Open Alternative Views of Statue
 

 

The Argyllshire Jamesons emigrated to Ireland at the same time as, and possibly along with, a family of Cargills, who lived for a generation in Aghadowey, which lies between the Jameson holdings in Kilrea and Dunboe. David Cargill, ruling elder in Aghadowey, was father of at least seven daughters, whose marriages link many of the early settler families in New Hampshire. Marion Cargill, who married the rev. James McGregor of Aghadowey and Londonderry, New Hampshire, and Annis Cargill, d. 1782, aged 93, who married James McKeen of Ballymoney, co. Antrim, as his second wife, were two of the Cargill daughters. All of these families emigrated, and are central to the complex inter-relationships which characterized the Scotch-Irish in New Hampshire, as in Ulster. Several McKeen descendants married members of the Dinsmore family in New Hampshire; a daughter of James McKeen by his first wife, Jean or Janet Cochran was mother of Robert Dinsmore or Dinsmoor, a farmer and poet in New Hampshire.

The Dinsmores, about whom a lot is known, epitomize the story of Bann valley emigrants to the New World. Descendants in the United States preserve stories about their ancestors, whether or not all the details are correct. John Dinsmoor or Dinsmore is said to have been a younger son of the laird of Achenmead in Scotland; in his teens, he was angered when his father tried to force him to stand with his head uncovered, holding his elder brother's stirrup, and he ran off to the north of Ireland, to Ballywattick, near Ballymoney. He is said to have arrived there about 1667, and tradition states that he was there surrounded, not by strangers, but by people from his own country. Here again the Hearthmoney and Subsidy Rolls are a valuable source; there is a Dinsmore in the Parish of Ballymoney in 1666 and there is a family called Hopkins in the townland of Ballywattick. This is a name that occurs later in the Dinsmore history, when the Scotsman's granddaughter married a Hopkins in Ballymoney about 1723 or so. The Scottish Dinsmore died at the age of 99 in Ballywattick; his son John emigrated, and after adventures and hardships, including being captured by Penobscot native Americans, he settled in Londonderry, New Hampshire. It is said that he had known many settlers of the Londonderry region before they had all left Ireland. By the end of his long life, known as 'Daddy Dinsmore', he was the founder in America of a family widely scattered and successful.

His great grandson Robert Dinsmore (1757-1836), a grandson of James McKeen, was known as the 'Rustic Bard'; he was a farmer in Windham, New Hampshire. Though several generations had passed since his community had lived in either Scotland or Ulster, Robert Dinsmore's writings clearly show that the Scots language was still in use in New Hampshire. Like his younger contemporaries in Ulster, for example James Orr and Samuel Thomson, he delighted in the use of Scots and the writing of poetry. The famous American poet and critic John Greenleaf Whittier, who had known Dinsmore in his youth, highly commended the old farmer's poetry, as well as his character. Poetry in Scots, Whittier said, was 'the poetry of home, of nature and of the affections' , and he regretted that the poetry of the day in English in America was 'cold and imitative'. Dinsmore, on the other hand, wrote 'most of his pieces in the dialect of his ancestors, which was well understood by his neighbours and friends', and for which he had a great affection. Like the Ulster-Scots poets, he wrote verse letters to friends, and in one he wrote

Though Death our ancestors has cleekit
An' under clods them closely steekit,
We'll mark the place their chimneys reekit,
Their native tongue we yet wad speak it
Wi' accent glib.


His use of the familiar Scots Standard Habbie stanza form, as well as his knowledge of Scots, show that Scots and Ulster Scots were still a living linguistic and literary tradition among the descendants of the 1718 emigrants. If history had developed slightly differently, North America might now be a Scots speaking continent. Other aspects of Ulster Scots culture were preserved for some generations in New Hampshire; observers commented on the different habits of the New Hampshire Ulster Scots, who were linen weavers, ate potatoes and barley broth, drank buttermilk, and the occasional stronger drop. The settlers very early established the first fair ever held in America, at Derry, where it became a famous event for over a century.
Poster of Old Derry Fair Open Enlarged Version Fairs were part of the Scottish economy and social life, but were not familiar in English settled areas. Whittier wrote that it was established 'in imitation of those they had been familiar with in Ireland. Thither came annually all manner of horse-jockeys and pedlars, gentlemen and beggars, dancers and fiddlers...strong drink abounded....A wild, frolicking, drinking, fiddling, courting, horse-racing, riotous merrymaking--a sort of Protestant carnival, relaxing the grimness of Puritanism for leagues around it [in New England]'. It sounds exactly like James Orr's description in Ulster-Scots verse of Ballycarry Fair, or Samuel Thomson's of Templepatrick Fair, both of County Antrim,of which Whittier presumably would never have heard. Whittier also recorded the local saying, that the Derry Presbyterians 'would never give up a pint of doctrine or a pint of rum'.

Interestingly, in one of Dinsmore's poems about theology, a reverend David or Davie McGregor, (a son or grandson of the rev. James McGregor, who emigrated with part of his Aghadowey congregation), replies in Scots, and the poet praises the minister's orthodoxy.

When Unitarian champions dare thee
Goliath like, and think to scare thee
Dear Davie, fear not, they'll ne'er waur thee,
But draw thy sling
Weel loaded frae the Gospel quarry
An' gie't a fling.

It is significant that even a minister at this date was happy to discuss theology, admittedly in a light hearted mood, in Scots; the language was clearly still central to the lives of the descendants of the 1718 emigrants.

 

back to top