Michael Joseph O'Brien.

The McCarthys in early American history online

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Lady Fairfax, Sole Proprietor of the Northern Neck
of Virginia," conveyed to Captain Daniel McCarty 648
acres situated "on the south side of the main run of
Accotinck Creek in Stafford County, as surveyed by
Simon Connell on September 26, 1714," but which he
(Connell) had "allowed to lapse through noncomply-
ance with the rules of the Proprietor's Office." 48 This
tract fell into Fairfax County when that County was
formed from Stafford and was adjacent to the property
of the Washingtons. Again by deed dated December
5, 1722, Lord Fairfax conveyed other lands in Cople
Parish to Daniel McCarty. 49

These grants by no means cover all of Daniel Mc-
Carty 's landed property, and the number of deeds and
conveyances recorded in Virginia between 1697 and the

46 Land Patents. Book III, p. 182.

47 Ibid., Book III. p. 248.
tzibid., Book V, p. 129.
49 Ibid., Book A, p. 3.


the McCarthys

year of his death covering transfers of real estate in
Richmond County to and from Daniel McCarty, alone
are sufficient to indicate the extent of his holdings.
Among the legal instruments recorded in the office of the
County Clerk at Warsaw, Va., are the following deeds
for lands in that County: —





March 27

John Glendenning & wife




June 15

Daniel McCarty




August 25

Samuel Samford




April 2

C Philip Rogers
| Vincent Cox




April 2
October 1

John Sabre & wife
J John Davis, Sr.
| John Davis, Jr.




October 2
July 7

| Charles Barber
\ George Glascock




January 4

Webley Pavey




August 31





November 30

Benjamin Hinds & wife




May 2

Robert Baylis & wife




June 5,

Samuel Randal & wife




May 5

William Fauntleroy




July 13

Robert Baylis & wife



Daniel McCarty 's landed property was situated in
four Counties, Westmoreland, Richmond, Prince Wil-
liam and Stafford, and four years after his death his
executors acquired for the estate another tract of land
in Spottsylvania County. 50 His will, dated March 29,
1724, was proved in Westmoreland County on May 27,
1724. 51 The inventory of his estate, taken June 15th
of the same year, included ''The Library of Colonel
Daniel McCarty of Westmoreland County, Esquire."
It was an extensive collection for the time, and judging
by published accounts of other libraries owned by promi-
nent colonial families, evidently it was one of the im-
portant private libraries in Virginia. 52 In his will he

50 Extracts from Deed Book A, in Virginia County Records, Vol. 1, pp.

51 Probate Records, Book 8, p. 52.

82 WUliam and Mary College Quarterly, Vol. VIII.


disposed of a large estate in lands, houses, slaves, jewelry
and plate of great value, and he named among the
legatees his sons, Dennis, Daniel, Billington and Thad-
deus, and daughters, Winifred, Sarah, Lettice and Anna
Barbara, the last-mentioned having been the wife of
one of his executors, John Fitzhugh of Stafford County.
To his eldest son, Dennis, he gave his personal property
including the family plate brought from Ireland, the
"home plantation" and other real estate in Stafford
and all his "debts in that County"; to Daniel he gave
lands in Westmoreland County; to Billington his land
at Farnham Creek in Richmond County; to Thaddeus
his land at Mangorite in Richmond County, "which was
Captain John Rice's." This was the John Rice of
Dingle, County Kerry, already mentioned. To his
daughters he left cash bequests of £500 each. The will
is a very long document and is couched in all the ex-
travagant phraseology of the day. It shows this exiled
Irishman to have been a man of fine characteristics, as
witness the fact that he directed his sons "to be edu-
cated, one a lawyer, one a divine, one a physician, one
a chirurgeon or mariner in the Secretaries' office, or
to any lawful employment as their inclination leads
them, but rather to the ax and hoe than suffered in
idleness and extravagancy."

It is strange that there is so little mention of this
pioneer Irishman in Virginia history. Nor is there any
place in the State called after him or any of his numer-
ous descendants; yet he occupied a prominent place
in the society of the Colony and his children married
into some of the leading families of the day. The only
places where any mention of his name can be found are
in the official records of the Colony, in the land and
court records of the day, in the birth, marriage and

38 the McCarthys

death registers of the districts where he and his family-
resided, and in the genealogies of the families with whom
the McCartys intermarried. But, as for giving him a
place in history, the historians are peculiarly silent !

