However, after a brief 'honeymoon period', the Scots-Irish quickly found that their newfound friends were increasingly less welcoming. This change was the consequence, in part, of the strain the new colonists placed upon local resources. As Lechmere complained: ‘these confounded Irish will eat us all up, provisions being most extravagantly dear, and scarce of all sorts.’35 Moreover, some of the newly arrived migrants soon proved unable to support themselves. By the following year, Governor Shute had been forced to seek financial assistance from the Massachusetts Assembly owing to the costs falling on the New England authorities due to the arrival of ‘poor people from abroad, especially those that come from Ireland’.36 But difficulties stemmed also from institutional and theological differences within the newly enlarged Calvinist community of New England. Mather soon felt that the Scots-Irish were ‘a marvellous grief unto us … [and] that among our United Brethren who have lately come from Ireland unto us … there have been some who have most indecently and ingratefully given much disturbance to the peace of our churches.’ Anti-Irish sentiment was also a problem which confronted the new arrivals: hostile New Englanders regarded them as ‘papists’.37 Yet a further complaint against the newcomers was that they did not immediately show the pioneer qualities expected of them.
Some of the settlers from the Foyle Valley who arrived in Boston settled in the townships surrounding Boston, while others went straight to the frontier and settled in Worcester, Massachusetts. Among them were Abraham Blair and William Caldwell, who were both veterans of the siege of Londonderry. In contrast, many of those from the Bann Valley who arrived on the Robert, the William, and Maccallum in August and September 1718 were initially persuaded to settle in Maine. Some of Woodside’s party were attracted by the cheap land being offered by the Pejepscot Proprietors (a company of Boston and New Hampshire merchants) and settled near the mouth of the Androscoggin. The remaining Bann migrants were offered a township at Casco Bay and some sailed on the Robert to examine the site.
While McGregor spent the winter of 1718-19 ministering to the people of Dracut (others choosing to winter in Andover and other townships near Boston), his brother-in-law James McKeen and about three hundred Scots-Irish colonists went north and spent the winter in Casco Bay. After a cold and hungry winter, McKeen, his family, and about 20 others sailed south to the Merrimack river, and from there up to the town of Haverhill. The inhabitants of Haverhill did not welcome the new settlers, and so they travelled overland to an unsettled site called ‘Nutfield’ (named after the great quantity of chestnuts, walnuts, and butternuts found there). In April 1719 McGregor joined the new settlement and agreed to become their minister and thus the leader of the first and almost exclusively Ulster-Presbyterian settlement in America. According to tradition, he always carried a loaded gun, for fear of an American Indian attack, though it was claimed that his friendship with the governor of Canada, Philippe, Marquis de Vaudreuil, meant that the community received some protection from American Indian attacks. His successor as pastor of Londonderry, New Hampshire, was Rev. Matthew Clark. Clark was also a veteran of the siege of Derry, and when he died in 1735 he instructed that only veterans of the Williamite war should act as pallbearers.
Among those who helped found the new settlement at Nutfield were:
Shute and the legislators of Massachusetts were unhappy that the Scots-Irish had abandoned Casco Bay and when the Nutfield settlers petitioned Boston to formally recognise their new settlement, they were refused. Given that Nutfield was territorially claimed by both Massachusetts and New Hampshire, the Nutfield inhabitants then petitioned the General Court of New Hampshire in October 1719 for recognition of their claim. Although Lieutenant Governor John Wentworth acceded to Nutfield’s request, the community were the subject of ongoing attacks by rival claimants to the land. In defending themselves from accusations of being ‘poor Irish’ and Roman Catholics, McGregor resorted in 1720 to petitioning Shute in the following terms: ‘We were surprised to hear our Selves termed Irish People when we so frequently ventured our all for the British Crown and Liberties against the Irish papists’.39 Shute subsequently allowed the Nutfield community to select their own officials and in June 1722 the settlement was incorporated as a town. The following year Nutfield was renamed Londonderry (perhaps in a further attempt to underline their loyalty).
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35 Bolton (1967), p. 312.
36 Journal of the House of Representatives of Mass, 4 Nov. 1719, ii, pp. 174-5; also 2 Dec. 1718, 104 and 4 Nov. 1719, pp. 172–3, qu. in McCourt (1999), p. 23.
37 Miller (2003), p. 437.
38 Ford (1915), p. 237.
39 Rev. James McGregor’s petition dated 27 Feb. 1720 to Governor Samuel Shute of Massachusetts (Jeremy Belknap Papers, volume 6I.A.81, Massachusetts Historical Society), qu. in Miller (2003), p. 438.