Ulster Scots people

Ulster Scots people

Ethnic group
poptime= Ulster-Scots
20-30 million
worldwide population
popplace= Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland
popplace =
region1 = flagcountry|United States
pop1 = 5,289,309
ref1 =
region2 = flagcountry|Ulster
pop2 = 1,993,918
ref2 =
region3 =
pop3 =
ref3 =
langs= English, Scots, Irish
rels=Majority adheres mainly to the Protestant denominations of Presbyterianism, Church of Ireland, and Methodist Church in Ireland: Roman Catholic Minority .|related=Scottish, Irish, Scots-Irish, Welsh, English

Ulster-Scots are an ethnic group in Ireland, descended from mainly Lowland Scots who settled in the province of Ulster in the north of Ireland. Settlement first began in large numbers during the 17th century during the Plantation of Ulster, a planned process of colonisation which took place in the reign of James I of England. "Ulster-Scots" refers to both the Scottish Presbyterian settlers of the 17th century and, less popularly, to the gallowglass who arrived from what is now northwest Scotland centuries prior to the Scottish Reformation. "Scotch-Irish" is the traditional term for these same people who later immigrated to what is now the United States; "Scots-Irish" is a more recent form of the American term, and is not to be confused with Irish-Scots, i.e., recent Irish immigrants to Scotland.

Ulster-Scots are largely descended from Galloway, Ayrshire, and the Scottish Borders Country, although some descend from further north in the Scottish Lowlands and the Highlands as well. Ulster-Scots emigrated in significant numbers to the United States and all corners of the then-worldwide British EmpireCanada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa — and to a lesser extent to Argentina and Chile in South America.


:"see also Gallowglass, History of Scotland and Plantations of Ireland"

Although population movement to and from the north-east of Ireland and the west of Scotland had been on-going since pre-historic times, a concentrated migration of Scots to Ulster occurred mainly during the 17th and 18th centuries. Prior to that the major Scottish immigration in the northern part of Ireland was composed of Gallowglass mercenary clans from the Scottish Highlands. These included the MacDonnells, originally from the clan Donnell of Ireland and who established themselves in the north of what is now county Antrim over the course of the 16th century.

The first major influx of Lowland Scots into Ulster came in the first two decades of the 17th century. Starting in 1609, Scots began arriving into state sponsored settlements as part of the Plantation of Ulster. This scheme was intended to confiscate all the lands of the Gaelic Irish nobility in Ulster and to settle the province with Protestant English and Scottish colonists. Under this scheme, a substantial number of Scots were settled, mostly in the south and west of Ulster, on confiscated land.

At the same time, there was an independent Scottish settlement in the east of the province, which had not been affected by the terms of the plantation. In east Down and Antrim, Scottish migration was led by James Hamilton, 1st Earl of Abercorn and Sir Hugh Montgomery, two Ayrshire lairds. This started in May 1606 and was followed in 1610.

During the Irish Rebellion of 1641, the native Irish gentry attempted to expel the English and Scottish settlers, resulting in severe inter-communal violence, massacres and ultimately leading to the death of around 4,000 settlers over the winter of 1641-42. [Jane Kenyon, Jane Ohlmeyer, The Civil Wars, A military History of England, Scotland and Ireland 1638-1660, p.74 ]

The Ulster-Scottish population in Ireland was further augmented during the subsequent Irish Confederate Wars, when a Scottish Covenanter army was landed in the province to protect the settlers from native Irish landowners. After the war was over, many of the of their soldiers settled permanently in eastern Ulster. [Nicholas Canny, Making Ireland British, p. 562] The war itself, part of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, ended in the 1650s, with the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland. With Puritan zeal, Oliver Cromwell re-conquered Ireland. Defeating the Irish Catholic forces on behalf of the English Commonwealth, he and his forces employed methods and inflicted casualties among the civilian Catholic population that were long commonly considered by historians and the popular culture to be outside of the accepted military ethics of the day (see more on the debate here). Under the Act of Settlement 1652, all Catholic owned land was confiscated and the Plantations, which had been destroyed by the rebellion of 1641, were restored. However, due to the Scots' enmity to the English Parliament in the final stages of the English Civil War, English settlers rather than Scots were the main beneficiary of this scheme.

