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Alabama has many immigrants from Scotland – here is where they came from [maps & pics]

[There is a strong presence of Scottish ancestors in Alabama. This is probably the reason why]




(Transcribed from The Alabama Historical Quarterly, Vol. 01, No. 01, Spring Issue 1930 – photographs added by transcriber D. Causey)

There are perhaps few regions of the world, outside of the motherland of Scotland, where there can be found a larger proportion of population bearing the family names of the great Highland clans than in Alabama—especially in the southern and eastern parts of the State.scotland.aspx_

There is scarcely a county, or even a neighborhood, where one cannot find either Camerons, Campbells, Fergusons, Frasers, Gordons, Grahams, McDonalds, McKenzies, Mclntoshes, McLeans, McLeods, McNeills, McPhersons, McMillans, Stewarts or others with distinctly Highland names; for the names of the septs and dependents of the various clans were well nigh innumerable.

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Difference between Scot Lowlanders and Highlanders

First, it may be well to indicate the main line of racial cleavage in the Scottish people—the difference between the mixed Lowlanders of the southern and eastern parts of the country, largely Saxon in blood, with a small later strain of the Norman feudal aristocracy; and the Highlanders of the western and northern parts who are chiefly Celtic in origin, with more or less of a Norse of scotland

As every one knows ethnology is still anything but an exact science, and with the constant flow and admixture of peoples no hard and fast racial lines can be laid down in this case; but for all practical purposes we can very well differentiate the thirfty (sic) Saxon Lowlander—who in business sagacity rivals even the Semite—from the romantic, chivalric Highlander who has been sometimes acclaimed the world’s best fighting man. It is the good fortune of the Highlanders that their clan and septal names enable them to keep track, in most cases, of their racial origin, while the Lowlanders frequently share their Saxon or mixed names with their English cousins across the border.

Hard Economic times sent Scots seeking new land

Hard economic conditions, as well as political and religious disturbances, have sent the Scots of every breed among the pioneers into many of the newer lands of the world: just as they were in a sense the path-breakers across the Isthmus—where now flows the great artificial channel of the world’s commerce—in the ill-starred “Darien Scheme”.

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But there is one notable characteristic in their seeking new homes wherever they go. They do not segregate themselves from other peoples; but mingle their blood with earlier inhabitants, as they ultimately did after the plantation of Ulster. There are few if any Scotch “quarters” to be found in any of the world’s great cities; but whether as shrewd traders among savage tribes-as they first came what is now Alabama—or as great captains of industry in an age of ‘steel, they cut a wide swath as individuals, and make their influence felt alike in frontier communities and in the centers of the world’s “big business “

McGillivray and Weatherford settled in area of Coosa and Tallapoosa


The story has been fully told in that classic of State histories Pickett’s “Alabama”, how the daring youth, Lachlan McGillivray’ Charles Weatherford and other Scotch traders and adventurers pushed from the South Atlantic ports of Charleston and Savannah into the Creek Indian territory and established themselves in the region about the junction of the Coosa and Tallapoosa rivers—a story which will not be repeated here. However, it may be well to mention that McGilhvray in due time took to wife the French-Indian “princess” Sehoy Marchand, and his example was followed by others of his countrymen so that they have left to our own time many descendants, who have a dash of aboriginal blood, among the more substantial people of the State.coosa and tallapoosa

However, it may be well to mention that McGillivray in due time took to wife the French-Indian “princess” Sehoy Marchand, and his example was followed by others of his countrymen so that they have left to our own time many descendants, who have a dash of aboriginal blood, among the more substantial people of the State.

The Rebellion of 1745-6

But it was not trade or adventure, but a great political upheaval in the motherland that sent here-chiefly by way of North Carolina—the forbears of most of the numerous citizenry of Alabama who bear Highland names and of many others who, as a result of intermarriages, bear English or other names but have strains of the Highland blood That upheaval was the last serious attempt to restore to the British throne the exiled line of Stuart Kings and is known in English history as the “Rebellion of 1745-6,” or briefly “The Forty-five.”

In that memorable year Prince Charles Edward Stuart, known as The Young Pretender,” a grandson of James II who had been driven from the throne in the so-called “Bloodless Revolution of 1688 ” embarked from the coast of France in the hazardous attempt to gain for his father, James Stuart, “The Old Pretender,” his ancestral crown.

