Clan Grant in the New World

My first actual record of who I believe to be my 4th Great Grandfather, John Grant, was his marriage in June of 1785 to a widow named Mary Cameron in Charleston, South Carolina.  Mary was the widow of a William Cameron and at the time of her marriage had one son, Richard Cameron, born in 1785.  Apparently John married Mary shortly after the death of her husband.  We find a record in the General Assembly Records in 1791 when Richard would have been six years old.  I believe this petition was in the Virginia or possibly the South Carolina General Assembly Records.   After their marriage, John and Mary moved back to Virginia where their first son Major Grant was born in 1789 (died 1870).Barrel Maker

In the petition, John Grant and Mary his wife (widow of William Cameron) are petitioning on behalf of Mary and her son Richard Cameron, aged about six years. The petition continues the efforts of the Grants to have the Cameron property not only removed from the Confiscation List, but also free from any fine or amercement (a discretionary penalty or punishment).  William Cameron was a cooper, which was someone who made wooden, staved vessels, bound together with hoops and possessing flat ends or heads. Examples of a cooper’s work include casks, barrels, buckets, tubs, butter churns, hogsheads, firkins, tierces, rundlets, puncheons, pipes, tuns, butts, pins and breakers.  William had his property confiscated because he signed an address to the Crown following the British occupation of Charleston.  We have to assume that this correspondence was in support of the King.  We do not know if their petition was granted or not.

The family lived in Virginia for many years and many of their children were born there.  Following Major, their next child was Mary Elizabeth “Betsey” Grant who was born 30 March 1792 (died 1846).  Betsey later married a Francis Carlisle.  Francis served as an Administrator on the estate of John Grant when he died in 1819.

The next children were:  Edna (1795-1860) who married Humphrey Davis Tucker; William (1797-1820).  William also served as an Administrator of his father’s estate and died shortly thereafter.  Next was Daniel (1799-1820); Rolin (1800-1860); James (1802-1880), who is my ancestor; Gregory (1806-1888); Robert (1810-); James Samuel (1813-1870).Abbeville CountyThe family moved between the birth of James in 1802 and the birth of Gregory in 1806.

They moved to Abbeville County, South Carolina.  Both Abbeville County and the county seat Abbeville, SC, get their name from the town of Abbeville, France.  The county was originally part of Ninety-Six District, South Carolina, but was designated Abbeville County in 1785.   Abbeville County was settled by mostly Scotch Irish and French-Huguenot farmers in the mid-18th century.

Mary Cameron Grant bore 10 living children before she died in about 1815.  With so many young children to take care of, John quickly remarried in 1816 to Isabella Paxton who was born in Georgia in 1775.  Isabella was 41 when she and John married so it is likely she was a widow.  She and John had at least two children together.  John P. Grant was born in 1817 and David Milton born in 1818 (died 1903).  Isabelle was previously married to Pliny Robbins (1781-1812) in 1801.  They had four children together, the last born in 1811.  Pliny Robbins died in Elbert, Georgia in 1812.

Sadly for the new family, John died on September 28, 1819 in Abbeville County.  He left a considerable estate to be settled.  His son-in-law Francis Carlisle and his son William were appointed Administrators for the estate.  In the Probate papers, his other sons, Rolin and Major are mentioned.  We do not know why his oldest son, Major was not listed as an administrator of the estate since he was still living in Abbeville County at the time of his father’s death.  William died before the estate was fully settled and therefore Francis Carlisle was required to complete the disposition on his own.

We see Isabella still in Abbeville County on the 1820 census.  She is the head of the household and shows that there are five children living in her home.  Two boys under 10, likely John P and David Milton or maybe David Milton and James Samuel; one boy 10-15, likely  Robert or Gregory and two girls 10-15.  We do not know who the girls are.  However Isabella took her children and moved back to Georgia sometime after 1820 where she lived until her death in 1850. It is possible that she moved to Meriwether County.

Warn SpringsMeriwether County, Georgia is in the western part of Georgia about halfway between the state boundaries.  Meriwether is known for its mineral springs and is the location of Warm Springs where President Roosevelt built his second White House to take the mineral waters.  The county was established in 1827 and the county seat of Greenville was established, named after patriot Nathanial Greene.  It must have been a lovely place because by 1840, Major, Edna, and Rolin had moved there from Abbeville.  In 1840 the only child still living in Abbeville County was James.  We see Gregory in Meriwether in 1850 along with his other siblings.  Gregory and Edna stayed there until their deaths in 1888 and 1860.  However, many of the other siblings followed Betsey and her husband William Carlisle and moved on to Randolph County, Alabama.  Betsey was there by 1840, Major by 1870, Rolin by 1860, and Samuel by 1860.

James stayed in Abbeville County until his death sometime after 1880.  So why did he not move south with the rest of his siblings?  This is still a great mystery to be solved.  Sometimes genealogy is a process of choosing the best fit and based on the large number of Grants in Abbeville County in the early 1800s as well as their common history in Virginia, we have to assume that they were all related.  In those times, families migrated together rather than as separate groups.  However, that is not always the case.  Some members of a family stayed behind due to other familial and economic factors.  We are going to pick up next time with my third Great Grandfather, James Grant and his brood in Abbeville County and follow the trail west.


The Grants of Strathspey…

Viking Invasion and Colonization

While many researchers have believed that the Grants came to England with the Normans, more recent research indicates that they actually came to Scotland from Norway and are descendants of the Vikings.  The first Grants appear in Scotland in the 13th century when they acquired the lands of Stratherrick.  Stratherrick is a strath (a wide valley), situated above the south-eastern shore of Loch Ness, in the Scottish Highlands.   During the Wars of Scottish Independence Clan Grant were supporters of William Wallace and John and Randolph Grant were captured at the Battle of Dunbar (1296).  The Clan Grant later supported Robert the Bruce in competition for the Scottish Crown.  The victory of Robert the Bruce confirmed the Grants in their lands of Strathspey and despite their southern origins they became established Highland chiefs.

