Tuesday, January 27, 2015

52 Ancestors II, Week 56: Thomas Craighead

“Thomas Craighead was born in 1660 in Scotland and studied medicine there, but later entered upon his trials for the ministry as a probationer in the Presbytery of Strabane (Northern Ireland) in 1698.

He read theology under his father in Londonderry (Northern Ireland)and was settled some 10 or 12 years in Ireland, and became a well-known and even a prominent member of the Irish Synod.” (1)

“Thomas married Margaret, and they had five children:
  • THOMAS, born in 1702; married Margaret, daughter of George Brown, merchant of Londonderry, Ireland. A farmer at White Clay Creek, Delaware. 
  • ANDREW, died unmarried. 
  • ALEXANDER, died in March, 1766; an eloquent minister who lived in Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina. 
  • JOHN, of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. 
  • JANE, (our ancestor) married, October 23, 1725, the Rev. Adam Boyd, pastor of a church at the forks of the Brandywine. Their son edited the Cape Fear Mercury.” (2)

“In consequence of a number of grievances to which the Presbyterians were subject in Ireland, such as "oppressive rents, ""the sacramental test” and the "marriage ordinance," Thomas joined a large company of emigrants and came to America.” (1)

“Thomas and his family, arrived in Boston the first week in October, 1714, from Londonderry, on the ship "Thomas and Jane" of which Mr. William Wilson was then master.

He first settled as a minister in Freetown in the colony of Massachusetts.

The Rev. Thomas Craighead had the unhappy gift of discord and he led a somewhat stormy life, although he was a fearless and a useful minister. For some time all went well at Freetown, MA.

Thomas had agreed to subsist on voluntary contributions from his flock.

Probably his manner did not attract, and the support became gradually reduced until he was obliged to petition the General Court for a grant of money.
  • They allowed ten pounds in June, 1718, for half a year's services. 
  • In 1719 he brought his plight to the notice of the Justices of the Peace for Bristol County, MA and at a Court of General Sessions of the Peace the town was ordered to lay a rate for his support. 
  • Many refused to comply and were thrown into jail. 
  • A petition to the General Court asking to have the men liberated, the rate declared annulled and Thomas's election as minister at Freetown void, was granted June 19, 1719. 
  •  Among his enemies John Hathaway, a kinsman, was a conspicuous figure, and to him Cotton Mather addressed a stirring letter, as a last effort to restore peace. 
  • It was written July 21, 1719: ‘You cannot be insensable that the minister whom ye glorious Lord hath graciously sent among you is a man of Excellent Spirit, and a great Blessing to your plantation. …  And if once you come to sit lovingly together, the more you know him the more will you Love him.’
  • The unfortunate minister then petitioned for relief, having for four and a half years preached at Freetown, three of these years without pay, and being then deeply in debt.
  •  In December he was granted twenty pounds. 

Thomas soon left Freetown, and in the spring of the year 1723 moved his family southward. He joined Newcastle Presbytery January 28, 1724, and on the 22nd of the next month was installed minister of the church at White Clay Creek in Delaware.

Thomas preached eloquently for seven years, enjoying frequent revivals and building new churches through his zeal.

In 1733 Thomas moved to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and joined Donegal Presbytery on September 3rd.

He was pastor of the church at Pequea from October 31, 1733, to September, 1736.

Changing his residence once more he settled at Hopewell in 1738, and preached until he died while pronouncing a benediction, in April, 1739: (2)

“At Big Spring, protracted meetings were held for public worship. So powerful, it is said, were the influences of the Spirit, that the worshipers felt reluctant, even after having exhausted their stores of provisions, to disperse. I have heard it from the lips of those present, when Thomas Craighead delivered one of the parting discourses, that his flow of eloquence seem supernatural; he continued in burst of eloquence, while his audience was melted to tears” (3)

“It was on one of these occasions, near the close of April, 1939, at a communion session at the big spring church, when having preached until quite exhausted, he waved his hand, being unable to pronounce the benediction, and exclaimed farewell, farewell, and sank down and died in the pulpit.” (2)

