Ireland's relation to Maryland, Pennsylvania and South Carlina before 1718
The early annals of the Presbyterian church in the colonies south of New England are closely linked with the name of the Rev. Francis Makemie of Ramelton on Lough Swilly, County Donegal, who was licensed by the Presbytery of Lagan in 1681, and came to America soon after. Makemie covered the Atlantic coast colonies in his ministrations, devoting much of his time, however, to Maryland. Before 1690 there were three and perhaps four congregations in Somerset County, which then included Worcester County, Maryland, with their meeting houses at Snow Hill (1684), Manokin, Wicomico, and Rehoboth. These places lie south of the present southern boundary of Delaware. It may be said that although two ministers, Doughty and Hill, were early Presbyterian preachers on the western shore of Chesapeake Bay these settlements on the east side formed the first stronghold of their faith in the South.
Another member of the Lagan Presbytery in Ireland, and a friend of Makemie, was the Rev. William Traill, a Glasgow graduate, who suffered imprisonment for his convictions, and upon his release came to Maryland in 1682. He probably founded the church at or near Rehoboth in Somerset County, where he had influential friends, including Colonel William Stevens, John White, John Shipway and others.
A few months earlier, perhaps in 1681, came the Rev. Thomas Wilson to found a church at Manokin, a settlement now called Princess Anne. It is supposed that Wilson was the minister of the same name who had been at Killybegs, County Donegal. Among his friends were John Galbraith, Archibald Erskine, and David Brown. Possibly also Abraham Gale of Somerset County in 1684 should be counted as a neighbor and friend. Gale s wife Sarah and their sons James and John, sailing from Dublin to Virginia, fell in with a designing rascal who sold their services for a term of years to pay the sum required for their passage, although Gale himself stood ready to pay it.
Another of Wilson s neighbors was John Wallis, Senior, "of Ireland and Monokin Eiver, Somerset County, who was living in 1685 with his wife Jane, his nephew John Wallis, Junior, and his kinsmen Matthew and James Wallis.1 Other settlers from Ireland were there. Edward Eandolph, writing to the Commissioners of Customs from James City, June 27, 1692, adds to our knowledge of the Scotch Irish in Somerset County in the following reference to the new governor of Maryland:
"I hear he has continued Majr King to bee ye Navall Officer in Somerset Coty on ye eastern shore, a place pestred wth Scotch & Irish. About 200 fam ilies have within ye 2 years arrived from Ireland & setled in yl Coty besides some hundred of family s there before. They have set up a linnen Manufac ture, Encouraged thereto by Co11 Brown, a Scotch man, one of ye Councill & by Majr King & other principall persons upon ye place, who support ye Inter lopers & buy up all their Loading upon their first arrivall, & govern ye whole trade on ye Eastern shore, so yl whereas 7 or 8 good ships from Engld did yearly trade & load ye Tobb of y* Coty I find yfc in these 3 years last past there has not been above 5 ships trading legally in all those Eivers, & nigh 30 Sayle of Scotch Irish & New Engld men."
A third Presbyterian minister in this region was the Rev. Samuel Davis, possibly also from Ireland, who is said to have been pastor of the "famous and venerable " church at Snow Hill from an early date until 1698. He afterward settled at Hoarkill, now Lewes, in Delaware. The Eev. Mr. Makemie mar ried a lady of wealth in 1690 and settled in Accomac County, Virginia, a few miles south of Snow Hill. Whether he or Davis was regularly in charge at Snow Hill cannot now be determined. The Makemie Memorial Presbyterian Church perpetuates the memory of his ministry.
Along the western shore of Chesapeake Bay Colonel Ninian Beall was the leading Presbyterian layman. Through his influence a church existed at Patuxent in 1704, and the members included several prominent Fifeshire families of the present Prince George County.
