Scoth Irish Presbyterian Back  to home page:
  Last Revised Nov 2003
Spendlove Genealogy
Robert Mckee 1692 of Ireland.  
Died 11 June 1774 Rockbridge, Virginia.  
Agnes Cunningham, wife of Robert McKee  Born:  2 Feb 1707 Drumbo, Down, Ireland

Scotch-Irish Presbyterian
This following  from:
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The term Scotch-Irish refers to those from Scotland who lived for a time in Northern Ireland, Ulster, before going to America.

The Scotch and Scotch-Irish peoples, heritage, and culture were then, and are, entirely separate and distinct from that of the Irish of Ireland.

The term Scotch-Irish denotes only that they were in Northern Ireland for a time. Very little intermarriage occurred between these Scotch and the native Irish of Ireland.

The Scotch-Irish in Northern Ireland were predominantly Protestant and the Irish in Ireland were predominantly Catholic in the 1700's-1800's, as they are today. ...

"The Scotch-Irish were the descendants of Scotsmen who in the seventeenth century had crossed to Ireland to dwell (there)....Presbyterian, they hated the native Catholic and the Anglican landlord whose Established Church they had to support with tithes....

"The Scotch-Irish trekked inland, settling not only in Pennsylvania, but pushing on into western Maryland, the Virginia Valley, and the Carolina frontier lands.

"A rugged folk...individualistic, yet reared in the rough democracy of their church, they read their Bibles with their guns cocked as they made their way into the wilderness.

"To the Quakers whose pacifism...they could not fathom, they were a source of constant irritation.

"Contentious and self-assertive, as frontiersmen generally are, they (the Scotch-Irish) flouted government when it countered what they deemed to be their natural rights and interests.

"However, in their faults lay strength.

"It was the Scotch-Irish who also struck the lustiest blows for learning. Although they often lived in primitive conditions, these Presbyterians--like their theological counterparts in New England--were bent on being literate.

"To gratify their yearning for the classical discipline and also, of course, to set the course for their coming men of God, the Scotch Presbyterians opened a number of grammar schools, among which was the Presbyterian Grammar School at New London, was probably the best known.

"Our fathers were an intelligent and moral people. School houses and churches rose in every settlement after the cabins of the settlers.

"In their schools, reading, writing, arithmetic, trigonometry and practical geometry were the branches chiefly taught, as they were of most immediate use.

"The Bible was the standard daily reader (in school) and on Saturday morning, the Assembly's shorter Catechism was recited by all the schools as a regular exercise.

"Religion was the ruling principle in the home, the school and the church--the religion of the Bible.

"The moral and religious sentiment of the community...was the great conservator and arbiter of right.

"The punishment for lying, for idleness, dishonesty or ill-fame of any kind was meted out with exactness.

"If a theft was something of value, a jury of the neighborhood would condemn the culprit to the penalty of Moses' law, forty stripes save one.

"But the stripes were laid on with able hands and the criminal was frequently given so many days to leave the settlement.

"A man who failed to do his military duty, to go out on a scout, a campaign, when it was his turn, found epithets of dishonor clinging to him for years.

"They were hospitable and brave, honest in their dealings, constant in their friendships, and were of a hardy industry. While amongst them were many families of gentle and easy manners, courtly in their address, intelligent and refined, polite such as to this day are spoken of as 'the gentlemen of the old school.'

"Nor should we omit to speak of that quiet energy of character, that patient endurance of hardships, and submission to domestic privations which characterized the women of that day.

"Many of them were called to bear a prominent part in many a bloody scene and perilous adventure. Many a tale has come down to us of female suffering and of female presence of mind in moments of imminent peril.

"Our mothers were worthy of the men of their day, women who trained their children to fear God, to reverence the Sabbath, the Bible, and the church, to respect toil, to love honor and honesty, to scorn falsehood and meanness; who told their sons to be generous, brave, and manly, and their daughters to be helpful, patient and true."

The Scotch-Irish in America at the time of the American Revolution were overwhelmingly for independence from England, nearly to a man.

Washington's adopted son George Washington Parke Custis, wrote:

"In the War of Independence, Ireland furnished 100 men for every single man furnished by any other nation. Let America bear eternal gratitude to Irishmen."

