Most Popular Scotch-Irish Surnames

For Scotch-Irish, 2018 is a year to celebrate. It marks the 300th anniversary of 1718 Migration and the special relationship between Ireland and the United States. We look at the significance of this heritage passed down over generations by examining an important part of how we live our lives – our surnames…

The Scottish migration to Ulster from the early seventeenth century came after The Plantation of Ulster began when English and Scottish Protestants settled on land confiscated from the Gaelic Irish under the rule of James I, King of England and Scotland. Prior to this, a fierce and long-drawn battle known as The Nine Years’ War (1594-1603) between England and Ireland later concluded in 1607 when the Gaelic lords of Ireland fled Ireland and the English regime. The departure of these once powerful, native Irish earls and their supporters foreseen their lands being confiscated and taken over by the English crown. 

To maintain control in Ireland, King James 1 went on to sanction a planned process of colonization on the Isle and planted thousands of people into Northern Ireland from Scotland and England on the confiscated lands, hoping the people would now be obedient to him and his government. The new, growing population brought new customs and a new religion – Protestantism and coined a new heritage as Ulster-Scots.

However, Ireland in the seventeenth century did not the easiest life for Ulster-Scots settlers. Facing resentment from the native Irish, Ulster-Scots also faced religious and legal hindrances, as well as economic difficulties and higher rents being demanded. Add to that a succession of bad harvests in the 1710’s and the manufacture of lien becoming less profitable, by early 1718 it was coming a rapidly dire situation in Ireland, forcing many families to seek a better life across the Atlantic in the ‘New World’ 

And seek that, they did.

While not the first migration of people from Ireland to America, the 1718 Migration was the first successfully organized migration to America. Significant numbers of families from the north of Ireland traveled on sailing ships to Boston and went on to found communities in America, at first in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine and onwards throughout the continent.

It is thought more than 35 million Americans today have some Scots-Irish descent. This works out about about twelve percent of the American public today making the chances of Scotch-Irish ancestor pretty high in family lines across the country. The first step in checking your ancestry? Well, your very surname! Check out if your surname is on the most popular Scotch-Irish names…

  1. Johnston; Johnson; Johnsone
  2. Stewart; Stuart
  3. Hamilton
  4. Graham
  5. Armstrong
  6. Boyd
  7. Montgomery
  8. Scott
  9. Houston; Huston; Houstin
  10. Knox
  11. Kniw
  12. Ferguson; Fourgeson
  13. Carson
  14. Henry
  15. McDowell; McDowel; McDowall

In this special celebratory year of 2018, why not explore your ancestry by joining The Scots-Irish Discovery Tour with the Ulster Historical Foundation in June to discover the history of the province of Ulster and your connection to your Scots-Irish heritage whilst taking in the warmest of welcomes and the iconic landmarks of Ireland. Full details below. 

The Scots-Irish Discovery Tour

with the Ulster Historical Foundation
Discover UHF

Cara Group Travel is delighted to present, The Scots-Irish Discovery Tour with the Ulster Historical Foundation (UHF), a tour of Ireland to inspire pride in Irish and Ulster heritage and culture. Founded in 1956, the UHF is a highly reputable research and publishing agency offering its extensive knowledge to help discover Irish and Scots-Irish ancestors.

Join this tour to discover the history of the province of Ulster and your connection to your Ulster-Scots heritage whilst taking in the incomparable greenery, majestic rolling hills, the warmest of welcomes and the iconic landmarks of Ireland and Northern Ireland – there’s never been a better time to travel… 

Scots-Irish Discovery Tour
with the Ulster Historical Foundation


11 Day Land Package: Sat Jun 3rd – Tue Jun 12 2018 


$2,489 PP Sharing Double/Twin ~ $3,088 PP Single Room


  • June 3, 4:        2 Night Dublin Hotel
  • June 5:            1 Night Omagh Hotel
  • June 6, 7:        2 Night Derry Hotel
  • June 8, 9, 10:  3 Night Belfast Hotel
  • June 11:           1 Night Cabra Hotel – Cabra Castle Hotel


  • Full Irish Breakfast Daily (except morning of arrival)
  • 5 Hotel Dinners including Farewell Dinner at Cabra Castle

Transportation & Other:

  • Professional Irish Guide Throughout
  • Round-trip Airport Transfer from/to Dublin Intl Airport
  • Luxury Air-Conditioned Coach with Professional Irish Driver Throughout
  • All Hotel Taxes & Service Charges Included 
  • Hotel Porterage for 1 Bag


  • Visit to Guinness Storehouse, Dublin
  • Panoramic Sightseeing tour of Dublin
  • Visit to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin
  • Visit to The Ulster American Folk Park, Co. Tyrone
  • Visit to Barons Court Estate, Co. Tyrone
  • Walking Tour of the City of Derry~Londonderry
  • Visit to the Siege Museum and Exhibition, Co. Derry~Londonderry
  • Visit to Glenveagh National Park and Castle, Co. Donegal
  • Visit to the Giants Causeway, Co. Antrim
  • Visit to Sentry Hill, Co. Antrim
  • Panoramic Sightseeing tour of Belfast
  • Ulster Historical Foundation (UHF) Walking Tour of Belfast
  • Visit to Titanic Belfast
  • Visit to Down Cathedral, Co. Down
  • Visit to the General Ross Monument, Co. Down

Need assistance with airfare? No problem! We can arrange airfare from all major U.S airports – just request assistance in the booking form, let us know your preferred departure airport and we will get back to you with an air and land cost. 

The Irish Genealogy Essentials Extension 

 An extension package perfect for those interested in the Irish Genealogy Essentials: A Family History Course by the Ulster Historical Foundation taking place in Belfast on June 13th to 15th. Request more information on the booking form.

5 Day Land Package: Tue Jun 12th – Sat Jun 16th 2018 


$419 PP Sharing Double/Twin ~ $708 PP Single Room



  • Round-trip Airport Transfers from Dublin Airport to Belfast
    Scots-Irish Discovery Tour will conclude at Dublin Airport. Transfer from Dublin Airport to Belfast with this inclusion.

The course fee for an Irish Genealogy Essentials: A Family History Course by the UHF is not included. Travelers on the tour who sign up to the course will receive a $50 discount. For course details, click here and for course pricing, click here.

Next Steps…

Request More Info
To get more details on this exclusive tour, please click below to complete the inquiry form. 

View Itinerary 
To see the full day-by-day itinerary for this tour, please click below. 

Irish Genealogy Essentials: A Family History Course
Research your Irish family history with the experts. Extend your stay and take this UHF course in Belfast from June 13 – 15 2018.

1718 Migration Booklet
Read about the first organized migrations of Scots and Irish-born Presbyterian people leaving the north of Ireland to a new life in New England colonies in North America. 

Contact Us 
Please feel free to contact our office to speak to a representative should you have questions about this tour. 

Email us on or call us on 617-639-0273 – we’d be delighted to help!

300th Anniversary of 1718 Migration in 2018

2018 marks the 300th anniversary of the 1718 Migration, in which significant numbers of families from the north of Ireland traveled on sailing ships to Boston in America and thence to found towns and communities in America at first in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine, and then onwards throughout the continent. 

This journey would pave the way for the thousands more and would mark the start, in particular, of the Scots Irish relocation to America.

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