July 28, 2014 Rev. James McGregor (1677-1729) of Derry, NH will be honored with a “Blue Plaque” memorial in Aghadowey, Northern Ireland. Rev. McGregor was the leader of the pioneers that in 1719 settled the Nutfield grant in Southern New Hampshire — now the towns of Derry, Londonderry, Windham as well as portions of Manchester, Hudson, Salem, and Pelham. The Encyclopedia of Irish History in America has called McGregor “the Moses of the Scotch Irish in America.” The plaque will be put up by the Ulster History Circle, with funding from the Ulster-Scots Agency.
The ceremony on July 28th are still being developed. Derry’s Town Historian Rick Holmes has been invited to take part in the unveiling of the plaque. Others from the area can join him at this honor being offered to the founder of Derry, Londonderry and Windham by the people of Northern Ireland. We are possibly the only town in America to have its founder so officially honored “across the pond.”
Background on Rev. James McGregor:
James McGregor was born in Northern Ireland (Ulster,) circa 1677 of Scottish ancestry; some believe he was the cousin of the famous Rob Roy McGregor. As a 12 year old boy he was trapped in the city of Londonderry during the 105 day long siege of the city by the forces of King James II in 1689. It is said that McGregor was standing on the tower of the city’s cathedral and was the first to signal the starving people of the city that a rescue boat had broke through the Jacobite blockade. In 1701 he became the pastor of a small Presbyterian church in Aghadowey and soon became known as the village’s peacemaker. In 1710 the synod gave him the privilege to preach in the Gaelic language.
During the 2nd decade of the 18th century times began to grow tough for the Scots in Ireland. The British government issued a number of edicts favoring the Anglican Church which was the established (official) church. No longer were Presbyterians allowed to hold office, teach or to conduct most civil ceremonies such as marriages and funerals. Economic laws hurt the Ulster Scots in making a living by selling linen, their chief source of income. Rents on English owned lands were also on the rise. Soon there was a fever for emigration throughout Ulster. While for decades Presbyterian Scots and Ulster Scots had been immigrating to the British colonies in America, the first to do in a big way was Rev. McGregor