McDuff to McDuffee/MacFie

Our SCOTS-IRISH History by Sue & Marilyn/2004; (A progress in learning)

The Highland Line

Map from "Colonists from Scotland:  Emigration to North America, 1707 - 1783",  by Ian C. C. Graham

INTRODUCTION:   "In the 18th century the condition of the Lowlands was deplorable; that of the Highlands was even worse. In almost every respect, whether economic, social, political, or cultural, the Highlands differed from, and compared unfavorably with, the Lowlands. An 18th century traveler passing from one area to the other would have been impressed immediately with the change. Wherever he entered the Highlands the land took on a new appearance. As he approached the hills across the flat or gently rolling fields of the Lowlands, a wall of barren mountains faced him, the rounded peaks gray under streaks of patchy rain, while here and there a shaft of sunlight gave depth to the view, bringing forth patches of green and purple on the mountainside. As he entered this region with few laws and no roads, the traveler crossed an unofficial frontier, christened the "Highland Line". The geographical boundary between Highlands and Lowlands has generally been held to lie along this mountain line. It runs across the north side of the Clyde Valley, then north and east through Perthshire and Angus, and so around the east side of Scotland close to the coast. In the 18th century, the cultural and linguistic boundary approximated very closely to this geographical line. The Western Isles, or Hebrides, have always belonged to the Highlands in every respect, while the Northern Isles, consisting of the Orkneys and Shetlands, possessed in the 18th century, as they do today, some of the characteristics of both Highland and Lowlands. The law of Scotland possessed little force beyond the Highland Line. The Reformation had never penetrated many of the Highland glens and Western Isles".     "Colonists from Scotland", by Ian C. C. Graham


The Highland line shown above separates the Highlands and Lowlands. People who were recruited to Ulster Plantations in the late 1600's and early 1700's were selected from the Lowland area. King James did not want people from the Highlands or the Western Isles in the Ulster Plantations because he thought of them as "barbarous". He wanted a civil mix of Protestant Lowlanders and English settlers. It is quite possible that our McDuffe ancestors lived in  or around Perth, because there were many McDuffe families there in the 1600's. However, according to our family gedcom, our family was from Ireland, probably Ulster. So, a likely scenario is that from the Highlands, they most likely traveled south from Perth into the Lowland area - then off to Ulster and became Ulster-Scots - then off to America and became Scots-Irish. Although, I now have been advised that people from Perth did travel directly to Ulster. Exactly which port he or they landed in America is still a mystery. But in 1781, J. Robert McDuffe, now 25 years old, is purchasing his first 50 acres of land on Peter's Creek in Peter's Twp., Washington Co., Pennsylvania. So, we have a time void of 100 years - from 1780 back to 1680 - or 4 generations. We just keep digging!




The Seaboard Colonies - Chapter III

"While the settlements of the Scots-Irish in New England, Virginia, and the Carolinas were numerous, and represented a population of many thousand families, the great majority of the Ulster emigrants to America first landed on the Delaware shore. Most of the passenger ships sailing from Ireland during the 18th century were bound for ports in the Quaker colony. Pennsylvania thus became the center of the Presbyterian settlements in the new World, and from that province, after 1735, a continuous stream of emigration flowed to the South and West".   

"The Scots-Irish were not found in North Carolina or Virginia until after the year 1730, excepting a few scattered families, and some small colonies along the Chesapeake. About the year 1736, Henry McCulloch induced a colony from Ulster to occupy his expected grant in Duplin County, North Carolina. In the case of all the colonies, these settlements were encouraged by the authorities as an effective means of protecting the older communities from attacks by the Indians. Many colonists, on account of the inviting nature of the climate and soil, the comparative mildness of the Catawba Indians, and the severity of the church laws in comparison with those of Carolina, were induced to pass through the vacant lands in Virginia adjoining their countrymen who were already settled in that State, and seek a home beyond, in the Carolinas".


"While the tide of Scots-Irish emigration through Pennsylvania and Virginia was setting fast and strong into the fertile regions between the Yadkin and Catawba, another current was flowing from the Highlands of Scotland, and landing colonies of Presbyterian people along the Cape Fear River. The dates of the first  Scottish settlements along this stream are not known with exactness. There were some in 1729, at the time of separation of the province into North and South Carolina. In consequence of disabilities at home, and unfavorable economic conditions, the enterprising Scots followed the example of their kinsmen in Ireland, and sought refuge and fortune in America".

