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 1718 Migration from Ulster

The migration of huge numbers of people leaving Ulster began about 1718, most of it to America, Canada and Australia. Most people living in Ulster Provence, in the north of Ireland, around this time, were from Scotland or England and had settled there during the past century or so as a result of the effort to repopulate that area, sometimes by way of exile, other times by way of incentives, a significant number for reasons of religious freedom.

By the early 1700s however, much of the population of Ulster were experiencing serious problems. There had been a civil war in the mid 1600s, not just in Ireland, but in Scotland and in England, all at about the same time. This had brought about many changes both with the the shifting populations in all these kingdoms, not just religious issues, but in political and economic areas, as well. Then, by the end of that century there was further turmoil in this part of Ireland with the Williamite Wars, including the 1689 siege of Londonderry. Many families did survive this siege, and with the arrival of the army of William III, the Prince of Orange and new King of England, fought the Battle of Boyne, June 30th and July 1st 1690.[1] They, in one of history's most decisive battles, soundly defeated and destroyed James' army, forcing him to flee to France where he lived until his death in 1701.

A William Jameson was said to have served in the defense of Londonderry during the siege in 1689, and probably in the Battle of Boyne in 1690, with such distinguished gallantry and bravery that he was exempted from taxation throughout the British Dominion.[2]

Much of Ulster was inhabited by Presbyterian Scots, indeed their existence there was in part their reason for coming there in the first place. Much of the strife and turmoil that existed in the latter 1600s and early 1700s was based around religious conflicts. Although James II was driven from Ireland, sectarian violence continued between Irish Catholic and Scots-Irish Presbyterian Protestants, indeed to this day.

Unfortunately by the Test Act of 1704 under Queen Anne (1702-1714), the Presbyterian Scots in Ulster lost every benefit of the Tolerant Act of May 24, 1689, gained under King William.[3] The policies virtually made the people outlaws, and were deprived of their chapels and schools, invalidated their marriages, and prohibited anyone from office above that of petty constable. For these and other reasons emigration out of Ireland, and for that matter all of the British Isles and Europe began. It has continued ever since, although not always for the same reasons, as particularly from Ireland during the famine years in the middle 1800's.

For those reasons four Presbyterian Ministers, John Holmes, James MacGregor, William Boyd, and William Cornwell, in Londonderry acted by leaving Ireland with their respective congregations and arriving in Boston in the summer of 1718. They left in five ships, the Robert, August 4th, James Ferguson, Master, from Glasgow & Belfast; the William, August 4th, Archibald Hunter from Coleraine; William & Mary, July 25th, James Montgomery, Master, from Dublin; unnamed ship, July 28th, John Wilson, from Londonderry, Ireland; and the Mary Anne, Andrew Watt, Master, from Dublin.[4] This was the beginning of what is now known as the the "1718 Migration from Ulster" and what became the huge influence of the "Scotcs-Irish," particularly in America.

There are no known surviving manifests or other accounting of who exactly were aboard these ships, apart from captains, but we do know that some Ulster Jam?son families were part of those arriving on these ships. The Jamesons in Maine were said to have been part of this first group of arrivals when they left soon after arriving in Boston and sailed north, ending up in Falmouth, Maine, where they settled and began what became a large and prosperous Jameson family. There were other early pre colonial New England communities credited with Jameson descendants from this exodus from Ireland, most notably that of Nutfield, New Hampshire were there developed two separate Jameson families of which both became well known and prosperous and of whom descendants exist throughout America to this day.

There were were many other areas where Jam?son families settled in New England soon after the time these first ships arrived from Ulster, some of which undoubtedly were connected to that initial group of immigrants. Others, including Jam?sons like those in Nutfield that arrived shortly afterwards and for many years to come. Undoubtedly, many of the known Irish immigrants, up and down the eastern coastal areas of America, from this time, were part of what was an unfortunate loss for Ireland and and important part of what contributed to America's early years.

Migrations of all kinds to practically everywhere on earth have made this a small world in the time since our Jameson ancestors moved to Ulster in the 1600's. It can be assumed that one can now find a Jameson of our family practically anywhere on this globe, many of them descendants from the 1718 Migration from Ireland.



[1]     This is the origin of the term "Orangemen" or "Orange Irish." Those, who fought with/for "King Billy" - the Prince of Orange, during the Battle of Boyne in 1690. It has now come to be used to generically identify Protestant Irish.

[2]     Jameson's in America - E.O.Jameson - The Rumford Press -1901 - p.305

[3]     Scotch Irish Pioneers in Ulster and America - Charles Knowles Bolton - Bacon and Brown - 1910 - p.15

[4]     Recorded at that time in "The Boston News-Letter" and recounted in the "Scotch Irish Pioneers in Ulster and America" - Charles Knowles Bolton - Bacon and Brown - 1910 - p.132-133