Make your own free website on

Click here for big map

Pickenses in Ulster

(Much of this was copied directly from the internet.
I don't remember where I copied it from.)

Map of Ulster, Northern Ireland

County Derry (Doire "oak grove")

Originally part of the region known as Tír Eoghain, "Eoghan's land", after one of the sons of the semi-legendary Niall of the Nine Hostages, much of the land remained in the hands of the O'Kanes (or O'Cahans) until the seventeenth century.

In 1610, under some duress from James I, the livery companies of the city of London agreed to oversee the colonisation of the area, and in 1610 the county of Londonderry was established. The old inhabitants were expropriated, new towns established and an influx of English and Scottish settlers began. Understandably under the circumstances, the name of the city and county remains somewhat sensitive, "Derry" to the descendants of the old Gaelic and Catholic natives, "Londonderry" to the descendants of the settlers. Attempts at evenhandedness, involving the convoluted "Derry/Londonderry city", spoken as "Derry-stroke-Londonderry city", have led to the sardonic local shorthand "Stroke city".

The city is one of the most beautifully situated in Ireland, on a hilltop overlooking Lough Foyle.

The Province of Ulster (Ulaidh)

Ulster is the most northerly of the four historic provinces. It consists of counties Antrim, Armagh, Cavan, Derry, Donegal, Down, Fermanagh, Monaghan and Tyrone. Although the name is now often used as shorthand for Northern Ireland, three of its counties, Cavan, Donegal and Monaghan, are part of the Republic of Ireland.

In the earliest known division, the province covered a slightly different territory, excluding much of what is now Cavan and coming as far south as Louth. The capital was situated at Emhain Mhacha, outside Armagh. Attacks from its southern neighbour Mide (Meath) in the fourth century AD broke it up into smaller kingdoms: Tír Chonaill covering most of Donegal; Tír Eoghain covering most of modern Tyrone and Derry; Oriel which included Monaghan, Louth and Armagh; and Uladh which, although claiming the name of the province as a whole, in fact only incorporated the north-eastern counties.

The Normans managed to settle along the east coast from the twelfth century, but the power of the O'Neills and O'Donnells remained intact elsewhere in the province until the seventeenth century when the final collapse of the old Gaelic civilisation led to the Plantation of Ulster and a massive influx of settlers from Scotland and England.

This is when the Edinburgh Pickenses went to Ireland. The 1620's and 1630's saw a great influx of Pickenses to the Ulster area. Their names were all spelled differently but were mostly "Pikken". Other spellings included Pikan, Pickan, and Picon.

The first great mass migration from Ireland to North America took place from Ulster in the eighteenth century (1700's) and consisted of the descendants of the Scottish settlers seeking refuge from economic and political hardship and religious intolerance.

William Henry and Thomas Pickens (sons of Robert and Ester) were among these migrators to America. This is the line that so many of the famous southern Pickenses came from. I believe our line came from here too but it is difficult to get old Irish records without either going there or paying a lot of money or both. Alexander must have been the grandson of one of William Henry's brothers, and went back to Campbeltown Scotland to raise a family. That is why there is no birth record of Alexander in Scotland.

Back to my Pickens home page