The will of Mrs. Ann McCarty, widow of Daniel,
dated November 7, 1728, and probated in Westmoreland
County on May 3, 1732, named several members of the
Fitzhugh family, as well as Thaddeus and Billington
McCarty, as sharing in the bequests. She died in the
year 1732.

The estate of Daniel McCarty was the subject of two
actions in Chancery in the Courts of Virginia, "for the
accounting of a trust estate," one styled "McCarty vs.
McCarty 's Executors' 1 and the other "McCarty vs.
Fitzhugh," Daniel McCarty having been the plaintiff
in both suits, and the papers in the second case describe
him as " a lawyer. ' ' Complete descriptions of these law-
suits with the decisions of the Judge may be found in
the "Decisions of the General Court of Virginia" edited
by Robert T. Barton. 53

53 Vol. I, pp. R112-113 and Vol. II, p. B34; Boston, 1909.



The descendants of Daniel, the Speaker — Romantic marriage of
Dennis McCarty and Sarah Ball — Their children were cousins
of George Washington — Thaddeus McCarty married in Wash-
ington's home — Colonel Daniel McCarty, the "well-beloved
friend" of Augustine Washington and executor of his will —
Associated with eminent Virginians — George Washington's
Diary frequently mentions the McCartys — Correspondence be-
tween Washington and Daniel McCarty — The McCarty family
invited to attend the funeral of Washington — Eleven McCar-
tys members of the Virginia legislature since 1705.

Dennis, eldest son of Captain Daniel McCarty, in-
herited the "home plantation" in Westmoreland County
as well as his father's lands in Stafford Countv. In the
land office at Richmond there is a deed recorded on
March 25, 1727, from Lord Fairfax, whereby he con-
veyed to Dennis McCarty 522 acres of land "upon the
upper side of Accotink Creek in Stafford County," 1
and another as of February 20, 1729, from Lord Fair-
fax to "Dennis MacCarty of the County of Stafford,
Gent.," conveying to him a tract of land on the north
side of Pohick Run, 2 and in both deeds the boundary
lines on three sides are described as McCarty 's own
lands. In 172-i Dennis married Sarah Ball of the noted
Virginia family of that name who lived at Ball's Creek
in Lancaster County. In the marriage register at Lan-
caster court house there is a letter dated September 21,
1724, from William Ball to Thomas Edwards, Clerk
of Lancaster County, asking "for a license for mar-

1 Land Patents, Book B, p. 53.

2 Ibid., Book C, p. 31.


40 the McCarthys

riage between Mr. Dennis McCarty of Copeland Parish,
Westmoreland County, and my daughter, Sarah Ball,"
and the marriage was solemnized in Cople Parish church
on the day following the issuance of the license. The
Balls are referred to by Virginia historians as "one of
the best families in Virginia" and tradition says that
Sarah was "a girl of acknowledged charm," and, that
Dennis McCarty must have been a young man of highly
polished manners and agreeable personality, is appar-
ent from the fact that he was acceptable to "the old
Cavalier, William Ball," as a suitor for the hand of
his daughter in marriage.

Sarah Ball 's youthful charms must have created havoc
in more than one susceptible heart. There is a roman-
tic story told in the family how another aspirant for
the hand of the fair Sarah, mortified at his failure,
maue use of some derogatory remarks concerning his
more fortunate rival; how Dennis McCarty came down
to Lancaster and threatened to chastise the rash youth
in public in front of the courthouse, it being during
a term of court, one of the few occasions when the
people of the County assembled in any numbers; how,
on his rival tendering him an apology, he graciously
invited him to attend the wedding. As the story goes,
the occasion was "one of the events of the season' in
those parts, and, that Dennis and his friends made the
most of it, we may judge when we are told that they
drove to Ball's Creek in a large coach drawn by six
splendid black horses, with grooms and lackeys as out-
riders, and returned with the bride and bridesmaids to
3op!e Parish church, where the ceremony was performed,
r which days were spent in festivity and rejoicing
and hunting parties formed by the gay young bloods
of the neighborhood.


