Tag Archives: Scots-Irish

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.


Carolina Cradle: Settlement of the Northwest Carolina Frontier 1747-1762 by Robert W. Ramsey: Book Review

If you’ve been following some of my fairly recent posts, you know that I’ve jumped into my husband’s Scots-Irish branch of the family tree.

I’ve made excellent progress on the Thompson family, even though when I began, I wasn’t terribly hopeful about uncovering documentation for people born in the 1700s who lived in Pennsylvania and then the frontiers of North Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky.

Because I still don’t know many details about the Scots-Irish and their lives in colonial America, I began searching out online resources and books.

Carolina Cradle: Settlement of the Northwest Carolina Frontier, 1747-1762 by the late Dr. Robert W. Ramsey is the perfect book – now considered a classic – of the moment for me.

That’s because Dave’s Thompsons and allied Scots-Irish families – plus some of his German, Irish, Welsh and Quaker family all settled in North Carolina in its early years.


Introduction by William D. Kizziah
List of Illustrations


I.  The Setting
II.  General Causes of the Southward Migration
III.  The First Settlements, 1747-1751
IV.  Growth of the Western Settlement, 1750-1751
V.  March 25, 1752
VI.  In the Forks of the Yadkin, 1752-1762
VII.  The Germans of Present Rowan County
VIII.  The Western Settlements, 1752-1762
IX.  The Trading Camp Settlement, 1750-1762
X. Growth of the Irish Settlement, 1752-1762
XI. Quakers and Baptists on the Northwest Frontier
XII. The Scotch-Irish Migration
XIII. The German Migration
XIV. Establishment of Salisbury
XV. The Economic Order
XVI. Life of the People
XVII. French and Indian War
XVIII. Conclusions


A – Prominent Officials of Rowan County, 1753-1762
B – Partial List of Quakers Appearing in the Records of Monthly Meetings, 1675-1747″
C – Partial List of Quakers Arriving in Philadelphia
D – From Index to Philadelphia Wills
E – Occupations of Settlers on the Northwest Carolina Frontier, 1747-1762
F – German Settlers on the Northwest Carolina Frontier, 1747-1762
G – Settlers on the Northwest Carolina Frontier Whose Names Indicate French Origin
H – Origins of Non-German Settlers on the Northwest Carolina Frontier
I – Elders and Tax Assessors in Pennsylvania and Maryland, 1713-1753


Carolina Cradle is a book that should be on the home library reference shelf of any genealogist who has early North Carolina roots in the area around what became Rowan County.

The Introduction by William D. Kizziah mentions the importance of linking the early North Carolinians to their homes in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and even Europe to understand their lives on the North Carolina frontier.

One of my first favorite finds in this book came on page 29, which is a detailed map of all the townships of Lancaster and Chester Counties, Pennsylvania in 1740.

Yes, this book is about North Carolina settlement, but many of the first settlers – including my husband’s Thompsons, Finneys and Lawrences – migrated from Chester County and headed south.

Carolina Cradle is a scholarly work, packed with footnotes and an extensive bibliography in 250 pages. This definitely isn’t a kind of “they rode their horses across the raging river and the wagons followed. ” Nope!

This book is packed full of names, dates, places, families – both immediate and extended – supported by SOURCES!

The Appendices are just as informative as the chapters themselves: the  Bibliography provides an enticing list of supplemental reading materials.

I can’t say enough positive things about the work of Dr. Robert W. Ramsey. Unfortunately, he went to be with the ancestors many years ago (1997) or I would write to thank him for this terrific book.

Carolina Cradle: Settlement of the Northwest Carolina Frontier, 1747-1762 by Robert W. Ramsey, University of North Carolina Press, 1964 can be purchased online for $35.00 (new) or $13 (used).

It’s worth every penny! I wish I had discovered this book long ago.