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Book Review – Scots-Irish Links by David Dobson

Updated: Aug 4, 2023

What’s it about

The term “Scots-Irish” refers to the descendants of the Scottish emigrants who migrated to the Irish Province of Ulster at the behest of the English crown. The Plantation of Ulster by Scots beginning in 1606 is a well-known established fact. While most of settlers were from the Scottish Lowlands, some, especially in the late sixteenth century, were Highlanders. It should also be noted that although Presbyterians were in the majority, there was a sizable minority who were Episcopalians & a few Roman Catholics. Also, although the main area of settlement was in Ulster, it is evident that a number settled further south, including in Dublin.

The 18th century also saw as many as 200,000 persons emigrate from Ireland to North America, notably of the Scots-Irish. Arriving originally in Pennsylvania, the Scots-Irish dispersed to Virginia—including Appalachia–the Carolinas & across the southern American colonies. Still others headed west to western Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana & the Midwest. Between the end of the American Revolution & the War of 1812, one source estimates that another 100,000 arrived in North America. Even more Scots-Irish arrived during the entire 19th-century. Today Americans of Scots-Irish descent number in the millions.

The purpose of this collection is to help persons of Scotch-Irish descent make the linkage first to Ulster & then back to Scotland. The work identifies over 15,000 Scots-Irish who resided in Ulster between the early 1600s & the early 1700s. Many of the persons so identified were young men from Ireland–many bearing Scottish surnames–attending universities in Scotland. Still other Scots-Irish links were apprentices, ministers, merchants, weavers, teachers, or persons in flight. In a number of cases Dr. Dobson is able to provide information on the man or woman’s spouse, children, local origins, landholding & of course, the source of the information. While there is no certainty that each of the persons identified in these volumes or their descendants ultimately emigrated to America, undoubtedly many did or possessed kinsmen who did.

In order to accumulate references into the Scots-Irish, author David Dobson undertook research in the National Records of Scotland, the National Library of Scotland, the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, the National Archives of the UK & the University of St Andrews. Specific sources included wills, testaments, deeds, sasines, port books, rent rolls, family papers, burgess rolls, apprenticeship records, estate papers, church records, monumental inscriptions, university registers, contemporary journals, newspapers, government records & various publications. Dr. Dobson’s references to those sources identify the manuscript or published work, volume & folio number, or the archive, as well as the documentary details.

Our Review

Originally published in 15 parts these have now been consolidated into two Volumes covering the following:-

Volume 1 – Scots-Irish Links – 1575 to 1725 (936 Pages)

Volume 2 – Scots-Irish Links – 1575-1725, Later Scots-Irish Links 1725-1825, Scots-Irish Links 1825-1900 & Addendum to Later Scots-Irish Links 1725-1825 (910 Pages)

To give you a feel for the kinds of entries you might expect I have provided a few examples:-

HUNTER, John, a Minister, fled from Ireland in 1689, settled in Kirkmichael, Wigtonshire [RPC.XvI.336]

CONYNGHAM, George who was at the Battle of Worcester, a lease in the parish of Rapho, County Donegal, 1654 [CS]

RANKIN, Nathaniel, of Grimport, Ireland, master of the Sara of Belfast, 1721 [NAS.AC9.757]

NISBITT, Hugh, in Tullydonell, Letters, 1701-1702 [TCD.750.810/825/941]

FALLON, Charles, from Ireland, graduated MD from Edinburgh University in 1798 [GME#28]

EVANS, Thomas in Gortmerron House, Dungannon, County Tyrone, will 15 April 1889 [NAS.SC.70/6]

As far as I know I don’t have any Ulster Scots in my own tree however my husband does.

His Wilsons were Ulster Scots who returned to Scotland prior to 1920. Looking through some of these volumes there are a quite a lot of familiar names in the County that they lived in. These have given me much to work on, hopefully on investigation it may shed more light on their original origins.

If you live in the US you can purchase these books via the website

Elsewhere you can purchase them via Amazon for Vol 1 visit or Volume 2 visit


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