The arrival of "five ships" in August, 1718
It would not be difficult to picture to ourselves the excitement produced by the preparations of those who contemplated removing to America. Families were closely allied in Ulster, and the affairs of each one interested a wide circle. The itinerant weaver brought from Dublin tales of the New World, more or less accurate accounts of the life across the At lantic, derived from ship captains, or even from American students at the University there. The frequent assignment of ministers for temporary service in other parishes than their own was a means of carrying the news. A few years after Boyd set forth Archbishop Boulter said that the desire for emigration had gone through Ulster like a fever; and we may well believe that letters from Cotton Mather, William Homes and Thomas Craighead had great influence.
There was much to be done by a family before removal. A supply of food, clothing and bedding was necessary; and the house-hold goods had to be packed for the long voyage. The land, the farm animals and the heavier tools must be sold. These were busy days, and the partings must have been hard for all, unless friends hoped to follow soon. In leaving their Churches the emigrants did not fail to procure testimonials of good standing to be used in forming fresh religious ties in New England. We find mention of these testimonials at Rutland, at Needham, Middleboro and elsewhere, but rarely the actual text. That brought over by William Caldwell, one of the defenders of Londonderry, was lost only a few years ago. It was written on parchment the size of a half sheet of note paper.
"The bearer, William Caldwell, his wife Sarah Morrison, with his children, being designed to go to New England in America These are therefore to testifie they leave us without scandal, lived with us soberly and inoffensively, and may be admitted to Church priviledges. Given at Dunboe Aprile 9, 1718, by Jas. Woodside, Jr. Minister."
Parker, in his History of Londonderry, says that the pioneers "embarked in five ships for Boston, and arrived there August 4, 1718. " This statement has been repeated wherever the Scotch Irish have been mentioned, but with no added information since Parker's day. In one place only can the names of the ships be found, and it is not a little strange that no student of the subject up to this time has had the curiosity to bring these names to light. They are to many thousands of people as important as the Mayflower and the Speedwell are to those of pilgrim descent. Only one newspaper was being issued in North America in 1718, and of the files for July, August and September but one copy of each issue is known to exist. At the rooms of the Massachusetts Historical Society I examined these papers, and here print every known detail regarding arrivals from Ireland at the port of Boston for these three months.
It is our phenomenal good fortune that at this precise moment a gentleman in Boston was watching each ship as it discharged its passengers, and was writing his impressions to Governor Winthrop of Connecticut. The Scotch Irish had no William Bradford nor John Winthrop to chronicle their transplanting, but the Boston News-Letter and Thomas Lechmere's letters give us a not unworthy picture of the arrival nearly two centuries ago. To these sources let us add the diary of Cotton Mather, the patron of the "poor Scotch."
The News-Letter for July 21-28 mentions the arrival from Ireland of the ship "William and Mary," James Montgomery, master; the issue for August 25-September states that she had cleared for Dublin.
The "William and Mary" brought over the Rev. William Boyd of Macosquin, the leader of the movement ; and Cotton Mather writes July 25th : "A minister arrived from Ireland, wth Instructions to enquire after ye circumstances of this countrey in order to ye coming of many more, gives me an opportunity for many services. "
The next day Mather says : "The many Families arriving from Ireland, will afford me many opportunities, for kindness to ye Indigent/ Mather here uses " arriving " to mean "about to arrive," having found through conversation with Mr. Boyd that many settlers were on their way from Ireland.
The first of the Scotch-Irish emigrant ships is referred to in the News-Letter of July 28-August 4 as from Londonderry, John Wilson, master, but the ship's name is not given. She probably came in on the 28th, for Lechmere, having been instructed by his brother-in-law Winthrop to find a suitable miller among incoming passengers, wrote on the 28th at "Eleven of ye Clock at night": "Shipps are comeing in hourly, but no news; Irish familys enough; above 200 souls are come in allready, & many now hourly expected ; so that I wish you were here ; they are none to be sold, have all paid their passages sterls in Ireland; they come upon some encouragement to settle upon some unimproved Lands, upon what other Towns I know not."
