McFarlands and Septs in Ireland
By Mary Helen Haines, ©2014
Immigration to America
Starting in the 1600s, Scotsmen who lived in Ireland began thinking that life in America might offer more economic opportunity as well as full freedom to practice their Presbyterian religion. A classic history of this migration and its many causes can be found in James G. Leyburn’s 1962 book The Scotch-Irish- A Social History. There was minimal immigration before 1700 from Ulster, but the years 1718-1719 opened the floodgates bringing an estimated quarter million Ulstermen to America by the time of the American Revolution. (p. 157) For many Americans of Scots-Irish descent, tracing back to a particular locale in northern Ireland can be difficult. My purpose in this article was to gather as many McFarland names that had dates of passage and places of origin attached. This might prove helpful to some of you searching for that connection. Due to the length of the list, I have limited it to the McFarland surname in the early immigration years; however the sources listed might be useful to Wilsons, Williams, Robbs, Blacks, and the many more MacFarlane septs.
In most of the ship records I have found for McFarland families, the port of departure is Londonderry. This is logical and goes along with the scant records available that show McFarlands mostly living in Donegal and Tyrone, rather than the eastern part of Ulster.
From the research done by Charles Knowles Bolton we know that several McFarland families were part of the big migration that took place in 1718 and 1719. In these earliest years, ships did not keep records of their passengers; however we know by the earliest tax records and church records in Scots-Irish settlements in America who arrived on these early ships. Among the earliest settlers in Massachusetts were Daniel McFarland from County Tyrone, and his sons Andrew McFarland, John McFarland, and James McFarland, who seems to have arrived first. (Bolton, p. 183) James ended up in the area of Brunswick, Maine near the Canadian border. In Chester County Pennsylvania, Robert McFarland and his sons Robert and James McFarland came to an area named by the settlers in 1722 Donegal township that today is Lancaster County. (p. 271)