B. Background of the Scotch-Irish


     Ethnically, the Berry family is Scotch-Irish in ancestry, which connotes a combination of Irish and Scottish backgrounds both, of which, are unquestionably northern European in origin. In order to gain a fuller appreciation of the history of this and related Scotch-Irish families, it is useful to develop at least a rudimentary understanding of the political, religious and social forces that not only created this group of people, but also led them to their present geographic distribution. What follows is a very short and generalized historical sketch, describing the development and interaction of the people that today are referred to as the Scotch-Irish.

     The earliest settlements of Scotland began after the ice age glaciers had retreated from the area about 10,000 years ago, and the tundra had given way to forests. Migratory, nomadic hunter-gatherers, following big game and forest animals, are first known to have lived, at least temporarily, in the area now known as Scotland about 8,000 years ago. Over a period of several thousand years, these early humans gradually turned to raising crops, livestock and fishing with tools made of stone and bone. About 4,000 years ago metallic tools and implements made of bronze began reaching these early Scots. A trade system, consisting of the exchange of raw materials and finished metal goods, emerged between the people inhabiting the British Isles and the Germanic people from across the North Sea (Figure 1), who introduced this metal-working culture to the area.223,224

     A series of invasions characterizes the succeeding phases of Scottish history. Following the Stone and Bronze Ages, the next major technologic change came with the spread of iron weapons and tools in what is now known as the Iron Age. Iron technology appears to have originated in Asia around 3400 years ago, and was spread across Europe within a few hundred years by groups of aggressive, disunited, war-like tribes called the Celts, whose language was derived from the same Sanskrit source as the Hindu language. The first Celts arrived in Scotland around 2700 years ago, and their small settlements eventually covered all of the entire British Isles. While Celtic tribes controlled Europe for about 700 years, they were never united under a single leadership, and were constantly undergoing tribal, territorial warfare.223,224

     The next great invasion came as the Roman Empire expanded it's reach in search of additional resources and territory. A major invasion of the British Isles was launched in the year 43, and by 80 most of Britain had been subdued. The Romans advanced across the Scottish lowlands, but were unable to permanently occupy the highlands (Figure 1). By the year 118 it became clear to Roman authorities that the price of conquest of this remote region was not worth the cost, and, in a massive public works project, built a great, 70-some mile long fortified stone wall, known as Hadrian's Wall, from coast to coast, separating the recalcitrant Celtic tribes from the rest of civilized Roman Britannia. Depredations by barbarians in their Mediterranean homelands eventually caused the Romans to first reduce their military garrisons and eventually to abandon the British Isles, around the year 466. By this time, however, there was a clear population split in Scotland and the rest of England that persists to this day. Four tribal kingdoms, the Picts, Scots, Britons and the Angles & Saxons populated the area. The Picts or northern Celts, occupied the barren mountain highlands of the north; the Irish Celts (Scots), inhabited northern Ireland (which the Romans had never conquered); the Britons or Romanized Celts, lived mostly in present day Wales, and the Germanic Angles and Saxons occupied the areas further to the south and east.223,224,225

     As the Romans withdrew, the Picts, Scots, and Angles & Saxons invaded and occupied former Roman territories, and, for over a thousand years, plunged the region into near constant warfare. A new set of invaders, the Vikings, began raiding the Scottish northern coastal areas in the 790s, and in 843, while the Picts were absorbed with and exhausted from dealing with the Viking depredations, the Scots invaded the Pict's highland homeland. The Scottish triumph over the Picts resulted in the formation of the first united Scottish kingdom, which, over the years, gradually emerged into a fairly typical feudal monarchy. This state was greatly influenced by the generally more powerful and advanced Angle and Saxon feudal lords to the south, who had also eventually united into a single English kingdom. English and Scottish warlords continued to battle each other for territorial control with the contested ground typically being the northern English counties and the Scottish lowlands. Armies from both sides ravaged the countryside, generation after generation, with the constant warfare keeping the population poor, insecure and violent-prone. The history of this region is essentially a repeating saga of Scottish invasions of English territory alternating with English invasions of Scottish territory.223,224,225,226,227

