m. BEF 1715
Facts and Events
William McGill, Sr. was one of the Early Settlers of Augusta County, Virginia
Records in Augusta County, VA
Letter from Grandson
Information on William McGill, Sr.
From Family Tree Maker site of Robert E. Kapp (http://www.familytreemaker.com/users/k/a/p/Robert-E-Kapp/GENE2-0010.html#CHILD33883651)
644. William Magill, born about 1670(?) in Scotland; died October 10, 1749 in Dayton, Augusta Co., Virginia. He was the son of 1288. James Magill.
William MaGill and Margaret Gass Inlaws of James and William Berry
The father of Elizabeth Eleanor MaGill was William MaGill/McGill (~1690 - October/November 1749), who is believed to have been born in either Scotland or northern Ireland. While there is a fairly large body of secondary source material dealing with William MaGill and several generations of his progenitors (probably primarily based upon family tradition and oral history), few primary sources are available. Unfortunately, the primary sources that do exist, mostly deal with the last few years of William MaGill's life, when he was living in Augusta County, Virginia. There are, however, at least two other significant primary data sources. One of these is a letter written by a grandson of William MaGill in the mid 1800's. The other is a series of biographic essays of MaGill descendants living in Bucks County, Pennsylvania in the late 1800's. These sources reveal that at least one man named William MaGill emigrated from northern Ireland to the Philadelphia area in the mid 1720's, accompanied by a number of children and one or more brothers.
In a letter written on 12 September 1838 in Franklin County, Kentucky (a segment, of which, is reproduced below), John MaGill, a grandson of William MaGill relayed some family history to his nephew, Caleb MaGill. As is noted under the segment discussing William Berry (section B.2.), a brother of the James Berry that married Elizabeth Eleanor MaGill, it seems apparent that the William Berry mentioned here actually married Jane MaGill instead of Sarah, as noted in this letter.
My grandfather, William MaGill, migrated from Ireland in the year 1727 with the three sons named James, William and John, who was my father, and five daughters, to wit, Jane, who married William Dickson, he died, she married a McKee; Sarah married William Berry; Betty married James Berry, later John Jones; Esther who married Hugh Campbell; Ann, who married Robert Fowler.
Our forefathers were Scotch, lived in Scotland and were Protestants. The time of the persecution in England and Scotland in the reign of King James of England, they with many others, emigrated to Ireland which gave them the name of Scotch-Irish which name they are frequently called by to this day
The biographic essays in the Bucks County, Pennsylvania county history for Watson P. MaGill, Joseph E. MaGill and C. H. MaGill yield the following information on their earliest MaGill ancestor in America:321
Watson P. MaGill, farmer, was born in Solebury township, December 1, 1827. and is a son of Jonathon P. and Mary (Watson) MaGill. His paternal grandparents were Jacob and Rebecca (Paxson) MaGill. Jacob was the son of John and Amy (Whitson) MaGill, and John was the son of William and Sarah (Simcock) MaGill. William MaGill came from the north of Ireland and settled in Bucks county about 1726. …
His (Joseph E. MaGill's) first ancestor in this country was William MaGill, who with his brother, Alexander, emigrated from the north of Ireland in 1727. The latter died in Troy, N. Y. William located in Falls Township and was a tailor by trade. Soon after his marriage he settled in Solebury, where he engaged in farming and remained until his death. …
The great grandfather of our subject (C. H. MaGill) came from the north of Ireland with his brother and settled in Bucks County. The brother returned to Ireland. The settlement was made 150 years ago.