 The SCOTCH-IRISH,   by Charles A. Hanna



Rev. William Henry Foote, 1846

last 2 paragraphs of:  Chapter V:     The race of Scotchmen that emigrated to Ireland, retaining the characteristic traits of their native stock, borrowed some things from their neighbors, and were fashioned, in some measure, by the moulding influences of the climate and country. In contra-distinction from the native Irish, they called themselves Scotch; and to distinguish them from natives of Scotland, their descendants have received the name of Scotch-Irish. This name is provincial, and more used in America than elsewhere, and is applied to the Protestant emigrants from the north of Ireland, and their descendants. The history of this people from this period, 1618, till the emigration to America, which commenced with a discernible current about a century after the immigration from Scotland, is found in the "History of Religious Principles and Events in Ulster Province." Their religious principles swayed their political opinions and in maintaining their forms of worship, and their creed, they learned the rudiments of republicanism before they emigrated to America. They demanded, and exercised, the privilege of choosing their ministers and spiritual directors, in opposition to all efforts to make the choice and support of the clergy a state, or governmental concern. In defence of this they suffered fines and imprisonment and banishment, and took up arms at last, and, victorious in the contest, they established the Prince of Nassau upon the throne, and gave the Protestant succession to England.

Emigrating to America, they maintained, in all the provinces where they settled, the right of all men to choose their own religious teachers, and to support them in the way each society of Christians might choose, irrespective of the laws of England or the provinces,—and also to use what forms of worship they might judge expedient and proper. From maintaining the rights of conscience in both hemispheres, and claiming to be governed by the laws under legitimate sovereigns in Europe, they came in America to demand the same extended rights in politics as in conscience; that rulers should be chosen by the people to be governed, and should exercise their authority according to the laws the people approved. In Europe they contended for a limited monarchy through all the troubles of the seventeenth century; in America, their descendants defining what a limited monarchy meant, found it to signify rulers chosen by the people for a limited time, and with limited powers; and declared themselves independent of the British crown!

A Migrating People

They regarded themselves as Scottish people who had been living in Ireland.      Henry Cabot Lodge

"Pennsylvania has been characterized by great racial diversity from the beginning. In this colony the major racial groups were the English, the Germans, and the Scots-Irish, each of which occupied in predominant numbers a distinct geographical area - the English in the east, the Scots-Irish in the west, and the Germans between the two. Inasmuch as each of these groups long preseved its own customs and traditions, there were three distinct civilizations in the Pennsylvania of colonial times.The Scots-Irish of America came to this country untrammeled by fatherland traditions, and for this reason became overnight thoroughly Americanized - themselves patriotic Americans. If then, the question be asked, "Who are the Scots-Irish?", the answer is that they are a people who were originally Lowland Scots; that they emigrated on a large scale to Ulster about three centuries ago; and that their descendants, being oppressed there, emigrated in large numbers to America, particularly to Pennsylvania, where they have long been known as "Scotch-Irish".

Scotland is divided into two geographical units, known as the Highlands and the Lowlands, marked by differences of race, religion, and customs, once clearly defined and still observable. It is with the Lowland Scots that we are chiefly concerned, since it was from this group that came the bulk of the immigrants to Ulster. From this race are sprung the Scotch-Irish of America. Ireland is divided into four provinces and 32 counties. Of the provinces - Ulster, Leinster, Munster, and Connaught - ULSTER which is the northernmost, embraces the nine counties of Antrim, Armagh, Cavan, Donegal, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry, Monahan, & Tyrone. Comprising approximately one-fourth of the area and population of Ireland, it has long been regarded as the most properous and progressive section of the country. Firmly established in Ireland through the plantations of the 17th century, the Ulster Scot in his new environment ceased to be a Lowlander, though the seedbed of his race was the Lowlands of Scotland. He is ready to seek new adventures beyond the seas. Exasperated by his wrongs, he will make one more migration - this time to the New World, where freedom abounds and opportunity beckons. Here, amid new surroundings, he will undergo a further change, and here he will go his farthest lengths and attain his greatest heights. No longer a Lowland Scot or an Ulster Scot, he becomes the Scotch-Irishman of America. A greater destiny awaits him than he has ever dreamed of!

