Saturday, August 29, 2009

Not As Scottish As I Thought...

I think it is pretty common for genealogists, when they first start researching their tree, to find that at least one family legend or given turns out to be false or different than originally thought.  I've had this happen to me a number of times, most recently the other day while researching the supposedly Scottish family of my great-great-grandparents, Marion Wood Allen and John Grant Allen.  I'd always read and was led to believe that Marion's paternal family was Scottish and came to Canada at some point in the 19th Century then to Michigan in the late 1880s.  Likewise, John Grant's paternal family was also supposed to be Scottish, came to Pennsylvania in the mid-1800s and then Ohio in the 1860s. 
After doing some digging into Marion's father, Charles, and his family it is starting to look like they weren't so much Scottish as Ulster-Scots (aka Scotch-Irish).  What I've found in the last month on Charles' family is that they were from County Cavan and County Armagh, Ireland.  So far I haven't found any connection to Scotland among the Woods or Montgomerys (Marion's paternal grandparents).  John Grant's father, Joseph, also seems to be more Irish than I thought.  On several death certificates and census records for his children, Joseph is said to have been from Scotland but Joseph himself consistently says he was from Ireland on census records.  The fact that his wife, Elizabeth Clemens/Clements was from Ireland, also leads me to believe Joseph was though I still wonder why his children kept listing him as being from Scotland...
Now I'm pretty firm in the belief that they were all Ulster-Scots.  What I want to know is why the Irish connection for all these families wasn't passed on but the tenuous Scottish connection was.  Was this common for Scotch-Irish families, to play up their ancestral heritage while ignoring where they were actually born and their family lived for some generations? I always was told the family was Scottish because that was what my father was told and never had reason to doubt it.  Now it seems as though, while my mother's family was settling the new world, my father's were settling Ireland...


  1. Same here. I'd say a huge share of my lines are Ulster Scots. The main "real" Scots are clumped in with the English lines (Quakers, as opposed to the Baptists and Presbyterians of the Ulster Scots families).

  2. Hi Leah,
    I think I can help in this but will try to keep it short. If you do some research on the Ulster-Scots in any of the online sites about Irish History, you will have some more insight into this, too. The Ulster-Scots of Ireland were in fact Scottish people who had been recruited by the English, in their efforts to subdue and control Ireland, to resettle in Ireland through offers of land, etc. They had no real wish to become "Irish," often did not even associate with the true Irish people, and viewed their tenancy as temporary, so often continued to refer to themselves as Scottish. Hope this helps!

  3. Thank you, September! That does help quite a bit. I haven't done a lot of research on my Ulster Scots but you've certainly helped give me an idea of the mindset they must have had. Thanks again.


Thank you for commenting!