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18 September 2014
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Wars and Conflict - The Plantation of Ulster

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Unmistakable evidence of Scots can be found Early in the Plantation period...

Unmistakable evidence of Scots can be found Early in the Plantation period, as in legal documents left by those who came from Scotland. For example, among the papers of Robert McClelland, who left his native Kirkcudbright (modern-day Dumfriesshire) to serve as land agent for the Haberdashers’ Company of County Londonderry survive receipts, leases, promissory notes and land assignments in Scots now on deposit in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland. The beginning of a 1614 lease follows:

I Sir Robert McClellane of Bomby knight be thir presentis does faithfullie promeiss to my gud freynd David Cunynghame of Heurt his airis and assignayis to set to thame ane sufficient Laice of twell scoir aikeris of land that I haif of the Happerdaschers portion of Lon-dary and that for the space of one and fiftie yeirs lyand within the Countie of Culraine in ony pairt of the said Happerdaschers proportioun now perteyning to me exceptand and reservand the stone hous and mannis ...

in the 17th century Scots can be found only in fragments...

This short passage exemplifies numerous Scottish spellings and grammatical forms, including the demonstrative adjective thir ‘these’, noun plurals (presentis ‘presents’, airis ‘heirs’, aikeris ‘acres’), a verb marked with -s that has the subject I (I Sir Robert McClellane ... does), the article ane ‘one’, present-participle verb forms in -and rather than -ing (lyand ‘lying’, reservand ‘reserving’), and other variants such as twell ‘twelve’ and haif ‘have’.

Other documents, including letters, also survive from the period, but thereafter in the 17th century Scots can be found only in fragments in church records and other historical documents. Presbyterianism came to Ulster as Early as 1613, with formal organisation of the first presbytery in 1642 under the auspices of the Scottish army arriving to assist compatriots after the 1641 rebellion. Formal records apparently began shortly thereafter, as evidenced by the session minute book of the Templepatrick Presbyterian Church of south Antrim. An entry from 27 July 1647 read ‘To the wch agnes Dazell answered and called her ane Hell sow and said yt she cutted her keil and staw her peits’ (‘... that she had cut her cabbages and stolen her peats’).

English inevitably became the language of commerce...

Generally, however, Scots was displaced in all types of writing by English and even the traces of it all but disappeared by century's end. The Plantation had brought direct rule from London, and with it English inevitably became the language of commerce, government and writing in the province, relegating both Ulster-Scots and Irish to being spoken languages of the countryside and the home. Nor did the tens of thousands who arrived from Scotland in the 1690s leave any record of Scots. That the language neither died nor moved was shown in the middle of the next century. The anonymous author of a 1753 ‘Scotch Poem’ from east Donegal wrote ‘Ye're welcome hame, my Mar’gy/Frae the grim craving clergy;/How deeply did they charge ye,/Wi’ fair oppressive tythe?’, expressing sentiments well known to Presbyterians and other non-conforming Protestants.

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