Research by Subject: Genealogy

   the Scotch Irish

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also known as the Scots Irish, the Ulster Scots etc.


several people have asked if I would put my notes up from the Scotch Irish talk - I will be doing that sometime this weekend!


DNA - Great Britain  - Celtic migrations - carried the R1b Haplogroup marker


Hadrian's Wall which was essentially the creation of Scotland.  The Romans named Scotland

1600 Map of Ireland

1600 Map of Ireland

1641 - CROMWELL - Map showing the effect of Cromwell on land ownership in Ireland.  More Irish were divested of their lands prompting new surveys of Down, Cork, Clare and others.  They were transplanted to the western counties. An article that explains it in more detail may be found here.



Maps & Gazetteers:

Gazetteer for Scotland is a geographic encyclopedia that gives details on towns, villages and glens. It also includes some family information and boundaries and maps from earlier times and an excellent (highly detailed) historical timeline.

Map of the Clans of Scotland

1700s Map of Scotland showing main ports for immigration

Maps of Scotland from the National Library of Scotland

Helpful Reference Resources:

Scottish (from the National Archives of Scotland)

Scottish Occupations List (from Scots Family)


Some outstanding general sites for Scottish research

GenUKI: Scotland - probably the most complete directory of resources on the web

Electric Scotland is a huge site that has information on everything Scottish will pull from their newly transcribed & digitized records.  Also make sure you check the International Genealogical Index (IGI) but  pay attention to the source of an IGI entry (down towards the bottom of the page it should tell if the entry is "extracted" meaning indexed from a record or "submitted" meaning someone simply sent it to them which may or may not be verified by an authentic record)

Scotland's People [the General Records Office of Scotland site]

Scottish Page - records from all over Scotland but particular attention to the Dumfries-Galloway area



Maps & Gazetteers

1600 Map of Ireland

1641 - CROMWELL - Map showing the effect of Cromwell on land ownership in Ireland.  More Irish were divested of their lands prompting new surveys of Down, Cork, Clare and others.  They were transplanted to the western counties. An article that explains it in more detail may be found here.

1740 the census of Protestant Householders was taken.  Originals were destroyed in the 1920s but copies remain for several counties at the National Library of Ireland

Ireland's History in Maps hosted by Rootsweb


Guides & Directories

Ancestry Ireland: Ulster Historical Foundation - the actual records have to be paid for but they have over 2 million records indexed in databases that are free access and many helpful guides

GENUKI: Ireland

Griffith's Valuations - 1846-1864  If your family was still in Ireland in 1846 Griffiths is a must

Irish Ancestors - includes a great surname distribution tool as well as a search wizard tool to advise where to look for your particular research problem.

Irish Roots has finding aids and message boards

The Plantation of Ireland Collection (includes history, maps, pictures & lectures) from the BBC

WWW. - includes help on the Irish in the United States


The Scotch Irish in America:

make use of Google Books



General Map of the Middle British Colonies 1776 
from the David Rumsey Collection and Map of the Western Parts of Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland and North Carolina

Map: Pennsylvania: the Great Valley

American Shores: Maps of the Middle Atlantic Region to 1850 

American Roads and Trails  by Beverly Whitaker, Kansas City, MO

Perry-Castaneda Library Map Collection  [University of Texas]

Historical Maps of Pennsylvania which includes
the Guide to Pennsylvania Classic County Atlases 

Historical Maps of Maryland  [from the University of Alabama]

Maps of Historic Delaware  [University of Delaware]
and don't miss their  Maps & Guide to the "Hundreds" of Delaware"   University of Delaware

Historical Maps of New Jersey    [Rutgers]

Pitfalls / Problems in early Scotch Irish Research

Boundary Changes

Water Mobility - The Scotch Irish were attracted to water for both practical and spiritual reasons.  The practical reasons were not just for farming but for moving around in a world that had few roads

they could really get around - this is not surprising when you look at a map of the Delaware River Basin  
or the Susquehanna River Basin 
when they couldn't navigate the waters they still walked/rode along the river banks

They went places that were unsettled - no records being maintained yet.  If you had to hike through forest for miles and miles to the nearest court to record your deed you might not do it either...

Religious movements that changed quickly - they came as Presbyterians but quickly are drawn to the other new religions in the New World and might suddenly turn Baptist or Quaker or Methodist etc. 

High rate of indentured servitude - by the American Revolution it has been estimated that 1 our of 3 living in the Maryland Colony had at one time been indentured.  If records survive they will be in court records.  Pay special attention to the family who had their contract and the age at which they are indentured.  If they had few relatives the master's cluster often became their cluster.

Links for Indentured Servants, Convict Servants & Redemptioners

don't miss the
Early Settlers of Maryland database  [Maryland State Archives]

Most colonial newspapers are not available online.  If your ancestor was a runaway servant he / she may be in their advertisements and that will include a physical description. Many of these have been abstracted in book form.