This union resulted in a most interesting and his-
toric relationship between the Washington, Ball and
McCarty families. According to the genealogy of the
Ball family, Sarah was born in Westmoreland County
"between 1700 and 1705" and was a granddaughter of
William Ball, an immigrant to Virginia in the year
1650. This William Ball had two sons, William and
Joseph. William Jr. was the father of Sarah Ball and
Joseph was the father of Mary Ball. As already stated,
Sarah Ball became the wife of Dennis McCarty and
had three sons, Daniel, Thaddeus and Dennis, and two
daughters, Anne and Sarah McCarty. Sarah Ball's first
cousin, Mary Ball, married Augustine Washington on
March 6, 1730, and to this union was born the illus-
trious "Father of his Country"; so that Daniel, Thad-
deus, Dennis, Anne and Sarah McCarty, grandchildren
of the Irish exile, Daniel McCarty, enjoyed the rare
distinction of having been second cousins of the im-
mortal Washington ! That the friendship between the
Washington and McCarty families, which had been of
long standing, was firmly cemented by this interesting
union, is indicated by an account of the marriage on
April 20, 1768, of Sarah Richardson and Thaddeus,
nephew of the above-named Dennis, which appears in
William and Mary College Quarterly. 3 This account
says: "According to tradition, the marriage ceremony
took place in the home of George Washington, who was
related to the McCartys through the Balls."

In the year 1730 the present Prince William County
was formed from Stafford and we find the name of
Major Dennis McCarty recorded as a Justice of the new
Countv in 1731. In the same vear he was elected a
representative to the House of Burgesses from Prince

3 Vol. 22, p. 187.

42 the McCarthys

William County, serving until 1734. His attendance
at the sessions of the House seems to have been inter-
mittent, and the records of the Assembly show that on
June 27, 1732, the House "ordered that Mr. Dennis
McCarty have Leave to go Home for Recovery of his
Health,' and a similar resolution was passed on Sep-
tember 28, 1734. Two years later he was defeated for
reelection, but he contested the seat and on September
17, 1736, "A Petition of Mr. Dennis McCarty was pre-
sented to the House and read, complaining of an undue
Election and Return of Mr. Peter Hedgman to serve
as Burgess in this present General Assembly for the
County of Prince William. " 4 It was a long document
detailing alleged "undue practices" of his opponent and
friends, which prevented many of the freeholders of the
County from voting for McCarty, and the latter de-
clared that in any event he had "the greater Number
of Legal Voters upon the Poll." The controversy con-
tinued for two years, but on November 9, 1738, Dennis
McCarty was granted "leave to withdraw his petition"
and thereupon Peter Hedgman was declared duly elected.
Another "petition of Dennis McCarty" also appears
in the records of the General Assembly of November
6, 1738. It prayed "that Leave may be given to bring
in a Bill to dock the Entail of Five Hundred acres of
Land in the Parish of Lunenburg in the County of Rich-
mond, and for settling other Lands of greater value in
the County of Prince William to the same Uses," but
on November 27 of the same year McCarty withdrew his

In 1741 Prince William County was divided and the
eastern part of the County became known as Fairfax.
Dennis McCarty 's homestead was situated on Pohick

4 Journals of the House of Burgesses.


River in what is now Fairfax County and that of his
brother, Daniel, was at Cedar Grove in the same County
about fourteen miles below Alexandria, where the Po-
hick and Accotink Creeks pour their waters into the
Potomac. Daniel's lands adjoined the estate of the
Washingtons whose home at Mount Vernon between
1735 and 1739 was about five miles west of that of Daniel
McCarty. The famous Truro Parish is in this vicinity
and all of these families and the gentry from the sur-
rounding neighborhood are recorded among the wor-
shippers at old Pohick church in Truro Parish, which
was one mile south of Pohick Run until 1772, when
a new site was selected about a mile north of the Run.
Augustine, Lawrence and George Washington, Dennis
and Daniel McCarty and other prominent men of Prince
William, Fairfax and Stafford Counties served as Vestry-
men of the parish at various times, and indeed the very
first name which appears in the parish book as vestry-
man between 1732 and 1741 is that of Dennis McCarty.
Augustine Washington was sworn in as vestryman of the
parish on November 18, 1735.

The Vestry Book opens with a reference to the Act
of the General Assembly instituting the parish, the
election of the vestry and the proceedings at its first
meeting. The Act prescribed that the sheriff of the
County should summon the freeholders and housekeepers
and elect so many of "the most able and discreet per-
sons in said parish as shall make up the number of
Vestrymen in the said parish twelve and no more," and
at its initial meeting on November 7, 1732, Dennis Mc-
Carty, Charles Broadwater, Richard Osborn, John Lewis,
Gabriel Adams, Edward Emms, John Heryford and
Edward Barry were elected. Barry was nominated for
Clerk and served in that capacity for several years


the McCarthys

and in 1743 his brother, John Barry, was elected Clerk
and served until 1775. It is also of interest to note,
as showing there were other early Irish settlers in this
locality, that when searching for the names of those
who appear in the public records of this section, I found
the name of Dennis McCarty listed in a "Poll for the
Election of Burgesses for the County of Prince William.
a. d. 1741," and among his fellow- voters and freeholders