*(1)Excerpt from Centennial Memorial of the Presbytery of Carlisle (Meyers Printing and Publishing House, Harrisburg, PA, 1889) at Volume II, Pages 22-25
*(2) Excerpt from Charles Knowles Bolton, Scotch Irish Pioneers in Ulster and America (Bacon & Brown, Boston, 1910) at page 80, published by Open Library online at http://openlibrary.org/books/OL7045478M/Scotch_Irish_pioneers_in_Ulster_and_America
*(3) Dr A. Nevin in his “Churches of the Valley” quotes from a letter written by Thomas Craighead Jr dated 16 Dec 1845.
(4)WALKER(1893) p135 DERRY IN 1688" by Image extracted from page 135 of The Siege of Londonderry in 1689, as set forth in the literary remains of Col. the Rev. G. Walker, D.D., which are now first collected …, by WALKER, George - D.D., Governor of Londonderry. Original held and digitised by the British Library. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:WALKER(1893)_p135_DERRY_IN_1688.jpg#mediaviewer/File:WALKER(1893)_p135_DERRY_IN_1688.jpg

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

52 Ancestors II, Week 55: Adam Boyd

Adam Boyd was born in 1692 in Ballymena, Northern Ireland.

Ballymena, Northern Ireland
(Ballymena is hometown to actor Liam Neeson, and Bellymena United F.C.)

He (31) “came to New England as a probationer (licensed by the Presbytery, but not yet assigned to a specific congregation) in 1723.

After remaining in America for a short time he concluded to return to his native country, and was furnished by the celebrated Cotton Mather* with a certificate of his good character in the country, dated June 10, 1724.

Having formed an attachment for a daughter of Mr. Craighead, one of the pioneers of the Irish Presbyterians of New England, he relinquished his design of returning home, and came to Pennsylvania, whither Mr Criaghead and family had shortly preceded him.

He brought with him the commendatory letter of Cotton Mather, as well as credentials from Ireland, and was received under the care of the Presbytery of New Castle.  He was received 29 Jul 1724.

On the same day on which Mr Boyd became a member of the Presbytery he was sent to Octorara, PA with directions to collect a congregation.  He was so acceptable to the people that at the next meeting of Presbytery, 14 Sep 1724, a call was presented for his services, and he was ordained and installed at “Acterara Meeting House” 13 Oct 1724.

Mr Boyd’s field of labor was quite extensive, embracing a large territory.  Over this wide field he traveled on horseback, and must have been exposed to many dangers in the wilds of the forest, but the words Boyd, Presbyterianism and indomitable pluck are synonymous.  The family had suffered severely in Ireland for their adherence to Presbyterianism, and in this country they have been its true disciples.”  (1)

On 23 Oct 1725, Adam (33) married Jane Craighead (20), and they had 11 children (5 boys and 6 girls) between 1726 and 1747.

“Mr Boyd continued to preach for the people of Upper Octorara until a very short time previous to his death, which occurred 23 Nov 1768.  He was pastor of Upper Octorara church for 44 years.” (1)

Adam Boyd (76) left a will, and it is summarized below:
"Adam Boyd. Sadsbury. Feb. 12, 1768. Proven: Dec. 21, 1768.

  • Provides for wife Jane. 
  • To son Andrew my plantation in Sadsbury with stock etc, paying legacies. 
  • To daughters Mary, Hannah and Elizabeth £60 each. 
  • To son Samuel all remainder of my books provided he enter the ministerial office, otherwise to be divided. 
  • To daughters Margaret Tate, Janet McMordie and Agnes Smith 5 shillings each. 
  • To sons Thomas, John and Adam 5 shillings each. 
  • To son Samuel £5. 
  • Executors: Sons Thomas and Andrew. 
  • Overseers: Rev. Sampson Smith and John Miller, Esq." (2)

Cotton Mather, Peter Pelham, artist, public domain

"Cotton Mather, FRS (February 12, 1663 – February 13, 1728; A.B. 1678, Harvard College; A.M. 1681, honorary doctorate 1710, University of Glasgow) was a socially and politically influential New England Puritan minister, prolific author and pamphleteer. Known for his vigorous support for the Salem witch trials, Mather also left a scientific legacy due to his hybridization experiments and his promotion of inoculation for disease prevention." (3)