The next issue of the News-Letter seems to refer to this arrival in the following advertisement : Sundry Boys times for Years by Indentures, young Women and Girls by the Year, portable Linnen, Woolen and Beef to be disposed of by Mr. William Wilson at his Warehouse in Merchants Bow, Boston."
It may seem difficult to harmonize the varying views of Mather and Lechmere as to the standing of these emigrants, but Lechmere was interested in the better class, men with trades who had left remunerative occupations to come to New England, and they of course paid their passage-money before their arrival here. In the same ships came kinsmen who had no property and could cross the ocean only by agreeing to work out their passage-money. The passengers of this kind probably became the Worcester Colony. And with them were a few ignorant adventurers who came over as indentured servants to try their fortunes ; in these Mather as a minister felt a kindly interest. But there is evidence that in several of the ships of July and August there were many prosperous, religious families from the counties of Londonderry and Antrim, influenced to migrate by Boyd, McGregor, McKeen, Gregg and other leaders.
The second emigrant ship reached Boston on the 4th of August, the traditional date of arrival among the descendants of the settlers of the New Hampshire Londonderry. The vessel is referred to in the News-Letter of August 4-11 as the brigantine "Robert," James Ferguson, master, "from Glasgow and Belfast in Ireland. The same day Lechmere, writing to Winthrop for himself and his wife Ann, says : "I have this day according [to] yor directions made Enquiry after a miller, & a Vessel comeing in this day from Scottland, I find there is a young fellow of about 24 years of age. . . . This day are likewise Severall Vessells come in from all Parts, but no News ; I am of Opinion all the north of Ireland will be over here in a little time, here being another Vessell yt is a Third, with Irish familys come in, & 5 more, as they say, expected, & if their report be true, as I this day heard, if the Encouragem" given to these be liked at Irland ; 20 ministers with their congregations in generall will come over in Spring; I wish their comeing so over do not prove fatall in the End." Lechmere's letter settles the point that the ship which arrived about the 25th with Mr. Boyd did not bring Scotch emigrants. We have then:
July 28th? - , John Wilson, from Londonderry.
August 4th. Robert, James Ferguson, from Glasgow and Belfast.
August 4th. William, Archibald Hunter, from Coleraine.
The third Scotch Irish emigrant ship, the "William," set sail from Coleraine, the heart of the district from which most of the early settlers came. The News-Letter of August 4-11 mentions the ship " William, " Archibald Hunter, from Coleraine; she cleared for Ireland the last week in August. Lechmere refers to her as the third ship with Irish fam ilies that had arrived, and states that she and the "Robert" entered on the same day.
Cotton Mather's dream of a great migration from Protestant Ireland was coming true. On the 7th of August he writes : "But what shall be done for the great Numbers of people, that are transporting themselves thither from ye North of Ireland : Much may be done for ye Kingdom of God in these parts of ye world, by this Transportation. " A month later, September 13th, he says: "Among ye Families arrived from Ireland, I find many & wondrous objects for my compassions. Among other methods of helping ym, I would enclose a sum of money wth a Nameless Letter, unto one of their ministers to be distributed among ym."
Although these emigrants were viewed with distrust by most New Englanders, the two chief figures in Boston at this time, Mather and showed their ministers marked courtesy. On the 9th of August, Sewall writes in his diary that at seven "Mr. Macgregor and Mr. Boyd dine with me and my Son J. S. and James Clark. Gave the Scots Ministers each of them one of my Proposals."
