The Irish in America (and New Hampshire)

Yes St. Patrick’s Day came and went a few days ago, and I did not have a story ready. I’ve written extensively every year and if you search on “St. Patrick” you can easily find those stories. Late may be better in this case for I discovered a wonderful story published in The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts) 17 March 1895, page 30.

I cannot vouch for its total authenticity and correctness in every case. But what I can say is that DNA studies seem to bear out what is said. There are links at the end of this story to others detailing DNA and other related topics. What I find interesting is that this story disputes the terms “Scots-Irish,” or “Scotch-Irish” that we still use today.

The Part They Played in the Early Settlement and the Struggle for Independence — How They Figured as Generals and Statesmen

Sketch of an Irish man, from “Irish ways,” by Jane Barlow; George Allen & Sons, (1909) from the University of California Libraries; on the Internet Archive.

To the lover of history no subject can be of more interest than that treating of the origin of the nation, the development of its institutions and the gradual unification of the various races contributing to its populations. One of the earliest historical writers said that America was simply Europe transplanted, because, in the main, its people are descended from colonists and immigrants who came here from that continent.

Washington, Lafayette, Steuben and Pulaski were noble types of the contributions of the English, French, the Germans and the Polish peoples, as those whose names I will mention later were fitting representatives of the land of St. Patrick.

In these latter days a new school of writers have sprung up, whose pride of ancestry outstrips their knowledge, and whose prejudices binds their love of truth. With the difference in religion between certain sections of the Irish people as a basis, they are bent on creating a new race, christening it, “Scotch-Irish,” laboring hard to prove that it is a ‘brand’ superior to either of the two old types, and, while clinging to the Scotch root, claim that their ancestors were different from the Irish in blood, morals, language and religion.

This is a question not difficult to settle for those who are disposed to treat it honestly, but, as a rule, the writers who are the most prolific, as well as the speakers who are the most eloquent, know the least about the subject, and care less, if they can only succeed in having their theories accepted.

In asserting that their ancestors were Scotch, and as such different from the Irish, they would be as near the truth as the descendants of the Puritans would be were they to call themselves English, and as such different from the modern Britons. If there is any credit due the Scots whose genius, piety and learning astonished all Europe between the sixth and 10th centuries, it belongs to the Irish and the Irish people.


Col John C. Linehan was born in Macroom, county Cork, Ireland 1840; came to American in 1847; member of the band of the 3rd regiment, New Hampshire volunteers, in the civil war; past department commander, G.A.R.; active in republican poitics ever since the war; has held many offices, and is now (in 1895) insurance commissioner of New Hampshire. [from The Boston Globe, 17 March 1895 page 30]

Long before the modern kingdom of Scotland had acquired its name, the Scots of Ireland had made a reputation, never equaled by their descendants, in northern Britain. To Ireland, Scotland owes her name, language, religion, and the greater proportion of her population. Venerable Bede, writing in the sixth century, said: “The Scots arrived from Ireland in that part of the West Highlands called Argyle, where they settled under Reuda or Riada, and were from him termed Dahl-Reuda, the first Scots who were ever in Britain.” Chambers is in doubt about the origin of the Picts and the Caledonians, but says, “The Scots were emigrants from Ireland, both Scots and Gaels being national names of the old Irish.”

The Irish origin of the Scots is studiously avoided by nearly all of the Scotch-Irish writers, or if mentioned at all, is spoken of in a manner which leaves the reader to infer that the Scots had made a mistake in selecting their ancestors, and it was the duty of their descendants, so far as it lay in their power, to rectify the error.

So far as blood, language, and family names were concerned, there was not more difference between the Irish and the Scotch Presbyterians in 1620, when the latter came to Ulster, than there was between the Puritans of New England and the English of old England in 1631. There was a difference in religion in both cases, the majority of the Irish being Catholic, the greater part of the Scotch Presbyterians. The bulk of the English in England were Episcopalians, nearly all of the dissenters in New England were Puritans. The love existing between the Puritans and the Episcopalians was certainly no warmer than that between the Scotch Presbyterians and the Irish Catholic, It has been claimed that Scotland, especially the lowlands, had been peopled largely by Danes and Saxons: a statement history sustains, but not to the extent as to affect with the nationality or customs of the Scots. Precisely a like condition of affairs prevailed during the same period in Ireland, the blood of the Irish people being mixed with that of the Saxons and Danes, who acquired possession before the reformation of the greater part of the seacoast of Ireland, with the addition of the French Norman blood, very little of which mingled with that of the people of Scotland, so that it can be said, excepting the Normans, the mixture of bloods was the same in the two centuries.