  • (1) Excerpt from W.C. Alexander, History of Pequea Presbyterian Church (Lancaster, Pennsylvania, 1878) at Pages 8 & 9
  • (2) Chester County, Pennsylvania Wills, 1713-1825
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballymena
  • (3) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cotton_Mather

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

52 Ancestors II, Week 54: James Bayly

James Bayly, born about 1730, was one of four children born to Thomas and Mary Bayly, who “was the first to settle on the in Donegal township, (Lancaster County) PA in 1718, the land was warranted to Thomas soon afterwards, though it was not patented during his lifetime. Thomas'  widow Mary eventually received the patent on 8 Aug 1743, for 279 acres, which she conveyed to her sons (James and John) in 1749.” (1)

Thomas, died in 1734, when James was only  4, and Mary died in 1749 when James was 19.

James Bayly must have sold his portion of his inherited land to his brother John, because he "resided upon and owned the farm adjoining 'Duffy's Park' on the north, which he purchased 7 Aug 1767. James was a justice of the peace,

Justice James Bayly

and of the Court of Common Pleas, during the Revolution, before whom the oath of allegiance was taken by the citizens of Donegal and vicinity."(2)

James Bayly served in “the 3rd Pennsylvania Regiment, first known as the 2nd Pennsylvania Battalion.  It was raised on December 9, 1775, at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for service with the Continental Army. The regiment would see action during the Battle of Valcour Island, Battle of Brandywine, Battle of Germantown, Battle of Monmouth and the Battle of Springfield. The regiment was furloughed, on June 11, 1783, at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and disbanded on November 15, 1783.” (3)

"James was a "wagonmaster," an important position in that trying period.” (2)

“During the campaign of 1776, congress created a Wagon Department that had full responsibility for overland transportation. The organization consisted of a wagon master general and a wagon master for each department. It was the beginning of the Army's first "Transportation Corps." (4)

Conestoga Wagon

"The army used the Conestoga Wagon, named for the Conestoga Valley in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  It was first used in the 1750s to transport produce to Philadelphia. The distinctive curved cargo bed of the Conestoga was designed to keep cargo from shifting.  An excellent design, it was used throughout the country for the next 100 years.” (4)

"James married, the second time, Mary Cook, widow. The names of the children of James and Mary Bayly are from his will, dated  1 Oct 1793, probated 27 Nov 1793:
  • John (our ancestor), to whom he gave the homestead farm; and
  • Thomas, who got the land adjoining Maytown; 
  • daughter Margaret, 
  • stepdaughter Margaret Cook,
  • son-in-law Richard Keys (wife Mary Bayly) and son-in-law Stephen Stevenson (wife Ruth Bayly) are mentioned as legatees.  Stephen Stephenson was an officer in the army that went to the western part of the State to quell the Whiskey Insurrection.” (5)

  1. Excerpted from A History of Lancaster County by H.M.J. Klein, Ph.d., 1926
  2. History of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, with Biographical Sketches of Many of its Pioneers and Prominent MenChapter XLVII. East Donegal Township.<1<[1 By Samuel Evans, Esq.]
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3rd_Pennsylvania_Regiment
  4. http://www.transchool.lee.army.mil/museum/transportation%20museum/revolutionary.htm
  5. Authentic history of Donegal Presbyterian Church, located in East Donegal Township, Lancaster Co., Pa. (page 6 of 13)
  6. PA Archives, 2nd Series, Vol XIII, page 472;
  7. History of Lancaster County, PA (1883) by Ellis and Evans, pp 763, 764

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

52 Ancestors II, Week 53: Immigrants from Northern Ireland

Four branches of the tree from Northern Ireland,
and three sons who served in the Revolutionary War.

"The Ulster Scots are an ethnic group in Ireland, found mostly in Northern Ireland.  Their ancestors were mostly Protestant Lowland Scottish. These people migrated to Ireland in large numbers with the Plantation of Ulster, a planned process of colonization which took place in 1609 under the auspices of James VI of Scotland and James I of England on land confiscated from members of the Ulster-Gaelic nobility who fled Ireland upon the discovery of a new rebellion plot.

