Scots-Irish Resources for Genealogical Research

It has occurred to me, since I’ve been writing in dribbles and drabbles about my Scots-Irish research, that I really need to combine all the helps I’ve found into one consolidated list, so here it is.

As you peruse this list of resources, keep in mind that the Scots-Irish began simply as Scottish men and women, who migrated, willingly or unwillingly, from the lowlands of Scotland and borderlands with England to what we today call Northern Ireland.

They then became known as Ulster Scots, whose new living situation was meant to buffer the Irish political influence in the northern counties.

For many, life in Ulster wasn’t any easier than life in Scotland and many decided to emigrate once more, to the British colonies.

With the passage of time, intermarriage with both English settlers in Northern Ireland and the Irish people, and then emigration from Europe, these peoples became known as the Scots-Irish in America.

Upon arrival in the British colonies, the Scots-Irish didn’t take long before they headed to the colonial frontiers.

Historical Perspective

Ulster Emigration to Colonial America, 1718-1785, R.J. Dickson,

Ulster Presbyterians and the Scots Irish Diaspora, 1750-1764, Benjamin Bankhurst, 2013

The People with No Name: Ireland’s Ulster Scots, America’s Scots-Irish, and the Creation of a British Atlantic World, 1689-1764, Patrick Griffin, 2001

Scotch Irish Pioneers in Ulster and America, Charles Knowles Bolton & Marie E. Daly, 1910. Digital copy can be read on Internet Archive.

The Scots Irish of Early Pennsylvania: A Varied People, Judith Ridner, 2018

The Scotch-Irish of Colonial Pennsylvania, Wayland Dunaway, 1997

Legacy: The Scots Irish in America, Alister McReynolds, 2009

Chasing the Frontier: Scots Irish in Early America, by Larry Hoefling, 2005

Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America, Jim Webb, 2005

Scots-Irish in Pennsylvania and Kentucky, Bill Kennedy, 1998

The Scot in America and the Ulster Scot, Whitelaw Reid, 1911. Digital versions available on Internet Archive and FamilySearch

Genealogical Research

Researching Scots-Irish Ancestors: The Essential Genealogical Guide to Early Modern Ulster, 1600-1800, Second Edition, William Roulston, 2010

Tracing Your Northern Irish Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians, Ian Maxwell, 2010

Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia: Extracted from the Original Court Records of Augusta County, 1745-1800, Lyman Chalkley, 1912. Three volumes, which can be found at HathiTrust and other online digital book repositories.

The Scots-Irish Americans: a Guide to Reference and Information Sources for Research, Michele L. McNeal, 1993. Master’s thesis and the text can be downloaded from ERIC.

County and Town Histories – Many of these have been digitized and can be viewed online. These histories begin with settlement and may contain detailed information about Scots-Irish ancestors.

Church Records – Most Scots-Irish were Presbyterians. Look for Presbyterian Church records in the county where your ancestors lived. Individual churches might also have published anniversary books celebrating their histories.

Lyman Draper Manuscripts – Not easy to access, but full of genealogical gold.


Legacy Family Tree Webinars hosts The Scots-Irish in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia presented by Peggy Lauritzen. It is by subscription, but a one month membreship is only $9.95 and provides a full month’s access to ALL the webinars in the library plus access to all the handouts. Peggy’s presentation is well worth the money and access to all the other webinars is a huge bonus.

Ulster-Scots Society of America

Ulster Historical Foundation

Mellon Centre for Migration Studies

Presbyterian Historical Society (USA)

Presbyterian Historical Society of Ireland

FamilySearch Wiki – Scots-Irish and Scots-Irish Category

Scots-Irish Genealogy: Getting Started with Lisa Louise Cooke

The Scots-Irish and How to Research Them on Ancestral Findings

Historical Society of Pennsylvania

These suggestions should provide an excellent foundation to understanding the history of the Scots-Irish and set you on your way to finding your ancestors.

One thought on “Scots-Irish Resources for Genealogical Research”

  1. Very helpful one-stop page of resources, including some I haven’t yet checked, so thank you! Hubby’s McClure ancestors came from Donegal but were originally from Isle of Skye, it seems. They paid for passage to sail as a family group to Phila in 1700s and walked south to VA, where they bought land. And kept buying land.

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