Saturday, October 03, 2015

James McHenry's inspirational aunt

Maligning and ignoring Ulster-Scots is nothing new. This is from novelist James McHenry's introduction to his 1798 Rebellion book O'Halloran, regarding the aunt who funded him to write it –

'…amidst the multitude of volumes which she had perused on these subjects, she was surprised to find none that gave anything like an accurate account of the people among whom she had spent her whole existence … she was much chagrined with the carelessness with which even professed travellers through Ireland have uniformly mentioned its northern province. Some, she would say, seem to treat the people of Ulster as altogether beneath their notice; others take delight in making them the objects of misrepresentation and slander; while none manifest for them that sympathy and respect, to which, from their spirit of enterprise and industry, they are assuredly entitled…'

In an excellent essay entitled 'Irish and American Frontiers in the Novels of James McHenry' by Stephen Dornan, from the Journal of Irish and Scottish Studies (Volume 3 Issue 1), comes this observation on the 'three stranded' cultural nature of Ulster –
'… McHenry saw Irish society not in terms of a binary between Protestant and Catholic, but rather as divided in triangular terms between Anglicans, Roman Catholics and dissenters. He was annoyed at Owenson’s wilful exclusion of the dissenting element from the moment of resolution in The Wild Irish Girl, in which Anglican ascendancy Ireland is symbolically united and reconciled to ancient Catholic Gaelic Ireland through the marriage of Horatio and Glorvina. The Anglican and Catholic traditions are symbolically reconciled, whilst the Presbyterian tradition is acknowledged by Owenson, but ultimately excluded …' – Published by the AHRC Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies, University of Aberdeen - online here.
Over 200 years later, these themes sadly persist.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Henry A Chambers (1841–1925) - Confederate soldier, Tennessee Politician, and Scotch-Irish historian

(The more you look the more you see, the more you dig the more you find. In looking for something else I came across this man recently.)

Captain Henry A Chambers (1841–1925) was born in Iridell County, North Carolina, which is said to have been nicknamed 'Scotch-Iridell" due to it being almost entirely Scotch-Irish in population. He attended Davidson College, joined the Confederate Army in May 1861 and was wounded at the Battle of Five Forks in Virginia in 1865. After the war he settled in Tennessee, becoming an Attorney and a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives. He was also a senior Freemason in the Grand Lodge of Tennessee (whose website features the portrait shown below)

His papers are held at the University of North Carolina, including a family history. Of the Chambers who settled there in 1754, having moved south from Pennsylvania, he wrote that –

"... They were all probably descendants of the James Chambers whose name appears on the rent roll of the Scotch farmers who settled in Ireland under the auspices of Hamilton & Montgomery in the reign of King James I of England (VI of Scotland) ..."
– from the Statesville Sentinel, 31 Dec 1914

The first Chambers in his line reached Philadelphia in 1726, a group of four brothers who had sailed from County Antrim. Chambers contributed to a huge family history compiled by William D Chambers in 1925, all of which is now online here. He said that Iridell County was full of:

"... families bearing such names of Scotch extraction as Freeland, Fleming, McHney, Chambers, Summers, Steelen, Murdock, Patterson, McNeely, Roseboro, Graham, Kerr, Irvin, Woods, Johnson, Hall and Ramsey. Most of them, whether church members or not, were of the Presbyterian or Calvinistic faith ..."

His papers include his Civil War diary, which shows his interest in reading and history even during army drills and training:

Monday, Sept. 28, 1863
Had company drill in the morning and battalion drill in the evening by Col. McAfee. After the evening drill, we had dress parade. A Rev. Mr. Rugland preached tonight. I was engaged in reading Macaulay’s History of England in my leisure time.

Monday, Jan. 18, 1864
I was engaged during the forenoon in writing and in the afternoon in reading Macauley’s England. I have become deeply interested in this history. The iniquitous reign of James II is now drawing to a close and it is instructive and interesting to see what desperate measures he and his courtiers are resorting to...

Tuesday, Jan. 19, 1864
I am becoming more and more interested in Macauley’s England. He groups his historical characters in such a way that his narrative excites something with the same interest that a well written novel produces. His reflections, his searching analysis of character, his felicity of style, all contribute to charm one with his history. I have today read his account of the influence and circumstances which induced Wm. Prince of Orange to interfere with the government of England and have arrived at the end of the 9th of the long chapter where James, after retreating before the prince and finding his friends and army deserting him, resolves to follow his wife and little son to France. Last night George W. Carr of my company got a sick leave of twenty days. This evening, Samuel S. Benson was sent to the hospital and we received orders permitting five enlisted men to be furloughed for every 100.

 At the infamous battle site of Manassas he reported that there had been whiskey smuggling into the Confederate camp by Irish girls –

Thursday, Jan. 9, 1862
On this day we were on duty in the muddiest of the muddy places, Manassas Junction. It was cloudy all day –that and a thick fog rendered it almost impossible to distinguish objects more than twenty paces distant. This morning, we police confiscated some goods in the shape of two boxes filled with “fire water”. These boxes were being smuggled into camp by two of the “fair daughters of Ireland”.

