The Eagle Wing
The Eagle Wing was the first emigrant ship to leave Ulster for America. She sailed from Groomsport on 9th September 1636. They had originally intended to leave Ulster, heading for New England, in spring 1636. So what delayed them?
Eagle Wing was commissioned by four of the Presbyterian ministers who had been brought to Ulster by Sir Hugh Montgomery. They were Rev Robert Blair (brought to Bangor by Hamilton), Rev John McClelland (brought to Newtownards by Montgomery), Rev John Livingstone (brought to Killinchy by Hamilton) and Rev James Hamilton (he was Hamilton’s namesake and nephew, who was made minister of Ballywalter).
Blair and Hamilton were both married to daughters of Montgomery. Livingstone had been chaplain to Montgomery’s second wife, and McClelland’s brother was married to another of Montgomery’s daughters.
Sir Hugh died on the 15th May 1636. Eagle Wing had not yet sailed. If the emigration trip were to be a success, the passengers may never have returned to Ulster. They may well have decided to not sail until after his funeral.
On 8th September, Sir Hugh Montgomery was buried. A Scottish State funeral was held in Newtownards, with earls, nobles and lords from Scotland paying their last respects to the Founding Father of the Settlement.
Sir Hugh had been laid to rest. The ministers and their wives could now leave for America.
The very next morning they went to Groomsport, boarded the Eagle Wing and set sail.