Records from the Mount Bethel Church in Soddy, Hamilton County, Tennessee for descendants of the William MaGill that married Margaret Gass note that William MaGill first settled in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. From the information provided in these biographic essays, the 1838 John MaGill letter and the Tennessee church records, it can be seen that William MaGill first arrived in Bucks County, Pennsylvania in either 1726 or 1727. The Bucks County biographic essays, however, seem to be referring, at least in part, to another William MaGill, and, as will be noted below, a William MaGill can be traced through Bucks County, Pennsylvania tax records long after the William MaGill, who was the father of Elizabeth Eleanor MaGill, had left the area. The combined evidence suggests that there were at least three men named William MaGill in Bucks County, Pennsylvania in the late 1720's. One of these men was the William that moved to Augusta County, Virginia and was the father of Elizabeth Eleanor MaGill. A second William MaGill remained in Bucks County and married Sarah Simcock. A third William MaGill was the son of the first William MaGill and a brother of Elizabeth Eleanor MaGill. As will be noted below, the most likely relationship between the first two William MaGills here noted appears to be that of uncle and nephew. Several sources indicate that William MaGill moved to Bucks County with several brothers, and it seems very likely that the William MaGill that married Sarah Simcock was a son of one of these men. Since there are several individuals named William MaGill, for the purposes of this discussion, the father of Elizabeth Eleanor MaGill will be identified as William MaGill, Sr. in this report.360
William MaGill Sr.'s birth date is typically given as either 1670 or 1690, but no primary sources are available to independently confirm either date. Perhaps the only alternative for determining which date is more likely to be correct is through the indirect approach of examining the birth dates of his eight known children. While these birth dates are also defined through secondary sources, and do not always agree from source to source, they appear, for the most part, to be consistently concentrated between 1715 and 1725, although there are a few sources that give earlier, albeit undocumented dates for one or two of his children. Based on their birth dates (and considering all of the sources), all of William's children appear to have been born by 1726 or 1727, when he first landed in the American colonies. Had William MaGill, Sr. been born at the earlier date (1670), he would have been in his mid forties or older when he started this, fairly large, family in 1715. Based on this analysis, it seems that the 1690 date is more accurate, since he would have been in his 20's or possibly early 30's when he began having children.116,169,321,337,344,345,346,347,360
Most of the available sources indicate that William MaGill, Sr. emigrated to northern Ireland from Scotland with his father around 1715, although at least one source has the MaGill move from Scotland to Ireland taking place in the previous generation. These sources mostly agree that William's father was Robert MaGill/Makgill, although two sources give the name of his father as either Charles or William. Regardless of the name, all of the sources indicate that the father of William MaGill, Sr. was born either in Scotland or Ireland, and died sometime after 1715 in Tullycairn/Tullycarn or Ulster, Ireland (Figure 26). The birth dates for Robert MaGill have been variously given as 1627, 1629, 1630, 1645, 1651 and before 1651. Robert MaGill is generally believed to have assisted in hiding the future English king, Charles II, following the execution of this monarch's father, King Charles I. In 1651, Charles II compensated Robert MaGill for his services by awarding him knighthood, a title (Viscount of Oxenford), and a land grant in Tullycairn, Ireland .113,116,128,169,264,321,322,335,336,337,342,344,347,349,360
If William MaGill, Sr. was, indeed, born in 1690, and the cluster of birth dates for Robert MaGill from 1627 to 1630 is correct, then Robert MaGill would have been as old as 63 at the time of William's birth. This age differential seems somewhat extreme for a father/son relationship, so either the birthdates must be wrong or else the father/son relationship is incorrect. If the birthdates are considered to be approximately correct, then the most logical interpretation is that the Robert MaGill born around 1627 was William's grandfather. William MaGill, Sr.'s father, therefore, must have been born between 1627 and 1690. Many of the sources have a Robert Magill (or in several instances a William or Charles MaGill) born sometime between 1645 and 1651, and this individual seems to be a logical candidate for William's father. Several of the sources indicate that William's father assisted the exiled English king, Charles II, however, the MaGill born in the 1645 to 1651 time period could not possibly be that person, since Charles II's (1630 - 1685) exploits in Scotland occurred in 1650 and 1651. From this analysis it seems possible that there were two individuals named Robert MaGill (probably father and son), and the information for them has been conflated into one person over the years. It seems more logical to interpret the Robert MaGill born in 1627 as representing William MaGill, Sr.'s grandfather, and the same man who assisted the exiled English king. The Robert MaGill born in the 1645 to 1651 time frame most likely represents the father of William MaGill, Sr. Several of these undocumented sources postulate two and sometimes three generations of Robert MaGills, with the youngest one often being noted as having been born in or around 1651. The absence of primary source material, however, seriously hampers any definitive statements on the issue, so logical assessments, historical analysis, and circumstantial evidence must suffice for hard facts. Despite these uncertainties, what seems clear is that a Scottish ancestor of William MaGill, Sr. aided an exiled English king in the middle of the 17th century; was awarded land in Tullycairn, Ireland in 1651; and around 1715, some MaGills, possibly including William Sr., moved there from Scotland.
