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The Philadelphia merchant, Jonathan Dickenson, recorded in 1717 that 'a small vessel from Leverpoole brought 135... passengers from the North of Ireland' and he added 'they say Considerable Number will follow next summer.1 In fact, the summer of 1718 saw nearly 700 Ulster Presbyterians arrive in Boston Harbour on five small ships from the North Ireland.'2

During the next two years approximately 2,600 Scots-Irish travelled to New England and over the next half-century an estimated 200,000 to 250,000 of their co-religionists followed them to a New World (at a time when the Presbyterian population of Ulster was probably only half a million).3

Thus, the small company of men, women, and children who landed in 1718 can be regarded as the Scots-Irish equivalent to the 'Pilgrims Fathers'4

The first wave of the ‘Great Migration’ went to New England though most of those who followed over the next two centuries went to the valleys of Virginia and Pennsylvania, the Carolinas, and the Piedmont of Georgia. This website tells the story of these early Scots-Irish pioneers: starting with their departure from Ulster through to their settlement in the American northeast. In particular, it tells the story of those colonists who left County Londonderry in Ireland to settle what eventually became the town of Londonderry, New Hampshire, in 1723.

The story of the 1718 migration is retold here not only in the light of recent scholarship (which has freshly illuminated the Scots-Irish contribution to the formation of the British Atlantic world, colonial America, and the creation of the United States), but with an eye to assisting family historians who want to know more about their Scots-Irish ancestors and the links between Ireland and America.


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1 Patrick Griffin, The People with No Name: Ireland’s Ulster Scots, America’s Scots Irish, and the creation of a British Atlantic World, 1689–1764 (Princeton, 2001), p. 91
2 Estimates vary, for example, see Samuel Swett Green, The Scotch-Irish in America (reprint, Southern California, 1970), p.8, and Charles K. Bolton, Scotch-Irish Pioneers in Ulster and America (reprint, Baltimore, 1967), p.18.
3 Donald M. MacRaild, Irish Migrants in Modern Britain, 1750–1922 (London, 1999), p. 101.
4 Bolton (1967), p. 132.