One illustrious tie to the past for me is my grandfather, seven greats back, Sir George Augustus Elliott. A British general and Governor of Gibraltar during the American Revolution, he was given the title Lord Heathfield, Baron of Gibraltar, in honor of his bravery in its defense during the attack by the Spanish and French. While Sir George was giving his all for king and country, his grandson was fighting under George Washington as a commissary officer. There must have been quite a rift in that family.
Then there are the Scotch-Irish of whom I am one of the many descendents that people this land. The politically correct term is Scots-Irish, but we have always referred to ourselves as ‘Scotch.’ A colorful description of these highly vilified folks is given in an excellent Revolutionary War history, The Road to Guilford Courthouse.
‘They were belligerent, loyal, bigoted, valiant, crude and tough. The men drank hard, fought hard, and moved often. Their young women shocked sensibilities with public displays of bosoms and legs rarely seen in eighteenth century America.’ An Anglican missionary in South Carolina back country described them as ‘Ignorant, mean, worthless, beggarly Irish Presbyterians, the scum of the earth, Refuse of Mankind, and white savages.’
That’s my blood y’all, and the Scotch-Irish made all the difference in how the revolution played out. I hasten to add that my mother insists we descend from the pious noble Scots, but I suspect these others are also somewhere in my heritage.