FROM THE HIGHLANDS OF SCOTLAND
TO THE BANKS OF CAPE FEAR
In September 1739, the quiet lapping of dark
waters against the thickly wooded banks of the Cape Fear river would have been disturbed
by the sounds of men, women and children talking excitedly in their native Gaelic, "
Feuach, 's briagha a th'ann!" - (Look, isn't it lovely!). They had sailed in July,
from Campbeltown, the main port of their home area of Argyll on the West of Scotland
following the recommendation of a committee of leading citizens. These men had already
made an advance trip the Carolinas encouraged by the interest of the Governor, Gabriel
Johnston, himself a Scot, who felt that the colony would be prospered by the addition of
Highlanders. To attract such immigration, he offered free land grants and even possible
exemption from taxation for a time. Led by Neill Du MacNeill ('Black' Neil of Ardelay),
this group of Gaelic speakers, included Armstrongs, McAlesters, Clarks, Colvins,
Alexanders, McKays, McLaughlins, McLachlans, McNeills, McPhersons, Stevens, Buies,
Camerons, McDuffies, McCranies, Pattersons, Campbells, Stewarts, Connors, Wards, McGaws,
McDougalds, McGills, Smiths, and Smylies, - and as they fanned out into the surrounding
sandhills during the next months, they set the pattern for future settlements, adapting
their Scottish ways to the new environment.
Upon the arrival at the Cape Fear area,
the Scots found the terrain much like their homelands. Family after family trekked
up the river to find their own "Scotland". The did just this, first naming
it Campbeltoun, justly so after the democratic and religous strength that Campbell's
In the gleanings of the Presbyterian Church history we find the Campbell
family in strong leadership. Duncan Campbell returned to Argyllshire in 1741.
The Presbytery of Inverary reveals Campbell's concern for the religious welfare of the
There was a representation at this time laid before
the Presbytery by Duncan Campbell of Kilduskland for himself and the Argyle Colony settled
at Cape Fear in North Carolina shewing their earnest desire of having a minister soon
settled among them, who is a person of merit and of an unblemished character because the
Gospel is yet in effect to be planted in those parts where the is a considerable number
from our bounds already settled and a prospect of a great number of the poorer sort to
follow and who are in deplorable circumstances for want of Gospel ordinances there being
but two or three ministers in the whole province and these of a poor character, who
besides have not the language spoke.
Because the prospects of receiving an adequate sallary in North Carolina
were inconsiderable, Campbell found it impossible to secure a Gaelic-speaking minister.
He petitioned the Presbytery and the Society to provide the first year's salary for
the transportation of the clergyman to America. The Society granted 21 for the
project but for unknown reasons a minister was not sent. The colonists were without
a permanent pastor until 1758.
The first Presbyterian minister to visit the colonists was Hugh McAden, an
itinerant preacher on January 25, 1756. He arrived at the home of Hector McNeil and
At the advent of the millennium of 2000, there are many generation Scots
active in the area of Cape Fear.
Check out the Carolina Scots Web Page