Meanwhile Winthrop wrote from Connecticut that the miller whom Lechmere had selected was too expensive and hinted that his brother-in-law had been overreached. Lechmere was an improvident aristocrat, brother to Lord Lechmere, and Winthrop had reason at this time and later on to question the judgment of this husband of his sister. Lechmere replied rather hotly, and his estimate of the Scotch Irish, while not entirely reliable under these circumstances, is worthy of record. The letter is dated at Boston August 11, 1718, and reads: "As to ye Miller, the price is really as you are informed & whoever tells you that Servants are cheaper now then they were, it is a very gross mistake, & give me leave to tell you your Informer has given you a very wrong information about ye cheapness thereof, for never were they dearer then now, there being such demand for them, & likewise pray tell him he is much out of the way to think that these Irish are Servants, they are generally men of Estates, & are come over hither for no other reason but upon Encouragement sent from hence upon notice given ym they should have so many acres of Land given them gratis to settle our frontiers as a barrier against ye Indians ; therefore ye notion given you hereof is absolutely groundless ; the price of the Miller as proposed was 20 & did not think of selling his time under sd sum, but since I wrote you he tells me would not stand with me for 20 or 30 £ thinking I should pay him ready money for him. It is now too late to think any thing farther of him. Many inquireing after him, & he was kept for yor answer, which I think is somewhat darke, but lett that be what it will, could I advance so much bank stock, which is very low, I should still endeavr to gett him, & so it being out of my power I must wholly desist from any such thought. I know ypr necessity is such I would willingly do anything for yr interest was I capable.
I should be glad you would send my Gunn down by some body or other. These confounded Irish will eat us all up provisions being most extravagantly dear & scarce of all sorts."
The News-Letter which notices the arrival of the ship " William " mentions also the ship "Mary Anne," Andrew Watt, master, from Dublin; she cleared about a fortnight later for Great Britain.
It is doubtful if the "Mary Anne" brought any Scotch Protestants from Dublin as part of the Bann Valley company. But the emigrants on the other ships beheld what must have been an unprecedented sight in Boston harbor, five ships from Ireland lying at anchor at the same time, the " William and Mary," the ship of the unknown name, the "Robert,& quot; the "William" and the "Mary Anne." This doubtless made a deep and lasting impression upon minds alert to every new sight and thought as the emigrants were borne slowly up the beautiful bay.
A month later a second ship from Dublin, the "Dolphin," John Mackay, master, came in. The News-Letter which notices her arrival has this to say of her cargo :
"Just arrived the Pink Dolphin John Mackay, Master, with Servants, Boys, Tradesmen, Husband men, and Maids, to be disposed of by Mr John Walker, at his Warehouse at the lower end of Woodmansy Wharff in Merchants Kow, or at Mr Benja min Walker s House over against the Town House, Boston."
There were few if any Scotch Irish on the "Dol phin," but on the first of September a fourth emi grant ship arrived, the "Maccallum," James Law, master, from Londonderry. Lechmere states that she brought "20 odd familys," and among the pas sengers was probably a Scotch schoolmaster to whom Mather refers September 6th as here from Ireland and wanting employment. From Lechmere s letter it may be questioned whether the com pany on the "Maccallum" was closely allied with those on the ships from Belfast and Coleraine. He writes: "This day a Ship arrived from Irland wth 20 odd familys ; they were first bound for N London but haveing a long Passage the Mrs perswaded ym to putt in here, so the poor Creatures are left in ye Lurch. From the statement that their destination was not that of the other emigrants although they must have embarked at about the same time, it would seem that they had other plans in view, and had not come under the immediate influence of Boyd and McGregor. This company probably came with the Eev. James Woodside of Garvagh, in the Bann Val ley.
The bargaining which went on for a week between Captain Law of the "Maccallum" and Captain Rob ert Temple, later a famous colonizer in Maine, came to naught. Temple could not persuade Law and his company to continue their voyage to Connecti cut, and on the eighth of September the "Maccallum& quot; sailed out of Boston harbor, for the territory owned by the Gentlemen Proprietors of Eastern Lands, at the mouth of the Kennebec Eiver. Law then perhaps satisfied his desire to take on a load of staves at or near Kittery on the Piscataqua and returned to Boston by October 7th, when he ap peared in court to give surety for several of his passengers. He cleared for Londonderry the first week in December, 1718.