Edward Barry
Darby Callahan
Luke Cannon
Dennis Conniers
Thomas Carney
Samuel Conner
James Cullens
James Curry
Thomas Conway
Andrew Dalton

William Davy
Michael Dermond
Joseph Dulany
Edward Feagan
Owen Gilmore
James Halley
Patrick Hamrick
Richard Higgins
William Hogan
John Madden

John Murphey
Henry Murphey
Gabriel Murphy
Daniel McDaniel
James McGlahan
William Reardon
Michael Regan
Michael Scanlon
William Teague
Thomas Welsh

In the History of Truro Parish, by the noted histori-
ographer of the Church in Virginia, Rev. Philip Slaugh-
ter, it is said that "the first regular rector of Truro
Parish" was Rev. Charles Green who was appointed by
the Vestry on August 13, 1737. Dr. Slaughter describes
him as " a Doctor of Medicine before he took Orders and
appears to have practiced to some extent afterwards,
and on at least one occasion he was called in at Mount
Vernon and prescribed for the relief of Mrs. Washing-
ton. He was a large landowner and his deeds, in which
he is described as 'Doctor of Physic and Clerk of Truro
Parish,' are of frequent occurrence in the land records
of the County. In his will, probated August 19, 1765,
he left 3000 acres of land in Fairfax, Prince William
and Loudoun Counties to his wife. He also mentioned
certain relatives in Ireland and advised his wife to re-


turn to that country, from which it is supposed that he
was an Irishman."

Dennis McCarty's will, dated March 18, 1742, was pro-
bated in Prince William County on January 20, 1743.
He named his brother, Daniel, John Miner and his son,
Daniel, his executors. He died in 1744. The second
son of Captain Daniel was Colonel Daniel McCarty who
married Penelope Higgins. He lived for a time in Cople
Parish, "Westmoreland County, in the immediate vicinity
of the birthplace and residence of Augustine and George
Washington, until he established his residence at Cedar
Grove, and all three families sometimes attended Pope's
Creek Church in Washington Township and were on
terms of intimate friendship for many years. Colonel
McCarty was the lawyer before referred to and his name
appears in the Journals of the House of Burgesses be-
tween 1727 and 1736 as one of the representatives of
Westmoreland County. In the election of 1734 his oppo-
nent contested the seat, and the "Petition of William
Aylett complaining of an undue Election and Return
of Mr. Daniel McCarty to serve as a Burgess for the
Countv of Westmoreland," was read in the House on
September 4, 1734, but two weeks later the House re-
solved: "that Mr. Daniel McCarty is hereby elected and
returned a Burgess to serve in this present General
Assembly for the County of Westmoreland. ' ' His name
is mentioned frequently in the transactions of the leg-
islature as showing that he was a verv active member
and during the session of 1735 he was the "father"
of several bills.

Colonel McCartv was made Collector of Potomac in
1733 and his name appears in the Council Journals on
November 7, 1738, as receiving a commission as a Justice
of Westmoreland County, and in 1743 he was "Director

46 the McCarthys

of Leedstown in King George County." He took his
seat for the last time as a representative in the General
Assembly on August 15, 1736, and was reelected in 1742,
but during the interval between the prorogation of the
Assembly in that year and its summons to reconvene
in September, 1744, Colonel McCarty died and George
Lee was recorded as "seated in place of Daniel McCarty,
deceased. " 5 In his will, dated May 16, 1743, he named
as legatees his brothers, Dennis and Billington, and as
executors he named his "well-beloved friends, Colonel
Presley Thornton, Joseph Morton, Augustine Washing-
ton and Lawrence Butler, Gents." This Lawrence
Butler was a brother of Anne Butler, the first wife of
Augustine Washington wtiom he married in the year
1715. She died in 1728. The Butlers were descended
from the Butlers of Kilkenny, one of the most eminent
of the Anglo-Norman families of Ireland. 6 Colonel Mc-
Carty and Augustine Washington, father of the illus-
trious First President of the United States, passed away
in the year 1743 within a few months of each other.
In his will Augustine Washington described himself as
"of Washington Parish, Westmoreland County," and as
an evidence of the esteem in which he held his "good
friend" Daniel McCarty, he appointed him one of the
executors of his estate. The closing paragraph of the
will of Augustine Washington 7 reads as follows :

5 Journals of the House of Burgesses. See also The Colonial Virginia
Register, compiled by William G. and Mary N. Stanard, pp. 107 and 117;
Albany, N. Y., 1902.