The names of the great clans were as a rule alike in both nations: O’Donnell and McDonald, O’Neil and McNeil, O’Connell and McComnell, O’Loughlin and McLaughlin, O’Lenaghan and McClanaghan, O’Cormac and McCormack, etc. The prefix Mac, Gil, Kil, Mull, etc to the names of the persons, and of Dun, Kin, Kil, Mull, Ross, etc to the names of places were peculiar to Ireland and Scotland alone, denoting a common origin. So much for the Irish and Scots before the Ulster plantations.

This took placed under James I in 1620 and if we are to take the statements of our American Scotch-Irish writers, as well as those of their latest convert, Henry Cabot Lodge, the native Irish were all drive out of Ulster and their places taken by Scotch and English who were planted on the confiscated estates, and who kept aloof from those who had been dispossessed, not inter-marrying or associating in any way with them, and from those people were descended the Irish who began to come over here [to the United States] in 1720, and who were only Irish in name, being the offspring of English and Scotch, and properly known as Scotch-Irish.

The character of the names of these people, or of many of them, illustrious in American history, could be easily determined by any student of philosophy or of nomenclature, but fortunately there is another authority which tells a different story of the Ulster plantation, and one which cannot be well gainsaid. In a foot note on page 90, volume 1, Reid’s “History of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland,” the author gives “the extend of the forfeited lands as stated by Pynnar was about 400,000 acres; of these 100,000 were granted for church, school and corporation lands, above 60,000 were granted to the native Irish, and the remaining 240,000 were disposed of to the British undertakers or colonists, the majority of whose tenants were also Irish, the original inhabitants of Ulster. These facts it is necessary to bear in mind, as Roman Catholic, and sometimes Protestant writers, represent the forfeited lands as comprising the whole of the six counties, and speak of the colonization of Ulster as having dispossessed and displaced the entire native population of the province.” If Mr. Reid gives the correct figures, and there is no reason to doubt them, the population of Ulster after the planting different but little except in religion with that of the other parts of Ireland. There is every reason to believe that many of the native Irish became, in time, Presbyterians, being deprived by law of the ministrations of their own religion, and surrounded by every influence hostile to the faith of their fathers.

It is a well known historical fact that the Normans, Saxons, Danes, Germans and Huguenots, who had been colonized in Ireland, became in time, as the saying goes, more Irish than the Irish themselves, and for this, the English government was almost wholly responsible. The first generation of these people born in Ireland were treated no better than the Irish, and the result was, all united against the common enemy, England. At various periods in its history, and in many rebellions that have taken place since the Norman conquest, none have fought harder or suffered more under the English government than this mixed race, which had as a rule, more property to plunder than the natives who had been despoiled of their ancestral acres generations before.

About the first arrival of these people in any considerable number was in 1718, when over 100 families came to Boston. Of these a few went to Worcester [Massachusetts], but were looked upon with disfavor by the residents of that town , and when 10 years later a Presbyterian church was erected it was torn down in the night by the Congregationalists, and not a stick of timber was to be found the next morning. Being Irish, they were looked up on the same light as the Irish Catholics were, more than 100 years later.

A second party went to Falmouth, Maine, remaining over winter. They were in a destitute condition, and an appropriation was made for their relief by the general court, which styled them the “poor Irish.” The following year they went to New Hampshire and founded the town of Londonderry, and for a long time they were annoyed and persecuted by the English settlers of Haverhill, Mass., and it was not until they were found useful as Indian fighters that the persecution ceased, though the prejudice against them on account of their nationality lasted for years.

Every mention of these people in the early history of New Hampshire styles them “Irish,” and there was good reason for it, for there was not a typical name representing the old Gaelic or Norman Irish that cannot be found in the Irish settlements of that day, and they are as common now in New Hampshire and in other states among the descendants of the first immigrants as they are in Ireland. From 1718 to the outbreak of the revolution they had increased so rapidly that Londonderry, the parent settlement, was the most populous town in the colony, and all of the new towns settled by them were thrifty and progressive.

The London Spectator said New England was uncongenial to these “Puritan Irish,” but in no state of the union has the race left its mark so indelibly as in New Hampshire, the descendants of the “Puritan Irish,” filling the highest position in the state and the nation. A glance at the pages of the provincial records and of the revolutionary rolls of the state of New Hampshire will surprise many of these writers who are so fond of denying to the Irish any credit for what is due them for their services during the periods named, but the names are there, speaking for themselves.

