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Hillbillies, Hillbilly

Posted by ESC on September 25, 2003

In Reply to: Hillbillies, Hillbilly posted by E on September 25, 2003

: Hill-Billies
: ( Billies who live on the hills )

: King "Billy", the dutch protestant King of England (William of Orange)who vanquished catholic King James, is the hero of the "Scots-Irish" or "Scotch-Irish" people. Billy is probably the most common name amongst these group of people.

: The "Scots-Irish" are a Lowland Scottish, mixed ethnic - Nordic-Celtic-English people who were the driving force of British invasion and colonisation in Ireland from the 1600's onward. Great numbers of them settled in Ireland, but so many left for the USA, settling mostly in the Southern states.

: All resettlements in Ireland were repelled by the Irish, except for the final one, which was the replantation of the province of Ulster, during which, the Irish had suffered their greatest defeats, and had their lands confiscated and resettled, by the "Scots-Irish".

: Scots-Irish in Northern Ireland consider their identity as very definitely "British" - and not "Irish" - to distinguish themselves from the native Irish.

: However, the ancestors of many Scots-Irish descendents in the USA left Ireland at a time before history had a chance to pour salt in old wounds, with the creation of the Orange Order, and the seeds of division.

: Therefore, many Scots-Irish would have been more sympathetic to the idea of a free Ireland, and many more would have described themselves as Irish.

: Therefore, "Billy" is often quoted in textbooks as another term for an Irishman.

: hth
: E

That's interesting. My family is German/English/Scotch-Irish with dash of Indian. I don't care for the term "hillbilly" (depends on who is saying it). Here's what I found:

HILLBILLY -- "I Hear America Talking" by Stuart Berg Flexner (Von Nostrand Reinhold Co., New York, 1976): ".Mountaineer, 1834, first applied to one who hunted, wandered, or lived in the Appalachians; hillbilly , as Hill-Billy)."

"Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins" by William and Mary Morris (HarperCollins, New York, 1977, 1988): "hillbilly is exactly what the word implies - a rustic from the hills.The earliest example of its use comes from the turn of this century and from the vicinity of Arkansas. Then its use spread throughout the South and it became especially common in Kentucky and West Virginia."

"Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, Volume 1, H-O" by J.E. Lighter, Random House, New York, 1994. "1900.In short, a Hill-Billie is a free and untrammelled white citizen of Alabama, who lives in the hills, has no means to speak of, dresses as he can, talks as he please, drinks whiskey when he gets it, and fires off his revolver as the fancy takes him."