Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

The McGills
The Scot, Scot Celt and Irish Celtóand Scotch Irish

The Scot is not an aborigine of Scotland. He came in with the Celtic invasion of the British Islands before history was written. It is quite probable that the settlement of England and Scotland was simultaneous, or very nearly so. There seems to be much ignorance and consequent diversity of opinion as to the origin of the Scot. Some writers think that he was derived from the aboriginal Scuite, and others that he was an Irish Celt, who crossed St. Patrickís Channel and possessed himself of the country. The best authority available indicates that the aboriginal tribes known in the vernacular as the Pehts and Scuitesóby the Romans as Picti and Scotti, and in English as Picts and Scotsówere primitive tribes of Turanian origin and were of a very low order of being, subsisting more by instinct than intelligence. They belonged to a dying race and became extinct, as did the Turanian tribes on the Continent, with the dawn of civilization and history. They were in no way allied to the Scot-Highlander or Lowlander who were of the pure, indomitable and imperishable Celtic blood. Men become confused with the vast antiquity of the race and misplace events.

My old, lamented, genial friend, Proctor Knott, of Kentucky, whose inimitable wit and humor ran in the line of discovery, tells us that in A. D. 843 Kenneth MacAlpine effected a union of the Picts and Scots from which resulted the united Kingdom of Scotland; and this was written in sober earnest as a contribution to the history of our race, but Mr. Knott was farther off in this than he was when he thought he discovered Duluth. In A. D. 843 there was neither Peht nor Scuite among the Caledonian hills; and had there been they would have been useless for purposes offensive or defensive. They were wild impotent hordes incapable of combinations of any kind and had disappeared long before the highland pike and lowland thistle thrust their bristling spines in the faces of their enemies and drove back the armed Legionaries of Rome. The Scuite (Scott) left his name to his native hills as the only reminder that he had ever been there and left nothing else worthy of mention.

It was the Highland and Lowland Scotch Celtic Clans that combined under Kenneth MacAlpine in A. D. 843 and built, and ever after maintained the Kingdom of Scotland.

The wild Highland Clansmen of the North were of the pure Celtic blood, bearing the unmistakable birthmarks of their race. There was no taint of Turanian brutality in their natures; such as corrupted the Germanic Aryans, clouded their mentality and dwarfed their stature. The Highlander was tall, athletic, nimble as a deer; crafty, cunning, frugal and affectionate, dangerous to his enemies and loyal to his friends ; but, above all, he had a sensitive, active brain, that readily grasped the possibilities of his surroundings; analyzed the motives of men, and ultimately placed him in the very vanguard of human progress.

Whether the Celt first crossed into Scotland from the North of Ireland is not important, as they were of the same race and people; but from the rugged and inhospitable nature of the country on both sides of St. Patrick's Channel at that age, and the rocky and sea girt shores of the Western Coast of Caledonia, it is more than probable that he entered by way of the Isthmus of Clyde and Forth.

England being the largest and most productive country would naturally be the first peopled, and the trend of population would thus be directed toward the adjoining country by a way not exposed to the perils of the Sea.

The theory of the invasion and conquest of Scotland by the Irish does not seem to be well sustained. It is one of those vague, but pretty delusions that serve to amuse the fancy of people who build imaginary structures on the supposed eternal fitness of things, without a single known fact on which to base their conclusions.

Scotland maintained her nationality as one of the independent powers of the earth for a thousand years though sorely assailed by hostile nations. England, under Edward I., made a strenuous effort to effect her subjugation, and for many years relentless war was waged. Whole armies were destroyed and clans swept out of existence, and for a time it seemed that the heroic nation was doomed; but again and again she emerged from her mountain fastnesses and hidden glens and renewed the contest, until Bruce at Bannockburn in 1314 swatted the invader such a mighty blow that he fled from the land never to return. Never, afterwards for a moment, was Scotland in danger of subjugation by England or any other power.

