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Scottish emingration to America


Thomas Thompson:
Excerpts from the book: “A Dance Called America” by James Hunter.
    Prior to 1707, despite the fact that both countries shared the same monarch since 1603, Scots were legally barred from entry to England’s transatlantic colonies. There were Scots in English N.A. to be sure. But their position was always inherently precarious. This explains Scotland’s reluctant agreement to the Treaty of Union. The significance of the treaty’s 4th article: ‘That all the subjects of the United Kingdom of Great Britain shall from and after the union have full freedom and intercourse of trade and navigation to and from any port or place within the said United Kingdom and the dominions and plantations thereunto belonging.’
   In 1739 a ship arrived at the port of Wilmington North Carolina, carrying some 350 emigrants from
Argyll. They soon received land grants in the valley of the Cape Fear River. They were following the
 example of others escaping the clutches of other noblemen who were rising farmland  rents. The
 extensive emigration on the part of those Presbyterian Scots farmers who had been settled there in the
 17th century by English and Scots politicians looking to discover some permanent means of suppressing
rebellion among the native, and Catholic Irish. The Ulster emigrants, for whom Ireland was merely a
staging-post on a journey which began in Scotland were known by the unlovely appellation of Scotch-
Irish. The Scotch-Irish were mostly of Lowland origin, their forebears having come originally from
 localities like Ayshire and Galloway.
   Movement from Scotland to North Carolina was banned by the government in London at the start of
 the Revolutionary War. But the area around Cross Creek or Fayetteville, as it now became, would long
retain its highland character.
   The regiment – the 78th, or Fraser’s highlanders were dispatched in 1757 from Inverness to Halifax,
 Nova Scotia for operations against the French. We have the account of; Sergeant James Thompson,
cousin of Captain Baillie was from the little market town of Tain who spoke English and wrote a
tolerably fair hand. In his memoir he said: ‘We were allowed the garb of our fathers. This consisted
primarily of a plaid made from twelve yards of heavy-duty tartan cloth which was slung over one
 shoulder and fastened at the waist by means of a black leather belt. To this standard outfit, which
 included also a linen shirt and a pair of buckled shoes, the more fastidious Highland infantrymen added
at their own expense a purse of sporran of the traditional type. If acquired prior to the regiment leaving
 Scotland, were most commonly made from otterskin or badger skin. But if obtained  in America they were more likely to have been manufactured from beaver pelts.’
   James Hunter also provides some insight on another Thompson. David Thompson, one more of the
 North West Fur Company’s partners and a man who as both a skilled surveyor and a noted western
 explorer. In his own right. Simon MacTavish, MacGillivray were long dead. And others of the
 company’s leading men were withdrawing gradually from their trading posts. David Thompson retired
 eventually to Glengarry County – where it is still possible to visit Thompson’s home.


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