Makemie s successor was the Rev. John Henry, who came froin Ireland in 1709, having been licensed by Armagh Presbytery in 1708. Although Makemie was the chief Presbyterian minister of the early pioneers there were several others in the colonies at about this period. They are little more than names to us, but they did faithful service, going from plantation to plantation along the rivers, preaching in the open air or in houses, where no church existed, and living as traders when bread could not be earned by the work of the ministry. The Rev. Josias Mackie came to Elizabeth River, Virginia the lands about Norfolk from St. Johnstown, County Donegal, a town destined to try the soul of New England s Scotch Irish leader, Boyd, half a century later when he had returned to Ulster. The Rev. John Hamp ton, probably "master John of Burt," whose school days were brightened by money from the Presbytery of Lagan, settled at Snow Hill, and the Rev. George McNish, Scotch or Irish, officiated at Manokin and Wicomico. Others were the Rev. Hugh Conn of our present Bladensburg, Maryland, the Rev. Robert Orr of Maidenhead, New Jersey, the Rev. John Thomson of Lewes, and the Rev. Samuel Gelston who went down after a sojourn in New England to preach at Opequon in Virginia.
A question arises in considering the history of these early churches of Maryland and Virginia; Were the Scotch Irish a real factor here before the year 1718, the date of the great migration to New England? In Maryland Presbyterianism was of the mild English type, and we find Presbyterians joining with Episcopalians in an appeal for an Established Church as a protection against the spread of Roman Catholicism. The same type of Presbyterianism prevailed in Philadelphia during the ministry of the Rev. Jedediah Andrews, a Yankee in the Quaker city. It is probable therefore that very few communicants, aside from the ministers, had ever lived in Ireland.
While few Presbyterians came from Ireland before 1718, the Quaker migration certainly began as early as 1682. The failure of this Quaker migration to influence the coming of Scotch Irish settlers is curiously illustrated by a table in Mr. Myers's invaluable book on the Irish Quakers in Pennsylvania. We learn there that of the one hundred and sixtyfive families that came during the thirty-five years from 1682 to 1717 only one left a home in County Antrim, and none came from Londonderry or Tyrone, the Scotch Irish counties, whatever Scotch Irish migration from Ulster existed before 1718 was not influenced by the Quakers example.
In the next thirty-two years, 1718 to 1750, a period covering the great Scotch Irish migration from Ulster, two hundred and sixty-five Quaker adults or families came to Pennsylvania. Of these there were one hundred and thirty-five from Ulster, or just one half. They came largely from the meetings at Antrim, Ballinderry, Ballinacree and Lisburn, in county Antrim, the heart of the Scotch Irish country, and from Ballyhagan, Grange, and Lurgan, county Armagh. This tide, however, did not really set in until after the Scotch Irish had begun their removal, or until 1729, when in one year twenty-nine left Ireland as against seventeen in the preceding nine years. Evidently the sudden increase in the Ulster Quaker migration was due to the economic disturbances of the years 1728 and 1729, discussed so fully in Archbishop Boulter's letters. It follows, therefore, that the Scotch migration of 1718 from Ulster was in no manner influenced by the migration of Quakers. That Quakers and Presbyterians had family ties may be inferred, however, from the fact that James Logan, the Quaker, William Perm's friend, and Secretary of Pennsylvania, was a cousin of the Rev. William Tennent, who came to America from Ireland and settled at East Chester, New York in 1718. Tennent became one of the great leaders in the Presbyterian church.
The passengers who arrived at Philadelphia from Ireland earlier than 1718 were for the most part Quakers or Celtic Irish. We have few contemporary references to the arrival of Scotch Irish companies of settlers, until the American Weekly Mercury of October 27, 1720, mentions a brigantine from Londonderry with ninety passengers on board. These were probably Presbyterians. The Presbyterian influence in the colonies was never strong until the migration from Ulster began. Mr. J. S. Futhey in his history of Upper Octorara Church bears testimony to this, and Mr. W. D. Mackey in his history of the church at White Clay Creek is another witness. Moreover, the Scotch Irish type of Maryland Presbyterianism was just coming into prominence when the Rev. Thomas Craighead went from Freetown in Massachusetts to become the first pastor at White Clay Creek in 1724.