Most MaGill sources agree that William MaGill, Sr. was married at least twice, and although the majority of these sources indicate that the identity of his first wife is unknown, several sources, albeit without documentation, have identified her as either Sarah Elizabeth, Sarah Simcock or Mary Eakin. Unfortunately, no primary source documentation has yet been found that identifies his first wife or the date and place they were married. If William began having children around 1715, it can probably be safely assumed that he got married not long before that time, especially if his 1690 date of birth is correct. This places the location of his marriage either in northern Ireland or Scotland. Sarah Elizabeth and Sarah Simcock probably represent the same woman, and some researchers suspect that Sarah Simcock married a different and much younger man named William MaGill, who, as noted above, is probably a nephew of William MaGill, Sr. No additional information is available concerning Mary Eakin, but, at this time, she appears to be a more likely candidate for the first wife of William MaGill, Sr.21,116,264,321,322,336,342, 348,360
The date and place of the death of William MaGill, Sr.'s first wife is not known. His second wife was Margaret Gass (1694 - ?), but the date and location of their marriage is also not known. Margaret's first husband was John Gass (~1670/1690 - 1734), and it appears that he was born in northern Ireland. Several sources indicate that Margaret's maiden name was Margaret Cowan/Cowen, and that she was born in northern Ireland, as well. It should be noted, however, that no primary sources have been found documenting Margaret's maiden name. John and Margaret's marriage date has been given as 1716, and one source indicates that he emigrated to the American colonies in 1718. If this information is correct, then, quite clearly, they were married in the old country. Upon emigrating to the American colonies, they settled in Donegal Township, and in 1730, a John Gass purchased land adjacent to the Donegal Presbyterian Church in Donegal Township (Figure 29). This couple had at least seven children, all or most of who are believed to have been born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. John Gass passed away sometime between June and December of 1734 in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and since he asked to be buried in the local Presbyterian churchyard, there seems no doubt as to his Scottish ancestry. One of the witnesses to his will was Archibald Woods, who married his daughter, Isabella Gass. Several sources indicate that, following her husband's death, Margaret traveled with her newly married daughter and son in law to Albemarle County, Virginia, which is just to the east of Augusta County, Virginia - just across the Blue Ridge Mountains. If this is true, then William MaGill, Sr. must have met and married Margaret Gass in Virginia. However, this does not appear to be the case, because Isabella and Archibald moved to Virginia at least by 1735, based on the birthdate and place of their oldest child, and, more importantly, Margaret Gass can be shown to still be living in Pennsboro Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania in 1738 next to Henry Gass. Since John and Margaret had a son named Henry, this is most likely her son. Other records show David Gass, the youngest son of Margaret and John Gass (and step son later mentioned in William MaGill Sr.'s 1749 will) to be living in Albemarle County in 1758.108,339,340,341,350, 351,352,353,354,355,356,357,381,393,394
Several sources note that William MaGill Sr. emigrated to Bucks County, Pennsylvania in 1726 or 1727 from northern Ireland, and tax records in Solebury Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania document the presence of a William MaGill in that county from 1751 at least through 1778 (Figure 30). William MaGill Sr., however, can be documented as living in Augusta County, Virginia by 1745, and remained there until his death in 1749. Furthermore, William Sr.'s son named William MaGill (here referred to as William MaGill Jr.), can be documented as living in Augusta County, Virginia from the mid to late 1740's at least through 1776, so the William MaGill documented in Bucks County through 1778 must be another individual. To further confuse the issue, one of the Bucks County biographic sources notes that the oldest family member that emigrated to Bucks County was named William MaGill, and that he first settled in Falls Township, Bucks County, later moving to Solebury Township. It appears that this data has conflated the story of two individuals with the same name, William MaGill Sr. and his nephew, into one person. From the various sources available, it appears that several of William MaGill Sr.'s brothers accompanied him on his immigration into the American colonies, namely Alexander, Charles and John, although there could have been more. One brother is believed to have subsequently returned to northern Ireland; another ended up in New York (Alexander); and at least one (John) is believed, by some researchers, to have emigrated to Augusta County, Virginia with William, settling across the river from him. Clearly, there were other related MaGills in Bucks County, Pennsylvania that could have been the father of the William MaGill that remained in Bucks County, and it seems quite likely that this is the case.21,100,116,169,264,321,322, 336,342,348,360
