A Scottish Migration to Alexandria: Second Edition
By Ellen Hamilton
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Author's Preface to the Second Edition:
Shortly after publication of the first edition of this book, photos of the Gregory family were sent to me that I had not seen before. I was especially interested to see the image of Peter Gregory, whose story is told here. Most of the changes and additions are about the story of the Gregory family. From the original journal by Mary Gregory Powell, (the daughter of my subject, William Gregory) I found priceless tidbits on the journeys of William and his father. I added details on William II’s time spent in New Haven, Connecticut. I traveled to New Haven and found William II listed in a book of town records. New details on William’s journey from Kilmarnock, accompanied by his father came to light. There is nothing better than writings by a family member, for a look into what people thought. Elsewhere, I added a small clarification on Robert Burns’ extended family. New maps and images have been added to this edition. In historical sections, I added notes on England’s “Navigation Acts” which affected how people could leave Scotland.
Most people think of the romantic Highlands as the place that most people left, to emigrate to America. And many did. But the purpose of this book is to explore where the majority of Scots migrated from - the Lowlands of Scotland. This is a story about how the Scottish Lowlands became so crowded, and what life was like there in the 1700s. The reasons that caused people to leave everything they knew, climb aboard a crowded ship, and sail in unspeakable squalor for many weeks to start a new life, penniless, in an unforgiving land.
The United States of America began as a colony of the Kingdom of Britain. The first immigrants to this "New World" were Britons. One of the largest groups to arrive came from Scotland. "A Scottish Migration to Alexandria" is the history of how so many Scots left Britain, told through the experience of William Gregory, and the two places at each end of his journey; the town of Kilmarnock in the Lowlands of Scotland, and Alexandria, Virginia in the newly formed United States of America.
William Gregory left his family's carpet factory in Kilmarnock in 1807. He boarded a wooden sailing ship and sailed to America. William found work and a home in Alexandria, Virginia. Letters written home to his family in Kilmarnock and letters to America tell the story of this migration.
Topics covered in this book are: Kilmarnock history, early Scottish history, Greenock's river port, Robert Burns, Union of 1707, Cotton revolution, Port Glasgow, Clyde River dredging, wooden sailing ships, early New York City, Alexandria Virginia history, War of 1812, Cotton industry in Enfield, Connecticut and Paterson, New Jersey, slavery, George Washington, George Washington Parke Custis, American Civil War.
See the project website: scottishmigration-film.com
See my Talk from June 23, 2022, hosted by Mount Vernon in Alexandria:
Paperback. Many full color and black and white images and maps.
Written, illustrated and designed by Ellen Hamilton. Edited by Vera Pastore of Word Choreography. Published by Yellow Dot Publishing.
Size: 9" x 9"
Images: 66 color and black and white photos, art, maps, diagrams
Age range: 17 and up