The next port on the coast which is associated with Scotch Irish immigrants at an early date is Charleston. About the year 1683, if we may rely upon tradition, several emigrants, influenced by Sir Richard Kyrle, a Protestant Irishman of some note, and led by a man named Ferguson, landed there, although little is known of them. One tangible fact, indeed, we have in the presence at Charleston in 1692 of Richard Newton whose brother Marmaduke Newton still remained at Carrickfergus in old Ireland.
The first Presbyterian church in Charleston was organized about 1685, with communicants largely if not entirely from Scotland and New England. It enjoyed a prosperous history for half a century. The Rev. Archibald Stobo of the original or " White Meeting House " became a famous Charleston preacher. He and his wife had come ashore in 1699 from the ship "Bising Sun," which then lay off the bar under jury masts, he having received an invitation to preach. A hurricane approaching unexpectedly, the ship and all her company, except Mr. and Mrs. Stobo and the longboat's crew, were lost. The people were on their way to Scotland from the unfortunate colony at Darien.
The Rev. Mr. Stobo was an ardent missionary, and his efforts to widen the borders of his church by the creation of new congregations and the erection of new places for worship were successful. A letter from South Carolina published in 1710 speaks of five " British Presbyterian " ministers then in the colony. These preachers heralded the faith which was in another generation to make itself felt in South Carolina, when the real migration from Ireland should begin.
The following incident is worthy of record here. A certain Mr. John Jarvie had been ordained by the Presbytery of Belfast instead of by that of Down as had been decreed by the Synod. An explanation of the irregularity was given by Mr. Robert Wilson, merchant, of Belfast: "That there was a ship in the Logh of Belfast bound for South Carolina ; that the seamen and passengers amount to the number of 70 ; that it was earnestly desir'd that they may have a Chaplain on board, and if ordain'd, so much the better for the voyage, and also for the person to be ordain'd and the country whither they are bound therefor desir'd, seeing Mr. Jarvie inclines to sail in the ship, that he may be ordain'd before he go, and that it may be done as soon as possible, because the ship will soon be clear to sail." It is possible that these passengers were from Glasgow, since nearly all ships from that port called at Belfast on the voyage to America. Whether Scotch or Scotch Irish we cannot decide, but they sailed from an Irish port with one of Irelands Presbyterian ministers on board, and arrived at Charleston, probably in the summer of the year 1714.
Evidently there were a few Scotch Irish in and near Charleston, and on the rich lands between Philadelphia and Wilmington, at an early date. In New York also they held a place, and in the Presbyterian churches on Long Island. But in no case did the migrations before 1718 have great influence. They were, it is true, responses to a spirit of discontent and unrest in Ulster, but low rates of transportation on account of trade in tobacco had their force as well.
Such were the conditions at the opening of the year 1718. Yet we shall see that in less than a decade after Boyd and McGregor had set foot in New England, the ports of Philadelphia, Newcastle and Charleston were swarming with the Scotch Irish. James Logan of Pennsylvania reported in 1727 the arrival of eight or nine emigrant ships that autumn, and in 1729 six vessels in a single week Game into port.
Before the year 1718 the growth of Scotch Irish influence and numbers cannot safely be measured by the spread of Presbyterianism, yet its early ecclesiastical history is of contributive value. In the year 1704 or 1705 the ministers who gathered in Philadelphia to ordain and install the Rev. Jedediah Andrews of Boston agreed to form a General Presbytery. These men were :
Francis Makemie, Behoboth.
Nathaniel Taylor, Upper Marlborough.
John Wilson, Newcastle.
George McNish, Manokin.
John Hampton, Snow Hill.
Samuel Davis, Lewes.
Jedediah Andrews, Philadelphia.
Although the Scotch Irish have their full share in this list of ministers, the people who listened to their sermons were very largely of Scotch and English ancestry ; and in the next decade their growing families and the arrival of their friends from abroad so increased the number of Presbyterians that in 1717 the General Presbytery became a Synod with four presbyteries, Philadelphia, Newcastle, Snow Hill, and Long Island, and twenty-nine ministers. Twenty years later the number of ministers had trebled, for the great tide of migration which was identified with New England in 1718 soon turned toward Philadelphia.