Since William MaGill, Sr. started out in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, the key questions are how did he get to Augusta County, Virginia, when and where did he meet and marry Margaret Gass, and when did he make the journey? William MaGill, Sr.'s whereabouts are of no small consequence to Berry research, since two of his daughters (Jane and Eleanor) married two Berry brothers (William and James), probably sometime in the late 1730's. Wherever these two families were at this time, it was not Augusta County, Virginia, although it seems quite clear that they must have been living in proximity to each other.
The 18th century witnessed a massive population transfer from northern Great Britain to the American colonies. Beginning as a slow trickle through the mid-to-late 1600's, a series of immigration pulses from 1717 through 1774 brought anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 people per year from northern Ireland, Scotland and the northern English counties to American shores. They arrived mostly as family groups rather than as individuals, and were predominantly landless farmers, farm laborers and semi-skilled craftsmen. Those from northern Ireland and Scotland tended to be Presbyterian, while the settlers from the northern English counties were typically Anglican. Many sailed to New England, New York and the Carolinas, but, by far, the largest percentage of this human tide of Ulster Scots or Anglo-Scots (also known as Scotch-Irish) first stepped foot on this continent in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and New Castle, Delaware. The Quakers of Pennsylvania, while generally tolerant, were very disturbed this by massive influx of coarse, poor, belligerent, English-speaking immigrants, and rather than absorb them, they encouraged these new arrivals to shuttle through their communities to the periphery of the colony, where they served as a buffer between the existing population of Germans and Quakers and the, generally antagonistic, native Americans, as well as the pugnacious Catholic colony established by Lord Baltimore to the south in Maryland. Until the late 1720's and early 1730's when settlement began pushing west of the Susquehanna River and north of the Pennsylvania extension of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the frontier in Pennsylvania was defined as being south of these mountains and east of the Susquehanna River. The German settlements in the William Penn colony were concentrated, primarily, around the Philadelphia area and up the Shuylkill River. Since the Scotch-Irish were directed to the periphery of these areas, they tended to settle into the unsurveyed areas of Chester County, fanning out into the countryside into two general areas. In the northwestern part of the county they settled into the areas that eventually became Donegal, Derry and Hempfield Townships. Another concentration of settlers in the southwestern part of the county eventually became Drumore/Dromore Township (Figure 29). Donegal, Drumore and Derry Townships, in fact, were named for the places in northern Ireland that served as the homeland for these immigrants (Figure 27), and these counties served as a sort of focal point of burgeoning Scotch-Irish community. Especially at first, these unwanted settlers were generally of the opinion that they could settle wherever they pleased, so they "squatted" on land of their choosing, taking up residence without bothering to acquire legal ownership or paying rents to existing owners. As a result, early land records, tying many of the Scotch-Irish to a particular piece of property, are not widely available.226,369,370,371,376, 379,380,381,382,391,392,393
Until 1729, the year Lancaster County was formed from Chester County, there were only three counties in Pennsylvania, Bucks, Philadelphia and Chester (Figure 2), and all were located in southeastern Pennsylvania in the piedmont area south and east of the mountains. Following this political reorganization, this area of Scotch-Irish settlements became part of Lancaster County. By the late 1730's and early 1740's, a series of roads connected the major population centers of the American colonies, which, at the time was essentially restricted to the eastern side of the Appalachian Mountains. Essentially, the British Empire occupied the eastern side of the Appalachians with a rapidly growing population, while the French claimed the area from New Orleans, Louisiana to Montreal, Canada with a relative sprinkling of settlers.