Prince Charles Edward Stuart

Young Charles Edward Stuart L_tcm4-563619

The French had promised aid; but great storms fought for the reigning House of Hanover (now the House of Windsor) and scattered the fleet that was to carry across the sea the French force of fifteen thousand men. But nothing daunted Prince Charles set out upon his mad adventure with only seven companions, trusting only to his personal charm and the magic of his family name to rouse the western Highlanders.

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He finally landed on the shores of Moidart July 25, 1745. Among the first to espouse the venture was the young Chieftan of the Clan Ranald McDonalds, who overcome by the magnetism of the prince threw himself into his arms in a passionate offer of his life for the cause.moidartmap

On the 19th of August the Stuart standard was raised in the vale of Glenfinnan and clan after clan rallied around it with all the devotion and enthusiasm portrayed in Thomas Campbell’s famous poem, “Lochiel’s Warning” With his Highland army the prince marched practically unresisted to Edinburgh which he entered in triumph.He occupied the old Holy Rood Palace; and proclaimed his father, “The Old Pretender,” King of Great Britain with the title of “James III.”

Holyrood Palace

Holyrood Palace

He then marched out and at Prestonpans cut to pieces the army of General Cope who had been sent against him. After a delay, unfortunate for his cause, he started south to arouse and enlist the Lowlander and English “Jacobites,” as the adherents of the Stuart cause were known; but he met with a similar experience to that of General Lee in his Maryland Campaign of 1862—cheers, good wishes and patriotic songs, but few enlistments.

He pushed on to Derby, within a hundred and twenty-five miles of London; but was there forced to begin a disastrous retreat back through the border lands into the Highlands, where he was finally brought to bay at Culloden Moor, near Inverness, April 16, 1746.culloden moor map

There his little half-starved army of five thousand men was overwhelmingly defeated by the well-armed and well-fed English army of nine thousand men under the command of the Duke of Cumberland whose savagery in victory justly earned him the odious epithet of “The Butcher”.culloden-map

An incident of the battle of Culloden well illustrates the prominent Celtic characteristics of pride and courage. Since the days of Bannockburn the McDonalds had always been given what was considered the post of honor in battle—the right wing of the Scottish army; but in planning his battle the prince had transferred the three McDonald regiments to the left wing. In resentment of what they considered an indignity offered their clan, they refused either to advance or retreat; but kept their ground, hewing with their claymores the heather at their feet and falling in their ranks from the enemy’s fire which they did not return.battleofculloden02

After Culloden Prince Charles was hunted with bloodhound and bugle; but there was no Highlander base enough to betray him, in spite of an enormous reward offered for his capture. He finally made his way, after many thrilling adventures, back to France; but a fearful vengeance was wreaked upon his followers with indescribable barbarities.

After the sword and the torch and the gibbet had done their worst, Parliament passed an act, effective August 1, 1746, breaking up the clan system—disarming the Highlanders; forbidding them to wear the national garb except as soldiers in the British army; and establishing parochial schools with a view to rooting out the Gaelic language.macgillivrays clan

The hardest part was that no distinction was made between the clans which had fought or Prince Charles and those which had remained loyal to the House of Hanover. For instance the great Covenanting clan of the Campbells, which had supported George II, fell under the ban along with those who had rallied under the banner of the Catholic Stuarts. Here we have another parallel from our Civil War history. The Union slave-owners of the border States, who had enlisted in the Federal army and fought “to save the Union,” found at the close of the war that they had been fighting to destroy their own property in slaves, for which they never received any remuneration.

Under the proscriptions of Parliament many of the bravest and best of the Highlanders, whether they had been “out with Prince Charlie” or not felt that Scotland was no longer their home, and sought refuge beyond the seas. Permission was given them to settle in the American colonies upon the conditions of first taking an oath of allegiance to the reigning House of Hanover.



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About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and All her books can be purchased at and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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  1. i just love your pages .I am a McPherson who very much has Alabama connections .I also have a connection on my paternal grandmother ‘s familyfrom the Limestone (Athens) county area.

    1. Pamela, it’s likely we’re distantly related. My maternal line is McPherson from Alabama, the family well known for the pottery they made.