Failure to follow rules they didn't like

Lack of marriage records in Pennsylvania   

 “Born In” is often meaningless because the man born in western MD just
 before the American Revolution may go through his life saying he is born in PA, MD & VA because of his migration AND because of boundary changes

 Questionable research has been done in the past - a lot of books and family histories have been written for this area that are based on SOME source documents but have been mixed with histories out of people's memory or make claims that can't be substantiated.  If you don't know why you know something be particularly careful in this time and place and question it. 

If your family is in MD, PA or DE before 1750 you need to be checking out ALL of those colonies [and should be aware that they may be ducking into NJ and VA]  Look for them with all spelling variants and look for their allied families

Scotch Irish nearly always served in militias / wars.  Try to find out what their unit was doing.  They frequently did something like march to Kentucky and then came home and told the family and kinfolk and neighbors everyone ought to move there. 

Always try to find a county history that covers the area where they first settled.  Since they settled in areas that often changed county lines look for ANY history of ANY county that their land might have sat in.  They may not be named (pioneers who came and went often weren't) but look for:
information on early military happenings
information on earliest settlement - make note of any forts early special courts


for all its amazing history, free  Delaware records are scarce online. 

Delaware Tax Transcription Project   [Delaware Genealogical Society  [early originals look like this]

Delaware GenWeb   & Delaware GenWeb Archives


Archives of Maryland Online

Takes work but is a goldmine.  It can be easy to miss things and you need to really explore what they have but there are early court records here, early road crews, military, tax, land and many other kinds of records and they seem to be adding new things constantly so check back often

Maryland Land Records.Net  

You can apply for a password to be one of the testers and you will find scanned indexes to deeds and all deed books that still exist. 

Maryland Patent Index Online   is a card index to early patent information

Mid Maryland Roots
 don't miss their maps page if your ancestors were in early western or central MD

Military Records [Archives of Maryland Online]

Maryland Genweb    & Maryland GenWeb Archives



Pennsylvania Archives Series Online  [Free from Footnote]
 scanned images of the original multi-volume sets

Pennsylvania Land Records  [from the Pennsylvania State Archives]   includes scanned images of the warrant registers.  Look carefully - they have just added the actual surveys [get the survey volume and page from the warrant register and then follow the links to get to the actual survey]

Pennsylvania Digital Archives  [Pennsylvania State Archives]
 has PA militia list index 1775-1800

Patent maps may be purchased from the  PA State Archives.    and make sure that you check your GenWeb county page because some counties have these scanned online [example: Washington Co. PA GenWeb Page - but remember that patents meant the land was paid for and many early warrants were filed but they moved on again before the patent was issued.

Historic Pittsburg Digital Collection
 if your family was one of the many that migrate towards SW PA be sure and have a look at this

Pennsylvania GenWeb Archives  - the early counties have a wealth of abstracts of wills, deeds, marriages, cemetery records etc.  The Pennsylvania GenWeb  county pages usually have wonderful maps and history

LANCASTER COUNTY PA Deed Records  The index is here with the link to the Lancaster Co. Court Website which has scanned ALL the deed books.   Remember that Lancaster at one time covered the Pennsylvania frontier.


1790/1800 Virginia Tax Lists - early VA census was destroyed.  This wonderful site helps fill in some of the blanks

Early Virginia Religious Petitions Until the American Revolution the Church of England was the state religion in Virginia. All "nonconformists" (Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians etc.) frequently had complaints and issues and believed they were being unfairly treated. They signed petitions.

Virginia Memory Digital Collections (Library of Virginia Digital Archives) has many great databases but if you have Virginia people make CERTAIN you search the

Virginia Land Office Grants Database

Virginia GenWeb & Virginia GenWeb Archives

Virginia Databases at Rootsweb
Vital Records

Virginia county death registers 1853-1896
From FamilySearch Record Search:

Virginia Deaths and Burials, 1853-1912

Virginia Marriages, 1785-1940

North Carolina:

Documenting the American South (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) has a wonderful digital collection of southern history

Eastern North Carolina Digital History has books, maps & more

New River Valley Historical Notes   (Upper NC & SW VA)

North Carolina Collection Biographical Index

North Carolina GenWeb & North Carolina GenWeb Archives

North Carolina Databases at Rootsweb

Historical Maps of North Carolina
from the Hargrett Library, University of Georgia

Vital Records

FamilySearch Record Search:

North Carolina Births & Christenings, 1866-1964

North Carolina Deaths and Burials, 1898-1994

North Carolina Marriages, 1759-1979

North Carolina Deaths, 1906-1930



South Carolina Dept. of Archives & History databases include a growing collection of wills, plats for state land grants and confederate pension records

South Carolina GenWeb & South Carolina GenWeb Archives

South Carolina Databases at Rootsweb

Historical Maps of South Carolina from the Hargrett Library, University of Georgia

Vital Records

South Carolina Deaths 1915-1943 (from FamilySearch Pilot)

South Carolina Marriage Records

South Carolina Death Index 1915-1956 is available

There is excellent help from FamilySearch Research Wiki  for all of these places - scroll down to the map on the U.S. page and chose your state








                                                 Anne Livingston   @WVC Library