The causes leading to the emigration of the Ulster Scots, while partly political and partly religious, were chiefly economic. Having by their energy and skill redeemed Northern Ireland from its physical and moral degradation and transformed it into a prosperous community, their reward at the hands of the English Government was a series of political, ecomonic, social, and religious persecutions, resulting in a wholesale emigration to America, particularly to Pennsylvania. Never a submissive people, they decided to seek a new home in the wilderness rather than to endure the accumulated wrongs inflicted upon them, being urged the more thereto by their restless disposition and their love of adventure. Hence they gathered unto themselves their household goods and departed with no good feelings toward their oppressors, whom they were later to confront on the battlefields of the Revolution, where they evened up the score! Restrictions on Irish trade began in 1699, when the woolen manufacture, then the staple industry of Ireland, was restricted by the passage of an act forbidding the exportation of Irish woolen manufactures to any part of the world EXCEPT to England and Wales - this was the principal cause of emigration from Ulster. Another cause was that of rack-renting landlordism, which drove many thousands of Ulstermen beyond the seas. In 1717 these leases began to expire, and when a renewal was sought the rents were doubled or trebled, reaching a point where farming ceased to be profitable. Of great significance also was the religious persecution suffered by the Ulster Scots at the hands of the Established Church of Ireland, where the Church of England had been established by law. The Presbyterians, comprising the bulk of the Ulster Scots, had transferred their system of churches and church government to Ireland, and were strongly organized. Their growth and prosperity aroused the animosity of the Church of England, and they became the victims of unjust laws and petty persecutions directed against them by the ruling powers in Church and State. All of the Episcopal bishops and some of the Episcopal landlords inserted in their leases clauses prohibiting the erection of Presbyterian churches on their estates. Marriages performed by Presbyterian clergymen were declared illegal, and those performing them were subjected to fines in the ecclesiastical courts. The Test Act of 1704, enacted as a blow against Protestant Dissenters in general and against the Ulster Presbyterians in particular, excluded them from all civil and military offices under the Crown by requiring all who served in these capacities to take communion of the Established Church! The Presbyterians refused to conform, and, though many remained to endure the persecutions that fell to their lot, thousands of others, perhaps a majority, sought civil and religious liberty in America.

The first Scotch-Irish settlers in America located on the eastern shore of Maryland about 1649, and in South Carolina in 1682. It is probable that there were a few Scotch-Irish in southeastern Pennsylvania in 1685. A Presbyterian church was organized in Philadelphia in 1695. While there was a steady stream of emigration of Ulster Scots throughout the whole of the 18th century, there were certain periods when the tide was unusually strong; these were the years 1717-18, 1727-28, 1740-41, and 1771-73. In a letter dated October 23, 1717, Jonathan Dickinson says that "from y north of Ireland many hundreds" arrived at Philadelphia "in about four months"; and on October 17, 1719, he writes, "This summer we have had 12 or 13 sayle of ships from the North of Ireland w a swarm of people. He further states, in a letter under date of November 12, 1719, that 12 ships, laden with passengers from Ireland, had recently arrived at Philadelphia. The immigrant tide slackened in the period of the French and Indian War and was not noticably strong thereafter until 1771, when a new wave of emigration from Ulster, stronger than any that had preceeded it, began to gather headway and reached its climax in 1772 - 73. It constituted by far the largest immigration to America of any single racial group in the years immediately preceeding the Revolution. This exodus was motivated particularly by the decline of the linen trade centering in Ulster and by a new outburst of rack-renting. It is computed that during 1771 - 73  25,000 or 30,000 emigrants sailed from Ulster alone to ports in the New World, especially to those on the Delaware. Two facts stand out clearly with reference to the emigration from Ireland to America in the colonial era:  it was large and it was Protestant. The largest number, however, entered the country through the ports along the Delaware, especially Philadelphia. Late in the colonial era some landed preferably at Baltimore as being the most convenient way to reach western Pennsylvania. The route overland to Pittsburgh by way of Braddock's Road from Baltimore was shorter than that by way of Forbes Road from Philadelphia, besides presenting less difficulty in crossing the mountains.

Large Scotch-Irish settlements were made in Chester, Lancaster and Dauphin counties in the first third of the century. From Dauphin County the stream of settlement crossed to the west side of the Susquehanna River.  H. J. Ford

The first great settlement of the Scotch-Irish in Pennsylvania was in the Cumberland Valley, now comprising the counties of Cumberland and Franklin - one of the most beautiful and fertile sections of the commonwealth. This valley became the headquarters of the Scotch-Irish not only in Pennsylvania but in America as well. Provincial policy favored settlement in the Cumberland Valley by the Scotch-Irish not only because of the ill feeling existing between them and the Germans, but also as a "cordon of defense" on the frontier against the Indians, as well as a means of safeguarding the territory against the intrusion of Marylanders along the southern border of the province. For some years also, in recognition of the hardships suffered by these settlers on the extreme frontier, they were excused from taxes, even for county purposes, and forbearance was exercised in postponing collection of payments for the land. Again, the Scotch-Irish, always a border people, had no aversion to the frontier, and, being somewhat "clannish", "didn't care to settle among a people so alien in language as the Germans or so peculiar in religious beliefs as the "Friends".