The fact that a Masonic lodge was instituted on March 17, 1770 in Portsmouth, N.H. and named in honor of Ireland’s patron saint [Editor’s note: this was actually named St. John’s Lodge No. 1, and it is the oldest continuously active lodge in North and South America today] as well as that Stark’s rangers, at fort Edward, demanded an extra ration of grog in order to celebrate St. Patrick’s day properly, proves that the customs and traditions of the old land were still kept up more than a generation after the “Puritan Irish” made their appearance in the province.

The greater part of the families mentioned remained in Boston, and in 1730 built what is called the Presbyterian church of Long Lane. The first pastor of this church was Rev. John Moorhead. Seven years later, on the 17th of March 1737, 26 of the “Puritan Irish” remaining in Boston, all members of the church, met, and like their countrymen in New Hampshire, celebrated St. Patrick’s day by organizing a benevolent association, and naming it the “Irish society,” better known now as the Charitable Irish society. Every name of the 26 original members were of the same character as those in the Londonderry settlement in New Hampshire, among them being the father and two uncles of Gen. Henry Knox: the general and his son were afterward members.

Irishmen of Scotch, English, and old Irish descent, as the names denote, are borne on the rolls of the society, from the first, but no man was eligible for membership unless he was born in Ireland or in some part of the British dominion, of Irish parentage. This is most conclusive evidence that these men considered themselves Irish. No Scotch-man could be admitted to membership, and the seal of the society bore the arms, not of Scotland, but of Ireland. Rev. John Moorhead, the first pastor of the Presbyterian church, was among the earlier members.

To this association belonged the principal Irish residents of Boston, and an index to the friendly feeling always existing in that town between the Catholics and Protestants of Irish origin. In the fact that for over 100 years a clergyman of both churches has been the guest of the society each anniversary. When Gen. John McNeil, one of the descendants of the Londonderry colony, was collector of Boston in 1830, he was admitted to membership, and when Pres. Jackson visited Boston in 1833 he was entertained by the society, and in response to the address of welcome, he said, “I feel grateful, sir, at this testimony of respect shown me by the Charitable Irish society of this city. It is with great pleasure that I see so many of the countrymen of my fathers assembled on this occasion. I have always been proud of my ancestry and of being descended from that noble race.”

Of the 83 soldiers holding the commissions of major or brigadier generals in the Continental army, at least 19 were born in Ireland or in America of Irish parentage. Their names are rank were Maj. Gene John Sullivan, Richard Montgomery, Henry Knox and Thomas Conway. Conway and Montgomery were born in Ireland, and Brig Gens Edward Hand, Andrew Lewis, John Armstrong, Stephen Moylan, William Irvine, John Hogan William Maxwell, William Thompson, George Clinton, James Moore, Anthony Wayne, James Clinton, Daniel Morgan, Joseph Reed and Roch de Fermoy. Of these 15 nine were born in Ireland. The character of the names denote the mixture of races, but from the fact that the greater part belonged to the Hibernian society at Philadelphia, it is quite clear that they considered themselves plain Irish, without the prefix so beloved by the anti Irish writers.

Among the governors of Irish birth or of Irish origin, during the colonial or revolutionary periods were David Dunbar and John Sullivan of New Hampshire, Thomas Dongan and George Clinton of New York, James Sullivan of Massachusetts, John Houston, John Martin and Peter Early of Georgia, John McKinley, Thomas Collins, John Collins and Joseph Haslett of Delaware, John Hart of Maryland, James Logan, George Bryan, William Moore, Joseph Reed and Thomas McKean of Pennsylvania, James Moore, John Rutledge and Edward Rutledge of South Carolina; Matthew Rowan and Thomas Burke of North Carolina; and William Welsh and William Patterson of New Jersey.

Among those of the same stock who have been governors of states since 1800 were John Murphy, Gabriel Moore, Hugh McVay, Benjamin Fitzpatrick, Andrew Bl Moore, and Edward O’Neal of Alabama; John A. Gurley and Richard McCormick of Arizona; James S Conway, John S. Roane, Harris Flannegan and Isaac Murphy of Arkansas; Stephen W. Kearney, John G. Downey and Bennet Riley of California; Joseph Haslett of Delaware; Wilson S. Shannon, John W. Geary and Thomas Carney of Kansas; John Adair of Kentucky; Edward Kavanaugh and Seiden Connor of Maine; Daniel Martin, T.K. Carroll and John Lee Carroll of Maryland; Benjamin F. butler and Thomas Talbot of Massachusetts; John S. Barry of Michigan; Willis A. Gorman and A.P. McGill of Minnesota; Charles Lynch and William L. Sharkey of Mississippi; Thomas Francis Meagher of Montana; William O. Butler and David Butler of Nebraska; Stephen W. Kearney and Henry Connolly of New Mexico; Reuben E. Fenton of New York; Wilson Shannon and Thomas L. Young of Ohio; William Findlay, James Pollock, Andrew G. Curtin and John W. Geary of Pennsylvania; George McDuffee, Pierce M. Butler, Patrick Noble, B.K. Hannegan, William Aiken, A.G. Hannegan, William Aiken, A.G. McGrath and James L. Orr of South Carolina; James McKinn and William Carroll of Tennessee.

