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


alister said...

Mark,Thanks for this blog on Robert Dinsmoor and the plug for the wee book of his poems which Frank and I got reprinted.You have some great additional material here in the Michael Montgomery article etc.
To tell the truth I'm only becoming aware of this blog of a couple of years ago.Best Wishes always--Alister McReynolds