52 Ancestors II, Week 55: Adam Boyd

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

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

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


  1. Adam Boyd arrives in New England with Commendations, Credentials & A Certificate of Good Character from his native country ... what more could anyone want for references. If Cotton Mather lived today, he would probably want to re think the hair style ;)


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