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The Plantations

The defeat of Hugh O'Neill and Red Hugh O'Donnell at Kinsale, which effectively ended their rebellion against Elizabeth, encouraged the Crown to embark on the official "Plantations". James 1 of England used the 1607 Flight of the Earls, whose estates were promptly declared forfeit, to initiate a vast enterprise of colonisation and re-distribution of land in Ulster. He simply allocated the land to favoured Scottish, English and Welsh settlers.

The Plantation of Ulster followed precedents in both Ireland and colonial America. Sixteenth century plantations in Leix, Offaly and Munster consisted mainly of military aristocracy, and had lacked sufficient artisans and workers. The Ulster plantation attracted some English and Welsh settlers and a substantial number of lowland Scots, many of whom were farmers, masons, smiths and carpenters.

Propaganda for the plantation claimed that there was abundant land for both immigrants and the existing population. Those who resented the arrival of what one of the Irish poets called 'an impure swarme of foreigners, an excommunicated rabble of Saxons and Scotsmen' retreated to the forests and hills, harassing the settlers while waiting and hoping for the restoration of the old order.

It was not race but religion which separated plantee from Gael. Scottish plantee and Ulster Irishman shared the same ethnic roots, and not all Scots settlers were Presbyterians. Some were Catholics, others were Episcopalians who became bishops in the Church of Ireland.

Many of the first Scottish settlers were killed or driven away in the Irish rebellion of l641, but their numbers were replenished by Cromwell after he had put down the rebels, and again after William III 's victory of 1690 at the Boyne. Derry [renamed Londonderry by the English], Carrickfergus and Donaghadee were the main ports of entry. North-west Tyrone and east Donegal [the Foyle basin], together with Counties Antrim and Down, were the chief areas of settlement. The combined English and Scots population in the census of 1659 was 40,000. It is estimated that another 50,000 Scots settled in Ulster during the remainder of the 17th century.






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