Lechmere s letter describing the affair is so good an account of the trials of the bewildered and nearly helpless emigrants that I continue the quotation begun above: . . . " Pray if any thereof should still have any inclination to come yor way to settle in Connecticut, I should be glad. You would aggree to their Settling about Tantiusques, wh in my Opin ion is ye best place, & Mr . Temple is doeing what he can still to perswade ye Mr . to proceed for yr place, he intends to load Bolts & Staves home for Ireland & when I saw him among other talke I assured him he might load cheaper wth you then at Piscataqua ; how sd Mr. Temple will worke on him I know not. Ye method they go in wth ye Irish is they sell ym so many Acres of Land for 12d ye acre & allow ym time to pay yl in. I know Land is more Valuable wth you, & therefore I am afraid twill be ye more difficult to aggree with ym. Ye only thing I can think off is yr Quantity you allow ym must be the less, you are the best judge so I leave it wholly to you, tho at same time should be glad of yr Thought thereof, & assure you ytt in my opinion it would be greatly for yr Interest. "
Lechmere s next letter shows Temple working to induce the company to settle at Merrymeeting Bay at the mouth of the Androscoggin. In this he was successful, and it is possible that the experience first turned his mind seriously to the transportation of Ulstermen to these Eastern lands. During the next two years several ships came over under his man agement with settlers for the Kennebec. The letter follows :
" Boston Sept 8th 1718. "As to ye Irish, I have acquainted Mr. Temple with what you write, he seem s not willing they should take up wth ytt proposal! you mention ; ye Gent. Propriet.& quot; of ye Eastern Lands hearing, I was talkeing with ym about Settling some of them have (as I hear) made new proposalls to them wherupon they have resolved with sd Mr Temple to visitt said Lands whither they are bound this afternoon; what they will conclude on I know not."
The deposition of David Dunning of Brunswick1 in 1767 states that "on or about the year 1718 he came first to Boston in the same vessel with Andrew McFadden and wife (now a widow) ; soon after we came in the same vessel down together to the east ern country, and I have lived in Brunswick ever since 1718. " Jane McFadden stated that they moved down to the Kennebec Eiver and up Merrymeeting Bay to a place called Cathance (now Bowdoinham). Here we seem to trace the company which came over in the " Maccallum ; if the inference is correct this company left a record on Cyprian Southack s map of 1720 as "the Irish new settlement." McFadden came from Garvagh in the Bann Valley, and was probably of the Eev. James Woodside s company. "We should expect all emigrants from the Bann to be followers of the Eev. "William Boyd, who had come out to Governor Shute as their accredited agent, but it is possible that Boyd and Woodside were not in sympathy, since Woodside s company intended to settle in New London a town never mentioned by Boyd or McGregor.
The News-Letter for September 22-29, 1718, prints a report that a vessel had arrived at Casco Bay from Ireland, with several passengers on board, and a minister. This report refers no doubt to this company which sailed out of Boston harbor on Sep tember 8th.
The followers of McGregor and James McKeen, also from the Bann Valley, must have sailed later in the season, for their ship upon arriving at Casco Bay was frozen in. Major Samuel Gregg in his rem iniscences says that his grandfather James Gregg, a bleacher of linen cloth, in the Eev. Mr. Boyd s parish of Macosquin, near Coleraine, landed at Bos ton August 4th "with several other passengers that came in other ships. The ship that they [Gregg s immediate neighbors] came in as passengers went down East and spent the winter at Casco which is now called Portland."
This incident is so well established in the traditional history of the Londonderry Scotch-Irish it accords so well with the known facts that we may accept the statement that Gregg and his friends who went to Casco Bay sailed in the ship in which they had crossed the ocean. These men under the immediate leadership of the Eev. James McGregor came from Coleraine and neighboring towns in the Bann Valley, and the next spring (1719) they founded Nutfield, now Londonderry, New Hampshire. It would seem to be a reasonable assumption that the Nutfield colony, including the few who remained at Casco Bay, had crossed the sea on the ship " Wil liam," which left Coleraine in April or May, or on the brigantine "Bobert" from Belfast, a more at tractive port of departure, or in both ships. The "William" is reported as "cleared" in the News- Letter for August 25-September 1 and as "outward bound" September 15-22. She seems to have re turned to Ireland.
