I have a pretty big love for Ireland, it’s people, music and literature. It has nothing to do with my ancestry, it just is. In fact, I’ve always assumed I don’t have anything beyond a drop of Irish blood. As I learn more about my ancestors, while that may still be true, I’m also pointed toward a people I had never thought much about: the Scots-Irish.
It’s silly that I hadn’t thought of them before as half of my family has been in one or another part of Appalachia since the 1700s and 90% of the early settlers of Appalachia were Scots-Irish; it only makes sense.
So how did I realize this? I was searching back on my dad’s side through the Rayfields, Martins, Robersons and then I hit the Boggs family. As I started to research a distant great-grandfather, Samuel Boggs, I started to find others who had already done a lot of research. Many of them made mention of an old family story of how the Boggs’ got their name.
The story goes: John Livingstone was born in Linlithgow, Scotland and he was a Presbyterian. When Oliver Cromwell was made Protector by Charles II in Britain, he began rooting out the Presbyterians (Charles II was Episcopalian) and many were exiled to Northern Ireland. Brothers John and Hugh Livingstone ended up in Londonderry, Northern Ireland and took the surname Boggs. John’s son James Boggs came from Londonderry in 1724 with his ten children to New Castle, Delaware. The family ended up in an area of South Carolina called Long Cane . Samuel Boggs married Mary Campbell, also of Scots-Irish descent.
Now I’m not sure if the Livingstone/Boggs story is true–there’s really no documented proof. What is true is that I trace back to James Boggs who did indeed come from Londonderry, Ireland during a mass migration of Scots-Irish from Northern Ireland to the US. For the next several generations, the family stay in the Long Cane or Abbeville County area of SC and married into other known Scots-Irish families: Roberson, Clackler, Martin and Henderson.
The Scots-Irish mainly originate in the Lowlands of Scotland or the border towns in Northern England. People in Ireland would think of them as Ulster Scots. Now that I look at all of the surnames in a row, they actually sound Scottish to me. I always just assumed they were English, but now I’m thinking again.