Settlements in present Washington County began about 1756, but it was not until 1769 that the region begain to be occupied to any considerable extent; thereafter it proceeded rapidly. The Scotch-Irish population of the county became more noticeable about 1773 and thereafter increased steadily; it came mainly from the Cumberland Valley and from other Scotch-Irish centers in Chester, Lancaster, York, and Dauphin Counties, but was augmented by a goodly number of immigrants coming directly from Ulster. There were 19 Presbyterian churches established in Washington County between 1774 and 1798. Allegheny County was settled chiefly by the Scotch-Irish, along with smaller numbers of Scots, English, Germans, and other racial groups. Following the capture of Fort Duquesne by General Forbes in 1758, a small settlement grew up around the fort, now renamed Fort Pitt. The settlers were dispersed, however, during Ponticac's War, but a new start was made in 1765; the town grew slowly, being remote and subject to Indian incursions. Arthur Lee, who visited the place in 1784, states that "Pittsburgh is inhabited almost entirely by Scots and Irish, who live in paltry log houses." Though settlements were made at various places along the Monongahela and its tributaries, the real settlement of the county did not get well under way until 1769. There was a fairly rapid settlement in parts of Allegheny County west of the Monongahela between 1770 and 1775, most of the lands being acquired under Virginia titles, especially along Chartiers Creek; and it appears that the majority of the settlers prior to the Revolution were from Virginia.  The Whiskey Insurrection served to advertise Southwestern Pennsylvania, the region in which it centered. Allegheny County, along with the other settled portions of the trans-Allegheny country, being now better known to the outside world, attracted a substantial number of the militiamen as permanent residents. This expedition, like those of Braddock and Forbes, showed to the people east of the mountains how desirable Southwestern Pennsylvania was, and led to a considerable increase of the population of this section as a result.

It may not have been revealed to them that they as a people were not henceforth to live in distinct communities, but were to be dispersed throughout the country.....yet such was to be their destiny.     John Stewart


"Daniel Boone leading settlers through the Cumberland Gap"

Painting by artist:     George Caleb Bingham

Among the Thirteen Colonies, Pennsylvania occupied a unique position as an early distributing center of population to the South and the West. The causes inducing the Pennsylvania Scotch-Irish to emigrate to other colonies, especially to the southward, may here be noted. By 1735, the advance guard of settlers, moving ever westward, had reached the foothills of the Alleghenies, and being hindered by the mountain barrier, was deflected southward along the line of least resistance into the valleys of Maryland and Virginia and the piedmont region of the Carolinas. The uplands of the South had not at that time been reached by the tide of settlers moving westward from the coast, and the vacant lands invited occupancy. It was easier to move down into the southern valleys than to cross the rugged mountain barrier into western Pennsylvania. Furthermore, prior to the Land Purchase of 1768, no land was offered for sale by the Proprietaries west of the Alleghenies. Even after the land in this region was put on the market, settlement was deterred by the inadequate military protection afforded by the provincial government to the inhabitants of the frontier. Again, the southern colonies had a much more liberal land policy than obtained in Pennsylvania; in 1732, lands could be secured in Maryland at less than one-third the cost in Pennsylvania, while the cost in Virginia and the Carolinas was nominal. Although it was not until the 1730's that the Scotch-Irish trek southward became important, it appears that a few had settled near the present town of Martinsburg, West Virginia, as early as 1719 and had established soon thereafter the Presbyterian congregations of Falling Water and Tuscarora. The main sources of this emigration southward were the Cumberland Valley and the Scotch-Irish centers in the present Pennsylvania counties of Chester, Lancaster, York, and Dauphin. The Cumberland Valley in particular, where they were most numerous, was the very gateway to the South, and it was only natural that they should be the major group to follow it over the border into Virginia and the Carolinas.

