THE BOYDS OF IRELAND
of Ulstermen, 1718
In the beginning of the seventeenth-century, when James VI of Scotland became James I of England, (1603) a concerted effort was made to settle the province of Ulster in N. Ireland with Scots. While they were not aware of the fact, many of them were returning to the home of their ancestors. King James thought of this as one way to cure the "Irish problem".
Most of the large estates from this time have long since passed into other hands. Some of the Undertakers (a man who undertook to plant the land with settlers) did not adhere to the conditions of the grants and, therefore, lost their estates. Others sold the land once they had obtained title. Many more estates were created by land grants between 1641 and 1703, after the 1641 rebellion. The Scottish Undertakers as part of their land grants undertook to plant the land with settlers (or undertenants) whom they brought over from Scotland. It was mainly these tennants who became the ancestors of the ethic group known today as Scotch-Irish, a term virtually unknown in Ireland where they are known as Ulster-Scots.
Very little documentation survives on the Undertenants, but the Undertakers are a different story. It must be remembered that, in those times land was considered more valuable than people. Because large tracts of land are involved there is far more information on the Undertakers. As the undertenants were brought to Ireland by the Undertakers it is obvious that many of them came from the same area in Scotland and were his near relatives. One such undertaker was:
Sir Thomas Boyd of Bedlay: second son of the sixth Lord Boyd of Kilmarnock, Scotland. He married Grizel Cunningham, the daughter of Alexander Cunningham on 22 October 1603. Ulster patent dated 29 August 1610: Shean 1,500 acres, Strabane Barony, County Tyrone.
Marion, the sister
of Thomas Boyd, married James Hamilton, Earl of Abercorn and eventually
acquired Sir Thomas Boyd's estate. It can be assumed that Thomas
Boyd brought over many settlers by the name of
Boyd since the surname is quite common in Northern Ireland.
Many of the Boyd's in America are descended from these
Ulster-Scots but tracing them down is another thing altogether. Many records
have been destroyed during the centuries of civil strife in the country.
The Petition of Ulstermen
hundred people signed the memorial (Petition of Ulstermen 1718) to
Governor Shute, March 6, 1718 asking encourgement to obtain land
in "that very excellant and renowned plantation called
New England. Five heads of the Boyd family; John, Robert,
Thomas, William and another Thomas signed the Petition. Captain
William Boyd came to this country fourteen times bringing Scottish pioneers
from the north of Ireland, and finally located at Londonderry.
There is reason to believe that many of the Scottish
Boyds who came between the years 1718 and 1750 from Ulster were his
near kin. A number of them located at Bristol, Maine and Londonderry,
NH. The Petition begins:
"We whose names are the underwritteninhabitants of ye north of Ireland doe in our own names and in the names of many others, our neighbors, gentlemen, ministers, farmers, and tradesmen, commisionate and appoint our trusty and well beloved friend the Reverand William Macasky to repair to His Excellancy the Right Honorable Colonel Samuel Suitte (Shute) Governor of New England, and to insure His Excellancy of our sincere and hearty inclinations to transport ourselves to that excellant and renowned Plantation upon our obtaining from his Excellancy suitable encouragement".........
The original copy of the Petition of Ulstermen hangs in the rooms of the New Hampshire Historical Society in Concord.
William Boyd Irish Presbyterian
minister, was ordained minister of Macosquin, County Derry, by the Coleraine
Presbytery, on 31 January 1710. He is memorable as the bearer of
a commission to Colonel Samuel Suitte, governor of New England, embodying
a proposal for an extensive emigration from County Derry to that colony.
The commission is dated 26 March 1718, is signed by nine Presbyterian minsters
and 208 members of their flocks, who declare their sincere and hearty inclination
to transport ourselves to that very excellent and renowned plantation,
upon our obtaining from His Excellency suitable encouragement.' Witherow
reprints the document, with the signatures in full, from Edward Lutwyche
Parker's History of Londonderry, New Hampshire, Boston, 1851. Boyd
fulfilled his mission in 1718. How he was received is not known;
the intended emigration did not, however, take place. But in the
same year, without awaiting the issue of Boyd's negotiation, James M'Gregor
(minister of Aghadowey, Co. Derry, from 1701to 1718), who had not signed
the document, emigrated to New Hampshire with some of his people, and there
founded a town to which was given the name of Londonderry. In the
non-subscription controversy Boyd took a warm part. When the general
synod of Ulster in 1721 permitted those of its members to subscribe the
Westminster Confession who thought fit, Boyd was one of the signatories.
He was on the committee of six appointed in 1724 to draw up articles against
Thomas Nevin, M.A. (minister of Downpatick from 1711 to 1744; accused of
impugning the deity of Christ), and probably drafted
Hist. and Lit. Mem. of Presb. in Ireland, 2nd ser. 1880, p. 1; Armstrong's
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