Immigration Records: Scottish Immigrants to North America, 1600s-1800s

This resource contains immigration records for approximately 70,000 Scottish immigrants to the United States and Canada. Extracted from a great variety of sources both in North America and Scotland, the information collected here would otherwise be difficult to access. Records were compiled from private and public sources including passenger lists, newspapers, church records, land deeds, records of indenture, and oaths of allegiance.

Sources for this database:

  • The Original Scots Colonists of Early America, 1612-1783
    Before the Revolutionary War, approximately 150,000 Scots emigrated to America. In this work, David Dobson extracted data from a wide variety of private and public sources in Scotland and England. These sources include family and estate papers, testamentary and probate records, deed registers, Sheriff’s Court records, Court of Session and High Court of Judiciary records, port books, customs registers, diaries and journals, newspapers and magazines, professional and university records, Privy Council and colonial records, records of Episcopalian and Presbyterian churches, monumental inscription lists, and the 1774-75 Register of Emigrants. For each of the 7,000 individuals listed, you may be able to learn the following information: name, date of birth or baptism, place of birth, occupation, place of education, cause of banishment (where applicable), residence, parents’ names, emigration date and whether voluntarily or involuntarily transported, port of embarkation, destination, name of ship, place and date of arrival, place of settlement, names of spouse and children, date and place of death, where buried, probate record, and source citation.


  • The Original Scots Colonists Of Early America, Supplement, 1607-1707
    This supplement contains new information gleaned from recent research and information that expands upon Dobson’s earlier work. The original volume was based entirely on source material located in the United Kingdom, while this volume contains primary and secondary material from both the United Kingdom and the United States. The four main phases of Scottish immigration during the seventeenth century were: (1) Nova Scotia in the 1620s; (2) New England and the Chesapeake mid-century; (3) South Carolina in the mid-1680s; and (4) East New Jersey, also in the mid-1680s. In total, approximately 4,000 Scots settled between Stuartstown, South Carolina and Port Royal, Nova before 1700. This supplement in combination with the earlier volume identifies virtually all of those 4,000 settlers.


  • The Original Scots Colonists, Caribbean Supplement, 1611-1700
    The Scottish connection with the Caribbean started in 1611 with the voyage to the West Indies of the Janet of Leith. It was not until after 1626, however, that Scots actually settled in the Caribbean. In 1627, King Charles I appointed a Scot, James Hay, Earl of Carlisle, as Governor of the Caribbees. This appointment led to a steady migration of Scots to Barbados and other islands. While there was a degree of voluntary emigration, the majority of the Scots in the West Indies arrived unwillingly. In 1654, Oliver Cromwell transported five hundred Scots prisoners-of-war. Felons or political undesirables, such as the Covenanters, were sent to the islands in chains directly from Scotland. In addition, the English Privy Council regularly received petitions from planters requesting Scottish indentured servants. Because of this, a steady stream of indentured servants sailed from Scottish and English ports to the West Indies. This supplement contains information that expands upon information found in Dobson’s earlier book The Original Scots Colonists of Early America, 1612-1783. Additionally, it contains completely new information gleaned from recent research. The material included in this supplement comes from both the United Kingdom and the United States. The Caribbean Supplement focuses on the period prior to 1707, the year marking the political union between England and Scotland. Once the Act of Union of 1707 eliminated restrictions on trade between Scotland and the American colonies, emigration to the West Indies increased rather substantially.


  • Directory Of Scottish Settlers In North America, 1625-1825 (7 Volumes)
    Volume I: Based on documents found in British archives and a handful of published sources, this work lists more than 5,000 Scottish emigrants who appear in ship passenger lists before 1825. It also has data on about 1,000 Scots who settled in North America between 1625 and 1825. The bulk of the immigrants listed here arrived in the United States or Canada between 1773 and 1815. While the information that you’ll find varies depending on the type of record, for the most part you’ll learn an individual’s age, date of birth, occupation, place of residence, family members, date and place of arrival, and circumstances of emigration.
  • Volume II: Unlike the first, this volume is based largely on previously published material such as government serial publications, contemporary newspapers, periodical articles, and family histories. In addition, there is data from some previously unpublished ships’ passenger lists and documents in the Scottish Record Office in Edinburgh. At least half of the immigrants identified in this volume sailed to Canada or the West Indies initially, the rest arriving at ports in the coastal states of America. Among them were doctors, ministers, educators, indentured servants, transportees, merchants, and ordinary laborers. About 4,000 immigrants are listed. While the data provided varies according to the records used, generally, you’ll learn an individual’s age, date and place of birth, occupation, place of residence, names of spouse and children, date and place of arrival in North America, and death date.

    Volume III: The data, from newspapers of the period, provides information on about 3,000 Scottish emigrants.

    Volume IV: In this volume, Mr. Dobson introduces the researcher to little-known source materials — the Services of Heirs and the Register of Testaments of the Commissariat of Edinburgh. From the Services of Heirs he extracted all references to North American residents who inherited land in Scotland, and also to Americans who left land in Scotland. From the Register of Testaments he provided abstracts of the testaments of all North American residents who chose to have their wills registered in Edinburgh. All of this data serves to confirm a relationship between the inheritor and his ancestor.

    Volume V: Two-thirds of the data in this volume, gleaned from Canadian and United States archives, regards those who settled in Ontario.