The majority of these Scottish settlers and their descendants were Presbyterian,  Along with Catholics, they were legally disadvantaged by the Penal Laws, which gave full rights only to members of the Church of Ireland.  With the enforcement of England's Queen Anne's 1703 Test Act, which caused further discrimination against all who did not participate in the established church, 200,000 Ulster-Scots migrated to America between 1717 and 1775." (1)

Several branches of our tree can be traced back to Northern Ireland, and they all emigrated between 1725 and 1740.  Once they were in America, they were very patriotic and joined the rebels in the fight against the British.

Immigrant --------------------------------------> son who fought in the Revolutionary War:

  1. John Hamilton         ---->                             1.  William Hamilton
  2. William Sheakley    ---->                             2.  George Sheakley
  3. James McCurdy       ---->                             3.  Robert McCurdy
  4. William Creighton   ---->                             4.  (he had all girls)

1.  "John Hamilton was born in 1713. He sailed with Captain Hance Hamilton arriving New Castle, Delaware 24 Aug 1729 along with 140 Scotch-Irish at the behest of William Penn to help defend his land in Chester County."

John settled in York County, PA near Gettysburg.  He (28) married Florence Morrow, and they had 15 children.  John was appointed on 3 Nov 1775 to serve as one of twenty six on a committee to prevent the people of York County, PA from giving provisions to the British Army.

John (85) died 2 Aug 1798.

His (10th child) William Hamilton did two tours in the Revolutionary War.

2. William Sheakley was born in 1720; He emigrated from the province of Ulster, Ireland, in 1740.

In 1754 William (34)  married Janet Moore, widow of James Moore, Mount Pleasant township, PA, and had two sons and one daughter:

  • John Sheakley
  • George Sheakley, born 1760; married Margaret McCurdy
  • Margaret Sheakley

In 1792 William lived in Franklin township, four miles north of Gettysburg, where he built the house which is still known as the Sheakley homestead.
     This farm of one hundred and forty-one acres was purchased
           - from Hon. John Penn, of Stoke Poges, Berks, England, (one of proprietors of  PA)                        - and Hon. Richard Penn of Queen Ann Street, parish St. Mary le Bone, England.

Soon after the commencement of the Revolutionary war, November 3, 1775, William was elected one of the committee of safety of York county, his two sons, John and George Sheakley both served in the war.

William (80) died 4 Aug 1800.

His son George Sheakley, received his commission when he was 19 years old, on 17 Jun 1779.  He was Ensign, Eighth Company, Fourth Battalion, under John McIlvane, Captain.

George Sheakley (23) married Margaret McCurdy (18) in 1781. They had 5 children:

  • Margaret b 1785, married John Hamilton
  • Ann
  • William
  • Robert
  • Nancy

George (54) died 20 May 1812.

3. James McCurdy was born 1706 in Antrim, Northern Ireland and immigrated before 1729 when he married Mary Polly Cook in Lancaster PA.  They had at least one son Robert born in 1736 in Salibury, PA.

James (64) died 2 May 1770 in Lancaster County, PA

His son Robert McCurdy (25) married Ann Creighton on 31 May 1761 at St James Church in Lancaster PA, and they had five children.

In 1777, Robert was a Captain in the  8th Company, 7th Battalion, Pennsylvania Line under Major James Mercer,

Robert (74) died 16 May 1810.

4. William Creighton was born 1710 in Fermanah, Ulster, Ireland.  He arrived in America before 1737 when he (27) married Barbara Young.  They had Ann (who married Robert McCurdy), Martha, Margaret, Mary, Catherine and one other child.

William received land from the Penns by patent in Upper Leacock Township in 1763.

He was a trustee and incorporator of the Leocock Presbyterian Church in Paradise, PA in 1787

William (80) died in 1790.


  • (1)  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulster_Scots_people
  • (2) Penn Archives, 3rd series, Vol XXIII, page 431
  • "History of Cumberland and Adams County, PA"
  • Colonial and Revolutionary Families of Pennsylvania: Genealogical ..., Volume 3
  • Pennsylvania Archives, Series 6, Volume:II, Chapter:Fourth Battalion York County Militia, Page:511