1718 Migration from East Donegal
Ulster’s Atlantic shore
The migration of Donegal’s Ulster-Scots to America began in the late seventeenth century. They sailed from a number of ports but mainly from Londonderry which by that time had become part of the transatlantic trading network that connected America, Ireland and Britain.
Donegal and the 1718 Migration to New England
Migration to America intensified in the late 1710s. Poor harvests, increased rents and discontent of Ulster’s Presbyterians at their second class status led to this. In 1718, there was a major exodus from the valleys of the Rivers Bann and Foyle to New England.
Among the places in New England settled by immigrants from Ulster was Worcester, Massachusetts. Rev. Edward Fitzgerald, described as ‘of Londonderry’, but about whose background nothing else is known, led a group of families here in 1718. It seems that many of the early Ulster settlers in Worcester were from the Foyle Valley including Donegal. A headstone in Worcester commemorates surely the oldest of the 1718 migrants. The inscription to John Young notes that he died in 1730 at the age of 107 and that he was from the ‘Isle of Bert’, obviously referring to Burt.
“In Ulster Province, Erin’s northern strand Five shiploads joined to leave that far-off land. They had their ministers to pray and preach. These twenty families embarked in each...
...Four of these ships at Boston harbor landed The fifth, by chance, at Casco bay was stranded. But there those stout old Scotsmen knelt and sang Jehovah’s praise till sea and desert rang.”
Extract from Incidental Poems by Robert Dinsmoor, Windham, New Hampshire, 1828