Custis was obviously referring to Northern Ireland, Ulster and the Scotch-Irish who turned out in massive numbers to support the American Revolution. The Scotch Irish were referred to as Irishmen because of their living in and coming from Northern Ireland or Ulster.

The Irish from other parts of Ireland other than Ulster played a very small part in the American Revolution. Some units of that part of Ireland fought for the British, in fact, and had done so since the French and Indian War. But not the Scotch-Irish.

George Washington himself is quoted as saying the following,

"When our friendless standards were first unfurled, who were the strangers who first mustered around our staff, and when it reeled in the fight, who more brilliantly sustained it than Erin's generous sons." He was again referring to the Scotch-Irish from Northern Ireland, Ulster.

"May the God of Heaven, in His justice and mercy, grant thee more prosperous fortunes, and in His own time, cause the sun of Freedom to shed its benign radiance on the Emerald Isle."

Once again these words of Washington also speak of his own deep religious faith, as well as the fight of the Scotch-Irish in the north of Ireland, Ulster, and their long fight for freedom from England.

While the population of the larger cities of Philadelphia and New York City was nearly equally divided, one half pro-British and the other half pro-Revolution, the Scotch-Irish, a large portion of which were out on the western frontier were nearly 100% for the Revolution and independence, wherever they were.

It is my own estimate that as much as 25-35% of Washington's Continental and Militia army was composed of Scotch-Irish frontiersmen. There are no hard figures on this estimate but we may be able to make a more exact estimate in a couple of years. The Scotch-Irish population in America during the Revolution was only approximately 6-8%.

The Battle of Kings Mountain, South Carolina, a major victory for Washington's army in the South, was won by Scotch-Irish frontiersmen who made a forced march over the mountains from Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, surprising the British as they neared Kings Mountain.

These were the two major victories in the South by the Revolutionary army, at Kings Mountain and Cowpens, South Carolina.

George Washington said that his best and most dependable fighters in the American Revolution were the Scotch-Irish and his soldiers of German descent in his Army. They were expert marksmen.

The story is told of some of these Pennsylvania and Virginia frontiersmen at Boston in 1775, while awaiting the attack against the British there which never came because Washington had captured the heights overlooking the British down below, that the frontiersmen dressed in their buckskin uniforms had become legendary even then.

It is said that while awaiting the battle to start, the frontiersmen in the afternoon would wait for the British officers to come out of their tents in their resplendent uniforms. Upon seeing them, the frontiersmen with their long rifles would take aim and fire with deadly accuracy and take out the officers.

The long rifles could fire up to 300 yards and the muskets of the British could fire only half that distance, so the riflemen would remain out of range and fire with the deadly accuracy which came from their frontier living. It was pretty tough being a British officer in Boston at that time with those frontier riflemen around.

In the 13 colonies overall in 1776, about two-thirds of the population were for the patriot cause, or for independence from England. The Scotch-Irish were among the first to volunteer to fight the British in 1775.

Many of the Scotch and Scotch-Irish had been battling the English for nearly 100 years by the time the American Revolution came along, doing so earlier in Northern Ireland and, earlier still, in Scotland. They had fought them, at Culloden Moor in 1745,  in The Battle of Derry in Ulster, at The Battle by the River Boyne on July 1, 1690, and elsewhere in the 1600's.

The Scotch-Irish were attuned to despotism in all its variety of shades from a 100 year's experience with England, and fought England's efforts to take away their liberties and freedom with all their might and strength. They were willing to lay down their lives, if necessary, in order to gain freedom. Many did lay down their lives for the cause of liberty and freedom.

For the Scotch-Irish, their Scottish Presbyterian faith under John Knox--who had confronted the Queen of England earlier for religious and personal freedom and independence--undergirded and supported their fight in America and gave them a legacy in fighting for religious and political independence from England.

Their Scotch-Irish Presbyterian pastors were for independence and openly preached it from their pulpits. There was no such thing as "separation of church and state" at that time.

The Scotch-Irish, almost all Presbyterians, were located along the Cumberland Valley of Pennsylvania, the Valley of Virginia along the Blue Ridge, and on the Western frontier of the Carolinas as shown on the map above.