Olivia's Genealogy Site: MIGRATION FROM SCOTLAND
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COLONIAL NORTH CAROLINA----A HISTORY
Hugh T. Lefler
William S. Powell
pp. 90, 92-93
Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1973
MIGRATION FROM SCOTLAND
Migration from Scotland to American began in the 1730s and soon centered in the Cape Fear section of North Carolina. For a long time severe economic depression had plagued the Highlands, where changes in the agriculture system resulted in increased rent and even eviction for countless numbers who lived off the land. Another factor that brought considerable pressure to bear on the Highlands was the growth of the population. This resulted in large measure from the reduction of deaths, which was made possible by the use of smallpox inoculation and by the curbing of starvation through the introduction of potatoes and kale. Changes in the clan system and its resulting paternalism combined with the other problems to force people to seek a new life elsewhere.
James Innes of Gaithness, in the far north of Scotland, received a grant in January 1732 for 320 acres located about eighty miles up the Cape Fear River in what was soon to become Bladen County. A little over a year later he received an additional 640 acres. In April and May 1733 Hugh Campbell and William Forbes secured grants of 640 acres each. These three men were the vanguard of hundreds of Highland Scots who were to fill up the Cape Fear Valley during the next forty years. Innes soon secured two more grants of the same size as his first, and Campbell received one more. Crown regulations authorized 50 acres for each person taken into the colony, so the amount of land these men held suggests that they were responsible for the transportation of seventy people.
The arrival of Governor Johnston in 1734 marked the beginning of the development of large communities of Highlanders in southeastern North Carolina. Between 1734 and 1737 numerous land grants were issued; the smallest was for 299 acres while the largest was for 640 acres. Some people settled as far as a hundred miles above Wilmington, a new town established about 1733 as a rival to Brunswick. Others were as close as sixty miles. Governor Johnston encouraged the immigration, and in 1740 a single group of 350 Highland Scots arrived. The governor supported a legislative proposal that such people be exempt from public taxes for ten years as a means of encouraging still more settlers to come. New Hanover County had been formed in 1729 before any Highland Scots are known to have arrived; but as these people filled up the backcountry, Bladen County was created in 1734, followed by Anson in 1750 and Cumberland in 1754 (It is ironic that the name of Cumberland should have been selected, as it honored William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, who unmercifully slaughtered Highlanders after they had already been defeated at the Battle of Culloden in 1746.). About 1760 a town was established up the Cape Fear at the head of navigation as a center of trade for the Scots. It was named for a natural feature that attracted much attention: Cross Creek where the water of two streams appeared to mingle and cross. In 1762 the town of Campbellton was established quite nearby, and in 1778 the two combined. In 1783 the name was changed to Fayetteville. Letters written from North Carolina to friends and relatives in the Highlands spurred an almost continuous flow of the newcomers until the movement was stopped by the Revolutionary War.
In the Highlands most of the Scots had been extremely poor, living in sod or stone houses without windows and with dirt floors. A hole in the roof let out smoke from a fire in the middle of the room—often the only room. Livestock sometimes shared this meager shelter. Once they reached North Carolina, however, the living conditions of the Scots improved rapidly. A plentiful supply of wood made it easy for them to build rather substantial houses and to have more furniture than they could ever have dreamed of enjoying in Scotland. Each house had a chimney, and windows were not uncommon. Customary dirt floors were acceptable at first, but the comfort of wooden floors was soon discovered. Vast tracts of longleaf pine invited the production of naval stores for which Parliament offered a bounty. Forest resources also led the people of the Cape Fear region to produce lumber, barrels, and other wood products. Corn and other grains including some rice were also produced, and together with livestock these added further to the income of the people.
Most of these people continued to speak their native Gaelic for a long time. Their ministers—most of the Scots were Presbyterian—preached in Gaelic, and a printing press established in Fayetteville before the end of the eighteenth century produced tracts and pamphlets in their native tongue. A tourist in 1828 commented that so many of the people of Fayetteville and “for four and twenty miles round” understood only Gaelic, “that they are obliged to have a clerk in the Post Office who can speak Gaelic.” An innkeeper who spoke English also spoke Gaelic “tolerable and understands it perfectly, having been in the habit of hearing it all his life.”
Kilts and other forms of typical Scottish dress were denied the Highlanders at home as a part of the punishment meted out to them by victorious English after the Battle of Culloden. In North Carolina, however, Scottish plaid may have been seen for a time along the Cape Fear. James Murray, a merchant in Newton (as Wilmington was first known), wrote to James Rutherford on September 4, 1739, ordering some merchandise for his store. Among other things, he asked for “Scots plad about 18d or 20d pr Ell, brown linnen from 3d to 18d prEll, Coarse and Midling Diaper, these fit for ye Summer and Winter. Galacheils Gray [a cotton fabic for dresses] at 6d or 7d Ell to be here in Sep or October for Winter only. What you buy by ye Scotts Ell, let it be measured by an exact 3 foot allowing a thumb, and yt Measure put on ye Piece.”