Among the same stock in the U.S. Senate were William Kelley, John McKinley, Gabriel Moore and Benjamin Fitzpatrick of Alabama; Solon Burland, William S. Fulton and Stephen W. Dorsey of Arkansas; David G. Broderick, John Conness, Cornelius Cole, Eugene Casserly and J.T. Farley of California; James Shields of Illinois, Minnesota and Missouri. He was the only man thus far in the history of the nation to represent three separate states in the U.S. Senate. John A. Logan of Illinois; Robert Hanna and Edward Hannegan of Indiana; James Harlan of Iowa; John Adair, William F. Barry, William Logan and John Rowan of Kentucky; Alexander Porter of Louisiana; A.P. Gorman and Anthony Kennedy of Maryland; Thomas Fitzgerald and Lucius Lyon of Michigan; James G. Fair of Nevada; William J. Sewall of New Jersey; George and DeWitt Clinton, Reuben E. Fenton and Francis L. Kernan of New York; james R. Kelley of Oregon; Pierce Butler, A.b. Butler and M.C. Butler of South Carolina; James W. Flannegan and John H. Regan of Texas; Andrew Moore and William Mahone of Virginia.

Thirty-three years after the formation of the Irish society of Boston, on March 17, 1771, 17 persons, all of Irish birth or extraction, met at the Burns tavern in Philadelphia, and organized “the society of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick,” for friendly, social and convivial intercourse. Like the Boston society, none but natives of Ireland or those of Irish extraction were eligible for membership. It was an honorary membership, limited to 100 members at any one time.

This association was merged into the Hibernian society in 1790, and during the 19 years of its existence its rolls comprised 100 members all told, viz: One adopted member–Washington–16 honorary members and 83 members. It has been often asserted and never controverted “that no equal number of men in any one of the 13 colonies contributed more to the success of the revolution than did the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick. Nearly every man engaged in the strife, at one time or another, either on land or sea. One of them published the first daily paper in the colonies, the Pennsylvania Packet and General Advertiser. He was the first to print and publish the declaration from the first rough draft of Jefferson, and another member was the first to read it to the people from one of the windows of Independence hall.

A memorable fact, and one worthy of record is that out of this membership of 83 “Sons of St. Patrick” 12 of them attained the rank of general in the war of independence.

It is a well-known fact that on the formation of parties under the administration of Washington, as a rule, Jefferson looked to the Irish for support, and was not disappointed, as nearly all of that blood, Catholic and Presbyterian, followed the leadership of the author of the Declaration of Independence. Their influence was used successfully to secure the aid of the newly arrived immigrants of their own blood; while the only way the federalists could counteract this influence was by removing the disabilities of the hated Tories, in order to secure their votes.

There was not a charge made against the Irish in the know-nothing campaign of 1854-5, but what was simply a repetition of what was said against the Irish of 1800, before and after the passage of the alien and sedition law, and as in 1855, while legislation was ostensibly aimed against all foreigners. In reality it was intended only for the Irish. So under John Adams, while the alien and sedition law was on the surface designed to affect all classes of citizens, it was enacted especially to head off the Irish; the line was not drawn between the Catholic and Presbyterian Irishmen, for all where abused indiscriminately, the familiar epithets of “bog-trotters” and “wild Irishmen” being freely applied to all.

The same cause the united the Irish in Ireland in 98, self protection, united their kindred in America in 1800. Catholic priest and Presbyterian minister in Philadelphia stood shoulder to shoulder, opposing the passage of a law aimed, they knew, directly at their own race. The bill became a law, and the student of history is well aware of what occurred until the success of Jefferson brought about its repeal. Matthew Lyon, one of the truest types of the Irish Gael, hot headed, brave and impulsive, was the first victim under its operation. He was a member of congress from Vermont, and for criticizing the course of the administration was fined and imprisoned. Thomas Addis Emmet was obliged to linger many weary months in an English prison after the execution of his brother, because Rufus King, minister to England, would not give him a passport, as required by the alien law, to come to America.

