The movement to and from Ireland and subsequent emigration to the Colonies, including North America, West Indies, Australia and New Zealand.

A small but important point to remember is that until the Revolutionary War and the creation of the United States of America in 1776, the whole of north America - the US and Canada, was one  English colony. Elsewhere there were the colonies in the West Indies and later Australia and New Zealand. As such there were no passport requirements under British law to move from Scotland to Ireland and thence to the Colonies. This meant that there were no central records required to be kept of who went where and people passed unhindered across county and state lines. Reliance in this period has to be on whatever commercial shipping lists, manifests and passenger lists that were kept by the ship`s captain or the owners of the vessel. Some families kept in touch by the occasional letter, and these can be a most interesting source of information. Local papers and newsheets in the port of arrival often listed arriva of ships and the passengers. These may have survived in local archives and museums. I prefer to refer to these people as migrants in this period; they became emigrants and immigrants after the independence of the respective colonies .

        The rationale behind the movement of people to and from Scotland and Ireland and migration to the Colonies is complicated . From the earliest times there was a flow of people between the Western Isles and what we now know as Northern Ireland - at its narrowest point the sea crossing is a mere 21 miles. The employment of Scotsmen as `galloglass` (mercenaries) was common from about the 13 century onwards. Intermarriages of the leading families in Scotland and Ireland was common as long ago as 320 AD when Aileach daughter of Ubdaire, King of Alba married Eochaidh Doimhlein, brother of the King of Ireland. Much has been written about the accession of James VI to the English throne of England in 1603; the struggles of the Presbyterian Covenanters - with its own consequences of religious persecution (see my other web site ); the 1715 and 1745 Jacobite Rebellions, and the 19th century Highland Clearances. In Ireland there was a complex weave of religious and social discrimination set against the seizure and redistribution of native Irish owned land for political reasons that had begun in Tudor times. Importantly, (because it effected the English Parliament`s attitudes to Irish and Scots issues), it was an age in which there was turmoil in most of Europe. Within Ireland bigotry and distrust ran rife not only because of religious differences but also exploitation of power, absentee landlords and a government  had little regard for the `local` problems in Ireland. Not least was the ongoing differences with France and Spain that threatened war again and again.

        It should be remembered that until 1707 and the Act of Union, Scotland was a foreign country to England and throughout the 17th and 18th centuries England herself was in constant turmoil. The accession of James VI to the English throne in 1603 brought new problems for the Scottish people who had already suffered for generations through the power vacuum over succession to James IV following his death at Flodden Field in 1513. There had been a string of young kings and a queen with Regents running the country which interacted with the religious ferment of the Scottish Reformation; the rejection of Catholicism and French influence in Scotland; and the turbulent times of Mary Queen of Scots being forced into abdicating in favour of her infant son, James VI. 

          It was some years before James VI reached his majority and took hold the reins of power but when he did he set about dealing with the kingdom`s problems, especially lawlessness. The Band Act of 1602 addressed the growing lawlessness on the Scottish - English Border and required compliance from the lords and the control of the Border Reivers. The MacGregors were hounded with fire and sword and their name expunged as an example to the Highlanders. At the same time a survey was made of `surplus` men which led to their transportation. The Act was renewed in 1617 with further transportations. 

         The 17th century was possibly the busiest time in the history of England with the autocratic rule of Kings who believed absolutely in their Divine Right. Non Conformists of all kinds, Presbyterian, Puritans, Independents, Congregationalist as well as Roman Catholics were on the receiving end of discriminatory laws in the entire Kingdom  of Britain. The despotic leanings of Charles I, Charles II and James VII/II brought civil strife, wars between Scots and English and Irish, and Oliver Cromwell who brought peace and sanity to the Kingdom for a brief few years. In Scotland throughout  most of the century, until 1690, there was the ongoing struggle of the Presbyterians and the hard line dissenters or  Covenanters, large numbers of whom migrated to first Ulster then to the New World.

        There was later the agrarian revolution whereby crofting was beginning to be replaced by hill farming, particularly sheep, with consequential movement of peoples from the glens to the coastal and industrial towns. This helped create the slums of Glasgow; the industrial crucible of the Clyde valley; and the emigrant ships which departed from Fort William, Greenock and Glasgow heading from Scotland to the USA 

                       Next: Economic migration and Famine.

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