumstances and rent-racking, contributed to the great Ulster Scot emigrations of the 18th century. In fact, over the course of that period, the Ulster Scots would become the single most numerous ethnic group to settle in colonial America.

A variety of records in Scotland are likely to supply links with Ireland from the Plantation period (1600–1750) onwards. Searching for Scotch-Irish Roots is the first book to collect the evidence scattered throughout manuscripts and some published works held in libraries and archives throughout Scotland, especially in the southwest. Mr. Dobson divides the records into five main categories: Church Records, Town (Burgh) Records, Court Records, Miscellaneous Government Records, and University and other private record collections. Subsumed within these categories, researchers will discover a panoply of rich sources. Mr. Dobson provides detailed descriptions of the diverse record types available in Scottish libraries and archives, such as Presbytery (church) records, Apprentice (Burgh) records, Consistorial Processes and Decreet (court) records, Registers of Sasines (government records), and Family and Estate Papers (Private & Miscellaneous Records).

Besides identifying the key records for making the leap from America or Ulster to Scotland, the author equips the researcher with a number of important tools for maximizing his/her efforts. These include a glossary and list of abbreviations, a list of family history societies in South-West Scotland, bibliographies of family histories and local histories concerned with South Western Scotland, and a general bibliography. Anyone daring enough to search out the Scottish origins of his/her Ulster heritage will be grateful to immigration authority David Dobson for having plotted a course.

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