At the time of this trouble, Com John Barry was cruising off the West Indian island in command of a squadron of nine vessels. He was one of the first commodores in the American navy, a native of the county of Wexford, Ireland and a Catholic in religion, and Mathew Lyon of Vermont was in the national house of representatives defending his native land and the men of his race from the from the aspersions cast on both by men of English blood. The situation was the same all over the country. The Americans of Irish blood, with few exceptions, were ardent followers of Jefferson against the federalists. In New Hampshire Gen. John Sullivan, and in Massachusetts his brother Gov. James Sullivan, were ardent republicans.

In the colony of Georgia, as early as 1768, the colonial authorities, desiring to attract settlers to the province, passed an act to encourage immigration, appropriating the sum of L1800 for the benefit of those who availed themselves of its provisions.

Under this law many Irish people came over, the government providing homes for them in the fork of Lambert creek and the great Ogeechee river. This locality was known as the “Irish settlement,” and contained 270 families nearly all Irish. Three years previous to their coming, in 1765, the name of St. Patrick was given to one of four new parishes organized in the province, a proof that there were many of the same nationality in Georgia before the founding of this distinctive “Irish settlement.”

In the struggle for independence these Georgia Irish, like their kindred in Pennsylvania and New Hampshire were identified with the patriots, and among those who were active participants were men bearing the name of O’Brien, Houston, Keating, Booley, Bryan, Gibbon, Ryan, butler, Maxwell, Moore, Carr, etc. John Houston, son of Patrick Houston, was the first governor under the constitution, and Capt. Patrick Carr was the best known partisan fighter in the state filling the same position in George that Marion did in South Carolina.

In the colony of Virginia, before and during the revolutionary period, men bearing Irish names were prominent in military and civil life.

There was hardly one of the great Gaelic names of Ireland that had not representatives in the old dominion, and there was not an engagement either between the settlers and the Indianas, and the patriots and the English, that the Virginia Irish were not in the forefront of the battle.

Col. John Fitzgerald was Washington’s favorite aid. Maj. Connolly was in command at fort Duquesne in 1774. Col. George Groghan was the greatest Indian trader and the most noted man of his day in the country. The defense of fort Stephenson by his son, Maj. Grogham, is the most thrilling episode in American history. Col. Andre Donnally had command at Greenbriar in 1781. Maj. Magill was in command of a battalion of Virginia militia before Yorktown in 1781. Maj. Lynch was in command of another battalion at the same time. Maj. William Grogham was a prisoner in the hands of the British in 1781, and begging for an exchange in order ot get back to his regiment. Capt. John O’Bannon commanded the Farquier battalion at Williamsburg in 1781. Col. Charles Lynch was one of the best-known Virginia field officers during the war of Independence. Col. Hugh McGarry was another who distinguished himself in the same contest. Col. John McElhaney, a field officer of the continental army, was a resident of Rockbridge county in 1792, and Capt. John Brannan was in Norfolk in 1792.

Massachusetts had received, before the revolution a fair proportion of the Irish for which the race had received but little credit. Up to 1640, about 21,000 immigrants in all had arrived in New England. After that date, historians say that more people moved out than into it. The addition of the Scotch, the Irish, the Arcadians, who had been torn from their homes, and the French Huguenots, all prolific races, was of more moment than historians care, as a rule, to acknowledge, but an examination of the told town records will prove the truth of this statement. The chronicles of the town of Boston are full of enactments to keep the Irish out, but it was found to be impossible. They would come despite prejudice, for Massachusetts was the most progressive of the colonies, and these people, or many of them, being artisans, spinners, weaves, shoe-makers, ropemakers, etc., their labor was welcome, and a compromise was made by obliging those of them who were well-to-do, to furnish bonds for their poorer countrymen and women, to the end that they would not become public charges.

From 1635, when the name of John Kelley, who was born in England of an Irish father, appears on the records of the town of Newbury, down to the outbreak of the war for independence, the following names, all distinctly Irish appear on the town papers of Massachusetts, the majority of whom can be found in the early records of Boston: Kelly, Butler, O’Brien, Nolin, McCue, Mulligan, McDonnell, Murtough, Carroll, Mahoney, McMahon, McCarthy, McGowan, Hart, Donahoe, Rankin, Cogan, Kenny, Heffernan, Healey, Hayes, O’Neal, Noonan, Reardon, Griffin, Logan, Lawler, McDonough, Phelan, McGuire, Larkin, Walsh, McGee, McGlenaghan, Byrne, Copponger, Condon, Callahan, Dougherty, Daily, Fitzgerald, Farrell, Foley, Gorman, Geoghegan, Lahey, Maloney, Hogan, Cahill, Quigley, Mahoney, Feeney, Nugent, Dooley, Doyle, Lynch, Connor, McGuinness, Egan, Brady, mcNamara, Connell, Mooney, Moore, Murphy, Ryan, Welch, Fitzpatrick, Connolly, Looney, SUllivan, Carney, O’Kelly, Driscoll, Keefe, Burns, Harney, Whalan and Shannan.

