21 June 2011

Tar Heel Tuesday - Highland Scots in North Carolina

North Carolina was the most popular colony for Highland Scots to migrate to during the 1700's, according to the North Carolina History Project. What made North Carolina so attractive to these Highlanders?

In part, their intense immigration was likely due to the ten-year tax exemption they were granted by royal governor (and Scottish immigrant) Gabriel Johnston in 1739. In addition, Johnston offered Scottish immigrants other perks for choosing to settle in North Carolina, including land grants in the Upper Cape Fear region.

During this time in Scotland, Highlanders were being evicted from their land or paying rapidly increasing rent monies on their property. Between the land grants and the promised decade of living tax free, many Scots saw their move to the North Carolina colony as the only option left available to them.

Some of the most important eighteenth century Highland Scots in North Carolina:

James Campbell
Flora McDonald
Hugh McRae

James Campbell is known for establishing three Presbyterian churches in Cumberland County. Flora McDonald's claim to fame is that she helped to save the life of Bonnie Prince Charlie in Scotland, 1745. Hugh McRae was a Gaelic poet.

In the eighteenth century, Highland Scots in the colonies spoke Gaelic exclusively. After the Civil War, the number of North Carolina Scots speaking Gaelic drastically declined, and by the mid-twentieth century, the language had all but completely disappeared.

The most prevalent Scottish surnames in North Carolina today are: Campbell, Clark, Bain, Black, Darrach, McLeod, McNeill, McPhearson, McAllister, Morrison, Patterson, Ross, and Stewart.


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