    The English, fresh from their conquest of Wales, overran and then annexed Scotland in 1295 and 1296. In reaction, the Scots sought French assistance, formulating a military treaty, known as the Auld Alliance, which guaranteed mutual support against their common enemy. The French, being at war with England at the time, clearly saw a military advantage to this arrangement, and for the next two hundred years, money, arms and trade was exchanged between these two countries in their mutual anti-English quest. In fact, during the Hundred Years War, when the English had invaded France, Scottish mercenary armies fought in France against the English. The treaty only passed into history after the Reformation, when the religion-steeped political climate prevented a Protestant Scotland and a Catholic France from collaborating. While, on one level, it was a cynical marriage of convenience, and lasted, primarily due to a common hatred of the English, this cooperation also proved quite beneficial, and resulted in a certain degree of cultural assimilation on both sides.414,415,416,417,418,419,420,421

     Another critical layer of Scottish civilization on the British Isles involved religion. By the year 600, most of Europe, including Scotland, had become converted to the Catholic Church from their original paganistic beliefs and practices. The entire region remained predominantly Catholic for nearly a thousand years until the mid 1500's when the Reformation swept Europe.223  While England and Scotland pursued a Protestant based religious reform movement, based on the teachings of Martin Luther and John Calvin, a Frenchman and one of Luther's adherents, the primary impetus for moving away from the Catholic church was provided by the English king Henry VIII, who reigned from 1502 - 1547. His efforts to divorce Catherine of Aragon, because she could not provide a male heir, resulted in the establishment of the Anglican Church with the English king as the leader of both church and state. Subsequent English monarchs kept the country firmly in the Protestant camp, where it remains to this day.229 John Calvin, on the other hand, was responsible for the development of the Presbyterian church, which took hold in Scotland. This church espoused separate church and government organizations, and supported the right of the individual to make political and religious decisions, which was clearly at odds with the English state-run approach to religion. Through intermarriage, the English and Scottish kingdoms finally united in 1603, when a Scottish king inherited and assumed the English throne. Unsurprisingly, a major effort soon ensued with the purpose of forcing the Presbyterian Scottish churches to conform to the organization and structure of the Anglican church. With their emphasis on individual rights and a separation of church and state hierarchies, the Presbyterians soon clashed with the Anglican's internal control through the use of bishops and their subservience to state controls.228,229

     While the English had a presence in Ireland since the 12th century, the first real efforts at colonization occurred during the reign of the English king Henry VIII and his daughters, Mary and Elizabeth I during the 1500's. In a deal that was somewhat typical of the times, the English king persuaded forty Irish warlords in the northern part of Ireland to surrender their land holdings. In return they received English titles, but were also compelled to pay rents to the English for the privilege of remaining on their lands. Henry's daughters took a different and increasingly hostile approach to Ireland by confiscating Irish lands, mostly in the northern counties, and populating these plantations with English settlers. Although the plantations failed, the Irish were increasingly frustrated and worried about English attempts to incorporate them into the English empire, and several Irish revolts brought swift and brutal English responses. Perhaps the most significant of these uprisings was a revolt led by several of the northern Irish warlords in Ulster. England sent a large army to quell the rebellion, and the English commander employed a scorched earth policy, destroying all food and shelter that he could find. In fact, most towns and villages in the region were annihilated. The Irish rebels soon gave up, and not long after the war ended, the Scottish king James VI ascended the English throne (to become James I of England). Shortly, thereafter, the leaders of the now quelled Irish rebellion fled to mainland Europe. The English confiscated their lands and carved them up into six counties: Armagh, Cavan, Derry, Donegal, Fermanagh, and Tyrone, with three counties, Ulster, Antrim and Down added later. With the intent of populating these northern counties with loyal British Protestants, English and Scottish settlers were encouraged to move to these plantations. A great wave of mostly Scottish emigration ensued, originating mostly from the lowlands, where the bulk of the English and Scottish battling over the past thousand years had taken place.226,232,233

     By 1620, nearly 50,000 Scottish settlers had emigrated to the newly opened lands in northern Ireland (Figure 1), but a religious battle was brewing that was to last for years. After the death of James I, his son and successor, Charles I, also a Scot, but a pro Anglican and anti Presbyterian, tried to force the issue of a single state church for the entire kingdom. Of course, that church was Anglican, and it was at this time that the English Calvinists, also known as Puritans, left England to found the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Puritans were essentially reformers, who favored self governing, almost democratic approaches to church structure, and applied these beliefs to their political life. By 1640 there were 100,000 Scots in northern Ireland escaping religious persecution. In 1642 civil war broke out throughout England, primarily over the issue of Puritanism vs. the supremacy of the Church of England, and at the same time the Irish Catholics rebelled against the Ulster Scots, as the Scottish settlers in northern Ireland were called. Eight years later the English civil war ended with a Puritan victory, but both the Scots and the Irish were viciously crushed. After the death of Oliver Cromwell, the Puritan leader, Charles II, the son of Charles I, regained the English crown, and the political/religious harassment continued. A subsequent English king, William of Orange, soundly defeated the Irish in battle in 1690, thus assuring that northern Ireland remained in the hands of the Scottish Protestants and not the Irish Catholics. This caused another wave of Scottish immigration to northern Ireland, probably comprising at least 50,000 people.231

     The next wave of Scottish migration involved the movement of approximately a quarter of a million Ulster Scots to the American colonies from 1717 until the beginning of the American revolution in 1776. This great migration was actually part of a much greater exodus from the British Isles, involving British subjects from Wales, the northern English counties, Scotland and Ireland. However, by far, the greatest majority of participants in this migration were the Ulster Scots. The determination of the Ulster Scots to leave was set partially in religious roots, partially in political and economic roots. The religious harassment previously described never really ended, and in some respects accelerated. A new factor, however, was the political-economic aspect combined with the effects of climate and famine.226,391

    When the Scots had first been encouraged to leave their homelands and settle the newly-vacated counties of northern Ireland in the early 1600's, it was hoped that this experiment would eventually develop into a profitable enterprise. By the turn of the century (1700) this dream of King James I was in the process of being fully realized. The counties of northern Ireland were soon blanketed with towns, churches, mills and endless fields of cash crops and grazing sheep. An entire generation of Ulster Scots became accustomed to improved standards of living and hope for the future, which was especially welcome after nearly a thousand years of nearly constant warfare. Production of wool was a natural outcome of the sheep industry, and the cultivation of flax sparked the creation of a great linen industry. The underlying problem, however, was the inability of England to consider Ireland as an equal partner. On paper, Ireland was an integral part of the British kingdom, since, after all, the English monarch was king or queen of Great Britain and Ireland. Furthermore, economically, at least for awhile, Ireland enjoyed equal status as a trading partner, which allowed unrestricted access to colonial markets. The dark side of this endeavor was it's very success, since the export of both wool and linen directly threatened equivalent English industries. Despite initial treatment with equality, at heart, Ireland was still viewed by England as a colony. A series of what were essentially protective tariffs, which treated Ireland more as a foreign power rather than a partner, slowly sealed off Ireland from it's markets. Economic stagnation was the predictable result.226,391

    Another economic factor was a practice referred to as "rack renting", whereby a landlord drastically raised the rent on farm land when the lease terminated. The period of economic success in northern Ireland had been partially based upon a certain stability in prices, with land prices being a major part of this equation. In fact, thousands of Scots had initially been attracted to settle in northern Ireland based upon the enticement of low, long lease terms, which were usually on the order of 31 years - a much longer term than was typical in Scotland at the time. With the onset of economic prosperity, however, landowners (who were predominantly absentee owners from England), responding to increased demand and wishing to profit from the general economic upswing, drastically raised their prices when the leases expired. Many Scots were turned out of properties they had spent a lifetime improving, merely because they could not compete in the bidding process, and much of the land soon reverted to Irish tenants.226,391

    Compounding the religious, economic and political factors was the fact that by 1717 northern Ireland had experienced four successive years of drought. The first round of massive migration occurred from 1717 to 1718, followed by another spurt from 1725 through 1729. A third wave, from 1740 through 1741, corresponded to widespread famine throughout Ireland, and occurred about the same time as the first great push of Scotch-Irish pioneers out of Pennsylvania and up the Great Valley of Virginia. Several more pulses of immigration followed, but, by this time, the Scotch-Irish were well established in North America, and were quickly becoming a major factor in American history. By 1776 these transplanted Scots represented nearly 15% of the American population, and formed the second single largest ethnic assemblage in America. Without a doubt, their anti-English sentiments played a great role in the events that led to the successful American revolution.226,391,231

