Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Bits and pieces about Scotland and the Scots

It is estimated that 85 million people worldwide claim to have Scottish ancestry.

The name Scotland comes from a tribe of irishmen who landed in Argyll and went on to take over the country. The Romans called them Scotti, which translated means Scots.

Scotland has a motto - Nemo me impune lacessit (Latin). It means - "Noone attacks me and gets away with it."

Passports did not become official in Britain until 1916. There was such a thing as a "letter of safe passage" given to wealthy residents who planned on returning to Britain once they had completed their travels.

People who took advantage of the principle, in Scots Law that marriage was constituted by mutual consent, entered into irregular marriages. The form of contract generally adopted was a simple written declaration of acceptance of each other as husband and wife.

One of the earliest events recorded and still available is the marriage od Mary Queen of Scots to Henry, Lord Darnley. Sunday 29th July 1565. registrar for the Canongate, Edinburgh. Canongate Church by the way has a set of deer antlers on its roof that get replace every five years.

The Bubonic Plague, or Black Death, wiped out about 1/3rd of the population of Scotland during the winter of 1349 and then hit every generation there after until the 1700's.

From a Tennessee perspective (since I currently live here) about 1 in 5 Tennesseans can trace their roots back to the Scots-Irish settlers of the 18th century. They originated in Lowland Scotland and were "encouraged" to move to Ulster throughout the 16th and 17th centuries. The first ship load of immigrants from Ulster came to Boston in 1717.

As a Scot living in the US I spend quite a bit of time explaining to people that Scots-Irish is an American term and did not originate in the home country :) Any time I teach a class I have to include something about the Scots-Irish because someone always asks.

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