Analysis. Alternative views of the Campbells of Augusta County



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Notebook. Another View of the Father of John Campbell (205)
Source:Pilcher, 1911
Source:Campbell, 1924


There are two main groups of Campbells that have been identified in Old Augusta County, prior to the Revolution.

The line associated with Person:Michael Woods (1) (his wife was a Campbell, and several of Michaels Campbell kinsmen came with him to Augusta/Albemarle County
The line associated with Person:John Campbell (205) who married Grizle/Grace/Grizelda Hay, and immigrated to America about 1726

It is possible that the two lines are kinsmen, but this requires further work. At the present time (July 2011) work on the Campbells of Augusta County is focused on the John (205) line.

John (205)

John (205) is commonly identified as having married Grace Hay in Ireland, where they raised a substantial family. He is believed to have come to this country, with his family, about 1726 [1] They settled first in Lancaster PA, and about 1730 [2] moving south into the Valley of Virginia settling near Staunton.

Many of the Campbells who were present at an early date in Old Augusta trace their descent to John Campbell and Grace Hay, or to John's brothers. In this regard, one of the more useful early campbell Genealogies is that of Source:Pilcher, 1911, who lays out a plausible lineage for his relations:

While Pilcher provides a view of this line that is communal accepted, close inspection of supporting data for some of these lines suggests significant errors. As an example, Importation records for Person:Patrick Campbell (11) show significant differences in his child list, and demponstrate that his wife's name was "Elizabeth" not "Delilah".

The core facts of Pilcher's description of the family history seems to have been largely based on the testimony of descendant David Campbell, one time governor of Virginia. Campbell corresponded extensively with Lyman Draper, identifying his great grandfather as John (205) and mother as Grace Hay. He also identified some of their children, but Pilcher filled in the brothers of John (5) and most of John (5)'s children, based on other, largely unidentified, sources. Governor Campbell identifies his great grandfather as a descendant of the Argyll Campbell's of Scotland, living near Inverary, but does not identify his parents. Their identify as Duncan Campbell and Mary McCoy, seems to be an addition by Pilcher, but her basis for this is not clear. Moreover, the common literature for this family (as reflected in Ancestry Family Trees) gives a great many variations for the identify of Duncan Campbell, and his relationship to the Campbell's of Argyll.

Some of the more common identifications show him as

1) Duncan Campbell styled "Lord Ormellie", of the Breadalbane Campbells of Glenochry, Scotland, and a decendant of Duncan, first Lord Campbell of the Campbells of Argyll
2) Duncan Campbell son of Hugh Campbell (grandson of Colin Campbell the sixth Earl of Argyll) who came to Ireland in 1661, settling in Kilmarcaren Parish, Donegal, and marrying Mary McCoy in 1672
3) Duncan Campbell descendant of Dugal Campbell of Inverary, Scotland. Dugals son Duncan, acquired land in Ireland in 1612, on which his son Hugh Campbell settled. In this version, Duncan Campbell, husband of Mary McCoy, is identified as the grandson of Hugh.

While most lineages identify the parents of John (205) as Duncan Campbell and Mary McCoy this is not a universal view. One researcher (Ruby Campbell, 2001), gives us

4) John (205), son of John Campbell and Mary McCoy, great grandson of Hugh Campbell and Mary Patterson.


Some of the alternatives for the ancestry of John (205) can be easily dismissed. In particular, the idea that his father is Duncan Campbell, "Lord Ormellie", appears to be fanciful, rather than factual. While "Lord Ormellie" defiitely existed, his entries in the peerage records indicate that he died 'sine prole, relatively young, having never married. That, in its self, does not rule out the possiblity that he had illegitimate children. Some authors have asserted that he went to Ireland in his youth, where he "secretly married" Mary McCoy. Unfortunately, this seems to be simply speculative, with the intent simply being to rationalize a belief that he was the Duncan who married Mary McCoy. that is to say, those who offer this speculation, provide no substantiating evidence that he went to Ireland, or that he married in secret, or even that he might have had illegitimate children. The records clearly state (I'm told) that he died with out heirs. Proving otherwise would take a considerable amount of proof.

On that note, it appears that "proof", or the lack thereof, is the problem at the heart of all of these conflicting theories, and why chosing any of them over the others is highly arbitrary.