The McCarthy family appears in the records of Boston as early as 1666, Thaddeus McCarthy, being the first of the family. His son, Florence McCarthy, was one of the first men in Boston in his day, a dealer in provisions, filling a position similar to that of John P. Squire today. His son, Capt. William McCarthy, was one of the best known ship-owners in Boston, and his son, Rev. Thaddeus McCarthy, a graduate of Harvard college, was pastor of the First church in Worcester for 37 years. He was the father of 15 children. His brother, Capt. William McCarthy, was the quartermaster of Col. Bigelow’s 15th Massachusetts regiment in the revolutionary war, and his son, Dr. Thaddeus McCarthy, was a noted medical practitioner in Fitchburg (MA) and Keene NH. At the former place he had a hospital, which contained at one time 800 patients. This is a good record for one family, which cannot well be called Scotch-Irish.

As early as 1780 and 1790, John Sullivan, Patrick Connor and Michael McCarthy were associated in the manufacture of paper at Dorchester. Michael Walsh, an Irish schoolmaster, was a teacher at Marblehead in 1792, Judge Story being one of his pupils. He was the author of a “Mercantile Arithmetic” and a “New System of Bookkeeping,” published in 1826.

The best known of the Irish school teachers in New Hampshire were John Sullivan, Henry Parkinson, Humphrey Sullivan, Benjamin Evans, Patrick Quinian. On the tombstone of Henry Parkinson, who was the quartermaster of John Stark’s regiment at Canterbury, N.H. is the inscription in Latin, “Hibernia begat me, Columbia nurtured me, Nassau hall taught me. I have fought. I have taught, and I have labored with my hands, etc.”

Gen. Michael Farley was one of the leading men in New Ipswich, Mass, and had three sons in the continental army. One of his townsmen was Dr. Hugh Egan, who was a well-known physician. Capt. John O’Brien, the uncle of Hon. John P. Hale of New Hampshire, one of the naval heroes of the revolution, also received honorable mention in the history of Newbury, and before him, in the account of the part taken by Newbury men in the old French war, frequent mention is made of Capt. David Donohoe, who commanded an armed vessel. The diary of Lieut. Burton, published in the revolutionary rolls of New Hampshire, mentions the appointment, as provost marshal of the army in Boston, by Washington, of Mr. William Moroney. He was a member of the Irish society in Boston.

Capt. James McGee, a president of the Irish society, was in command of a vessel wrecked in the service of the commonwealth of Massachusetts bay in 1778, and 72 of his men were lost. Rev. Wm. McClehaghan was chaplain of Gen. Waldo’s regiment at Cape Breton in 1749.

A certain part of the town of Sheepscott, Me. was known as Patrickstown from the number of Irish residents. James Gowan as in Kittery in 1756. Capt. Gargill was one of Sheepscott’s earlier settlers and Rev. John Murray is mentioned in the Maine records as the man with a kind Irish heart.

Richard O’Brien, born in Maine in 1758, served in the navy during the revolution, and for years afterward. He was captured during the Algerine war, and was a prisoner seven years. His adventures were of the most thrilling character, and after his release from captivity he was apointed by Jefferson diplomatic agent to Algiers, where he assisted Preble in his negotiations. His son Maj. J.P.J. O’Brien was a distinguished officer in the army.

James Kavanaugh, a native of Wexford was an extensive lumber merchant in Damariscotta in 1780. His son was president of the Maine senate, governor of Maine, member of congress and minister to Portugal. Nicholas Hearne, Furgus and Tully Higgins, Robert and William McLaughlan and Morris O’Brien and his six sons, all natives of Ireland, were residents of Scarboro in 1740-1750.

Capt. John O’Brien, the oldest son of Morris, was the commander of an expedition in which his father and brothers took part, which effected the first naval capture of the revolution. William O’Brien, one of the brothers, was captured and died in the hands of the enemy as the early age of 23. his daughter, Mary O’Brien was the mother of Senator John P. Hale of New Hampshire.

