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When Scotland Was Jewish: DNA Evidence, Archeology, Analysis of Migrations, and Public and Family Records Show Twelfth Century Semitic Roots [Hardcover]

by Elizabeth Caldwell Hirschman, Donald N. Yates
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 3, 2007 0786428007 978-0786428007 0
The popular image of Scotland is dominated by widely recognized elements of Celtic culture. But could it be that a significant non-Celtic influence on Scotland's history has been largely ignored or unknown for centuries? This book argues just such a case, maintaining that much of Scotland's history and culture from 1100 forward is Jewish. The authors provide evidence that much of the population, including several national heroes, villains, rulers, nobles, traders, merchants, bishops, guild members, burgesses, and ministers, was of Jewish descent. They describe how the ancestors of these persons originated in France and Spain and then made their way to Scotland's shores, moors, burgs and castles from the reign of Malcolm Canmore to the aftermath of the Spanish Inquisition.

It is proposed here that much of the traditional historical account of Scotland rests on fundamental interpretive errors, and that these errors have been perpetuated in order to manufacture and maintain an origin for Scotland that affirms its identity as a Celtic, Christian society. This equation of Scotland with Celtic culture in the popular (and academic) imagination has buried a more accurate and profound understanding of its history. The authors' wide-ranging research includes examination of census records, archaeological artifacts, castle carvings, cemetery inscriptions, religious seals, coinage, burgess and guild member rolls, noble genealogies, family crests, portraiture, and geographic place names.

Editorial Reviews


Intriguing! There is a wealth of objective evidence and the authors' wry humor illuminates the discussion with wit and style. Hirschman and Yates' talents, learning, and specialized skills come together in a brilliant synthesis proving once again that the world we think we know is still very much terra incognita. -- Good Reads

Meet Lord Anthony Ashley-Cooper, the English crypto-Jew whose secretary was the philosopher John Locke...the Scottish princess Maud de Lens who combined several lines of Davidic ancestry and was one of the richest women in Europe...and the Clan Douglas warrior who removed the heart of Robert the Bruce to have it buried in Jerusalem.--Teaser

Fascinating! The DNA evidence may be the clincher. --Ancestry Worship Genealogy

About the Author

Elizabeth Caldwell Hirschman was born in Kingsport, Tennessee and is of Melungeon descent. She is Professor of Marketing at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Professor Hirschman has contributed more than 200 articles, essays and chapters to professional journals and books, and is author of more than a dozen books, including When Scotland was Jewish (also co-authored with Donald N. Yates). Hirschman's research indicates the earliest American settlers were of Mediterranean extraction, and of a Jewish or Muslim religious persuasion. Sometimes called "Melungeons," these early settlers were among the earliest nonnative "Americans" to live in the Carolinas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia, perhaps including Daniel Boone, John Sevier, Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, and Andrew Jackson. She is currently at work on a history of English crypto-Jews from the beginnings to the Enlightenment. She lives in New Jersey and spends part of the year teaching in Virginia.

Donald N. Yates is an American genealogist, author, and principal investigator at DNA Consultants. He holds a Ph.D. in classical studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has published popular and scholarly works in cultural and ethnic studies, history and population genetics.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: McFarland (July 3, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786428007
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786428007
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 7.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,505,879 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
34 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Provocative and well worth reading July 13, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This volume will enrage some, puzzle others, and hopefully open some new avenues for thought and inquiry.

The authors make a decent case, via biography, naming conventions, history, genealogy, iconography, linguistics, and, to a lesser extent, DNA for many of those historically in very high places in Scotland having come from Jewish roots -- and, to some extent, having preserved them despite abundant reasons to abandon them. I don't think that they prove the case implicit in their ambitious title; indeed I doubt the authors would actually argue that they had done so, probably feeling that if they have opened the question for discussion they have done their work well. I think they have done that, and good for them!

I do have a few quibbles:

