COUNTY DOWN, NORTHERN
What is the connection
between King James I, the Ulster-Scots, the Guy Fawkes gunpowder plot of November 5th 1605, a little known 1606
migration of 10,000 people, the Authorised Version of the Bible, and the Douglas Family who put down their roots
at Killaughey Road, Ballyhay, between Newtownards and Donaghadee on the east coast of County Down?
It all started when James VI
of Scotland, on the heirless death of England’s Elizabeth I, became King James I of the three realms—England,
Scotland and Ireland—in 1603. What happened soon after was sparked through his association with two of his
fellow countrymen and close advisors, Sir James Douglas, and Sir Hugh Montgomery.
Sir Hugh Montgomery
Sir James Douglas
Through a set of
circumstances that included the imprisonment of the Irish Chief Con O’Neill, a huge tract of war-torn land was
made available, and with the approval of King James, was split three ways between a released Con O’Neill, a
calculating Hugh Montgomery and an opportunist James Douglas together with a plan to resettle this wasted,
scorched-earth countryside of Northern Ireland.
The plan almost did not get
off the ground with the plotting ambitions of Guy Fawkes to “…blow the Scotsmen back to Scotland…” on November
5th 1605. Fortunately, his plot was discovered or history may have taken a very different course.
Communications were sent out
across Scotland to find willing tenants to farm this land and in 1606 about 10,000 settlers—farmers,
stonemasons, builders, carpenter, textile workers, merchants and chaplains—sailed in waves across the narrow
(13miles/21kms) stretch of the North Channel between Scotland and Ireland to become in a short time the backbone
of the Ulster-Scots.
The Scottish chaplains and
ministers who followed this migration were mostly Presbyterian users of the Geneva Bible. This was particularly
obnoxious and considered dangerous by James I, because the footnotes which were a part of this Bible, challenged
the “divine right of kings”. As a result, James I commissioned a new Bible—the Authorised Version or King James
Bible (KJV) first published in 1611.
One of the surnames that
appears on the list of families who were part of this migration is “Douglas”. In fact, there may have been more
than one family, but at least one, almost certainly a part of this migration in 1606 from the lowlands of
Scotland to County Down, was the Douglas Family who settled in Killaughey Road, Ballyhay, and from whom 258
years later John & James Douglas made the momentous decision to leave their home and migrate to Melbourne,
Australia aboard the “Great Britain” in 1864.
(Far side of the world IV)
Click on the logo below to
open the PDF file that documents this history of the Ulster-Scots in great and interesting detail. This is
a series collection of articles that appeared in the bi-monthly ‘Ulster-Scot’ publication from December 2005 to
December 2006, commemorating 400 years since the North Channel migration in 1606.
Mast-head of the Ulster Scot Agency publication
Online subscriptions are available