Lowlanders’ heritage is made up of several different races including
an Irish Celtic tribe (the Scots) who invaded the Lowland areas in
the 3rd and 4th centuries and established
Much later the
Lowlands was the area separating England from the Highlands. In the
skirmishes and wars between the latter two the Lowlands were
continual battlefields, and suffered total destruction of their
farms and other lands many times by both sides (the Highlanders to
prevent the English from having supplies to aid in their advance,
and the English in revenge). They also added to their own land
destruction through the planting of the same crop continually, thus
stripping the lands of the nutrients required and causing crop
yields to diminish or become non-existent. Thus the life of a
Lowlander was unstable and eventually untenable.
The people of
the Lowlands were mostly strong Presbyterian, and, in the reign of
the Catholic James 1st (James the 6th of
Scotland) were persecuted by the Crown of England.
decided to set up his plantation of Ulster (he had already
successfully set up the Jamestown Plantation in 1607 in the
colonies) he meant for Englishmen to settle there in addition to
some of his Scottish supporters. James also saw it as a place to
send ‘pesky’ Scottish border families to quiet the border between
Scotland and England. The English did not do as well as the Scots
on the Ulster Plantation. Their lands at ‘home’ were more
profitable, and many of them returned to England. Since it was only
a 30 mile trip from Scotland to Northern Ireland thousands of
Lowland Scots migrated to the Ulster Plantation, bringing with them
their Presbyterian religion and their very strong feelings of
independence from England. Hugh Montgomery and James Hamilton, who
had been given land in the Ulster Plantation by James, were
instrumental in assisting many Scots in the Ayrshire and Galloway
regions to leave their homes and obtain land in the Plantation.
This was surely not what James had had in mind. The areas of Antrim
(which had already been settled by Scots since the 1400’s) and
County Down became inhabited almost totally by Scots. At this time
Highlanders were totally banned from the Plantation.
prospered here with agriculture, the raising of animals, and growing
flax for linen production.
spoken was Ulster-Scots. At one time this was the main language
spoken in Belfast. Now the language is spoken only in some rural
areas. Some of the words and phrases here in the U.S. are said to
have originated from Scots Ulster. The most intriguing one I’ve
seen was a reference to y’all owing its existence to the Scots
Ulster word ‘yis aa’ (meaning you all). There are also words that
we associate with Scotland as Scottish words, (such as nicht –
night) which are really Scots-Ulster in origin.
In 1641 the
Irish rebelled against these ‘invaders’ of their lands and in
surprise attacks killed many Ulster Scots in an effort to rout them
from their lands. The war lasted 8 years and at its end the Scots
were still in Ulster. (However the skirmishes continue to this day
between Northern Ireland – Ulster, and the Irish Republic).
the 1800’s the Highland Clearances created another migration to
Ulster. Though these were in the main, Highlanders, the population
still remained Lowland ancestry. Though the American term given to
these people is Scotch-Irish, these people did not and still do not
consider themselves Irish.
It is said that
if you live in Northern Ireland and you are protestant, that your
ancestry began in the Lowlands of Scotland – or (if you will reread
the first paragraph of this article) did it? Perhaps the people in
Ulster have simply come full circle?
The Ulster-Scots Society Of
105 Arrowhead Way, Cary, NC, 27513
380-0383 e-mail -
This is a new association starting up. Their
president is Paul Smallwood.