There was a generation of calm in Ireland thereafter until another civil war broke out, again on ethnic and religious lines, in 1689. Williamite war in Ireland (1689-91) was fought between Jacobites who supported the restoration of the Catholic James II to the throne of England and Williamites, who supported the Protestant William of Orange. The Protestant Ulster community, including the Scots, fought on the Williamite side in the war against Irish Catholics and their French allies. The fear of a repeat of the massacres of 1641 and of religious persecution under a Catholic monarch, as well as a wish to hold onto lands that had been confiscated from Catholic landowners were their principle motivating factors.

The Williamite forces, composed of British, Dutch and Danish as well as Ulster troops, ended Jacobite resistance by 1691, confirming the Protestant monopoly on power in Ireland. Their victories at Londonderry, the Boyne and Aughrim are still commemorated by the Orange Order today, because the Irish Protestant mythos maintains they had saved their community from annihilation or exile at the hands of the Jacobites.

Finally, another major influx of Scots into northern Ireland occurred in the late 1690s, when tens of thousands of people fled a famine in Scotland to come to Ulster. [ [http://search.aol.co.uk/aol/redir?src=eu_websearch&requestId=null&clickedItemRank=2&userQuery=scotland+famine+1690s&clickedItemURN=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bbc.co.uk%2Fhistory%2Fbritish%2Fplantation%2Fulsterscots%2Findex.shtml&title=BBC+-+History+-+Wars+and+Conflicts+-+Plantation+of+Ulster+-+Ulster+%3Cb%3E...%3C%2Fb%3E&moduleId=matchingsites_uk.jsp.M&clickedItemPageRanking=-8&clickedItemPage=2&clickedItemDescription=WebResults] [http://search.aol.co.uk/aol/redir?src=eu_websearch&requestId=null&clickedItemRank=9&userQuery=scottish+migration+ulster+1690s&clickedItemURN=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bbc.co.uk%2Fhistory%2Fbritish%2Fplantation%2Ftranscripts%2Fes11_t01.shtml&title=BBC+-+History+-+Wars+and+Conflicts+-+Plantation+of+%3Cb%3EUlster%3C%2Fb%3E+%3Cb%3E...%3C%2Fb%3E&moduleId=matchingsites_uk.jsp.M&clickedItemPageRanking=9&clickedItemPage=1&clickedItemDescription=WebResults] ]

It was only after the 1690s that Scottish settlers and their descendants, the majority of whom were Presbyterian, gained numeric superiority in Ulster. Along with Catholic Irish, they were legally disadvantaged by the Penal Laws, which gave full rights only to Church of Ireland members (the state church), who were mainly the descendants of English settlers and native converts. For this reason, up until the 19th century, there was considerable disharmony between the Presbyterians and the ruling Protestant Ascendancy of Ulster.

With the enforcement of Queen Anne's 1703 Test Act, which caused further discrimination against all who did not participate in the State Church (Church of Ireland and/or the Church of England), considerable numbers of Ulster-Scots migrated to the North American colonies throughout the 18th century.

Towards the end of the 18th century many Ulster-Scots Presbyterians ignored religious differences and, along with many Catholic Irish, joined the United Irishmen and participated in the Irish Rebellion of 1798 in support of republican and egalitarian ideals.

cotch-Irish / Ulster Scots

In the United States Census of 2000, 4.3 million Americans (1.5% of the population of the United States) claimed Scotch-Irish ancestry, the author Jim Webb suggests that the true number of people with some Scotch-Irish heritage in the USA is more in the region of 27 million. [ [http://www.parade.com/articles/editions/2004/edition_10-03-2004/featured_0 Why You Need To Know The Scotch-Irish] ] Verify credibility|date=August 2008 [ [http://www.powells.com/biblio/1-9780767916899-1 Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America] ] Syn|date=August 2008 [ [http://www.nitakeacloserlook.gov.uk/index/american-connections/scots-irish.htm Scots-Irish By Alister McReynolds, writer and lecturer in Ulster-Scots studies] ] Failed verification|date=August 2008 Two possible reasons have been suggestedWho|date=August 2008 for the disparity of the figures of the census and the estimation. Modern Americans with some Scotch-Irish heritage may quite often regard themselves as simply having either Irish ancestry (which 10.8% of Americans reported) or Scottish ancestry (reported by 4.9 million or 1.7% of the total population).Or|date=August 2008

