Ulster Scots: Scottish migration and settlement in Ulster

By Brian Orr - Posted at The Reformation/ Ulster Scots Index:

The counties of Ulster (modern boundaries) that were colonised during the plantations.
This map is a simplified one, as the amount of land actually colonised did not cover the entire shaded area.

The Plantation in Ireland - Scottish migration

There had long been movement of Scots across the Irish Sea to the shores of Ireland by way of trade and as galloglass (mercenary soldiers). But there were also small settlements on the Antrim coast which increased in number when the authority of the Lords of the Isles was broken in the fifteenth century. The intrusion of the Scots was very unwelcome to the English government at the time and many attacks were made on them. However, it seems that by the late sixteenth century the presence of the McDonnells in particular, led by Sorley Boy, was inevitable and in 1586 Queen Elizabeth granted him a large portion of Antrim in return for submission and acknowledgement of the Crown`s superiority.

As a Scot Sir Randal MacDonnell was a favourite of James VI/I and received the area called the Glynnes and the Route in 1603. For his achievements as a planter he was made Viscount Dunluce, and then Earl of Antrim in December 1620. What this marked was the beginning of colonisation of Ulster. It meant also a greater direction in Irish affairs which until then had been more of a feudal dependency. The indebtedness of Earl of Antrim to the Crown is later reflected in the provision of troops to join with the Marquis of Montrose in his campaign against the Covenanters in 1644-5.

The principle of Planting peoples on sequestered land evolved from Henry VIII `s accession to the throne of Ireland in 1541 and it was under his policy of `Surrender and Regrant` of lands that the Irish princes received English titles. Con O`Neill became Earl of Tyrone; Murrough O`Brien the Earl of Thomond; and Macwilliam Burke of Galway, Earl of Clanrickard. The significance of the policy is that having the land regranted to them meant that in any subsequent default of misbehaviour the lands were liable to seizure by the Crown. Under Edward VI a more aggressive policy led to seizure of lands in reprisal for insurrection and in 1556 under Queen Mary a plantation scheme for most of Leix and Offaly was declared with the counties being renamed Queens County and Kings County. The policy of seizure and grant to English landlords continued under Elizabeth I.

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