In 1915 he serialised a 15-part 'History of the Scotch-Irish' for the Statesville Sentinel, a remarkably detailed account which drew heavily upon Charles A Hanna's (1863–1950) landmark two-volume set The Scotch-Irish, or, The Scot in North Britain, North Ireland and North America (1902).




We are Protestant

When you get your head out of the Northern Ireland goldfish bowl, where sectarian narratives are imposed upon pretty much everything, and where intra-Protestant divisions separate the churches, you forget the global power of the term, of what it stands for, of the simplicity of the faith.

Together For the Gospel is a biennial conference in the USA, where the leading minds (speakers and authors) get together on common ground – black, white, Asian, Latino. I am sure they have differences. But when they set those aside the outcome is powerful.

So what exactly did Jesus Christ achieve? Did He do it all? Or did He just do some, and now you have to do the rest? If we were capable of making ourselves right with God through our own efforts or religious observances, then, reverently speaking, Jesus Christ made a terrible mistake and wasted His time. Is your hope in Him, or in yourself?

Here's next year's T4G video as they lay the groundwork for the 2017 500th anniversary of Martin Luther's 95 Theses.

T4G 2016: We Are Protestant from Together for the Gospel (T4G) on Vimeo.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Robert Dinsmoor "Incidental Poems accompanied with Letters" (1828) – an Ulster-Scots-American Poet

Dinsmoor for blog 640Dinsmoor 2 640

In Ulster Province, Erin's northern strand
Five shiploads joined to leave that far off land.
They had their ministers to pray and preach
These twenty families embarked in each.
Here I would note and have it understood,
Those emigrants were not Hibernian blood,
But sturdy Scotsmen true, whose fathers fled
From Argyllshire, where protestants had bled
In days of Stuart Charles and James second
Where persecution was a virtue reckoned,
They found shelter on the Irish shore
In Ulster, not a century before
Four of these ships at Boston harbor landed;
The fifth, by chance at Casco Bay was stranded…

– from 'Jamie Cochran, the Indian Captive' (the opening poem in the 1898 edition)

Some years ago I was fortunate enough to acquire a copy of Incidental Poems by Robert Dinsmoor (1757–1836), the 'Rustic Bard' of New Hampshire, which was printed in Haverhill, Massachussetts in 1828. Dinsmoor reveals at the start of the book in a chapter entitled 'Life of the Author written by himself' that his ancestry can be traced to Achenmead (originally thought to have been near Peebles, but also said to be north of Kilwinning in Ayrshire) in Scotland, then to Ballywattick near Ballymoney in County Antrim, and then to Londonderry New Hampshire - and so it's no surprise that he uses a fair amount of Scots / Ulster-Scots in his poetry. The volume includes references to Robert Burns, Belfast-born Elizabeth Hamilton and Hector MacNeill. Songs appear which are written to tunes such as 'Boyne Water' and 'Scots Wha Hae'

The book also includes a poem by his uncle, Samuel Dinsmoor, which is also in Scots / Ulster-Scots. Standouts in the collection are 'The Sparrow', 'Skip's Last Advice' and the reproduction of Elizabeth Hamilton's 'My Ain Fireside' definitely warms the cockles.

Robert dinsmoors scotch iriIn 2012 the Ulster Historical Foundation published a new edition entitled Robert Dinsmoor's Scotch-Irish Poems, introduced by Frank Ferguson and Alister McReynolds. I get a wee plug in the Acknowledgements for having loaned my original edition to the project. Click here to order a copy.

Lots of Dinsmoor material is now easily available online:

Incidental Poems(1828) on GoogleBooks here
Poems of Robert Dinsmoor the Rustic Bard (1898) on here
The Earliest History and Genealogy of the Dinsmore-Dinsmoor Family (1891) on here
The History of Windham in New Hampshire, a Scotch Settlement - Supplement (1892) on here
• The History of Windham in New Hampshire, a Scotch Settlement (1892) on here
Among the Scotch-Irish, with history of the Dinsmoor family (1891) on here
• Article about Dinsmoor, by Prof Michael Montgomery, on


My AIn Fireside

Friday, September 18, 2015

"Poems chiefly in the Scottish dialect, originally written under the signature of the Scots-Irishman"- David Bruce, Washington DC, 1801

David Bruce Cover 640


Click here to read online.

The song on page 39 – To All Scots-Irishmen, Citizens of America - blends William of Orange, William Wallace and George Washington.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Al Mohler on postmodernism

Monday, September 07, 2015

The view to Galloway this evening.

Click to enlarge

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Doug Wilson & the Jenny Geddes Band - "Hold Your Peace"

Thanks to Robert for this. Douglas Wilson is an author and a friend/sparring partner of the late Christopher Hitchens.