  2. My maternal grandmother’s mother was a “Cameron” raised in the Scottish area in Barbour County called “Inverness” near Clayton!!

  3. Great article. Thanks for posting.

  4. And Ireland too! Kerr and Elliott in my tree in Limestone Co..

  5. Gilchrist family, near St. Andrews, Barbour County and near Greenville

  6. McNeil(l)s via a land grant in “the Carolina’s” to Archibald McNeil and then to China Grove in south Montgomery Co, Alabama.

  7. share with JD Stewart and all Stewart kin

  8. My paternal grandfather was Scot.

  9. The Welsh had a part in early Alabama as well.

  10. Not only Scotland but the Welsh too

  11. Bet they didn’t know WHAT to think of the heat and humidity…

  12. Someone’s been watching “Outlander”.

    1. My grandfather Woodie Madison Hudson’s mother, a Stuart ,claims we are descendents of Mary Queen of Scots. GF Woodie’s first wife died and my grandmother, Isabelle A. Lankfort Hudson is his second wife. We may be distant relatives. They mostly lived in Wagarville, Alabama and were perhaps both born there and are buried there.

  13. There were lowland Scots among the “Argyll Colony / Cumberland North Carolina” group, also. It was not exclusively highlanders.

  14. I just want to know where my ancestors came from. Some say Scotland and others say Ireland. McCarley, I say Scotland.

    1. offers DNA testing that could help with that.

    2. Joan, all the names have become Americanized, so it’s difficult to tell, but the Mc names are usually Irish, while Mac’s are usually Scottish. My husband has McGuirk ancestors whose surname is Irish, but the same maternal line ( Rogers) is Scottish.

  15. I enjoyed reading the article. Thank you for posting.

  16. Nice article! My Scots family came from Ayrshire and surrounding areas in the late 1800s. They were coal miners in Pratt City (Birmingham), AL.

  17. Aye! We’ve traced my ancestors back to Scotland. Visited this past summer and saw Houston Castle. Sadly, it’s been divided into apartments, but it still stands. Also, the Scottish people reminded me of fellow Alabamians, as they were so very social, kind and friendly. I hope to return some day.

  18. Irene Cataldo… Sweet home Alabama!

  19. Many Scots went first to Ireland and then to America. They are the Scotch-Irish. My father’s family has ancestors who came to this country from Scotland via Ireland.

  20. a good thing the far right republlicans was’ent around….or they may have been sent back to scotland….foreigners wearing skirts who neded them cetainly not the native americans

    1. Thank you for that invaluable contribution to this article.

  21. Thanks for the article! I know my story. My Fathers family were MacGregors then changed their name to McGhee to avoid being killed. My Mothers family were from the borders of Scotland. Both families settled in Alabama where I’m from.

  22. The British cleaned out the jails

  23. We have Wallace as a surname on the maternal side of our family and Mitchell on the paternal side. Here in northwest Alabama, and in the South in general, many of us follow the Scottish tradition of using the mother’s clan/family surname as first names for our sons, and even our daughters, to continue to keep the name in our family lineage. My three sisters and I kept our family surname, May, as our middle names once we married.

  24. Lots of Welsh in Sand Mountain area. Owen was my father’s last name. Sky blue eyes and jet black hair.

  25. We’re the highland Scots not mostly deported after the American Revolution?

    1. My McDaniel line came here in 1715 during the 1st Highland Clerances

      1. I have a McDaniel-Mohagn (This is spelled many ways) line from Marshall, Cherokee, DeKalb counties in Alabama. My grandparents lived on Sand Mountain. This came from my grandmother’s line. My grandfather had the last name Childers.

  26. Must be why I love the OUTLANDER series! 🙂

  27. I know the Grants moved there. 🙂

    1. I connect to John Wesley Hendrix in Alabama to Mississippi to Arkansas.

  28. Visited Scotland last year. The ppl were so friendly and kind. Also, the country is gorgeous to boot. Reminded me a lot of Sweet Home Alabama.

  29. proud to be one

  30. My great great grandparents married in Tallapossa County, Alabama. His name was James Mormon, born 1801,and hers Millie West, born 1808. James was born in NC to James Mormon and Agnes Jaweccer Split Log. I have linked her to Indians, Cornstalk, Pasmere Carpenter.
    I cannot connect to the West line other than her mother’s names of Mary West.