The route across southeastern Pennsylvania, which eventually was extended to Pittsburgh and beyond, was variously known as the Lancaster Pike, the Philadelphia Wagon Road and the Pennsylvania Road, as well as other local names. It began in Philadelphia and ran to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where it then extended across the Susquehanna River to Gettysburg and through a gap in the Blue Ridge Mountains to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. At this point it intersected the Great Wagon Road, which ran the entire length of a great-elongated valley between the Blue Ridge Mountains to the east and the Allegheny Mountains to the west. The latter trail extended northward toward New York, and ran in a southerly direction across the Potomac River, through Winchester, Virginia, passing directly through Augusta County, Virginia. These two great roads served as a conduit for the cross-country movement of large numbers of mostly German and Scotch-Irish immigrants throughout the 18th century. The best way for oxen drawn wagons to cross the Appalachian Mountains was by traveling parallel to it along the great transverse valleys, and cutting across gaps rather than proceeding directly across.
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (and it's predecessor, Chester County) was a temporary stopping point for many Scotch-Irish families that eventually moved on to the Beverley and Borden Grants in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. The Buchanan, Walker, Cathey, Houston, Kennedy, Patterson, Patton, Fulton, Gilmore, Anderson and Jameson families all can be documented as passing through Lancaster County. Furthermore, families that married into the Berry families (or, conversely, that Berry family members married into), such as the Cunninghams, Halls, Givens and Campbells can also be shown to have traveled the same route.21,33,129,369,381,384,385,386,387,388,389,390,424
Since he doesn't appear to have left many tracks, William MaGill, Sr.'s journey from Bucks County, Pennsylvania to Augusta County, Virginia can be reconstructed only from a few scattered pieces of reliable data connected by a general understanding of the conditions that prevailed in this part of the American colonies during this particular time period. It seems quite probable that, when he left Bucks County, William MaGill, Sr. passed through Philadelphia, which was very near Bucks County, and took the road to the Lancaster and/or Carlisle area, where there were thriving Scotch-Irish communities. Either location would have been logical stopping points, and may even have been the initial destination. He most likely stayed in these areas, at least for awhile, and this could be where he encountered the Berry family, another Scotch-Irish family group making their way across Pennsylvania from northern Ireland, as well as the widow, Margaret Gass. Two of William's daughters married two of the Berry boys, and another daughter, Esther, married another Scotch-Irish emigrant, Hugh Campbell. With the opening of the Beverley and Borden Grants in Augusta County, Virginia in the late 1730's and early 1740's, there seems to have been a general exodus of Scotch-Irish from the Lancaster County, Pennsylvania area, and it is not difficult to imagine William MaGill, Sr. participating in this movement.