1. While I understand it's now stylistically correct to have the footnotes at the end of the book, this is an example where the book would have been greatly improved by having the footnotes on the pages they reference. Too many times a reference in the text was not clear to me when I was reading the text, but when I subsequently read the footnotes I had an "aha!" moment. I wonder how much more I would have gotten out of my reading if I had had the aha! moment when reading the text. The footnotes, by the way, are excellent.
2. I had recently read Abba Rubin's excellent "Images in Transition: The English Jew in English Literature, 1660 - 1830" and noted that the authors could have supported their case with Rubin's book. It belongs in the bibliography at any rate.
3. It's perfectly human when writing family history (this book is to some extent a family history) to choose one's examples from one's own history. Thus, it was no surprise that the authors did so here.
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52 of 63 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Y DNA 12 markers November 4, 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The DNA evidence in this work only includes DNA-Y 12 markers. Everyone in the business knows that the 12 marker is ONLY used to disprove relationships. It takes 37 markers in a Y-DNA test to prove a relationship!
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun to read and honest January 9, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book belongs to the genre, "The Jews did everything!" That said, it's an interesting review of Scottish history, beginning around the departure of the Romans from Britain in the 5th Century C.E. and going to the Reformation and beyond. Disclaimer: I'm a Jewish bagpiper, and ever since reading this book I've been teasing my Scottish bandmates.
The authors are honest in distinguishing known facts from speculation, but they are not reticent about advancing their arguments that traditionally Scottish things, ranging from the Presbyterian Church to the bagpipe, might have had Jewish roots. If you demand certainty you won't enjoy this book. If you are ticked by the idea that the mysterious St. Machar--who has a church dedicated to him in Aberdeen, but about whom virtually nothing definite is known--has a Jewish name, the same as the character in Sholem Aleichem/Fiddler on the Roof, then you will find it pretty interesting.
The first of the two central ideas of the book is that Scottish culture, beginning in the Dark Ages, was much more advanced, complex and independent than most histories, written from an English point of view, would make it seem. (Anytime you conquer a people, it's routine to try to make them seem stupid and barbaric.) The second is that a large number of Sephardic Jews fleeing persecution in southern Europe ended up in Scotland, and that these people, though outwardly Christian, nevertheless continued many Jewish traditions which have left permanent traces in the nation. Though difficult to prove beyond any doubt, these ideas are both pretty interesting.
I'm not conversant with the subtleties of DNA tracing, and so can't comment on that part of argument. The style of the book is very readable. The cost is an obstacle. I found a half-price copy through Amazon.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Attention Genealogists! December 21, 2012
Sometime before the 1740s, our Shetland Island, Scotland ancestors migrated from Aberdeen, Scotland to the Shetland Islands. It was there, during the early 1870s, that descendants of these earlier ancestors suffered when their houses were burned to the ground to accommodate grazing sheep. There, as well, one of our great...grandfathers "fell off the rocks" and drowned in the sea. Did these events happen because of their Jewish ethnicity? Our Shetland ancestors who experienced the burning of their homes emigrated to the U.S. during the 1880s.

When Scotland Was Jewish by Elizabeth Hirschman and Donald Yates has had the profound effect of greatly increasing my knowledge about my U.K. ancestors. I had no idea of their ethnicities until I read this book along with Hirschman and Yates' other book, Jews and Muslims in British Colonial America. Both books revealed to me how and where most of our ancestors lived in previous centuries. So many wonderful clues for me to research in the future!

As a genealogy person who has written several family histories, I know something of our ancestral lines. I found these books to bring forth information logical to several of these lines. Some of our early ancestors were Quaker and others were pioneers, most of whom seemed to fit typical roles of early ethnically Jewish immigrants as described in the two books. They favored naming patterns - surnames and given names - that were obviously Hebrew. From the hundreds of probable Jewish names listed in both of these books, I found as many as 17 of my ancestors' surnames listed. One of the surnames - that of two great...grandmothers born in the mid-1700s - was of Gypsy-Romany origin.

Two of our direct ancestors emigrated from the Shetland Islands, but many more came from the U.K.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars good.
Very interesting, but some sloppy research, e.g. map of Scotland, Bute, mull and Skye are islands, not part of mainland.
Published 1 month ago by helen cameron
5.0 out of 5 stars It's An Odd Story
I'm a descendant of one of the profiled families. This is a strange story, and I'm not sure I buy the entire premise, but it's interesting, to say the least. Read more
Published 4 months ago by LoveThatRonWhite
1.0 out of 5 stars Missing Information
Much information has been removed for truth seekers to find from this reprint and is nowhere close to the original hardback.
Published 6 months ago by T boyee
5.0 out of 5 stars Step by step
I read it. They laid out their case convincingly I liked their references instead of just making a statement. They used reasoning.
Published 8 months ago by Arvina L. Copeland
2.0 out of 5 stars Catchy Title
Goes into too much triviality for my taste. I expected more generalities after the first few chapters that would tie it together and put a bow on it. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Bluth
1.0 out of 5 stars A waste of time
Rather than waste any more of my time by writing a detailed review, I'll instead just run through some of the more outlandish propositions and amateurish writing put forth in this... Read more
Published 9 months ago by I_have_a_cunning_plan
1.0 out of 5 stars Untrue
This book is pure propaganda with absolutely zero truth to it. It's crazier than the Afrocentrists who claim they ruled ancient Egypt, which is saying something.
Published 14 months ago by Taranis
5.0 out of 5 stars When Scotland Was Jewish
I have done some research into my family background and uncovered a lot of interesting data. While no one at this point in our history can be dogmatic, I think Hirschman is on to... Read more
Published 14 months ago by nancy butler
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book but cheap construction for a hardback book this expensive.
"When Scotland Was Jewish" is so interesting that I wanted a hardback copy of it, although it cost about $55 at the cheapest price. Read more
Published 15 months ago by mariaconz
5.0 out of 5 stars "Hoot, Mon"? or "Oi, Vey!"?
The research the author did is fascinating.
The possible Jewish connections of historical people is rivetting. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Lady de Winter
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