Monday, August 13, 2012

Scots Irish at Concord, NH, and the "Irish Fort"

Scots Irish Early Settlers at Concord, New Hampshire and the "Irish Fort"
By Guest Blogger Tom Tufts

The Advanced Guard, June 21, 1759 *
The Scots-Irish went many places after landing in Nutfield. They were considered squatters at Concord and built what may have been the first fort in the interior of New Hampshire. Previous forts were in place at the Seacoast to protect from foreign invasions and every community had garrison houses built for defense, but theirs seems to be the first called a fort.  The only fort before this was built for an injured soldier on the way to Lovewell’s fight in Pigwacket (Fryeburg Maine) in 1725 and was merely a “palisaded log cabin”. (This is quoted from one of the best books on the conflict; A Half-Century of Conflict by Francis Parkman. The injured soldier of Lovewell’s was Benjamin Kidder of Nutfield.) The Fort at #4 in Charlestown, NH was built later.

We know the Scots-Irish were in Nutfield as early as 1719 and apparently some moved on to Concord by 1721-1722. This is mentioned in The military history of the state of New-Hampshire, from its settlement, in 1623, to the rebellion, in 1861: comprising an account of the stirring events connected therewith; biographical notices of many of the officers distinguished therein: and notes explanatory of the text by C. E. Potter. That reference states in the same chapter that the fort at Penacook (Concord) was there in 1722 when Massachusetts sent soldiers there to take command of it and drive off the Irish. How successful they were is open to debate and further research. They could be the families that settled in Dunbarton and surrounding towns like Bow. The History of Concord…by The Historic Commission and Lyford states that surveyors in 1722 found the Irish there and reported it to the authorities, claiming they had a grant from New Hampshire to make a settlement there. 

The Massachusetts government thought enough of this report to send a troop there to investigate. They did indeed find the Scots-Irish settled there and in the discussion of who had the power to hold or grant the land, the Scots-Irish spokesman, (a Mr. Houston) told Lt. Frie (or Frye) and his troop to remove themselves or they would drive them off. No one was removed and the Lieutenant sent back to Massachusetts for advice but it appears they stayed and surveyed the settlement on the west side of the river and the Irish maintained their homes in what is now East Concord. By 1724 they had erected a fort within 80 rods of Sewall’s farm “upon the interval on the east side of the river with a view to permanent occupation”. This was the “Irish Fort” and in 1725 the Indian hunter, Col. Tyng rested there on his way to scout for Indians in the Winnipesauke area. Since then this area has been know as the fort and encompasses East Concord which is near to New Hampshire’s current “Fort”, the National Guard base.

It seems though, that the Irish settlers were to be caught up in the fight between Massachusetts and New Hampshire for the rights to settle the land. They had long fought over the boundary between the two states and this was miles to the north but they both claimed it as their own. Even to the point where each sent surveyors to lay out the land and enticed settlers with money to settle there. Each state also granted lands and lots and in 1725, families from Andover, Haverhill and other Essex County towns started to settle on the west side of the river. Nothing more is said of the Irish in that publication. In Bouton’s History of Concord the Irish of Nutfield are mentioned as having a fort there prior to the grant by Massachusetts. One of the petitions even states that “as in the case of Nutfield, it would be a thing attended with too much difficulty to pretend to root them out, if they should get a foothold there”.

Robert Rogers at the Battle on Snowshoes
The Indian danger was present from the first settlements right up until the Revolutionary period. Some historians have called this Americas bloodiest conflict as it was deadlier per capita compared to the Civil War or the World Wars. At times referred to as the French and Indian wars, they can be defined by monarch and time period and relation to the European conflict they accompanied. No matter what you call it the period from first settlement to late Eighteenth Century was a warring time. Each village had to muster and drill and numerous lists of these soldiers are available. The Scots-Irish were not unaccustomed to this as they had endured the same fate before coming to America. Their history there is full of war stories. A full chapter of History of Londonderry is devoted to their turbulent times in the British Isles. Their names are scattered throughout the early rosters of Militia. It is no surprise that on settling at “Penacook” they built a fort for protection from the Indians. Robert Rogers the famous Indian hunter and first leader of “Rangers” in the military was said to be Scots-Irish but there was debate over whether he was from Londonderry or Massachusetts.

Next time….more on the Scots in the local militias and offensive attacks on Louisburg Nova Scotia and Canada.


The histories mentioned in this article are:

History of Concord, New Hampshire: From the Original Grant in Seventeen Hundred and Twenty-five to the Opening of the Twentieth Century, by Concord (N.H.). City History Commission, Amos Hadley, Will B. Howe

The History of Concord: From Its First Grant in 1725, to the Organization of the City Government in 1853, with a History of the Ancient Penacooks ; the Whole Interspersed with Numerous Interesting Incidents and Anecdotes, Down to the Present Period, 1885 ; Embellished with Maps ; with Portraits of Distinguished Citizens, and Views of Ancient and Modern Residences by Nathaniel Bouton

The History of Londonderry, Comprising the Towns of Derry and Londonderry, N. H. by Edward Lutwyche Parker

*  Based on primary source descriptions of the campaign, this painting depicts Major Robert Rogers and “Captain Jacobs” (an Indian) as they scout the forest ahead of General Jeffrey Amherst’s army on their way to capture Fort Carillon (Ticonderoga) and other French posts on Lake Champlain. In the left background is the front of the Ranger column and on the right, in brown, is General Thomas Gage’s Light Infantry. In between, behind the flag is a British Regular officer and a lieutenant colonel of a Provincial regiment. Two of the Ranger companies are made up of Stockbridge Indians, captained by Jacob Cheeksaunkum (Captain Jacobs) and his son. (From Gary Zaboly and  (Copyright © 2008 Fort at No. 4, All Rights Reserved)
Copyright 2012 Heather Wilkinson Rojo and Tom Tufts


  1. Very interesting! Sometimes we forget there were plenty of Irish/Scots who came to our shores long before the massive influx of the late 1700's and the mid 1800's. Side bar comment- my sister once lived in Tyngsboro MA, named after the Tyng family.

  2. My comment is not related to this post...but I wanted to tell you how excited our family was when we came across your post entries related to the Holt Family of HI!! My Husbands family is a direct line of Hanakaulani O Kamamalu. His Tutu (who is 84) and family still reside in Oahu. Her Father is Maltbie Lewis Holt, who's father is Christopher Jones Holt, who's Mother is Hanakaulani O Kamamalu. Anyway you see the connection.
    Again we are just so excited to have found your blog and look forward to reading more and understanding our family history!
    Cherie Napoleon

    1. Cherie, are you on Facebook? Are you a member of the "Hawaii's Holts" group on FB? We have a lot of fun there swapping stories, photos and lineages from the Holts. Perhaps I'll see you over there, or you can email me here in New Hampshire at

  3. Very nice post, enjoyed it. My own people there in Nutfield at the beginning, James McKeen, et al...

  4. Interesting Benjamin Kidder is my great x7 Uncle