The Early Eighteenth Century

Migration to Ulster, mainly from Scotland, continued into the early eighteenth century. This was impacting in areas where British settlement had hitherto been fairly limited. In 1714 Hugh McMahon, Catholic bishop of the diocese of Clogher, wrote that ‘from the neighbouring country of Scotland Calvinists are coming over here daily in large groups of families, occupying the towns and villages, seizing the farms in the richer parts of the country and expelling the natives’. Within the diocese over which McMahon was bishop there were considerable changes brought about by the influx of British settlers. County Monaghan witnessed huge increase in the number of British inhabitants in the seventy years after 1660. The so-called census of 1659 recorded only 434 British households in Co. Monaghan. By 1733 there was a British presence in every parish and in some there were fairly sizeable Protestant communities.

HIP Dublin

Changes in settlement patterns were also discernable in parts of south County Armagh. In 1733 a number of landowners in the parish of Creggan invited Presbyterians to settle on their estates and as an encouragement promised to provide an income for a Presbyterian minister. As a result a significant number of families of Scottish background moved to the Tullyvallen area. In 1746 one of the local landowners, Alexander Hamilton took out a patent for a Saturday market at Newtownhamilton and two annual fairs. The area around Newtownhamilton later became parish in its own right, taking the name of the market town. Eighteenth-century commentators, such as the Rev. William Henry, rector of Killesher parish in County Fermanagh, were able to differentiate between areas on the basis of the characteristics of the local inhabitants. For example, in Donegal, Henry distinguished between people of English and of Scottish descent by the way they lived and worked: ‘The English planters are easily known by the neatness of their houses and pleasant plantations of trees.

The Scots, on the other hand, neglected this, but made up for it through their efforts to improve the soil. Others noted the difference in speech of those of Scottish descent. When travelling through County Fermanagh in the 1740s Isaac Butler noted that in the area to the north of Enniskillen towards Lisnarrick the people all had the ‘Scotch accent’. Journeying through east County Antrim c.1760 Lord Edward Willes commented that ‘all the people of this part of the world speaks the broad lowland Scotch and have all the Scotch phrases. It will be a dispute between the two kingdoms until the end of time whether Ireland was peopled from Scotland or Scotland from Ireland’. In the latter part of the eighteenth century the Hibernian Magazine, in a description of the new market house in Newtownards, County Down, noted: ‘The language spoken here is broad Scotch hardly to be understood by strangers’.