Colonial Scots-Irish Immigrants:
By Kyle J. Betit
Newspaper notices can be helpful in several ways. First, some notices of birth, marriage, and death were published in Ulster newspapers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In some cases, notices were published regarding Ulster emigrants who were married or died abroad.
Furthermore, there was a custom in the immigrant passenger trade whereby passengers on a ship from Ulster would sign a "letter of thanks" to the ship's captain for a good trip. These letters (including the names of the passengers) were then published in Ulster newspapers to encourage others to sign up for passage with the captain.
Between 1737-1772 the major newspaper in Ulster was the Belfast Newsletter, which published notices regarding ships (including the "letters of thanks") from ports throughout the north of Ireland. Belfast Newsletter Index, 1737-1800, compiled by John Greene, is a five-part microfiche index to surnames, places, ships, general topics, and advertisements. Linen Hall Library and the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, have copies of the Newsletter on microfilm as well as copies of the microfiche index.
The Newsletter was joined by the Londonderry Journal in 1772. All notices of birth, marriage, death, separation, estate settlement, or emigration to North America published in the Journal between 1772-1784 were abstracted in Donald M. Schlegel's Irish Genealogical Abstracts From the Londonderry Journal. This book has an every-name index. Many copies of the Londonderry Journal are available at the National Library of Ireland; various libraries in Ulster also have some copies.
An appendix entitled "A Synopsis of Advertisements of Emigrant Shipping, 1771-1775" is included in R.J. Dickson's Ulster Emigration to Colonial America, 1718-1775. It gives details such as port in Ireland, destination in America, and whether a "letter of thanks" was published in a newspaper from the previous trip; also, if the newspaper noted it, how many children had died on the trip. Data from various Irish and American newspapers is included, but passengers' names are not given in this appendix.