IRELAND: The Ulster Settlers 1630

The Muster Roll of the Province of Ulster in Ireland is a leather bound volume in the British Library. It records the names of 13, 147 adult males from the nine counties of Ulster. It would have taken about 5 minutes to parade each man to inspect his weapon, and to record his name. William Graham was responsible for the task and probably wrote each landlord to tell them to prepare for his visit. Each family on an estate consisted of a father and one or more grown sons who had arrived in Ulster about 1615

The weapons owned indicted the person’s social status. Guns were expensive, and those who held them were probably wealthier than those who had only a sword,  pike or hallberd.

A Bit of History:

As Scotland entered the seventeenth century, her government was more stable than it had been for a hundred years. But when James I became king of England, he wanted to impose his authority upon  Scotland. There were a few Scots already living in Ireland. There was an overpopulation in Scotland during  this period and people began to search for land outside their borders. Their focus was encouraged to look to  Ulster, northern Ireland and at first were given the opportunity to obtain church lands. Monastery land had been confiscated by the state as far back as Henry VIII’s reign. This conflict of English domination lead to such frustration that several earls left their estates and fled elsewhere in 1607. These owners left half of Fermanagh,  as well as considerable land in Donegal and Tyrone, which then became available for settlement by British colonization. Surveyers were sent out, one to each of the five baronies and maps were drawn up.

James wanted to see a Protestant Ireland.  The conflict with Irish rebels was very expensive . James became interested in encouraging Scottish movement to Northern Ireland to solve some of these problems.

The Scots received in all some 81,000 acres distributed among nine precincts, two in each county except Armagh, where only one  was to be settled by the Scots. They actually received more land because of bogs and wood land, and were given rent free periods to help tenants get established. In total about 2,200 Scottish men would gradually settle these regions by 1621.

A few hundred Scots moved to Ireland through Dublin in 1610 to take possessions of their lands. It was a harsh first winter with many discouraged as they did not have time to plant crops.Stock was scarce in Ireland so the planters brought animals with them. Houses were being built, but slowly.  There were about 350  adults, including women on the estates granted to Scots. It took awhile for them to become self-sufficient on the land.

The majority of the applications for Irish land came from the wealthiest area in Scotland, with most of them within a distance of 25 miles from Edinburgh. The second group included a number from the poorer south-western counties of Scotland. There were no members of the nobility who applied and only one knight.

Immigration continued and by 1619 the rate had peaked from Scotland to Ireland. It dwindled very quickly after that. Other areas of Ireland became interesting, such as Wexford. By 1622 there were some 102 British families (204 men) on land owned by Scots in Co Cavan, and 127 families (254 men) in Fermanagh. The population had diminished. Not a single Scottish estate showed a significant rise in settlement since 1619. The English were buying estates from the Scots.

Over 300 families of British Protestant settlers had been settled in  Co Donegal, the majority of them having come from Scotland. The two Scottish districts in Tyrone (Strabane & Mountjoy) contained some 550 British Families. In Armagh,  330 English families lived in the English barony of Oneilland, compared with 220 from Scotland in the Fews.

County Antrim

Barony of Dunluce. The Earl of Antrim, his British tenants, their names and arms:

#26 John Gillaspy – sword only

#346 James Gillaspy – no arms

County Armagh

no Gillespies listed

County Cavan

Barony de Tullnock (Tullyhunco), Cavan, Ireland. Sir Francis Hammelton, knight and baroner, undertaker of 3000 acres in the barony above said the names of his men and arms as follows;

#9 John Gillispick –  pike only

#41 Andrew Gilespy –  Sword and Snaphance

#110 John Gellaspy – no arms

#121 William Gillespie – no arms

Barony of Tullynock (Tullyhunco), Cavan. Sir James Craig, Knight and undertaker of 2000 acres in the barony above said, the names of  his men and arms as followeth:

#22 James Galespeck –  no arms.

#24 William Galespec –  pike only

#25 David Galespeck – sword and pike

Barony de Clanky – John Hammelton Esquire, undertaker of 1000 acres: the names of his men and arms is followeth:

#35 John Gillespi – no arms

County Donegal

Barony de Rapho – Mr Alexander Steward, undertaker of 1,000 acres, his men and arms:

#21 John Gillaspy – no arms


County Down

The Lord Crumwell, his British tenants upon his servitors and churchlands: their names and arms:

#132 John Gillaspeck

435 John Killaspy (?)

The Lord Viscount of Ards, his men and arms

#150 Alexander Gillespicke – swords only


County Fermanagh

no Gillespies listed


County Londonderry

Barony de Loughinisoline. Henry Conway esquire, chief tenant to the Vinters proportion, being 3000 acres, his men and arms as follows:

#52 John Gillaspick – sword only

Barony of Longhynisolyne – Ralph Whisler, esquire, chief tenant to the Salters proportion being 3000 acres

#268 Neil mcGillapsy – sword and pike

County Monaghan

no Gillespies listed


County Tyrone

Barony de Clougher. Sir William Parsons, Knight and baronet, undertaker of 1500 acres, the names of his men and arms:

#13 Thomas Gillaspy – sword and pike

#14 John Gillaspy – Sword and pike

#29 James Gillaspy – sword and pike

Barony de Dungannon, Captain Alexander Sanderson undertaker of 1000 acres, his men and arms as follows:

#10 William Gillaspy – Sword and pike

#34 Richard Gillaspy – no arms

Total Records: 21

Source of Records: Book:   Men and Arms, The Ulster Settlers c 1630 (Toronto Reference Library, Toronto, Ontario) The Scottish Migration to Ulster in the Reign of James I by M Perceval Maxwell.


Estimated British adults living on Ireland properties administered by Scots in 1613 and 1619 (as immigration continued)

1613      1619

Armagh                   240         500

Cavan                          79          665 (140 from Down)

Donegal                    520        900

Fermanagh              100        490

Londonderry             –             140

Tyrone                      770         1,721

Totals                      1,700         4,420