Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Scots

   Scots constituted the second major non-English European immigrant population in colonial America, coming from Scotland itself and from northern Ireland (Ulster) where they had been part of an English effort to "protestantize" Ireland. Scots emigrated to many places in Europe long before they moved to America. Before 1700, Scots had settled in England, Ireland, Scandinavia, the Netherlands and even Poland where some 30,000 Scots lived by the 1620s.
   Scottish emigration to America was long-lived and massive. Scots began arriving in the colonies in small numbers in the early seventeenth century, and their numbers rose slowly after 1670, then exploded after 1730. Only about 4,000 Scots-Irish emigrated to America from Ulster between 1700 and 1730; but more than 60,000 arrived between 1730 and 1770. Immigrants from Scotland itself likely numbered only 1,500 between 1700 and 1730, but then rose to perhaps 35,000 between 1730 and 1775.
   Complex, interrelated causes brought the Scots to America. The Scots and Scots-Irish were overwhelmingly agricultural people, suffering at home from scarce farmland, intense poverty, and resilient fecundity. The climate in northern Scotland was cold, the soil poor, and the available acreage small and usually rented or leased, and not owned. The lowlands, in the South of Scotland, were more diverse and prosperous but poverty prevailed, nonetheless.
   The Scots in Northern Ireland fared little better. Parliament restricted exports from Ireland to prevent competition with English manufactured goods, principally woolens. The Anglican Church in Ireland won restrictions on Presbyterian political activity, thus ironically oppressing men and women sent to curb Irish Catholicism. Major famines in 1727 and 1740 also contributed to Scottish emigration which proved particularly strong at four points: 1717-1718, 1727-1728, 1740-1741, and 1771-1773. And, about 40% of the immigrants were women. By the Revolution, Scots could be found in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Georgia. 
   Prior to 1740, Scots emigrating to America came from a wide variety of Protestant religious backgrounds; but by the 1740s most Scots were uniquely and narrowly Presbyterian. The contrast with the Huguenots could not have been stronger. The Scots possessed a numerical superiority Huguenots could never have enjoyed, since 100,000 Scots arrived by the Revolution compared with only 2,000-2500 Huguenots. Scots could easily turn to other Scots for marriage and appear to have done so down to the Revolution. Those who married non-Scots married English settlers.
   Two Scots who emigrated to Boston in 1764 from Glasgow, the printers John Mein and John Fleeming, were to play significant roles in Dr Benjamin Church Jr's life. Mein and Fleeming became partners. Mein became a major thorn in the side of the Whigs through his newspaper, and John Fleeming would marry Dr Church's sister Alice. It was to John Fleeming that Church addressed the infamous cyphered letter.

1 comment:

  1. Yet another interesting aspect of Colonial make-up with a pertinent transitioning paragraph on how this plays into the life of Dr Church.