John McGuire was one of the first settlers of New Gloucester, and, as in Massachusetts, Americans of the present day in Maine bear these distinctive Irish names, the O’Briens retaining the O’, which is usually discarded, and their counterparts, will be found in the early history of the southwestern territories, more especially in Kentucky, where men bearing some of the best known names in Ireland have filled important stations in all walks of life. They were among the earliest pioneers, the most noted Indian fighters, eminent on the bench and at the bar, and renowned as poets, scholars and statesmen.

Dr. Hart and William Coomes were among the first settlers of Harrodsburg. They came with a Catholic colony from Maryland. Collins’ “History of Kentucky” credits Dr. Hart as being the first medical practitioner in the territory, and Mrs. Coomes as the first school teacher. Over 20 of the fortified stations built for protection against the Indians bore distinctive Irish names.

Among them: Bryan’s station, Dougherty’s station, Hart’s station, Drennan’s Lick, Feagan’s station, Finn’s station, Higgins’ block house, Irish statio, Lynch’s station, McGee station, Sullivan’s old station, Sullivan’s new station, and Daniel Sullivan’s station, McGuire’s station, McCormack’s station and McKeenan’s station.

Eleven counties in Kentucky bear Irish names; Lyon, Adair, Butler, Logan, Hart, Montgomery, McCracken, Boyle, Carroll, Rowan Casey. As in New Hampshire and the other colonies, there is not a Gaelic name in Ireland that was not represented in the territory of Kentucky after the revolution. Many of those who bore them being veterans of the war of independence, a large proportion of whom were living as late as 1840. Their names, published in Collin’s history look like a check list in a South Boston ward, so Celtic unmistakably are they.

James McBride, an Irishman, is credited by Collins as being the first man to enter the territory. “Paddling his canoe up the Kentucky river in 1743.” James Mooney, John Finley and William Cool accompanied Daniel Boone to the “dark and bloody ground” in 1769. They were followed in 1775 by Capt. James Grattan, John Toole and John McManus, who laid the foundation of Louisville. Capt. Flynn was one of the founders of Columbia, and with him were John Riley and Francis Dunley.

Three of the best known and most daring Indian fighters of the period were Majs. McGarry and McBride and Capt. Bulger, all associates of Daniel Boone. Among the best known Presbyterian clergymen of this early period were Rev. William McGill, Rev. Samuel McAdoo, Rev. Henry Delaney, Rev. A.M. Bryan, Rev. William McGee, Rev. Wailliam McMahon and Rev. John Dunlevy. Among the Methodists of the same period were James O’Cool, William Burke, William McMahon and John McGee, all Irish enough in appearance, certainly.

The great names identified with Ireland during the past 200 years are not those peculiar to the province of Ulster, or to the mixed race, whose offspring are nearer to the kirk than to the chapel. Daniel O’Connell, who was the prince of agitator, and who, perhaps, accomplished more during the same period for his people than any man who had preceded him, was from the south of Ireland. Wellington, the iron duke, and the conqueror of Bonaparte, was from Leinster. Moore the poet, wasn Balfe the composer, were from Dublin in the same province. Plunkett, Grattan, Shiel and the Emmets were all from Munster or Lienster.

Daniel Maclise, the painter, and Sir Charles Barry, the architect of the new house of parliament, were natives of Cork. Goldsmith of “The Deserted Village,” and parnell of the Augustan period of English literature, were, like Moore, from Leinster. Arthur Murphy, Edmond and Anthony Malone, Dr. Nugent and Edmund Burke, all contemporaries and intimates of Dr. Johnson, were from Leinster or Munster. Wallace and SUlivan, whose musical productions rank among the best of English-speaking musicians, as well as P.S. Gimore, the great bandmaster, were from the south of Ireland. Neither Usher, Congreve, Berkeley or Arthur O’Leary had their origin in the south of Ireland.

Search the British records through and the Ulster men who have distinguished themselves either in the army, the navy or in civil life are very rare. The Napiers, the O’Haras, the Beresfords, the O’Callaghans, the Nolans, the Kavanaughs, the Butlers, the Burkes of Clanrickhard, the Wolseleys, John Henry Foley, and Dargan, the sculptors, the O’briens of Inchiquin, the philosophic Boyes, earls of Cork, and thousands of others, who, by conforming to the established church, had secured places in some one or all of the branches of government, were none of the Ulster men, and yet our ears are dinned with the constant hum of the men from the north of Ireland over those of the other provinces. It is bad eough on the other side of the water, but it is worse here.