In general, while the Scotch-Irish in the United States were largely Protestant, most other Irish immigrants were Catholic. The ability of the Scotch-Irish to more easily intermarry with other ethnicities who shared their faith, in a nation where the majority were also Protestant, may have resulted in a greater loss of ethnic identity. In contrast, Irish Catholics had a more limited pool of marriage choices and often chose to marry within their ethnic group to maintain their faith, particularly in urban areas where Irish Catholic neighborhoods would concentrate populations and facilitate matches. In addition, Irish Catholics in the United States were constantly being augmented by a stream of Irish immigrants from the middle of the 19th century until the end of the 20th century, which served to regularly re-invigorate the cultural memory of the Irish Catholics already there. No such recurring immigration for Scotch-Irish occurred after the 18th century.


Because of the large scale intermingling of the Ulster Scots population with both its native Scotland and acquired Irish, it is difficult to define distinct aspects of Ulster Scots that would distinguish it from either. An example of this being that the Ulster Scots Agency itself points to many of its cultural icons as being from either the Scottish highlands or from Ireland.


In music, there is a distinguishable line between the cultures of the native Irish and the Ulster-Scots living in Ireland. In Ireland the traditional music is focused around the 'pub-session'. This is a regular meeting, often weekly, and is marked by informal arrangement of both musicians and audience, although, Irish traditional music is one of the most influential types of music known to the modern world, and can be heard in some of the Ulster Scots music. Protestant Scottish traditional music is usually informal and close-knit. The most obvious example of this type of cultural event is the marching bands. Here a formal and organised structure is more obvious. Although they play less frequently, these bands meet regularly in community halls to tune their skills. The strong Scottish roots of the Ulster Scots musical scene is evidenced by the continuing popularity during the Marching Season.

Intermingling and intermarriage in Ulster

A question that has been raised by many historiansWho|date=June 2008 about the Ulster-Scots is the question of intermingling and more importantly, intermarriage between the native Irish and the incoming Scots.

However others contest such claims. Pádraig Ó Snodaigh, author of the book "Hidden Ulster, Protestants and the Irish language", states that many of the settlers came from Gaelic speaking areas in Scotland and thus would have culturally meshed well with their new neighbours. Also he states that church records show that by 1716 close to ten percent of ministers in Ulster preached in Irish. He claims that such cultural and geographic affinity would have produced numerous conversions and also marriages. In addition James G. Leyburn, author of "The Scotch-Irish: A social history", quotes James Reid, a historian of the Irish Presbyterian Church in 1853, that when the marriage ban was lifted in 1610 that it was a "great joy to all parties". However Professor Leyburn examines both sides of the intermixture debate in Chapter 10 "Intermarriage with the Irish," where after examination of both viewpoints, ends the chapter by giving his own view of the matter: "If one must give his verdict, the weight of evidence seems to be on the side of little intermixture. The Scotch-Irish, as they came to be known in America, were overwhelmingly Scottish in ancestry and Presbyterian in faith. To the extent that occasional intermarriage occurred, the Irish partner seems almost invariablity to have been absorbed into the Presbyterian element."James Woodburn, in his book, "The Ulster-Scot: His history and Religion", states that the Scots and Irish "commonly intermarried". "The Handbook to the Ulster Question" states how the English politicians were quite perturbed how the Scots were ready enough to intermarry with the Irish. Each of these authors have shown sufficient evidence in their claims.

There is a growing ethnic consciousness of "Ulster Scot" or "Scotch-Irish" ancestry in Australia, the Falklands Islands, New Zealand and South Africa, where both Scottish and Irish settlement took place in the expansion of British rule in these areas. Despite their descendants, if they knew their Ulster-Scot ancestry, were somewhat incorrectly identified simply as "Irish", "Scottish" or "British" for a long period of time, although it should be noted that in America the Ulster emigrants usually called themselves "Irish" or "Scotch-Irish".