  31. I loved this article, very informative. I too am Scots-Irish from both sides of my family. This article was very good. Thanks to those who work on these.

  32. There is an Old Scotland community near Beatrice in Monroe county.

  33. This article not a history of the Scots in Alabama it is a rehash of Culloden. It would have been interesting as well if you had expanded on the Indians trials and how the McGillvary’s and others protected the Indians, by encouraging them to deed their land making it possible for them to stay in Alabama because they legally owned their land. It would have been informative if you had followed the families history and not a long dead battle for the highlands except as a footnote. Of course if the book did, that would be nice to know.

  34. […] (continued from Alabama had a large population of settlers from Scotland in its founding days) […]

  35. Was told my ancestors either came from Ireland or Scotland .

  36. So that’s why we have so much Scandinavian blood. Gordon, Stewart, McDonald

    1. These are SCOTTISH names-not Scandinavian.

    2. And the article explains the Scandinavian connection

  37. […] Source: Alabama has many immigrants from Scotland – here is where they came from [maps & pics] | Alaba… […]

  38. ha ha I’m waiting for a good breeze..

  39. Stewart blood runs in these veins.

  40. I saved this, since my Mitchell line began in Scotland, and then went to Ireland, from which they came to America.

  41. We just call it Nova Scotia. New England is close by and so was New London and New Madrid. Mobile and Washington Counties and around.

  42. My forefathers came here from Scotland in the 1600’s. Growing up I never dreamed that Drinkard was a name from Scotland I enjoyed reading this.

  43. My Greatgreatgreatgrandfather came fron Scotland .

  44. Isle of Mull- McLean my line but also many other spellings.

    1. I’m sorry about the misspellings but when an article is transcribed (as indicated at the top of the article), it is always transcribed exactly as originally written, including misspelled words.

  45. Alba gu brath …
    McCrary and McArnold descendent, Jackson Country, AL

  46. FYI Scotch I s a drink. People from Scotland are Scots

    1. Thank you. This s a common mistake, just like calling Edinburgh, Edinburg.

    2. Where does “Scottish”, as in Scottish Rite, come from?

  47. Stewart… (Janice Stewart) My 2nd greatgrandfather Lanier Stewart was born in Craven Co, NC. Lanier and his family migrated to Pike Co AL where my greatgrandfather, grandfather and father were born. Lanier’s father was born in Scotland.

  48. Dinne, Lucy, Ronald, Charles…you need to read this

  49. I, too, enjoy reading your blog. My family is a mixture of Scots, probably some Irish, and also Creek Indian. I have been studying the Scots in Scotland and in America for two or three years especially. We live in Florida, but have owned a tree farm in Alabama for thirty years. I have been tracing mine and my husband”s family lines for at least that long. My first novel WAITING DEER, which I published in May, 2016, deals with the Scots, African Americans, and Creek Indians who migrated to northwest Florida after the Civil War. Its sequel, titled CLEVE, I hope to have finished in a few months.

  50. Fearn Abbey in Scotland is part of my family heritage.

  51. Dunmaglass, Inverness, Scotland, Mcgillvary Clan

  52. Was born and raised in Alabama Abercrombie is my mothers’ maiden name,my ancestors came from Fife Scotland

  53. My ancestors of Scot or Scot-Irish lineage include the Kilgo’s & McGathys of Calhoun County. My wife’s ancestors were the McCain’s who came to what is now Clay County in the early 1830’s. The McCains migrated from the Carolina’s to Marion County, Tennessee, and then due south to what was then eastern Talladega County after the forced removal of the Creeks. They settled near a Creek village named “Old Town” near what is now Lineville, Alabama. She has a copy of an original land patent signed by Martin Van Buren.

  54. Archibald McNeil was my great-great-great-great-great-grandfather. I remember hearing that he was executed outside the Tower of London, which execution place I visited. My cousin, retired officer in air force intelligence, extensively researched on location this thread of family genealogy through many centuries.

    When I googled A.M.`s name, it was linked to this website with a quote regarding passing of inheritance, but I was unable to find him named in this portion here reproduced.

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