    When the Scots turned to the new world, there weren't many viable choices. In the first place, they were effectively restricted to the English colonies along the eastern coast of America. The French and Spanish colonies were exclusively Catholic, and were not at all receptive to Protestant English settlers. From a religious toleration point-of-view, though, the English colonies weren't much better. Religious intolerance merely bore a slightly different brand, lacking only the anti-English bias. In the southern colonies of Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia, the Church of England was well established, and not interested in any competition. Furthermore, most of the land there was already tied up in large plantations. Maryland was a Catholic colony, but equally intolerant of alternative religious views, and New York did not have much land available for new settlers. While the New England colonies had been settled by Calvinists, religious brethren of the Scots, the Scots that settled there received a cool reception, and never felt welcome. In Pennsylvania, however, the Scots found not only complete religious freedom, but also abundant, cheap, fertile land, and a welcome invitation from the Quaker proprietors of the colony. Consequently, the bulk of the great huddled masses of Scotch-Irish immigrants entered the new world through the ports of Philadelphia and Chester, Pennsylvania or Newcastle, Delaware.226,391

    The Scots weren't alone in seeking lands in America for another great migration of northern Europeans was already in full swing. Since the late 1600's, thousands of Protestant Germans had been fleeing the Palatinate, a border region between France and Germany, due to religious persecution, and many ended up in the Quaker colony of William Penn for the same reasons that attracted the Scots. This great immigration of Germans continued throughout the period of Scotch-Irish immigration, but, due to language and cultural barriers, the groups rarely mixed. In fact, the history of the settlement of Pennsylvania and the Valley of Virginia is one of new arrivals moving in and homesteading just past the settlements of the other group. As a result, when the Scotch-Irish first began arriving in Pennsylvania in great numbers, they moved beyond the German settlements of the Philadelphia area to the frontier along the eastern side of the Susquehanna River. (Both groups, by the way, named their areas of settlement after places in their home country, hence the names of Donegal, Rapho, Pequea, Drumore, Colerain, Londonderry and Derry began to appear as Pennsylvania place names in areas of Scottish settlements.) When the old "frontier" had filled in this hopscotch manner, settlers spilled over across the river and into the Pennsylvania extension of the Great Valley of Virginia. While the overwhelming majority of Scotch-Irish settlers fanned out westward, it should be noted that one unique area of Scotch-Irish settlement extended to the north into Bucks and Northampton Counties.226,391,403

    By the mid 1730's, lands in the Pennsylvania piedmont and the Great Valley between the Allegheny and Cumberland Mountains became filled with German and Scotch-Irish settlers. Hostile Native Americans and the rugged peaks of the Allegheny Mountains prevented further westward expansion, but the Great Warrior Path, an old Indian trail that followed the valley between the Allegheny and Blue Ridge Mountains, the latter of which was the extension of the Cumberland Mountains into Virginia, provided a natural pathway southward. Just at this time, two huge land grants, the Beverley and Borden Grants, opened up vast tracts of inexpensive land in this valley, drawing huge numbers of Scotch-Irish and Germans settlers from Pennsylvania. The dominance of Scotch-Irish settlers, however, soon lead to this area being known as the "Irish Tract".391

   In summary, the Scotch-Irish began as Stone Age hunter-gatherers, who, after the glaciers had receded, happened to wander into this particular corner of the world to stay. They underwent significant ethnic transformations from both Iron Age Celtic and later Roman conquerors. The resultant ethnic mix of Celts, Romanized Celts and the development of a nearby Germanic Anglo-Saxon kingdom combined to create a volatile and violent region for over a thousand years. Superimposed upon this political landscape was a general conversion to Catholicism; subsequent religious schisms and church/state rivalries that often led to war. The innocent civilians caught in the crossfire and trapped in poverty by the constant warfare moved in search of livable conditions whenever the opportunities presented themselves, and two such situations are represented by mass migrations of Scots. The first to northern Ireland, and the second to the new world. The Scotch-Irish, are, thus, not really Irish, but primarily Scots, many of whom happened to pass through northern Ireland for varying amounts of time on their way to a new life in the new world.

