The Scottish in North America

Scottish settlement in North America was driven not just by those seeking a new life and better economic prospects; it was also a function of the expulsion from Britain of Jacobite supporters of James Stuart. Scottish migration was particularly important in North Carolina where accounts of Cape Fear’s potential were relayed back across the Atlantic and encouraged further migration such that by the late 1730s Scottish settlements had pushed ninety miles up-river to Cross Creek. But the larger boost to migration was probably in the 1740s when Governor Gabriel Johnston opened up the interior to Highland Scots following the defeat of the Jacobites at Culloden. He offered incomers 50 acres per head at low prices, with an exemption from land tax for up to a decade. The strategy was welcomed by London. Few policies were more effective in preventing future Jacobite insurrections than the removal of potential insurgents 3,600 miles west across the Atlantic. Subsequent eighteenth-century Scottish migration to America was a function of family connections and good commercial prospects, but also Scottish land clearance and famine, especially in the 1770s.

Scottish migration also featured in South Carolina, but this was driven by trade. Around 20% of South Carolina’s early population was Scottish and strong links to Scotland are clear from the membership lists of several South Carolina lodges, not only Solomon’s Lodge in Charleston whose members included George Seaman and James Crokatt, exceptionally successful Scottish merchants, but also Union Kilwinning Lodge, No. 98 on the register of the Grand Lodge of Scotland. Other Scottish lodges were chartered by Mother Kilwinning Lodge, which warranted at least two lodges in Virginia.

In New England, St Andrew’s Lodge in Boston was warranted by the Grand Lodge of Scotland directly:

By virtue of a commission lately received from the Right Honorable, and Most Worshipful, the Earl of Dalhousie, Grand Master of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons in Scotland, on Wednesday was solemnized, at a Grand Lodge of ancient free and accepted Masons in this town, held at Mason’s Hall, the instalment of the Most Worshipful Joseph Warren, Esq., Provincial Grand Master of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons in North America; on the occasion there was an elegant oration. After the instalment there was a good entertainment.

In 1772 Warren’s remit was extended from Massachusetts to the whole of North America. His Provincial Grand Lodge met at ‘Mason’s Hall’ at the Green Dragon Tavern owned by the lodge. The tavern sign is pictured.

George Washington was also involved with Scottish freemasonry. The minutes of Fredericksburg Lodge (now No. 4), record him receiving his Masonic degrees in 1752 and 1753. The lodge was established without a warrant but in 1758 obtained a charter from the Grand Lodge of Scotland.