€ Colonel Richard Butler, commander of the Ninth regiment of the Penn-
sylvania Line, and his four brothers, all Revolutionary officers, were of
this family. Four of the brothers were born in Ireland and the youngest
in Pennsylvania.

7 A complete copy of the -will and of the record pertaining to it may
be seen in Waters' Genealogical Gleanings (Vol. I, p. 536), as well
as in Wills of George Washington and his Immediate Ancestors, edited
by Worthington Chauncey Ford; Brooklyn, N. Y., 1891.


"Lastly, I constitute and appoint my son, Lawrence Wash-
ington, and my good Friends, Daniel MeCarty and Nathaniel
Chapman, Gents., Executors of this my Last Will and Testa-
ment. In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand &
Seal the Eleventh day of April, 1743.

Augus Washington."

These two wills, made within a period of little more
than a month, furnish additional evidence of the mutual
interest and affection which existed between these fam-
ilies and it may be remarked in passing that if Daniel
MeCarty had not borne such an ancient Irish name, it
is probable that readers of American history would
have been made acquainted with some of the details
of the career of the "well-beloved friend' of the im-
mortal "Father of his Country"! Another circum-
stance of no little interest is, the fact that toward the
close of Augustine Washington's life a question arose
between him and his brother, John, concerning the bound-
ary between the estates bequeathed them by their father
in Westmoreland County. The brothers agreed to sub-
mit the matter to Daniel MeCarty and Richard Bernard,
entering into bonds of £1000 each to abide by the de-
cision of the referees, and this decision, duly signed and
sealed by the brothers, was admitted to record in West-
moreland County on April 12, 17-43, the very day on
which Augustine Washington died at his home near
Fredericksburg. 8

Thaddeus, youngest son of Captain Daniel MeCarty,
died on February 7, 1731, and although only nineteen
years of age he was possessed of a considerable estate.
The inventory filed in Richmond County under date of
May 3, 1732, consisted of a great variety of personal

8 Barons of the Patomack and the Rappahannock, by Moncure D. Con-
way, p. 72; New York, 1892.

48 the McCarthys

property in which were included nine negro slaves and
"one white servant man," and there is one curiosity
about it, namely, that unlike nearly all other known
inventories of the time, it fixed the value of a white
servant at £10.

Billington McCarty, third son of Captain Daniel, mar-
ried Ann Barber at Farnham Parish church on June
16, 1732, and had four sons, Daniel, born October 22,
1733 ; Billington, born October 3, 1736 ; Thaddeus, born
April 1, 1739, and Charles, born August 3, 1741. The
date of his death is unknown, but his will is on record
at the office of the County Clerk for Richmond County
at Warsaw, Va., as of July 1, 1745. It mentions his
wife and children, but names only his son, Billington,
among the legatees. The latter married Elizabeth
Downman in October, 1756, and according to the rec-
ords had issue: Daniel, born August 24, 1757; Billing-
ton, March 18, 1759 ; Thaddeus, September 1, 1763, and
Elizabeth, born November 30, 1768. He died in April,
1771, and his will which was recorded in Richmond
County on May 6 of that year shows that he was the
father of three other children, namely Dennis, William
and Nancy. He named his wife, Elizabeth, and his
brothers, Thaddeus and Charles, joint executors of his
estate and he divided his property into fourteen equal
parts which he bequeathed to his wife and children. One
of his sons, Colonel William McCarty, was a member
of the Virginia Assembly; his son, Dennis, married
Elizabeth Woodbridge Yerby and his daughter, Eliza-
beth, married into the Downman family. Billington 's
brother, Charles, was the Charles who represented Rich-
mond County in the Revolutionary Convention of Vir-
ginia in 1776. There is a record of his will, dated No-
vember 11, 1784, at Warsaw, showing that he divided


his estate among his wife, Winney, sons Bartholomew
and Charles Travers, and daughters Fannie, Winney
and Bettie Ann. Charles Travers McCarty married
Apphia Fauntleroy of the famous Virginia family of that

The issue of Dennis and Elizabeth McCarty were : Wil-
liam Downman, George Yerby, Albert G., and Juliet
Ann McCarty. "William Downman McCarty was a Cap-
tain of the United States Navy in the War of 1812 and
was one of the gallant men who served on board the
Constitution in her conflict with the English warship,

Online LibraryMichael Joseph O'BrienThe McCarthys in early American history → online text (page 5 of 26)