Ferguson, captain of the "Bobert," was in town October 7th to attend court; and this suggests that he may have lain in the outer harbor during the time intervening between his clearing from Boston and his attendance at court. With him on the voyage from Ireland came John Armstrong, his wife and five children, who were unable to convince the au thorities in Boston that they were self-supporting. Captain Ferguson was ordered before the Court of General Sessions of the Peace to answer "for bring ing in his vessell and landing in this Town John Armstrong, his wife and five children who cannot give Security to Indemnify the Town as the Law requires. " Ferguson s explanation that three of the children were servants by indenture did not en tirely satisfy the Court, and it was " Ordered that the s d fferguson carry the s d Armstrong wife & two youngest Children out of the Province or Indemnify the Town." Finally the Captain and William Wil son, at whose wharf they probably landed, became sureties in £100 each that the Armstrong family, would not come back upon the town for support. If this is the same John Armstrong who later in the year heads a petition from the Scotch Irish set tlers at Falmouth, this is very good evidence that he, who certainly came over from Belfast in the brigantine "Bobert," soon after went in her to Casco Bay with the little company from the Bann Valley. On the whole this seems probable, and it would follow that the Eev. James McGregor and his well-to-do connection, the Greggs, McKeens and others who according to Major Gregg crossed the ocean in the ship which afterward carried them to Casco Bay, journeyed a few miles to Belfast to take passage in the "Bobert," while the families in more moderate condition, with the heavier freight, came down the Bann from Coleraine in the larger ship, the "William."
We get some impression of the appearance of these ships from the view of Boston drawn by William Burgis in 1722 and commonly called Price's View. Lying off Boston are many forms of craft, some at anchor and others bending to a good breeze. In the foreground are two stately vessels, one like the " William, " a ship with full body, a blunt bow and high stern, three masts and a wealth of rigging ; another like the t i Eobert, with more rounding bow and stern, a foremast square rigged like those of the ship, but with the main mast fore-and-aft rigged like a sloop. The "Kobert" we think of as a herma phrodite brig, but the English sailor of old would have called her a brigantine, as she was classed by the News-Letter.
It requires some effort to realize that a great part of our population owes its place on this side the Atlantic to the slow, clumsy but rather impressive ships of the types to be seen in the drawing by Burgis. Nor do we easily comprehend the weariness of the voyage or even its hazard. The Pirate and the God of Storms shared an annual harvest of lives and fortunes. Let us take two incidents in a single year. The ship "Friends Goodwill" left Larne on the coast of Antrim about the first of May in the year 1717. Meeting constant head winds the ship made very poor progress, and food ran so low that the fifty-two persons on board came to want. Cap tain Gooding or Goodwin fortunately fell in with another vessel and obtained provisions. Continual bad weather brought further delay, and hunger again threatened. Short allowance of water, bread, and meat brought only a temporary reprieve from starvation, and the crew soon were set to catching dolphins and sharks which a "good Providence " placed in their path. Eains came and the water was gathered from the decks to quench the thirst. When May, June and July, months of constant anxiety, had passed August brought so great a storm that the ship lay like a thing deserted, her decks awash, her sailors weak and exhausted. With September the sun shone, but their hunger increased, and in des peration they began to speak of drawing lots to de cide whom should be eaten first. The Captain how ever now held out hope of land and about the second week of September the "Friends Goodwill crept up Boston harbor with only one of her com pany dead.
A pirate could hardly do greater damage. Cap tain Codd who came into Philadelphia from Dublin in October with one hundred and fifty passengers, many of them servants, reported having been taken off the Capes by Teach of "the Pirate sloop Eevenge of 12 Guns and 150 men." Teach took two snows; from one he threw overboard a great load of staves and crowded her with the passengers and crews of subsequent captures ; from the other he cast a load of grain and turned her into a pirate ship. Out of a sloop bound from Madeira Teach took twenty-seven pipes of wine, cut down her masts, and left her to drift. From another he took two casks and sank her. Other captures were made before Codd was per mitted to complete his voyage. During this enforced delay the victims saw much of Captain Bennet who had relinquished the command of the " Eevenge " to Teach on account of his slow recovery from wounds received in a recent fight with a Spanish Man of War. Bennet took a walk in his "morning gown" after each day s breakfast, and then devoted his time to study, surrounded by his books, of which he had a good library on board. The pirate, with his guns and his books, was more than the average mer chantman could hope to resist. He added terror to the long voyage of the emigrant from Ireland.