Tuesday, 8 July 2014

The story of Jean Watson and King William of Orange.

The feisty Ulster-Scots widow from Donaghadee who walked all the way to the Boyne to retrieve what was hers and came face to face with the King.

William III lands at Carrickfergus castle (click to enlarge)
Article © by Jason Burke
See full article at jasonburkehistory.com

King William III landed at Carrickfergus on 14 June 1690 with a fleet of around 300 vessels.  Having mustered an army of 36,000 men, this was the largest troop that Ireland had ever seen and is likely to ever see.  A witness to the landing observed, "the lough between this and Carrickfergus seems like a wood, there being no less than seven hundred sail of ships in it… I cannot think that any army of Christendom hath the like.". The Williamite army proceeded south in order to confront James II who by this stage was perched on a strategic position at the River Boyne near Drogheda.  William’s journey took him to Belfast where he stayed at the old Belfast Castle before leaving again on 17 June 1690.  It is reported that he stopped briefly at the site of the modern ‘King William’s Park’ (Lisburn Road, Belfast) before making another stop at Malone due to a rain storm. 

36,000 troops and several hundred ships was a formidable force by any standards, it was sure to crush most enemies in its path, most, that is, except for one audacious Ulsterwoman…

Friday, 4 July 2014

The Scots-Irish & the American Declaration of Independence.

“Signed by Order, and on behalf of the Congress JOHN HANCOCK, PRESIDENT Attest. Charles Thompson, Secretary."

That phrase (above) at the end of the Declaration of Independence should serve as a reminder to all of the debt owed to the Scots-Irish who played such vital parts towards the setting up of their Free and Independent States. 

These were to be the only two signatures on that historical document for many days; that of the President of Congress, John Hancock whose ancestors came from County Down in Northern Ireland, and that of Charles Thompson, born in Co. Londonderry, Northern Ireland, who's penmanship drafted the original document.
The first printed copies of the declaration were known as the Dunlap Broadsides. Dunlap was born in Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland. It was first read in public by the son of an Ulster Scot, Colonel John Nixon.

The historic Declaration contained sentiments closely identified with the aspirations of the Presbyterian immigrant stock from the north of Ireland who settled in the American colonies during the 18th century. A significant assertion was: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator, with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”.

Apart from JOHN HANCOCK & CHARLES THOMPSON, at least five other signatories were Scots-Irish... 

THOMAS McKEAN, leading Delaware signatory of the Declaration, was the son of William McKean, an Ulster emigrant from North Antrim who came to Pennsylvania via Londonderry as a child and later married Letitia Finney, whose family had also emigrated from Ulster.

GEORGE TAYLOR, a signatory for Pennsylvania, emigrated from Co Antrim as a 20-year-old in the 1720s and he settled in the Scots-Irish dominated Chester county.

JAMES SMITH, another Declaration signatory from Pennsylvania, emigrated from the north of Ireland as a 10-year-old at about 1719 and, like George Taylor, he also settled with his Presbyterian family in Chester county.

MATTHEW THORNTON, signatory from New Hampshire, landed on American soil as a four-year-old in the passage of five ships carrying 120 Presbyterian families from the Bann Valley (Coleraine-Ballymoney-Aghadowey-Macosquin).

EDWARD RUTLEDGE, whose father Dr John Rutledge left Co Tyrone in the north of Ireland in 1735, was and a signatory of the Declaration from South Carolina.

Other Declaration signers - WILLIAM WHIPPLE, ROBERT PAINE and THOMAS NELSON - are also believed to have some Ulster links.

Flag of Mecklenburg County, N.C.

A forerunner to the American Declaration of Independence was the Mecklenburg Declarationsigned at Charlotte in North Carolina on May 20, 1775 by 27 leading citizens in the region, 18 of whom were of Ulster-Scots Presbyterian origin.This Carolina backcountry document fearlessly staked the claim for American independence, with the signatories declaring themselves a free and independent people. Similar patriotic sentiments were expressed at the time by Scots-Irish settlers at Abingdon, Virginia, at Pine Creek in western Pennsylvania and at Hanna’s Town in south-western Pennsylvania.

Famous quotes regarding the Scots-Irish and the American war of Independence...

W. McKinley - Scots-Irish were first to proclaim for freedom in United States
T. Roosevelt - It's doubtful if we wholly realise the part played by the Scots-Irish.
T. Roosevelt - The most ardent Americans of all were the Presbyterian Scots-Irish.
Hessian Commander - This war is nothing more or less than a Scots-Irish rebellion.