     While the location of this Scotch-Irish Berry family cannot be traced with certainty prior to their appearance in Augusta County, Virginia, they seem to have been part of a flood of northern European immigrants, predominantly German and Scotch-Irish, that traveled down the Great Wagon Road to the valley of Virginia and beyond from Pennsylvania. The Scotch-Irish were almost entirely Presbyterian in religion, and for the most part, consisted of middle class farmers and tradesman who had left Scotland and northern Ireland in response to economic, religious and political pressure from the English. Most arrived in the American colonies by sea in the Philadelphia area, and moved westward to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, which at the time constituted much of the piedmont area between the Pennsylvania continuation of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Shuylkill River (Figure 2). The promise of inexpensive land drew them into the Shenandoah Valley and beyond down the Great Warrior Path, eventually known as the Great Wagon Road, that lay in the basin between the rugged highlands of the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains.403

    While no evidence has yet surfaced to document that the Berrys came from Pennsylvania, it seems quite certain that this was where they lived prior to their arrival in the Beverley and Borden Grants of what eventually became Augusta County, Virginia. Not only was the general trend of Scotch-Irish migration from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania to this area, but also, many of the Borden and Beverley Grant neighbors of the Berrys can be documented in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania prior to their arrival in Virginia. For example, James and Samuel Buchanan, who were originally from Scotland, emigrated from northern Ireland to Lancaster County, and eventually moved on to Walker's Creek in the Borden Grant. The Houston family, also originally from Scotland, moved to the Pequea Creek valley of Chester (later Lancaster) County in the late 1720's. By at least 1742, the ancestors of Sam Houston had moved to the Borden Grant. John Walker, who was born in Scotland, moved to County Down in northern Ireland, and emigrated to Chester County around 1726. A son, Alexander and two nephews moved to the area that became the Borden Grant. Joseph Kennedy, a near neighbor of many of the Berrys, left northern Ireland in 1733 for Lancaster County, and had moved on to the Borden Grant in the late 1730's or early 1740's. William Cathey, Samuel McCutchen, Francis Beaty and Samuel Henry, all neighbors of the Berrys in the Beverley and Borden Grants, traveled the same path. James Jameson was born in northern Ireland, and moved on to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. At least one of his sons, John Jameson, was living in the Beverley Grant near the Berrys by 1744. The Patterson family of the Borden and Beverley Grants stopped off in Lancaster County on their trek from northern Ireland. James Fulton, originally from northern Ireland, settled in Lancaster County in the early 1730's, and had moved on to the Beverley Grant by at least 1742. James and John Gilmore, sons of Thomas Gilmore, were born in northern Ireland, and came to Pennsylvania with a large group of Scotch-Irish immigrants. Both brothers eventually moved on to the Borden Grant. John Craig and the Rev. James Anderson both were Presbyterian ministers from Lancaster County, who also owned land in the Beverley and Borden area. They were quite instrumental in encouraging their congregations to move to the new frontier in Virginia.369,381,384,386,387,388,404

   In addition, many of the families that intermarried with the Berrys passed through Lancaster County, Pennsylvania on their way to the Beverley and Borden Grants. Archibald Cunningham, a possible brother of Mary Cunningham, who married Charles Berry, came to the area from Dromore Township in Lancaster County. William Hall, father in law of George Berry, was originally from northern Ireland, and lived in Lancaster County before moving to the Borden Grant. The Campbells originally hailed from Scotland, and lived in Lancaster County prior to their arrival in the Beverley Grant area. The strongest evidence linking the Berrys to Pennsylvania, however, comes from William MaGill, the father in law of two Berry brothers. James and William Berry, both sons of John Berry, married two daughters of William MaGill, Elizabeth and Jane, respectively. Although there is no primary source data documenting the dates of these marriages, secondary sources indicate that James Berry married Elizabeth Eleanor MaGill about 1737 or 1738. Since it appears that William MaGill was probably living in Lancaster County at this time, probably near present day Carlisle, Pennsylvania, it seems logical to assume that the Berry families were also living in this area. Furthermore, land records from this area, specifically, the Blunston Licenses, note the presence of a James Berry (who certainly could be the brother of the above noted John Berry) as a landowner in the same area. Despite the lack of direct documentation, the preponderance of evidence seems to strongly indicate that the Berrys were living in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, possibly near Carlisle, Pennsylvania, prior to their move to Augusta County, Virginia.21,33,129,369,385,389,390,424


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