Language of the Settlers
Bishop George Montgomery (1562–1621)
When he arrived in the west of Ulster in Spring 1607, Bishop George Montgomery noted that one of his rectors was “learned in Irish, Latin and Scots”
Alexander Montgomery (1545–1610)
Sir Hugh Montgomery’s uncle was Alexander Montgomery, poet Laureate to the court of King James VI of Scotland. His most renowned works are The Cherrie and the Slae (1595) and Flyting betwixt Montgomerie and Polwart (published 1621).
“…Matchless Montgomery, in his native tongue,
In former times to that great sire hath sung…”
The Montgomery Manuscripts p. 400
“Quhy wes my mother blyth when I wes borne?
Quhy heght the weirds my weilfair to advance ?
Quhy wes my birth on Eister day at morne ?
Quhy did Apollo then appeir to dance ?
Quhy gave he me good morrow with a glance ?
Quhy leugh he in his golden chair and lap,
Since that the hevins are hinderers of my hap ?”
The Montgomery Manuscripts p. 400
King James VI included large extracts from The Cherrie and the Slae published, in his Revlis and Cantelis of Scottis Poesie (1584).
The Cherrie and the Slae was a favourite book in Ulster-Scots homes, and was one of the first books to be printed in Ulster (1700).
Alexander Montgomerie’s work is recognized as having been a strong influence upon Robert Burns.
Major-General Robert Monro
“… Therafter he took 15 or 16 barrons and gentlemen that wold not subscreive the couenant, and sent them under sure gaurdes prissoners to Edinburghe, to be taught by the committee of estaites to speake their auen countrey language. Monro manteind his armey on thesse gentlemen's estaites, and for the superlpus of the samen he was compteable…”
The Montgomery Manuscripts p.168
“I am confident, were your Majesty informed of these particulars, and of the proceedings of the Scots, whose language your highness seems now to utter”
The Montgomery Manuscripts p. 167
Rev Robert Bruce (1554–1631)
Rev Robert Bruce was a contemporary of Hamilton and Montgomery, and a close friend of many of the Scottish ministers they brought to Ulster. He was one of the most renowned Scottish ministers of his generation. In The Mystery of the Lord’s Supper – Sermons on the Sacrament preached in the Kirk of Edinburgh by Robert Bruce in AD 1589 (Edinburgh 1957), the editor Thomas F Torrance refers to the sermons having originally been published in 1590 and 1591 in “… the Scots tongue as used by Bruce. The sermons were taken down as they were received from Bruce’s mouth and published without any rewriting or polishing …” An English translation of these Scots sermons was published in 1614, with another edition of Bruce’s sermons entitled The Way to True Peace and Rest was also translated into English and published in 1617.
The Scots editions of all of these sermons were republished by William Cunningham in 1843. In his preface Torrance says “… I am aware that publication in this more modern form does not do justice to the vigour and power of the old Scots speech …”
Brief biographies of Rev Robert Bruce can be found in Howie’s classic The Scots Worthies and the recent A Scottish Christian Heritage by Iain H Murray (Banner of Truth Press, Edinburgh 2006)
Rev Robert Blair (1593–1666)
Rev Robert Blair was brought to Bangor by Sir James Hamilton in 1623, to become minister at Bangor Abbey. Blair was one of the ministers who commissioned Eagle Wing, and he became Moderator of the General Assembly in Scotland in 1646. He famously described Oliver Cromwell as a “greeting devil” – “greeting” being the Scots word for crying.