The Norse line of Clan Chiefs however ended in the early 14th century.  As a result, the Grant Clan heiress Maud was married to an Andrew Stewart. According to tradition, Andrew Stewart (who may have been illegimate son of James Stewart) was allowed to marry the heiress under the conditions that he assume the surname of Grant and that he agree to maintain his residence in Strathspey.

Urquhart Castle on Lock Ness
Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness

It was in 1509 that Urquhart Castle was awarded to Clan Grant.  This is the ruined castle that sits beside Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands.  Currently the castle is in ruins that date from the 13th to the 16th centuries.  The castle played an active role in the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 14th century.  The castle was continually being assaulted by the MacDonalds, Earls of Roth.  The castle was strengthened several times to thwart these assaults but was largely abandoned in the middle of the 17th century.   It was further destroyed in 1692 to prevent its use by Jacobite forces and has subsequently decayed until placed in state care and opened to the public in the 20th century.  More about Castle Urquhart Castle and other Grant castles and manor houses in another story.  My daughter and I had the pleasure of visiting Urquhart Castle on our Scottish Highland tour back in 2004.  At the time of our visit we were not aware that the castle was the home of Clan Grant.

Clan Grant Tartan and Badge

The Grants actually fought on both sides during the Jacobite risings in 1715 and 1745.  During the Jacobite rising of 1715 the main part of the Clan Grant supported the British Government.  However in 1715 the Laird of Grant withdrew his forces at the Skirmish of Alness which led to the defeat of government forces.  Soon after the Clan Grant helped English forces retake Inverness from the Jacobites during Siege of Inverness (1715).  At the Battle of Sheriffmuir in 1715, Grants fought on both sides. The British government forces won the battle with many of the Jacobites surrendering to General Grant.

During the Jacobite rising of 1745 the chief of Clan Grant again supported the British Government. However once again he withdrew his troops which again led to the defeat of government forces, this time at the Battle of Inverurie (1745).

One branch of the Clan Grant, the Grants of Glenmoriston sided with the Jacobites and fought at the Battle of Prestonpans in 1745 and are credited with winning the day due to their timely reinforcement. The Grants of Glenmoriston branch also fought as Jacobites at the Battle of Culloden in 1746. Eighty-four Grants of Glenmoriston were captured at Culloden and were transported to Barbados, in violation of their terms of surrender, where they were sold as slaves.

Battle of Culloden – 1746

One of the main reasons that the Grants suffered identity crisis was based on religion.  The Grants were primarily Protestant while the majority of the other Highland Clans remained Catholic.  Their support of the government forces which were Protestant, against the Catholic Highland Clans would have been a difficult choice.  After the fall of the Highland Clans following the Battle of Culloden, the Grants remained on their lands near Strathspey.

Clan Grant was one of the few clans not to be affected by the Highland Clearances. The “Good Sir James” Grant (Clan Chief from 1773–1811) built the town of Grantown-on-Spey for the express purpose of providing for his clansmen to keep them from having to emigrate. While other Highlanders were emigrating in the face of the changes that were sweeping away the old Highland way of life, Sir James Grant was busy building an entire town, building schools, mills, factories, a hospital, an orphanage, etc. to provide for his Clan.

However, many Grants did migrate to America and to Canada before and after the Battle of Culloden in 1745.  The lure of land and religious freedom led them to the new United States in the early 18th century.   The earliest Grant ancestor found so far was born in Virginia in 1765. His name was John Grant.   He would have been my 4th Great Grandfather.  So far I have not been able to confidently say who his Father may have been.  However, I think that his Father was born in Virginia as well and may have fought in the Revolutionary War.  More research is needed to verify that relationship. What this does mean is that is the Grants came to America after the Battle of Culloden in 1746 and before the first Highland Clearances in 1773.  As with many Scottish immigrants, the lure of cheap land and religious freedom were powerful motivators.  We will hear more about him next time.

Scottish Christmas Walk, Arlington, Virginia

A New Beginning…

As we start a new year, I am starting a new Blog.  Those of you who have followed the Sutherland Family History Story at are cordially invited to follow along to read my  new stories about my Mother’s ancestors.

Ruth Inez Grant

My Mother’s maiden name was Ruth Inez Grant.  She was born September 26, 1925 to Ethel Jane Pruett and Herbert Marcillus Grant.   My Grandmother, Ethel Jane Pruett was the daughter of Annie Eliza Vandergift and David Andrew Pruett.  My Grandfather, Herbert Marcillus Grant was the son of James Grant and Virginia Lou Harrelson.  Over the years I have gathered some fascinating information about these families.

My Mother died very young in 1960 when she was just 35 years old, but I had the great fortune to have a Grandmother and Aunts who shared lots and lots of family history.  I have supplemented those stories with intense research and am not ready to take you on another journey from Scotland and England to the United States and eventually to central Texas.  Unlike the Sutherlands who took the northern route to Texas through North Carolina, Tennessee and Arkansas, the Grants and the Pruitts took the southern route through South Carolina, Mississippi and Alabama.  Makes sense, the Sutherlands were “Highlanders” who preferred the mountainous terrain closest to their native highlands in Sutherland in Scotland while the Grants were lowlanders who lived in the lower parts of Scotland along the shores of Lock Ness.

Urquhart Castle

Oh yes!!  I have been to Lock Ness, but alas, no sight of Nessie, but a grand visit to Urquhart Castle, home of Clan Grant located right on the shores of Lock Ness.  Let the fun begin!