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Early American Dalzells and Delzells

The Scotch-Irish in Ulster

Our Dalzell and Delzell ancestors are known in America as the Scotch-Irish. Not because they drank Scotch whiskey or because they were Irish, but because they were Scotswomen and Scotsmen who had lived for several generations in Northern Ireland before coming to America. There also some who dislike the term "Scotch-Irish" and prefer "Scots-Irish," claiming that Scotch is a drink and Scots the name of a people.

J. Harrison wrote in The Scot in Ulster “It was the beginning of the Seventeenth Century that the first of these swarms (of Scots) crossed the narrowest of the seas which surround Scotland; it went out from Ayrshire and Galloway ports, and settled in the north of Ireland. The numbers which went were large. They left Scotland at a time when she was deeply moved by the great Puritan revival. They took with them their Scottish character and their Scottish Calvinism. They founded the Scottish Colony in Ulster. The settlement succeeded now (after earlier failures) for two reasons; first, because King James’s Government was so strong that it could keep the peace even in Ireland; and secondly, because Scotsmen had been for nearly a generation deprived of their wonted occupation of civil war, and therefore had taken an “itch” for emigration. As soon as County Down was opened up, colonists flocked across, until the district became Scottish.”

There were certainly Delzells in County Down very early on, and I suspect our ancestors stayed there until the early 1700’s. My guess would be that our ancestors left Scotland about 1650 and then left Ulster for America about 1750.

J. Harrison goes on to state in “The end of the Seventeenth Century probably saw the last of the emigration of Scots into Ulster; while for years that were to follow the Scots were to leave Ulster in thousands for America.” Harrison also writes “The emigration from Ulster is one of the most striking features of Irish history, and one which had a most marked effect on the vital force of the United States of America, which drew some of its best blood from the Presbyterians of the North of Ireland.”

Harrison also points to the difference between the Scotch-Irish and the native Irish: “Than these, no two classes of men can be more distinct: the Scotch are remarkable for their comfortable houses and appearance, regular conduct and perseverance in business, and their being almost entirely manufacturers: the Irish, on the other hand, are more negligent in their habitations, less regular and guarded in their conduct, and have a total indisposition to manufacturer. Both are industrious, but the industry of the Scotch is steady and patient, and directed with foresight, while that of the Irish is rash, adventurous, and variable.” This quotation is not included to put down the Irish, who because of the traits listed above are very lively, creative and enjoyable people, but to point out the characteristics of the Scotch-Irish.

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