Just when Feudalism was introduced into Scotland is not definitely stated or material to our story; but we infer that it differed from the Knight-erranty of the Continent in this respect: that at all times the individual rights of the people were conserved and they were the repository of ultimate power. It is said that the Scottish nation in the course of its existence beheaded forty Kings and drove as many more to suicide to escape the inevitable for attempting to usurp the rights of the people-the right to live-the right to labor and enjoy the fruits of their industry-the right to the highway and the products of the forest and the stream-the right to settle their disputes in their own way before courts of their own creation, and the right to be heard before condemned. These were inherent in the Scot from his old Celtic ancestry and he stoutly refused to be separated from them. Feudalism in Scotland under these conditions was not a rank disadvantage. It was rather a combination of the old original clans around the common center-the king-concentrating the power of the government to speedily and efficiently resist the encroachments of unfriendly neighbors and upon the whole, was, perhaps, an advance in civilization.

Freed from the menace of hostile powers, the genius of the Scot for industrial pursuits and invention shone out with luminous rays. Ship building on the Clyde took form and crystalized into scientific models of winged speed and swan-like grace. From the looms of Paisley, Kilmarnock and Dundee, fabrics of woolen, cotton and flax appeared in and monopolized the markets of the world and the rolling thunders of the iron works of Lanarkshire and Stirlingshire played bass to the hum of the trilling spindles. The Lowlands from the Grampian Hills to the Firth of Forth yielded their cereals, fruits and vegetables; the pastures of the Northland their cattle, sheep and red-deer; the fisheries, deep-sea, lake and river, each and all contributed to man's subsistence and wealth. The long driven Celt from his last refuge on the Islands of the Sea-the first to emerge from the darkness of the far East-now faced about and confronted the nations, his arms laden with untold blessings to the children of men.

Education was widely diffused throughout the land and eagerly embraced by the people. To the wild highlander and groping husbandman was opened the broad highway to learning and that mental culture for which his expanding brain burned and his soul longed. Schools were established and the Yokels became philosophers contentious for the right, the good and the true. The great Universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, St. Andrews and Aberdeen, reared their towers and cupolas and their chimes rang out the glad song of the coming regeneration of mankind. Beneath their lofty domes problems of mighty import to the generations of men were considered and solved, ready to be launched like thunderbolts in the approaching storm; and when the Reformation came Scotland was prepared for the moral cataclysm that deluged the earth and swept away the mists and gloom of the Dark Ages. In those great universities the teachings of Christ in the original, stripped of monkish superstition, had been honestly and persistently subjected to the analysis of the clearest brains and brightest minds in Christendom; and they now arose like giants, armed and equipped and plunged into the polemic controversy.

The Reformation in Scotland was of wider scope and greater significance than elsewhere. On the Continent it had taken the form of destruction of temples, statuary and the finest works of art, while the crucial test was based on the sacraments and the abjuration of Papacy. The Anglican Church retained the ritualistic and episcopal form of the Vatican, but made the King of England the head of the church instead of the Pope. The universities of Scotland had delved deeper into the mystery of Godliness and gave wider scope to their interpretation of the purposes of the Almighty as revealed to man.

From the teachings of Christ they evolved the principle of the equality of man before the law, and the right to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience. While adhering strenuously to the Eternal decrees, they found the crucial test of Godliness in the personal righteousness of the man, the purity of his motives and the spiritual inspiration by which he was enabled to hold communion with the Almighty. They boldly declared that the secular power of government vested in the people and that neither King nor Bishop could divest them of it without gross usurpation ; and right here, upon this high plane, far above the fulminations of princely palaces and lofty cathedrals the Presbyterian Church of Scotland was founded. Here was the pith of Christian civilization-the keynote to the science of the government of men. Wise men of all ages had sought for it in vain. Indo-China in her seclusion, Greece in her glory, and Rome in her power had failed to find the talismanic key that would open the mystery of human government and it remained for the great universities on Scotia's Hills to first announce to the civilized world, that "A government of the people, for the people and by the people," was the only form that had just claims to perpetuity.

