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I recently read “Born Fighting” by James Webb.  If you have not read it, I highly recommend you do.  I have a much better notion now of the migration patterns of the Scots-Irish as they left Ireland and Scotland and traveled to the United States in the 18th century, and the historical background he gives is a convincing explanation for how the Riddle family became who we are.

Following is the first page and a half of Part Four, Chapter 2, Pioneers and Radicals.

  The Scots-Irish Presbyterians began trickling out of Ulster soon after the 1704 Test Acts came into force.  In the next two decades a rather small assortment of families, typically traveling in “parcels” of 600 to 800 people, ventured across the Atlantic to test America ’s promise as well as its receptivity to their religion and their cultural ways.  They traveled in tiny, crowded, disease-ridden two-masted ships that sailed from the ports of Londonderry, Belfast , Newry, Larne, and Portrush, taking on the average about two months to cross the treacherous Atlantic .  In this first experimental wave of emigration the Ulster emigrants scattered their arrivals among the major ports of Boston , New York , Philadelphia , Annapolis , and Charleston , South Carolina .

  But by the early 1720s, when the large-scale migrations from Northern Ireland began, the port of choice had become Philadelphia .  Over the next five decades the overwhelming majority of Scots-Irish settlers entered the American colonies through either Philadelphia or the nearby cities of Chester, Pennsylvania, and New Castle, Delaware, which were just south of Philadelphia along the Delaware River.  From these locations the Scots-Irish settlers first spread westward into the vicinity of Lancaster , Pennsylvania , and then later followed the mountain roads southward into Virginia, North and South Carolina , and points beyond.

  From the early 1720s to the beginning of the American Revolution in 1775, there were four great surges of Scots-Irish migration.  Each was brought about not only by events in Ireland, but also by a series of incidents and incentives in different American colonies that affected both the pace of their migration and the locations they chose for settlement.  The first large migration, from 1720 to about 1730, brought them heavily to Pennsylvania .  The second, concentrated in the years 1740 and 1741, drew them to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and brought with them many of those who had already settled in Pennsylvania .  The third, beginning in the mid-1750s, saw a heavy influx farther down the Appalachian and Allegheny Mountains into southwest Virginia and then into North and South Carolina .  This influx included many Scottish highlanders – although they generally arrived in Wilmington, North Carolina, rather than in Philadelphia and settled in the Piedmont rather than in the mountains – as well as Scottish and English borderers, these three groups having been uprooted by political events that followed the Battle of Culloden in 1746.  The final surge, in the years just before the beginning of the American Revolution in 1775, saw large numbers of new settlers from Northern Ireland move into the communities that had already been established, especially in southwest Virginia and the Carolinas.

  By the time this migration was complete, as many as half million Scots-Irish immigrants and their American-born descendants were living in a cohesive geographic area in the mountainous areas of modern-day Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina.  It has been estimated that as much as one-third of the entire Protestant population of Ireland left for America between the years 1731 and 1768 alone, and this ratio was much higher for the Scots-Irish since few Anglicans were leaving Ulster.

 

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