Settlers going south through Virginia on the "Great Wagon Road"

When Philip Firthian preached at North Mountain meeting-house near Staunton in 1775, he found the people all Scotch-Irish, while the congregation was large and "genteel." Rockbridge County, bordering Augusta on the south, was even more strongly Scotch-Irish that its neighbor. In fact, it has been called the most distinctively Scotch-Irish county in America, as it is one of the most strongly Presbyterian. Ephraim McDowell, who emigrated to this region from Pennsylvania in 1737, was one of the pioneers and was followed by a host of others. In 1736 Governor Gooch made a grant of 500,000 acres to Benjamin Borden on condition that he should settle one hundred families on it before receiving title, it being thought by his excellency that it was good policy to encourage the Scotch-Irish to settle west of the Blue Ridge as a means of protection, of eastern Virginia, against the Indians.

The pioneers were a plain people, and home comforts and conveniences were few. Life was primative in the backwoods, and changes came slowly. Isolated, inaccessible, remote, with poor roads or none at all, communication with the east was slow and difficult, with the result that the frontiersmen lived a life unto themselves, pathfinders in the wilderness. The domestic economy of the household centered around the wife and mother, whose duties were at once onerous and unending. She baked her own bread, and did the family cooking, washing, and sewing; she milked the cows and churned the butter; she picked, dyed, and carded the wool, broke and carded the flax, spun and wove the cloth, cut out the garments, and made the family wardrobe. Futhermore, she reared the children, taught them to read, and instructed them in the principles of Christianity. When anyone in the family was sick, she was the nurse and doctor, with home-made remedies of sulphate of iron, green copperas, bear's oil, snake root, and poultices. Mills were scarce and at first non-existent; hence if the housewife wished meal for johnny-cake or corn pone, she had to make it herself from corn ground on the hominy block or in the hand-mills. The customary fare of the Scotch-Irish pioneers included fried mush with wild honey, roasting ears and succotash, pone bread, johnny-cake, hominy, potatoes, turnips, wild fruits, game, and fish - but the standard dish for supper was mush and milk. Cooking utensils were few and cumbersome, and there were no labor-saving devices to lighten her work, which was not confined entirely to the precincts of the cabin. She often worked the garden and roamed the woods in search of sassafras, sage, and mint to brew into teas. In summer, aided by the smaller children, she picked the wild fruits of the forest--blackberries, plums, cherries, haws, whortleberries, strawberries, and grapes. In autumn she laid in stores of hickory nuts and walnuts. In rush seasons she assisted in harvesting the crops, in burning brush and logs, and in gathering the fruits of the orchard. Supplies must be laid in to keep the family going through the long winter months, and she was kept busy drying apples, making oil from bear or opossum fat, hanging corn on the rafters to dry, and perhaps making corncob molasses. Her life was a ceaseless round of household duties and domestic cares, of loneliness and drudgery, often resulting in wearing herself out and becoming prematurely old. Moreover, she suffered much anxiety for fear that the rations would not last through the winter; that the wolves, or other wild animals, would destroy her loved ones if she ventured from home; or that the Indians would swoop down on the household with massacres, burnings, and widespread devastation. In emergencies, especially if her husband were absent in the wars, she learned to mold bullets and to use the rifle to defend her home and fireside from the savages. Her dauntless spirit rose with danger, and her heroism equalled that of her husband. The part played by the Scotch-Irish wife and mother in the life of the American frontier has never been adequately portrayed and perhaps could not be, so great it was and so sublime......


DownriverCurrently Listening To:
Karen Matheson
see related

Of great significance was the contribution made by Pennsylvania to the settlement of the New West, especially of Kentucky.  Tennessee and Kentucky began to be peopled in the Revolutionary era, and, as the first states west of the Alleghenies to be settled. As early as 1750, a few explorers and hunting parties had penetrated the wilds of Kentucky, but important settlements in the region did not begin until 1775, when Boonesborough was founded and the Wilderness Road was begun. For some years this road was the only practicable route to Kentucky, and thousands of immigrants thronged it. Scotch-Irishmen flocked into Kentucky by way of the Ohio River embarking either at Redstone Old Fort  (Brownsville) on the Monongahela or at Pittsburgh, or in some instances at Wheeling, they went down the Ohio in canoes, pirogues, keelboats, and flatboats to Limestone (Maysville), and thence sought the interior of Kentucky, particularly the fertile bluegrass section. The immigrants from Pennsylvania are compared at approximately 15% of the population in 1792 and of this number the Scotch-Irish furnished the largest percentage. To a less extent than was the case in Ohio, Pennsylvania Scotch-Irishmen participated in the settlement of Indiana and Illinois, and of the remaining states of the Old Northwest. Their influence was fairly strong in Indiana, where they were among the pioneers in settling Fayette and Rush Counties"!

"The Scotch-Irish of Colonial Pennsylvania", by Wayland F. Dunaway