These principles boldly maintained in after years became the inspiration of the Puritans in England, the Huguenots in France, the Scotch Irish in Ulster and found significant expression in the American Revolution. It was the song of the ancient Celt returning by peaceful ways to the conquest of the world.

The Reformation dates from A. D. 1520. James, a Protestant Prince of Scotland, upon the abdication of his mother, Mary Queen of Scotland, succeeded to the throne as James VI., and in A. D. 1603, by the will of Queen Elizabeth, who had beheaded his mother, he became King of England as James I. Upon this accession of the King of Scotland to the British throne, a union of the two nations was effected on terms that forever secured Scotland her civil and religious liberties, and this alliance has never been broken. The effect of this union was to nominally bring into co-operation the Anglican and Presbyterian churches against the Catholics, a combination that did not always work for righteousness or the purity of the faith once delivered unto the Saints.

While all this was going on, poor Ireland was being ground beneath the heel of the oppressor. England, having failed to subjugate her, was tearing at her vitals, rending her in twain, bent upon her extirpation and determined to depopulate the island and place upon her green hills people of her own faith and stupidity. The Norman pale pierced her center and the natives were driven back into Connaught as the Briton had been driven into Wales. Their lands were confiscated, lines obliterated, cottages destroyed and great plantations plotted, surveyed and bestowed on royal favorites and religious parasites. In those days there was sore distress in Ireland.

The Earls of Tyrone and Tyrconnel held the Province of Ulster in the North, consisting of nine counties, to-wits Antrim, Armagh, Caven, Donnegal, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry, Monaghan and Tyrone. It was a wild region of rock-ribbed coasts and deep-indented bays. Bogs and fens and inaccessible glens furnished hiding places for fugitives flying for their lives from their armed oppressors. There were beautiful lands in Ulster, but there were also ample places of impregnable security, and it was here that the proud Princes of Ireland organized resistance to further encroachments and made forays upon the invaders that were very embarrassing. But it was all in vain. Heroism and intrepidity were powerless against the preponderance of force, and the Irish were driven out of their strongholds and, taking to the sea, forty thousand of them fled to other lands, leaving the Province depopulated. The lands were confiscated and reverted to the Crown.

Now James I. does not seem to have earned or acquired the respect of anybody, but he was a thrifty Scot and favored his countrymen above others, especially when he could reap profits by so doing. He was not tardy in bringing the Crown Lands of Ulster into market. Ulster, wild and forbidding as it appeared three hundred years ago, required but a touch of the canny hand of the Scot to transform it into a garden of rare fertility and beauty. The soil was peculiarly adapted to the cultivation of flax; in fact, the best in the world, and King James offered liberal inducements to his countrymen to remove thither and open up the linen industry. They were not slow in availing themselves of the advantages offered and a great emigration at once ensued.

Right here was the origin of the so-called Scotch-Irish race. It is not an ancient race by any means; nor is it particularly peculiar from the other branches of the old Celtic family, all of whom have certain characteristics, common to the whole.

The migration to Ulster continued in great volume, until the Province containing 8,550 square miles was well peopled by the Scots, most of whom were of the Presbyterian faith, though many of the Anglican persuasion also joined in the settlement. The transformation of the country was wonderful, and Ulster speedily became the most prosperous and progressive of the four Provinces of the Kingdom. Churches and schools were everywhere established, for these ungainly long-legged, knock-kneed, crafty Scots were learned as well as thrifty, and could bless a man in Latin, curse him in Greek, razzle dazzle him in Euclid and wheedle him in the vernacular. The distaff, the spinning wheel and the loom sang a syren song to the Commerce of the Sea, and the white sails of the Nations were seen on her bays, and like the winged birds of the North glided over her silver inlets.

Return to Book Index Page


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus