Grahams are Scotch Irish


The Gra­hams, like many of the ear­ly set­tlers of the Val­ley of Vir­ginia, were of Scotch-Irish descent and came from coun­ties Done­gal and Lon­don­der­ry, in the north­ern part of Ire­land. The term, Scotch-Irish, does not nec­es­sar­i­ly mean a blend­ing of blood between the Scotch and Irish nations, but implies the Scotch who emi­grat­ed from Scot­land and set­tled in Ire­land. Dur­ing the years begin­ning short­ly after the mid­dle of sev­en­teenth cen­tu­ry, there was a large emi­gra­tion from Scot­land to Ire­land, hav­ing been brought about on account of reli­gious per­se­cu­tions the Scotch received at home.

The treat­ment and tor­ture dealt out to these pious reli­gious peo­ple, who held tena­cious­ly to the prin­ci­ples of the Pres­by­ter­ian faith, by the [2] church of Eng­land, under the false cloak of reli­gion, would of itself fill a vol­ume much larg­er than that con­tem­plat­ed in these pages, and ref­er­ence is mere­ly made to show the stern and unwa­ver­ing char­ac­ter of a peo­ple who were dri­ven from post to pil­lar, and suf­fered almost unen­durable hard­ships and degra­da­tions, rather than depart from a prin­ci­ple which they believed to be the teach­ings of the Bible, as well as hav­ing the approval of their con­science. Thus, more than two cen­turies ago our ances­tral par­ents left their beau­ti­ful homes in their native land, and look­ing for the last time on the green slop­ing swords of the Grampian Hills and bid farewell for­ev­er to the graves of their fathers and moth­ers, and left behind all that was near and dear to them, even as their own love­ly Scot­land, and took up their march for the Emer­ald Isle, in the vain hope that the per­se­cu­tions and tri­als which had hith­er­to made life hideous, would cease and they would be free to exer­cise their faith[,] which had so long been the desire of their con­science. [3] But alas! for human expec­ta­tions. Their sojourn is but for a while, until the broad and invit­ing land across the Atlantic bade them once more take up their line of march and plant their homes in the New World, where they would be free to wor­ship God accord­ing to the dic­tates of their own con­science, unhin­dered by church or state. Among the many fam­i­lies who thus emi­grat­ed from Scot­land to Ire­land and lat­er from Ire­land to Amer­i­ca, we might men­tion the fol­low­ing names: Forbess­es, Stu­arts, Hamil­tons, Mont­gomerys, Alexan­ders, Gra­hams, Shaws, Moores, Lewis­es, Pat­tons, Math­ews, Pre­stons, Bax­tons, Lyles, Grigs­bys, Craw­fords, Com­mins­es, Browns, Wal­laces, Wilsons, Caruthers, Camp­bells, McClungs, McCues, McK­ees, McCowns, Lock­ridges, Boyds, Bar­clays, McDon­als and Bai­leys, described as, “knights and gen­tle­men of Scot­land, whose pros­per­i­ty holds good to this day.” They were Irish Pres­by­te­ri­ans, who, being of Scotch extrac­tion, were called Scotch-Irish.

[4] These names are to-day famil­iar house-hold words of the names of our own land and are but a rep­e­ti­tion, and of the same lin­eal descent of their noble ances­tors, who, more than two cen­turies ago stood ever firm to the Magna Char­ta of Scot­tish rights, and ral­lied under their brave ban­ners, embla­zoned with the faith of their own creed, in the famous gold­en let­ters, “For Christ’s Crown and Covenant,” they wait­ed undaunt­ed, the tyran­ny of their foes.

As we have said, their sojourn in Ire­land was but tem­po­rary, as to a large pro­por­tion of those who emi­grat­ed there. Of course, many hin­dered by pover­ty and oth­er caus­es no doubt, made that their per­ma­nent home.

The relief which they sought, they found but tem­po­rary in their new found homes in Ire­land. Under the rule of tyrant kings, their suf­fer­ing and pun­ish­ment was endurable only for its con­trasts with their for­mer suf­fer­ing. Tithes and tax­es demand­ed from their wrecked estates to sup­port a church, not of their own choice; restrained [5] from speak­ing their own opin­ions; liv­ing in a strange land; dwelling among ene­mies of their faith, all com­bined to make them an unhap­py and rest­less peo­ple. Long­ing for new homes, the silent whis­pers came across the ocean that the Mayflower, years before had land­ed oth­ers, per­se­cut­ed like them­selves, safe­ly on the oth­er side of the blue waters. This gave them hope. “For thou, O, God, hast proved us, and thou hast tried us as sil­ver is tried; thou brought­est us into the net; thou layest afflic­tions upon our loins; thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; but though brought­est us out into a wealth place.” Gath­er­ing togeth­er what lit­tle world­ly goods they pos­sessed, which was very mea­gre, and often noth­ing, save their Bible. They embarked for the New World, land­ing upon the banks of the Dele­ware, [sic] and many rest­ed for a sea­son in the land of Penn­syl­va­nia.

William Penn, hav­ing been for­mer­ly a sub­ject of the King of Eng­land, and wit­nessed the perse- [6] cution of his own church (though he him­self was a favorite of King James) it was but nat­ur­al that these peo­ple should seek out in the New World, those that had been per­se­cut­ed for con­science sake in the old world.

Among those who sought fresh relief and new homes amid the untrod­den forests of Amer­i­ca, few stood high­er or occu­pied posi­tions more exalt­ed than the Gra­hams. Dur­ing that bloody, treach­er­ous, and ever mem­o­rable strug­gle in Eng­land, Ire­land and Scot­land, in which King James was dethroned, and William, Price of Orange, a pres­by­ter­ian, became his suc­ces­sor — a time when no man could remain neu­tral, but, all must declare, either for the time hon­ored estab­lished church of Eng­land; the papistry of King James; or for that faith which they believed to be taught in Holy Writ. Accord­ing to the dic­tates of their own con­science, the Gra­hams occu­pied promi­nent posi­tions on either side.

One Richard Gra­ham, known as Vis­count Pre­ston, held the posi­tion of Sec­re­tary of State of [7] Scot­land, under King James, about the year 1685; and his­to­ry tells us that he was one [of] the privy coun­cil, and most trusty advis­ers of the king; that his plans and rec­om­men­da­tions were often adhered to, rather than those of the king him­self. As a leader of the House of Com­mons, he coun­seled King James to reassem­ble the Hous­es of Par­lia­ment, in order to secure a peace­ful set­tle­ment of dif­fer­ences between church and state. He was also made Lord Lieu­tenant for both the coun­ties of Cum­ber­land and West­more­land, a posi­tion very rare and remark­able for one man to occu­py.

Dur­ing the absence of King James from the throne, who, on account of his fear of opposers, had fled to Sal­is­bury, Richard Gra­ham and four asso­ciates were appoint­ed a com­mit­tee, known as the Coun­cil of Five, to trans­act the busi­ness of the Throne until such time as might be deemed expe­di­ent for the king to return.

The posi­tions of high hon­or and trust, held and occu­pied by this one man were many, and to rehearse [8] them all in detail, would require more space than it is our pur­pose here to con­sume in this brief sketch; suf­fice it to say that he seems to have been a leader of his par­ty in both civic and mil­i­tary affairs; a min­is­ter at the courts of for­eign coun­tries; hon­ored, trust­ed and adhered to, and we might add, obeyed by kings; feared and esteemed by the House of Com­mons, and held in the high­est respect by the com­mon peo­ple. While he was true and devot­ed to King James, in the sense of patri­o­tism, it does not appear that he was a per­se­cu­tor of those who dif­fered from the king’s reli­gious views.

James Gra­ham, of Claver­house, vis­count of Dundee, was also a not­ed char­ac­ter in that event­ful strug­gle, and while his per­se­cu­tion of those who dif­fered from the reli­gious per­sua­sions of King James, must ever be deplored, we take con­so­la­tion in the fact that he but car­ried out the dic­tates and decrees of his Mas­ter. That his fideli­ty to the king was ever true through life, and even in the hour of death, is ful­ly sub­stan­ti­at­ed [9] in his last utter­ance, after hav­ing spent an event­ful life in the king’s cause.

After King James had vacat­ed the throne, and William and Mary had been tri­umphant­ly crowned, and the armies of James aban­doned and scat­tered, Gen­er­al Gra­ham, with his indomitable will and ever-to-be admired ener­gy, hop­ing against hope, col­lect­ed togeth­er such as he could of the remain­ing frag­men­tary army of his escaped mas­ter and repaired to the High­lands of Scot­land, where he suc­ceed­ed in inter­est­ing the Scot­tish Chiefs of those High­land Clans, in behalf of the cause of the late king. The remote­ness of these semi-bar­bar­ians from the active scene of war, cou­pled with their dis­in­cli­na­tion to inform them­selves of the nature of the con­flict, soon led them through the flu­en­cy of Graham’s speech to espouse his cause. Hav­ing sought and obtained the sym­pa­thy of all the prin­ci­pal chiefs of the var­i­ous clans, he assem­bled them togeth­er and a coun­cil was held to decide the mode of war­fare. The detached frag­men­tary of the army whom [10] Gra­ham hith­er­to com­mand­ed, cha­grined with for­mer defeats, protest­ed against a bat­tle with those who espoused the cause of King William. While the lead­ers of the High­land Clans urged imme­di­ate assault, say­ing their men were ready and eager for the fray.

Gen­er­al Gra­ham was influ­enced by the coun­sel of the High­landers, assur­ing them that he would lead them to vic­to­ry; that he him­self would march in front of his army; to this, his sub­or­di­nate offi­cers object­ed, say­ing, he was too valu­able a leader to expose his per­son in front of the bat­tle, and urged him to remain in the rear and dic­tate the move­ments of his army in the on-com­ing con­flict. To this Gra­ham replied, “your peo­ple are accus­tomed to see­ing their leader in the van of bat­tle, and there I shall be seen this day, but after the deci­sion of this day, I shall be more care­ful of my per­son and not expose myself in action as hereto­fore has been my cus­tom.” After that state­ment, his army was com­mand­ed to move for­ward, him­self being in the lead. [11]

Soon the foe was met and the bat­tle of Kil­likrankie was fought. Ear­ly in the engage­ment Gra­ham was shot, hav­ing raised his hand above his head and stand­ing erect in his stir­rups, giv­ing com­mand, his shield or armour raised above his waist­band, expos­ing his per­son, when the ball took effect, he fell from his horse and one of his sub­or­di­nate offi­cers com­ing up to him, inquired if his injuries were fatal, Gra­ham answered by say­ing, “How goes the cause of the king?” The atten­dant answered, “the cause of the king is well; how is your lord­ship?” Gra­ham replied, “it mat­ters not for me, so the cause of the king is safe.” These were his last words. Though dying on the field, his army won a great vic­to­ry and the bat­tle of Kil­likrankie has passed into his­to­ry, as one of the most mem­o­rable events of that time. His­to­ry hands down to us oth­er names of the Gra­hams, who were more or less not­ed in their day and time, of which we might men­tion, Mal­colm Gra­ham, who is last, but by no means least, stood high in soci­ety and was [12] bound with a gold­en chain by King James the II to Ellen Dou­glass, the girl he loved so well; dis­hon­or­ing thus thy loy­al name.

    Fet­ters and war­den for the Greame (Gra­ham)
    His chain of gold the king unstrung;
    The links o’er Malcolm’s neck he flung,
    Then gen­tly drew the glit­ter­ing band,
    And laid the clasp on Ellen’s hand.

From the above selec­tion it will be noticed that the name is spelled Greame. Whether the author drew upon his poet­i­cal license for this mis­nomer or whether the name was some­times so spelled by the Scotts, we are unable to deter­mine.

In the ear­ly set­tle­ment of this coun­try, when peo­ple paid but lit­tle atten­tion to the orthog­ra­phy of names — the name was often spelled Grimes. There seems, how­ev­er, to have been no author­i­ty what­ev­er for this con­tor­tion of the name.

The only excuse that might be offered for this mis­ap­pli­ca­tion of the name is that the names of the ear­ly set­tlers were scarce­ly, if ever, seen in print and but sel­dom in writ­ing, but were hand­ed [13] oral­ly from one to anoth­er, thus giv­ing plen­ty of oppor­tu­ni­ty for mis­un­der­stand­ings. We can recall many names, which in our youth were pro­nounced dif­fer­ent­ly from what they now are. To illus­trate, the name Steven­son was called “Stin­son”; the name With­row was called “Watherow”; Stodghill was called “Star­geon” and so on. We even find in this day a few of the old-styled fathers and moth­ers who do not like to dis­con­tin­ue the old-fash­ioned way of express­ing these names.

The Gra­ham name in all Eng­lish his­to­ry and in the his­to­ry of our coun­try, as well as in all the legal writ­ings per­tain­ing to the fam­i­ly, from the ear­li­est set­tle­ment in Amer­i­ca down to the present time, is spelled as we now have it — Gra­ham.

The peo­ple of Scot­land of the same fam­i­ly tree were known as clans; and these clans seem to have been bound togeth­er by very strong and endear­ing ties.

Such were the adhe­sion of these fam­i­ly clans that they kept them­selves almost entire­ly aloof [14] from oth­er clans; mar­riage and inter­mar­riage by mem­bers of one clan to anoth­er was scarce­ly admis­si­ble. If a mem­ber of one clan pro­voked or insult­ed a mem­ber of anoth­er clan, the insult was resent­ed by the clan whose mem­ber had been insult­ed; thus we find arose many of the clan feuds, with which Scot­tish his­to­ry so much abounds.

Each clan had its offi­cial head chief or leader, whose duty it was to dic­tate to his peo­ple such a course as seemed to him most wise and dis­creet or that hap­pened to please the whims of his own fan­cies. In mil­i­tary affairs this leader or chief was expect­ed to occu­py the most dan­ger­ous posi­tions and to per­form the most dar­ing of the exploits in the heat of bat­tle. He must either win a vic­to­ry, in which he per­formed some noble part, or die in defeat.

The Gra­ham clan was a very large and influ­en­tial one, and, per­haps, at the time of its great­est pow­er, had for its offi­cial head James Gra­ham, the Earl of Mon­trose, who laid down his life for love to his king.

[15] It is claimed in Scot­tish his­to­ry that the Gra­ham fam­i­ly dates back for a thou­sand years, and has been con­spic­u­ous in the annal of their coun­try, “from hov­el to the palace, in arts, in elo­quence and in song”. “It was a dar­ing man by the name of Gra­ham that first broke through the walls of Agri­co­la which the Roman gen­er­al had built between the firths of the Clyde and Forth to keep off the incur­sions of the North­ern Britons, and the ruins of which, still vis­i­ble, are called to this day the ruins of Graham’s Dyke”. [end of sec­tion, but not of page]

8 thoughts on “Grahams are Scotch Irish”

  1. I am a desendent of the Gra­ham fam­i­ly. My great grand­fa­ther James Lan­ty Gra­ham built the first three sto­ry log cab­in in the 1770 at Low­ell, West Vir­ginia.
    I love read­ing this his­to­ry of my fam­i­ly. Thank you for shar­ing.

  2. Well then, you are my cousin. Col. Gra­ham is also my 4th great grand­fa­ther. My father recent­ly passed away and it prompt­ed me to research my lin­eage.

  3. David Gra­ham was my 3rd great grand­fa­ther. WFT 1760–1789 Accord­ing to records hand­ed down to me from fam­i­ly researchers, he was the son of John Gra­ham and Rebec­ca. He mar­ried Jane Dunn on 25 Dec 1796 in Mono­galia Co, (W)VA. Does any­one know of his con­nec­tion to this fam­i­ly? He moved to Sar­dinia, OH in 1809. I found this on Ances­try. It explains why John is list­ed as his Father. He was not the bio­log­i­cal Father. “MAY 28, 1751. — (580) Thomas Mann, orphan of John Mann, to be bound; James and David, orphans of Wm. Gra­ham, dit­to.
    AUGUST 29, 1751. — (185) John Gra­ham appoint­ed guardian of James and David Gra­ham, orphans of Wm. Gra­ham.
    Page 386.–29th August, 1751. John Gra­ham’s bond as guardian to James and David Gra­ham, orphans of Wm. Gra­ham; appoint­ed.” Now found anoth­er paper with David Gra­ham mar­ried to a Jane Walkup. Real­ly con­fus­ing. Mine was mar­ried to Jane Dunn. Too many Davids liv­ing in the same area and near same birth date.

  4. I am so excit­ed to be able to read and research… I am relat­ed to you all as well, Col Gra­ham is my 7th great grand­fa­ther! My father passed away 11 years ago, a week after his 80th birth­day… My father was an only child and his moth­er passed away quite young and I grew up not know­ing any rel­a­tives on my fathers side. This is excit­ing and I know my dad would love know­ing all of these sto­ries and infor­ma­tion before his pass­ing…

  5. Col. James Gra­ham was my 5X great-grand­fa­ther. My father passed away in 2000 but I am so excit­ed to learn about his fam­i­ly and my his­to­ry. He would have enjoyed know­ing more about our roots. I am a Pres­by­ter­ian but had no idea that any of my fam­i­ly dat­ed back to Scot­land and the Ref­or­ma­tion.

  6. I am look­ing for any fam­i­ly tree infor­ma­tion on our Gra­ham Fam­i­ly. I have includ­ed a lit­tle of what we have below. Please let me know if you have any infor­ma­tion that will be help­ful in adding or extend­ing our Gra­ham line. Thanks.

    Hugh and Mary Gra­hame of the parish of North Knap­dale, Coun­ty of Argyle, North Britain (Scot­land) emi­grat­ed to the Unit­ed States with 3 chil­dren and set­tled in North Car­oli­na. An orig­i­nal let­ter declar­ing them to be free of debt or any oth­er hin­drances so that they may be received in the Unit­ed States as being of “unblem­ished char­ac­ter and cred­it” has come down through the years and is now in the pos­ses­sion of Alvin Gra­ham of Char­lotte, NC. It is dat­ed July 12, 1782. The ear­li­est record­ed wills in North Car­oli­na show a Hugh Gra­ham (with the e omit­ted) remem­ber­ing his wife, Mary, son, Dun­can, and daugh­ter, Flo­ra, along with grand­chil­dren Hugh and Flo­ra Fed­der. It was dat­ed Sep­tem­ber 10, 1824. If this is the cou­ple who emi­grat­ed in July, 1782, some­thing must have hap­pened to one of the chil­dren. Dun­can Gra­ham, the son men­tioned in the will of 1824, has a will of his own record­ed in the his­tor­i­cal records of North Car­oli­na. It is dat­ed June 23, 1856. From this will and from oth­er record­ed wills and offi­cial papers, it appears that Dun­can Gra­ham had two wives. The first appears to have been Flo­ra Aus­ley, and the sec­ond wife was Eliz­a­beth (Bet­sy). We don’t know the sur­name. It was impos­si­ble to deter­mine which chil­dren came from the first or sec­ond mar­riage. The fol­low­ing let­ter came to Amer­i­ca with Hugh Gra­ham: “To whom it may con­cern, That the bear­er Hugh Gra­hame, and Mary Gra­hame his spouse, with three chil­dren were born and did reside in the parish of North Knap­dale Coun­ty of Argyle North Britain dur­ing the for­mer part of their life; That dur­ing this peri­od their con­duct has been decent and suit­able to the Chris­t­ian char­ac­ter, so that they may be received into any Soci­ety where Prov­i­dence may deter­mine their Lot; That in con­se­quence of Let­ters of encour­age­ment from friends in North Amer­i­ca, they are now resolved, to emi­grate from this Coun­try to that quar­ter, and it is here­by fur­ther cer­ti­fied, that they are free of debt or any oth­er hin­drance known to us so that the States may receive them, as men of unblem­ished char­ac­ter and cred­it. The above is attest­ed in con­se­quence of the order of the Kirk­ses­sion by me At Kilm le Inver­bus­say this 12th day of July 1782 years. Arch d Camp­bell MM of North Knap­dale.” The let­ter stat­ed that three chil­dren came to Amer­i­ca with Hugh and Mary Gra­hame. I only have the names of two chil­dren at this time (1994).

    Check on the fol­low­ing for accu­ra­cy:

    Name: Flo­ry Gra­ham (child)
    Gen­der: Female
    Bap­tism Date: 21 Apr 1794
    Bap­tism Place: North Knapdale,Argyll,Scotland
    Father: Hugh Gra­ham
    Moth­er: Peg­gy Mcguirmin
    FHL Film Num­ber: 1041074

  7. Anoth­er mem­ber of the Gra­ham fam­i­ly here — I’m a direct descen­dant of David Gra­ham, going back 6 gen­er­a­tions on my mom’s side. My mom, Susan Vir­ginia Gra­ham Red­mond, typed the 859 page tran­script that it is the basis for this site. She was a way bet­ter typ­ist than I am.

    She occa­sion­al­ly men­tioned that we have some Native Amer­i­can blood, I believe Powhatan, but I don’t know much beyond that. If my great grand­fa­ther Luther Powhatan Gra­ham was still around, I would cer­tain­ly ask him about it.

    I could try a medi­um, I sup­pose. Aside from that, there’s ask­ing who knows any­thing about this very inter­est­ing aspect of our fam­i­ly and what you can share, either here or with me via email ( or cell (201 446‑0422). Thank you for shar­ing what you know!

    Char­lie Red­mond


Leave a Comment