See also

* Anglo-Irish
* British American
* Enclosure
* Highland Clearances
* History of Northern Ireland
* History of Scotland
* Immigration to the United States
* Irish Republican Army
* Orange Order
* Plantation of Ulster
* Presbyterian Church in Ireland

* Republic of Ireland
* Scotch-Irish American
* Society of United Irishmen
* Ulster
* Ulster Covenant
* Ulster loyalism
* Ulster Scots language
* Unionism (Ireland)
* William III of England


ref|1 "Hidden Ulster, Protestants and the Irish language" by Padraigh O'Snodaigh, Lagan Press, Belfast (1995)ref|2 "The Scotch-Irish, A social history" by James G. Leyburn, University of North Carolina Press, (1962)

External links

* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/northernireland/learning/voices/ulsterscots/ BBC Ulster-Scots Voices]
* [http://www.libraryireland.com/Scot-Ulster/Contents.php/ The Scot in Ulster: Sketch of the History of the Scottish Population in Ulster (by John Harrison, 1888)]
* [http://www.immigrantservants.com/ Immigrant Servants Database]
* [http://www.electricscotland.com/history/ulster_scots/ ElectricScotland.com Ulster-Scots]
* [http://www.ulster-scots.co.uk/ Ulster-Scots Online]
* [http://www.arts.ulster.ac.uk/ulsterscots/ The Institute of Ulster-Scots Studies]
* [http://www.ulsterscotssociety.com/ The Ulster-Scots Society of America]
* [http://www.ulsterscotsagency.com Ulster-Scots Agency]
* [http://www.psa.ac.uk/cps/1996/payt.pdf Inconvenient Peripheries Ethnic Identity and the United Kingdom Estate] The cases of “Protestant Ulster” and Cornwall’ by prof Philip Payton
* [http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/61/297.html Hidden Ulster, Protestants and the Irish language.]
* [http://www.lynx2ulster.com/index.php Ulster History timeline, Siege of Londonderry Database, Scotch Irish Migration and surname lists]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Ulster Scots — Infobox Language name=Ulster Scots nativename=Scots, Scotch or Ullans states=Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland speakers=30,000 in Northern Ireland, [ [http://www.ark.ac.uk/nilt/1999/Community Relations/USPKULST.html Northern Ireland Life and… …   Wikipedia

  • Ulster-Scots Agency — The Ulster Scots Agency (in its own Ulster Scots, Tha Boord o Ulstèr Scotch ) is a cross border body set up in Ireland to promote the Ulster dialect of Scots and its attendant culture. Overview Along with Foras na Gaeilge, the agency set up to… …   Wikipedia

  • Ulster — Infobox Irish Place name = Ulster gaeilge = Ulaidh flag map area = 24,481 km² population = 1,993,918 census yr = 2006 estimate|Ulster ( ga. Ulaidh, IPA2|ˈkwɪɟɪ ˈʌlˠu / ˈʌlˠi is one of the four provinces of Ireland, in addition to Connacht,… …   Wikipedia

  • Scots d'Ulster (peuple) — Cet article concerne les Scots d Ulster en tant que peuple. Pour la langue, voir Scots d Ulster. Les Scots d Ulster (en anglais Ulster Scots) sont un groupe ethnique d Irlande qui descend principalement des Écossais des Lowlands qui s… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • People of Northern Ireland — Northern Irish people Total population 1,670,988 91% of the population are Northern Irish born Regions with significant populations Throughout Northern Ireland Religion Protestant, Roman Catholic, etc. Related ethnic groups Irish People …   Wikipedia

  • Scots language — Not to be confused with Scottish English or Scottish Gaelic. Scots (Braid) Scots, Lallans Spoken in United Kingdom (Scotland and Northern Ireland), Republic of Ireland Region …   Wikipedia

  • Ulster Irish — Note: This page uses the IPA to transcribe Irish. Readers familiar with other conventions may wish to see International Phonetic Alphabet for Irish for a comparison of the IPA system with those used in learners materials. The three dialects of… …   Wikipedia

  • Ulster Unionist Party — UUP redirects here. For the chemical element, see Ununpentium. Ulster Unionist Party Leader Tom Elliott MLA Chairman …   Wikipedia

  • Ulster nationalism — For Irish nationalism in Northern Ireland, see Irish nationalism#Northern Ireland. The unofficial flag of the Ulster Nation proposed by Ulster nationalists. Ulster nationalism is the name given[1][2 …   Wikipedia

  • Scots-Quebecer — Infobox Ethnic group group = Quebecers of Scottish descent caption = Notable Scots Quebecers: John Redpath James McGill poptime = Scots Quebecers [ [http://www12.statcan.ca/english/census06/data/highlights/ethnic/pages/Page.cfm?Lang=E Geo=PR Code …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.