Sheridan, one of the most brilliant soldiers thus far produced in America, had no peer among his associates of the army in the civil war, and Rowan was second to but one in the navy. One was born of Leinster parentage and the other came here from there. John Roche, the great ship builder, was from Cork. Charles O’Connor, the great jurist, was the son of a west of Ireland man.

Meagher of the Sword was from Waterford. The long line of Kearneys, who furnished eminent representatives to the army and navy for generations, were not of this Ulster stock. Com John Barry, the father of the American navy, was from Wexford. The New Hampshire Sullivans, one of the most illustrious families of New Hampshire, came from Limerick.

Moylan, the dashing commander of the Continental dragoons, was from Cork. The Carrolls of Maryland, second in eminence to no family in America, were from Leinster. The Burkes of North and South Carolina spring from Connaught. The Lynches of South Carolina were from the same province. The Butlers of South Carolina, the McHenrys of Delaware, the Kavanaughs of Maine, the O’Reillys, the Fitzsimmonses, the Shees, the Careys, the Meades, the butlers, the Hogans, the Kanes, the Keatings and the Walshes of Pennsylvania all came from Leinster, and so the list might be indefinitely extended by adding the O’Hara’s of Pennsylvania nd Kentucy, the O’Fallons and Mullamphys of Missouri, the long list of soldiers like Gibbon, Donohoe, Corcoran, Burke, McMahon, Halpine, Riley, Cass, Guiney, O’Rourke, Snythe, McGinnis, Meade, Gilmore, Mulligan, Neale and hundreds of others in the civil war.

Grant from the maternal side, had the blood of the Kelleys in his veins, and the mother of Farragut was Elizabeth Shine, the daughter of an Irish father. The Ulster men have had full credit given them for what they have done for America, but there is enough of glory to go round without robbing the other sections of Ireland of the credit due for furnishing to the United States some of its greatest men, of which the above names are but a few in comparison to what could be given were it necessary.

The first great wave of Irish immigration, largely Protestant, broke on the American shore in season to aid in turning the tide of British tyranny, and to help establish the republic as the second, nearly all Catholic, reached here in time to assist in saving the union and freeing the slaves. o proof of this is required in either case; the records of the battlefields of the nation, from Bunker Hill to Appomattox, in the names of killed and wounded, furnish the evidence, and tells the story in a manner that cannot be gainsaid. In 1775 those Irishmen and sons of Irishmen, like Sullivan, Moylan and Knox who were avenging the wrongs of their ancestors in the ranks of the continental army, had their counterpart in the civil war, where Sheridan, Logan and Meagher were types of the armies of Irishmen, or the sons of Irishmen, fighting against a foe whose mainstay was the same old enemy of the race and creed of their fathers. England, and it is one of the curious coincidences or retributions of time that the Alabama, built in an English shipyard, armed with guns of English manufacture and manned by a pick crew from the English navy, was sunk in a fair fight on the open ocean by the Kearsarge, a vessel built in Portsmouth (NH), not an hour’s ride from the grave of John Sullivan, and whose executive officer, Capt. James S. Thornton, was a grandson of Mathew Thornton, one of the signers o the declaration of Independence, and an immigrant from Ireland.

Despite the ridicule and abuse to which the Catholic Irish have been subjected, and it cannot be exaggerated, the unprejudiced observer will have to acknowledge that their progress during the past 25 years has been something marvelous. Through no fault of their religion, nor from any defect in their race, the great majority came here poor in pocket and ignorant of letters. As a rule they were looked upon with suspicion and treated, to put it mildly, with coolness and contempt. No avenue of advancement was open to the young men, and domestic service and labor in the factories was the only honorable source of livelihood for the young women, but they brought with them from Ireland, regardless of that those who dislike them may say to the contrary, the good habits for which the race has been noted, and the progress made by the first generation of their children born in America is the best evidence that this statement is true, for their sons can be found in all the walks of life.”

========== A D D I T I O N A L    R E A D I N G =========

Blood of the Irish: What DNA Tells Us About the Ancestry of People in Ireland

English, Irish, Scots: They’re All One, Genes Suggest

Irish Ancestry Surprises Revealed by New DNA Map


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2 Responses to The Irish in America (and New Hampshire)

  1. Michael says:

    They’re everywhere! This was a fascinating take on the Irish’s history in the Americas. Some of this raises interesting research avenues for my Kirk (Quirkes in Ireland) research.

  2. Pingback: A DEFENSE OF THE IRISH: What Has Been Accomplished By the Irish Race | Cow Hampshire

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