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In the age of the Internet, genealogy and our search for a connection to the past have taken on the speed of present day life. Searching for the Scotch-Irish emigrants from Ireland to America in 1718 can, however, bring the researcher to a grinding halt. We should remember that if we combine Internet searching with old-fashioned hard work, we can have amazing results. To many of the hundreds of thousands of living descendants still living in America, the 1718 emigrants are akin to a 'Lost Tribe'. We know they came in 1718, we know where they settled, we know they prospered, and we THINK we have no way of proving our connection to these long-ago people. Happily, that is no longer entirely true. Finding the 1718 emigrants is possible, and being able to prove a connection to these pioneers is becoming more likely.

To research the 1718 emigrant, we should understand the unique characteristics of the Scotch-Irish in early America. Our focus is pre-Revolutionary War, and because of this the value of being 'English citizens', as they were then termed, was immense. These rights of shared citizenship cause the scarcity of emigration documents derived from passenger lists. The local governments and 'state' governments of New England, New York, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina habitually documented boats with emigrants from the German Palatine and other European countries. The origins of the Scotch-Irish granted them the right to be accepted as fellow citizens. However, local newspapers many times named names and described ships that came to ports with emigrants. The local court system also plays a large role in documenting the 1718 emigrants.

The custom of the day was for each family to support itself, if at all possible, so as not to draw on the welfare of the local town. The proof of the financial status of a man or family was the word of a local citizen. When a man without friends or family settled in a town, he had no proof of his financial status. Therefore, the family was 'warned out' by the local town leaders. Those 'warnings' while seemingly, to present day eyes, a rude welcoming have proven to be one of the best primary documents in which to find the 1718 emigrants. The 'Boston Record Commission' volumes recording the activities of the selectman (elected officials) of Boston are largely responsible for our proving the names of the ships from 1718, and many of the passengers. 'Robert Holmes & wife, William Holmes and child who came from Casco into this Town [about] 12 days before was on the 15th of April [current] warned to depart' Boston Selectman records from meeting on April 27, 1719 in Charles K. Bolton, Scotch-Irish Pioneers, Boston 1910.

Two of the original proprieters of Londonderry, New Hampshire recorded in the Londonderry town records on June 21, 1722 can be found in the Boston warnings. Robert Doke or Doak and Abraham Holmes, from Ireland in the ship 'Elizabeth' were warned out November 3, 1719. Boston Record Commission, vol.13, p.63 as noted in Ethel S. Bolton, Immigrants to New England 1700-1775 Salem 1931 pp. 50, 90.

Abraham and Robert both have modern day descendants researching their large extended families. The Doak family website at: http://www.doak.ws is an excellent example of the possibilities of current Scotch-Irish research into the 1718 emigrants. Combining documented facts with lists of possible connections, writing the story and timeline of an emigrant, and placing it on the World-Wide Web is one of the best ways to preserve our ancestors’ rôles in history.

 

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