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Scots Irish make their way in Portsmouth NH

Macphaedris house in Portsmouth, built in 1716.
Macphaedris house in Portsmouth, built in 1716.
ST Seacord

In 1716, Archibald Macphaedris, Scot merchant recently arrived from Ireland, built himself a fine brick house based on the latest designs from London on what is now Daniel Street in Portsmouth. The house is now known as Warner House for its subsequent owner, Jonathan Warner, the husband of Macphaedris’ daughter. The house is open to the public for tours, starting June 1.

In 1717, Macpahedris wrote to his Irish associates with a plan to send ships to Cork, Dublin, Waterford and Belfast to “Bring over Servants & Good farmers” to populate the area, catch fish in rivers that had “more Salmon & all manner of fish than any place in the World” and develop “plenty of Good Middow & timber of all sorts.”

More than a century later, prominent merchant (and later NH Governor) Ichabod Goodwin hired Irish servants to assist his wife Sarah Parker Goodwin with the running of the Goodwin Mansion, now at Strawbery Banke. According to Margaret White Kelly, author of Sarah – Her Story: The Life Story of Sarah Parker Rice Goodwin, the first official record of an Irish servant employed in the Goodwin home appears in the 1850 Portsmouth City Census, identifying Kathleen Standish, age 23. Sarah commented in her journal, “The first Irish servant imported into this town was brought from Ireland for me, in one of my husband’s ships. I trained her thoroughly & she served me faithfully for years.”

Those Irish servants are portrayed during special events such as Candlelight Stroll at the museum by costumed role-players. Museum events manager Alena Shellenbean talks about portraying the Goodwin’s Irish maid Lizzie Sullivan in her blog. The Irish maids are part of the 2014 exhibit (opening May 1) called “Finding Home: Stories from a Neighborhood of Newcomers.”