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Scottish Immigration to the American Colonies, 1772

British Customs Report: Scottish Immigrants Reasons for Emigration, 1772

John Catanoch, aged fifty years, by trade a farmer, married, hath 4 children from 19 to 7 years old; resided last at Chabster in the parish of Rae in the county of Caithness, upon the estate of Mr. Alexander Nicolson, minister at Thurso, intends to go to Wilmington, North Carolina; left his own country because crops failed, bread became dear, the rents of his possession were raised from two to five pounds sterling; besides his pasture or common grounds were taken up by placing new tenants thereon, especially the grounds adjacent to his farm, which were the only grounds on which his cattle pastured. That this method of parking and placing tenants on the pasture grounds rendered his farm useless; his cattle died for want of grass, and his corn farm was unfit to support his family after paying the extravagant tack duty. That beside the rise of rents and scarcity of bread, the landlord exacted arbitrary and oppressive services, such as obliging the declarant to labor up his ground, cart, win, lead and stack his peats; mow, win and lead his hay, and cut his corn and lead it in the yard, which took up about 30 or 40 days of his servants and horses each year, without the least acknowledgment for it, and without victuals, save the men that mowed the hay who got their dinner only. That he was induced to emigrate by advices received from his friends in America; that provisions are extremely plenty and cheap, and the price of labour very high, so that people who are temperate and laborious have every chance of bettering their circumstances. Adds that the price of bread in the country he hath left is greatly enhanced by distilling, that being for so long a time so scarce and dear, and the price of cattle at the same time reduced full one half while the rents of lands have been raised nearly in the same proportion, all the smaller farms must inevitably be ruined.

Elizabeth McDonald, aged 29, unmarried, servant to James Duncan in Mointle in the parish of Farr in the county of Sutherland; intends to go to Wilmington in North Carolina, left her own country because several of her friends having gone to Carolina before her, had assured her that she would get much better service and greater encouragement in Carolina than in her own country.

John McBeath, aged 37, by trade a farmer and shoemaker, married; hath 5 children from 13 years to 9 months old. Resided last in Mault in the parish of Kildorman in the county of Sutherland, upon the estate of Sutherland. Intends to go to Wilmington in North Carolina; left his own country because crops failed, he lost his cattle, the rent of his possession was raised, and bread had been long dear; he could get no employment at home whereby he could support himself and family, being unable to buy bread at the prices the factors on the estate of Sutherland and neighbouring estates exacted from him. That he was encouraged to emigrate by the accounts received from his own and his wife's friends already in America, assuring him that he would procure comfortable subsistence in that country for his wife and children, and that the price of labour was very high. He also assigns for the cause of bread being dear in his country that it is owing to the great quantities of corn consumed in brewing risquebah [whiskey].


North Carolina Historical Review 11 (1934), pp. 131-132.

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© Paul Halsall, July 1998

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