The 2013 census survey showed 3 million Americans with Scots Irish ancestry in 2013. That’s way down from 5.4 million in the 2006 census.
It is not clear what caused the drop, but it does seem that Scots Irish ancestry is far less valued than it used to be or people are just referring to Irish ancestry if the census figures are correct.
In 2013 33 million Americans were of Irish descent according to the latest figures. The combined total is 36 million of Irish extraction if you include the 3 million Scots Irish.
The lesser Scots Irish numbers is a puzzle given the proud history. Twelve American presidents from Andrew Jackson to Richard Nixon are of Scots Irish ancestry including several of the greatest such as the Roosevelts.
Former Virginia senator, entrepreneur, possible presidential candidate and author of “Born Fighting,” the bible on the Scots Irish, Jim Webb has estimated that approximately 27 million Americans are of Scots Irish ancestry.
The term is first known to have been used to refer to a people living in northeastern Ireland. In a letter of April 14, 1573, in reference to Ulster, Elizabeth I of England stated, "We are given to understand that a nobleman named 'Sorley Boy' [MacDonnell] and others, who be of the Scotch-Irish race...” This term continued in usage for over a century before the earliest known American reference appeared in a Maryland affidavit in 1689/90.
The name Scots Irish is a misnomer. Ulster Irish, descended from Scottish settlers, is a fairer description as very few emigrated from Scotland to the US.
Scots Irish states by the numbers:
- Texas 287,393 (1.1%)
- North Carolina- 274,149 (2.9%)
- California- 247,530 (0.7%)
- Florida- 170,880 (0.9%)
- Pennsylvania- 163,836 (1.3%)
- Tennessee- 153,073 (2.4%)
- Virginia- 140,769 (1.8%)
- Georgia- 124,186 (1.3%)
- Ohio- 123,572 (1.1%)
- South Carolina- 113,008 (2.4%)
- North Carolina (2.9%)
- South Carolina, Tennessee (2.4%)
- West Virginia (2.1%)
- Montana, Virginia (1.8%)
- Maine (1.7%)
- Alabama, Mississippi (1.6%)
- Kentucky, Oregon, Wyoming (1.5%)
* Originally published in 2015.