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This book began as Jean Stephenson's effort to validate the family tradition that her great-great-grandparents emigrated from Belfast to South Carolina under the leadership of Covenanter Presbyterian minister William Martin in 1772. The author was not only able to authenticate the crux of the story, but, in the process, to place nearly 500 Scotch-Irish families in South Carolina on the eve of the Revolutionary War.
The impetus for the colonization was the combination of exorbitant land rents in Northern Ireland, sometimes provoking violent resistance, and the offer of free land and inexpensive tools and provisions tendered by the colonial government of South Carolina. For instance, each Scottish Covenanter was entitled to 100 acres for himself and 50 acres for his spouse, and an additional 50 acres for each child brought to South Carolina. Faced with this crisis and opportunity, Reverend Martin persuaded his parishioners that they had nothing to lose by leaving Ulster, and before long he was in charge of a small fleet of vessels bound for South Carolina. This story is recounted by Ms. Stephenson from the records of the South Carolina Council Journal and tax lists, passenger lists, church histories, and other sources housed at the South Carolina Department of Archives and History.
Genealogists will want to pore over the land evidences assembled by the author from entries found in the Council Journal, namely, authorizations, survey abstracts, wills, deeds and other records which demonstrate where each family settled, or was entitled to settle. The families, which are grouped under the vessel they traveled in, are identified by the name of the household head, names of spouse and children, number of acres surveyed, county, location of the nearest body of water and the names of abutting neighbor, and the source of the information. For the reader's convenience, there is not only an index of the persons found in the list of survey entries and a separate subject index, but also a table of spelling variants. A work of exacting scholarship, Scotch-Irish Migration to South Carolina, 1772 is a crucial source on settlement of the Palmetto State on the eve of the American Revolution.