‘Among the Scotch-Irish’

Some excerpts from a book by Leonard Allison Morrison, Among the Scotch-Irish, or Ulster folk, addressing the question of whether they are in fact ‘Irish’ in the sense that the indigenous, mostly Catholic people of Ireland are Irish (and Celtic):

“The Scotch are called clannish, and were clannish; and the Scotch who settled in Ireland, and their descendants, were clannish. They stuck together, and kept aloof from the native Celtic-Irish. They were sundered by the sharp dividing lines of religious faith and by keen differences of race.

Macaulay says [in Macaulay’s History of England]: “They sprang from different stocks. They spoke different languages. They had different national characters, as strongly opposed as any two national characters in Europe. They were widely different stages of civilisation. Between two such populations there could be little sympathy, and centuries of calamities and wrongs had generated a strong antipathy. The relation in which the minority stood to the majority resembled the relation in which the followers of William the Conqueror stood to the Saxon churls, or the relation in which the followers of Cortez stood to the Indians of Mexico. The appellation of Irish was then given exclusively to the Celts, and to those families which, though not of Celtic origin, had in the course of ages degenerated into Celtic manners. These people, probably about a million in number, had, with few exceptions, adhered to the Church of Rome. Among them resided about two hundred thousand colonists, proud of their Saxon blood and of their Protestant faith.”

And again, in speaking of the early Scotch and English settlers, he says: “One half of the settlers belonged to the Established Church and the other half were Dissenters. But in Ireland Scot and Southron were strongly bound together by their common Protestantism. All the colonists had a common language and a common pecuniary intereset. They were surrounded by common enemies, and could be safe only by means of common precautions and exertions.”

In Speaking of the differences between the races, he says: “Much, however, must still have been left to the healing influence of time. The native race would still have had to learn from the colonists industry and forethought, the arts of civilised life, and the language of England. There could not be equality between men who lived in houses and men who lived in sties; between men who were fed on bread and men who were fed on potatoes; between men who spoke the noble tongue of great philosophers and poets, and men who, with perverted pride, boasted that they could not writhe their mouths into chattering such a jargon as than in which the ‘Advancement of Learning’ and the ‘Paradise Lost’ were written.”

And again, speaking of Scotland, from which the Scotch of Ireland came, he says: “The population of Scotland, with the exception of the Celtic tribes, which were thinly scattered over the Hebrides and over the mountainous shires, was of the same blood with the population of England, and spoke a tongue which did not differ from the purest English more than the dialects of Somersetshire and Lancastershire differ from each other.”

Such being the relative condition of the two classes as eloquently described by the great English historian, it is the height of absurdity to claim that the blood of the distinct races was commingled except in isolated cases. They did not commingle. The Scotch, planted upon Irish soil, were Scotch still, and the Irish were Irish still.”

Note: in the third paragraph of the excerpt above, the term ‘Southron‘ refers to the border English or Anglo-Saxons who were part of the ‘Ulster plantation’, the Protestant settlers planted in Ireland under English rule. It is not referring to the people of the American South there, in case there is any confusion. The term ‘Southron’ was used in Scotland before its use in the South.

And in the next-to-last paragraph, the writer asserts that the Scots population was of the same blood, essentially, as the population of England. This is the opposite of popular belief today, and it is borne out by some recent studies. (Which, no doubt, will be denied by those with an agenda.)

Morrison’s words conflict with the popular belief in America today, especially amongst Southern partisans, that the ‘Scots-Irish’ are more (Celtic) Irish than they are Scots or that the two groups share common ancestry or a common culture, both groups having lived in Ireland for centuries. The strange thesis that the American South is ‘Celtic’ by virtue of the Ulster plantation descendants who came to the Southern states having lived on Irish soil since the 17th century is a new idea, not based in fact as far as I can tell. I put far more stock in the words of the older history books than in the work of recent historical writers with a political agenda.

I will likely post more from this same source or other old sources because this subject is one that recurs and there is so much incorrect information and many false preconceptions.



One thought on “‘Among the Scotch-Irish’

  1. “And again, speaking of Scotland, from which the Scotch of Ireland came, he says: “The population of Scotland, with the exception of the Celtic tribes, which were thinly scattered over the Hebrides and over the mountainous shires, was of the same blood with the population of England”

    This is incorrect. Only the extreme South-East of Scotland (the Lothians) were of ethnic English stock – indeed this region was known in the Middle Ages as ‘the Land of the English in the Kingdom of the Scots’ – while the rest of the country was originally of the same Celtic stock.

    There was indeed a ‘Highland-Lowland’ divide in Scotland but this was not a result of any stark divide between races but came about due to the displacement of the original Scottish (Gaelic) language and culture by the expanding English language and culture over the course of the 11th-17th centuries in the Lowlands of the country. This resulted in the country being split into 2 zones – the Highland zone were people maintained the original language and culture of the Scots and the Lowland which had largely adopted the foreign English language and customs. But both were descended from originally Gaelic populations which absorbed Germanic influxes over the centuries (Norse in the Hebrides/Western Highlands, Flemish in Lowland burroughs as well as the historically English in the South-East).

    Originally the word ‘Scot’ meant ‘Gaelic speaker’. It was not until after the Wars of Independence were won against the English that the English of Scotland belatedly started to identify as, and refer to themselves and their dialect of English, as ‘Scots’. This is the reason that many English speaking Scots remain overtly hostile to historical fact of Gaelic being the Scottish language and Scotland being founded by, and named for, Gaelic speakers. While both Ireland and Scotland had long standing Anglo/Germanic populations established around the 10th century, in Ireland they were largely absorbed by the natives and a second later influx was required while those in Scotland gradually established their language and customs as preeminent and spread at the expense of native language and customs. This resulted in the current situation where there is no dispute over the status of Irish as the Irish language while in Scotland the Scottish language is frequently denied this status while the local English dialect is referred to it’s speakers as Scots (originally they referred to their own dialect as ‘Inglis’) and they erroneously claim it to be the Scottish language.

    While the Scots settlers in Ulster were disproportionately from the Scottish Borders – and would consequently have had greater English ancestry than most Scots – they were still of Celtic origin despite the fact that most (though not all) of them had come to speak an English dialect rather than one of the Gaelic dialects of their ancestors and Scotland’s founding people.


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