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Immigration and Emigration
Irish countryside
© Courtesy of Mr. M Johnston
Irish Stew

Bring to the boil

Post plantation Ulster was a melting pot of religions, nationalities and social orders. This article will focus on the Scottish settlers, but in this multi cultural mix, new arrivals came from England, in numbers equal to the Scottish, and from Wales, Germany, Holland and France.

"The Scots are a middle temper, between the English tender breeding and the Irish rude breeding and are a great deal more likely to adventure to plant Ulster than the English"

King James I
King James realised that the English settlers,who came mainly from the English counties closest to Ulster, such as Lancashire, would have a background of quiet parishes and order in their villages.

rugged higlands of Scotland
Rugged Highlands of Scotland
© scran.ac
Whereas, the Scots were made up of: hard-working Lowlanders, rugged Highlanders, fiercely proud Presbyterian ministers and border vigilantes. In particular the border riders, or reivers, with clans names like Armstrong, Johnston and Bell, had fierce reputations.

They ran riot in the lands around the English and Scottish borders, where neither of the countries had the will to guard the area effectively, cattle and horse rustling, kidnapping and extortion was their way of life.

If caught, a reiver could choose deportation to Ulster as an alternative to hanging. This merely moved the problem to another country and provided a lucrative smuggling opportunity for the reiver in Ireland, where the long and craggy coves around the coast of Ulster provided perfect cover, for ships carrying ill-gotten gains to come ashore.

Generally the new Scottish planters didn't intermarry with the Irish Catholics, but there were some Irish converts to Scottish Presbyterianism. Sometimes all it took to become "Scottish" was to drop the 'O' from one's surname, and replace it with 'Mac'.

This was against a backdrop of the powerful Church of England in Ireland, where the English administration persecuted the Scottish Presbyterians, sometimes regarding them as more troublesome than the Irish Catholics.

Limits were set on when and where Presbyterian ministers could preach, and marriages conducted by them were not legally binding. Therefore, instead of converting the whole province to Protestantism, as was King James's plan, religion was divided three ways and sectarian bitterness was born.


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Details of the religious Penal Laws.
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