Tips for Tracing an Early Scottish Immigrant

By David A. Fryxell Premium
Q. I’m researching my great-grandfather Col. Samuel John Calhoun Dunlap, and have traced the family to the mid-1700s in the Camden, SC, area. I’ve hit a roadblock many with family of that era face: How do I make the link back to Scotland? I understand no US passenger lists exist prior to 1820.

A. Your roadblock may not be as frustrating as you fear, although you’re correct that official passenger records weren’t kept before 1820. A number of other resources might help, such as Genealogical Publishing Co.’s Colonists from Scotland: Emigration to North America, 1707-1783 by Ian Charles Cargill Graham (originally published by Cornell University Press in 1956). You can search this book on the subscription website World Vital Records.

Check to find a nearby library that holds this volume, along with other potentially useful titles. Scottish Emigration to Colonial America, 1607-1785 by David Dobson, for example, might help you understand your ancestor’s passage to America.

Subscription site has several databases for finding early arrivals from Scotland. Its Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s lists some 600 Scottish rebel prisoners transported to the American colonies in 1716. Among these, interestingly, is a James Dunlap, who potentially could be connected to your family. also has three databases titled Original Scots Colonists, which cover 1607 to 1707, 1612 to 1783, and Caribbean colonists 1611 to 1707. In the first of these, I happened to find several Dunlops who emigrated to South Carolina. A group of some 150 Scots colonists arrived in Charleston in 1684; given that several Dunlops were among them, it’s possible your ancestors trace to this migration.
From the July/August 2012 Family Tree Magazine

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