Scotch-Irish-L Archives

Archiver > Scotch-Irish > 1998-02 > 0886532008


From: Martin Roberts <>
Subject: Re: Stab at a notion of who our ancestors were
Date: Tue, 03 Feb 1998 12:53:28 -0600


At 01:04 PM 2/1/98 -0800, you wrote:
>Hi, I think I have the answer to the contradiction in the ways in
>which the early settlers to both Ireland and the Americas are
>described.
>Christopher Hill "The World Turned Upside Down" (England, 1975)
>describes England of the 17th century. It consisted of two kinds of
>settlements in the countryside: woodland and pasture on the one hand
>and arable champaign on the other. The unenclosed woodlands were far
>more extensive than now. It included North Essex, the Weald, the
>cheese area of Wiltshire, the industrial parts of Yorkshire and
>Lancashire, forests of Sherwood, Arden, the New Forest, The Northam-
>ptonshire forests, and the highland zones. (p 46) In addition you
>need to realize that the population was exploding.
>Our ancestors are largely drawn from these four types, I suspect.
>The orientation to political involvement given above is in
>relationship to the English Civil War, not the American Revolution.
>
>Linda Merle
>
>

Linda, that is very interesting. My aunt gave me that book, but I never
read it. I'll try it. I like the idea of the masterless, landless,
dispossessed
people. I suspect they were always there. I've been reading Epictetus, a
Roman, educator and ex-slave. He was "masterless".

I suspect these people, as a class, provide the labor resource for armies,
for factories in the industrial revolution, and for the growth of towns
between
the medieval market centers. The idea that many of them emigrated is
probably correct. Certainly the Quakers did.

I am curious about one point in American history - the orientation difference
between the factory North and the Rural South at the time of the American
Civil War. I thought for some time that the difference was religious and
economic. Now I think otherwise. The Virginia Colony was certainly an
official colony - establishment people, royalists, etc. SC was similar. A
more recent settlement in Texas by Germans was done by subscription. I
offer a thesis that the primarily agricultural settlers of the early South
and later midwest and west were not necessarily masterless dispossessed
people, but surplus agriculturists
who were younger sons, etc, and were attracted more by the land opportunity
than by the religious-political freedoms. Agriculturists are not
"masterless". The land, or the bank, or the cooperative, are "masters". The
New England settlers on the other hand, and the Pennsylvania and Maryland
colonies, were most likely the masterless people. They are the people who
developed the entreprenurial economy and the form of capitalism we have today.

This may account somewhat for the liberal political philosophy of many New
Englanders vs the conservatism of the Bible belt agriculturists.

Your point about the political orientation is very good also. I am
convinced that the roots of the American Civil War are in the English Civil
War and the
slavery issue was just the focal point, but not the real reason. The real
reason is the political philosophy differences between the "masterless" and
those who accepted masters, which is rooted in the English civil war and
earlier conflicts.

I think we should be careful, though, about extending the English situation
to the Scotch Irish . There are both types of people among the Scotch
Irish. The people who settled the early NI plantations were probably not
masterless. But the later people who moved to Ireland to escape English
persecution, religious or otherwise, were masterless. I suspect the latter
group makes up the largest
number of American SI immigrants. But there are probably many of the former
here too.

Best regards
Martin
Martin Roberts

This thread: