Find your ancestors from Scotland. What clan are you descended from? Learn the origin of your Scottish name.
Approximately 1.5 million Scots have immigrated to America since the earliest Colonial days. The number of Americans who have some Scottish heritage is enormous.
Several Scottish colonies, many of which were short-lived, were established in the New World such as Nova Scotia (1629), East Jersey (1683), and South Carolina (1684).
Since the Scottish church was Episcopal, many Scottish emigrants came to America because of religious prosecution. The Quakers settled in East Jersey and many Presbyterians went to South Carolina.
A number of Scots who came to America in the 17th Century did not come by choice. Some were deported as criminals, others as members of the losing side in civil and ecclesiastical disputes.
Scottish armies were defeated by the forces of Oliver Cromwell three times between 1648 and 1651, and on each occasion several hundred prisoners were sent to America. Nearly 200 persons, some of them guilty of participation in a rebellion led by the Earl of Argyll were deported from Scottish jails to East Jersey.
The Lowlands of Scotland (the east and south parts) originally were inhabited by people partly of Teutonic origins; while the Highlands (center and west parts) were the home of a Celtic population that had come from Ireland in the 6th Century. So even though you may have Scottish roots, they may be quite diverse.
By the 1760s emigration from the Highland of Scotland increased and the reason often given was the raising of rents in their homeland. It is estimated that about 25,000 Scots came to America between 1763 and 1775. A few went to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, but the great majority settled in the 13 colonies.
At the time of the American Revolution most Scottish colonists, especially the Highlanders, were loyalists. Afterward many of them left the United States, to settle in Canada or return to Scotland.
At the time of our first federal census (1790) people of Scottish (including the Scots-Irish) origins made up more than six percent of the population, numbering about 260,000.
Another 478,224 Scots entered the United States between 1852 and 1910.
Most Scots settled in the Southern and Middle Atlantic states. The men who were transported as rebels and criminals were sent mainly to Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia and the Carolinas.
The Highlanders predominately settled along the Cape Fear River and its tributaries in North Carolina; and in South Carolina and Georgia. Others made their homes in the Mohawk Valley of New York. By the 1790 census Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina had the highest proportion of Scottish stock among their inhabitants.
By 1773 there were Scots in Kentucky and by 1779 they were across the Ohio River. Descendants of the North Carolina Scot settlers were pioneers in Tennessee and Missouri.
Some Scots settled in Texas as early as the 1820s. They also left the East to settle in Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and the Mississippi Valley. Detroit and Chicago had large numbers of Scottish pioneers; with some of Detroit’s Scots coming via Canada.
Scottish people were among the first non-Spanish inhabitants of California with the gold rush of 1849 luring more of them to that area.
Most of the Scottish settlers who came prior to 1854 came from the region of Glasgow, Lanark, Renfrew, and Ayr (21.7%) or Argyll (13.9%). Others came from Edinburgh and Lothians (10.6%), Inverness (9.3%), Southwest (8.9%), and Perth (8.7%).
Prior to 1855 the most numerous group of skilled craftsmen to immigrate from Scotland were weavers, including a good many female spinsters or textile workers.
If your immigrant Scot ancestor came to America in the 18th Century, he probably was Presbyterian; though a fair number of the Highlanders were Roman Catholics and some Scottish Episcopal clergy came to America.
Education was widespread in Scotland and you will find most of your Scot ancestors were literate. As early as the 17th Century the immigrants were writing letters home telling of their success and prosperity and describing the beauty and richness of their settlements. Many successful settlers sent funds back to the old country to enable family members to follow. The Scots tended to immigrate as families rather than individuals.