    Volume VI: This sixth volume contains abstracts of data from the Edinburgh Register of Deeds. The Edinburgh Register of Deeds recorded not only deeds but any document thought to be important, such as marriage contracts, powers of attorney, and commercial agreements. The material in this volume relates to Scots who lived in North America, or had any commercial or legal action with America for the period 1750-1825. About 600 Scots and their activities are covered.
    Volume VII: Although the sixth volume of the Directory of Scottish Settlers in North America was said at the time of its publication in 1986 to be the last in the series, subsequent research has brought to light sufficient new material to warrant this seventh volume. Largely a miscellany, this volume draws upon printed books and manuscripts, church records, burgess rolls, probate records, state records, and public records of every description. All 2,000 entries refer to Scots who emigrated to North America or who are reported to have lived or died there. In general, you’ll find the following information about an individual listed: place and date of birth, place of residence, names of parents, occupation, name of spouse, date of emigration, place and date of settlement, and date of death.


  • Scots on the Chesapeake
    This work attempts to bring together all available references to Scots in Virginia and Maryland from sources scattered throughout Great Britain and North America. To develop this information the author conducted research in archives and libraries in Scotland, England, Canada, and the United States. The result is an exhaustive list of several thousand Scots known to have been in the Chesapeake region between 1607 and 1830. For the most part, you’ll learn the following about an individual listed: date and place of birth, marriage and death, occupation, age, date of emigration, place of settlement, and family relationships. Only those who have been positively identified as Scots or likely to have been born in Scotland are included in this invaluable work.


  • Directory of Scots in the Carolinas, 1680-1830
    In this work, the author presents, for the first time, a comprehensive list of Scottish settlers in the Carolinas from 1680 through 1830. In general, the details provided include age, place and date of birth, and often names of parents, names of spouse and children, occupation, place of residence, and the date of emigration from Scotland. About 6,000 Scots are identified in this book. The information was taken from university libraries and historical societies as well as the 1850 Federal Census.


  • Directory of Scots Banished to the American Plantations, 1650-1775
    Between 1650 and 1775, many thousands of Scots were banished to the American colonies for political, religious, or criminal offenses. In the aftermath of the English Civil War, for example, Oliver Cromwell transported thousands of Scots soldiers to Virginia, New England, and the West Indies. The Covenanter Risings of the later 17th century led to around 1,700 Scots being expelled as enemies of the state, and the Jacobite Rebellions of 1715 and 1745 resulted in an additional 1,600 men, women, and children being banished to the colonies. These three groups of exiles, together with a stream of petty criminals, formed a sizable proportion of the Scottish population of colonial America. Here, the author extracts information from the records of the Privy Council of Scotland, the High Court of Justiciary, Treasury and State Pages, prison records, and other sources to compile a list of these banished Scots. The author succinctly brings together the overwhelming bulk of information available on the Scots who were banished to the colonies prior to 1775. For each person listed, some or all of the following information is provided: name, occupation, place of residence in Scotland, place of capture and captivity, parent’s name, date and cause of banishment, name of the ship sailing to the colonies, and date and place of arrival in the colonies.


  • Scottish Soldiers in Colonial America
    Scottish soldiers played an important role in defending the American colonies and in settling them. Around the middle of the 18th century, the British government began to dispatch Highland Regiments, such as Fraser’s Highlanders, the Black Watch, and Montgomery’s Highlanders, to America. The French and Indian War of 1756-1763, in particular, led to significant recruitment in Scotland for service in the American colonies. Many of these soldiers, subsequently, decided to settle or emigrate in America (often because former military personnel were allocated land after the war). Here, the author David Dobson identifies more than one thousand Scottish soldiers in colonial America. Generally, you’ll learn the following information about an individual listed: soldier’s name, rank, military unit, date(s) and campaign(s) of service, place of birth, when arrived in North America, civilian occupation, date and place of death, and the source of the information.


  • Scots in the West Indies, 1707-1857
    Scotland has had direct social and economic links with the West Indies for nearly 400 years. Settlement started in 1626 when James Hay, the Earl of Carlisle, was appointed Proprietor of Barbados. After the union of Scotland and England in 1707 and the lifting of restrictions on trade between these two countries, Scotland’s trade with the islands expanded and so did its stream of immigration throughout the West Indies. To a larger extent than elsewhere, the colonies of the West Indies attracted Scots with skills or money to invest. Scotsmen figured prominently in the Indies sugar cane, cotton, and tobacco-growing businesses. These new businesses promoted trade between the Indies and the mainland ports of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Charleston, and Savannah. In due course, families moved between these various locations, and links were established. The Scottish population of the West Indies also increased when many Loyalists took refuge there following the American Revolution. Here, the author collected information from archives and libraries in Scotland, England, and Denmark to yield the first listing of Scottish inhabitants of the West Indies between 1707 and 1857. Arranged alphabetically by surname, many of the entries in this volume were extracted from Scottish newspapers like the “Aberdeen Journal,” in which notices would appear seeking to employ managers and servants. In all, nearly 3,000 Scotsmen are identified by full name, island inhabited, date, and source of the information, and sometimes by occupation, parent(s) name(s), and education.


  • Scots in the USA and Canada
    Emigration from Scotland to the United States and Canada during the nineteenth century was significant. The mass movement that occurred was a continuation of a process that had its roots in the seventeenth century. The majority of Scottish emigrants of the period were skilled, educated workers from urban industrial backgrounds whose expertise was in great demand in the rapidly industrializing cities of North America. This work is based on information found in Scots newspapers together with a handful of entries based on documents in the Scottish Records Office and the United States National Archives.