The date at which William MaGill, Sr. moved from Bucks County, Pennsylvania to Augusta County, Virginia has not been documented with primary sources, but it can be broadly bracketed as occurring between 1726/1727 and 1745, which is an 18 or 19 year span. As a further refinement, it appears that somewhere between 1738 and 1745 he moved from the Carlisle, Pennsylvania area to Augusta County, Virginia. As noted above, it is not entirely clear that he made the complete journey at once, and, indeed, it seems more likely that it was at least a two-stage journey with a stop in the Carlisle, Pennsylvania area to meet and marry the widow Margaret Gass, who lived in an established Scotch-Irish community just west of the Susquehanna River along the Great Wagon Road. From there, William and his new wife probably made the final journey to Augusta County along that trail. The reason for postulating a two-stage trip is two-fold. First, as noted, there were several significant Scotch-Irish communities part way along the route to Virginia that would serve as logical stopping points. Secondly, Margaret Gass, his second wife, is known to have been living within one of these Scotch-Irish communities as late as 1738. Some of the MaGill/Gass literature suggests that Margaret Gass moved to Albemarle County with her daughter in 1735 after the death of her husband. If that is true, then she had returned by 1738 when she was documented in Pennsborough Township in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Since William MaGill, Sr. and Margaret Gass would probably require some time to get to know each other before they decided to get married, it seems logical to assume that they must have lived near each other. Since two of William MaGill, Sr.'s daughters married two Berry brothers sometime in the late 1730's, it appears that the Berry family was also in close proximity to Margaret Gass and William MaGill, Sr. at this time.
Another source of data allowing a further bracketing of William MaGill, Sr.'s emigration timeline is the 1742 Augusta County Militia List (Table V). Scotch-Irish settlers were pouring into the Beverley and Borden Grants and surrounding areas in Virginia, and by 1742 a local militia was formed, presumably to protect the settlers from attacks from the native Americans. Membership in the militia was most likely defined by being an able bodied male, capable of participating in defensive and occasional offensive actions. Both families had several young males that would be expected to appear on any list of people defending their homes and families on the frontier. The fact that neither Berry nor MaGill family members are noted as being militia members suggests that these families had not yet immigrated to this area by 1742.
Of all the Berrys and MaGills, William MaGill, Sr. can be documented as being in Augusta County at the earliest date: 1745. William Berry (section B.2. of this report), one of his sons-in-law and the first Berry to appear in these records, is first documented a year later, in 1746, as is one of William's brothers, Charles Berry (see section B.3. of this report). The absence of any Berrys and MaGills in the 1742 militia list combined with their first appearance in county records a few years later seems to strongly suggest that these families most likely arrived in Augusta County from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania sometime between 1742 and 1745.
William MaGill, Sr. passed away in Augusta County, Virginia sometime between 10 October and 29 November 1749. Although his burial location is not known, it seems likely that he would have been buried somewhere on his property. Margaret apparently remained on the property for some time, and lived at least until 1758, and it is quite possible that she eventually moved in with one of her stepsons in Augusta or with her daughter or son, David, in neighboring Albemarle County.108,366
This helps to establish the approximate birthdates of William McGill's children: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~berry/newupload/pages/B2.htm
Documented birth dates for Jane MaGill's siblings are not available, but there are undocumented dates from several sources for some of them. Esther MaGill is believed to have been born in 1720. Ann MaGill's birth date has been given as 1722. Birth dates for James MaGill have been variously given as 1714, 1715 and 1724. William MaGill, Jr.'s birth date is cited as either 1715, 1725 or 1726. John MaGill's birth date has been cited as being 1728 or 1729, and Elizabeth Eleanor MaGill's birth date has been noted as being after 1715, 1719 and 1721.116,117,169,321,322 While there is not complete agreement on the dates for these individuals, they all fall within a range extending from 1714 through 1729. If they are approximately correct, then Jane MaGill was probably born sometime during this time period with an average guess being about 1720. Estimated birth dates for William Berry's siblings (derived mostly in this report) range from 1716 through 1742 with the bulk of the date estimates occurring in the 1716 through 1725 range.321