James Alexander McClure.

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in Clu.ra



MAIIlllAN rilOMI'SON M,(,l.riU.. Si<.


(Takkn at Si;vi;nty-six.)


McClure Family,





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Presses of Frank A. Oweu,

Petersburg, Virginia.








R 1917 L

• • . • •


This Book is an eifort to preserve the names and some-
thing of the deeds of those who established the McClure
family in America. While the result is fai- from satisfac-
tory, I feel that I have rendered to the name in general,
and to my own family in particular, a real service.

The work is the product of vacation days and rare leisure
nroments, thrown together lathei- than carefully arranged.
It is the log cabin of our- early ancestors rather- than the
modern mansion, to which I hope it will in time give place.

While all with whom it has been my privilege t<i converse
or coriespond have shown for the undertaking the gieatest
interest and concern, to whom ] express my sincei-e appre-
ciation, there are a number who have rendered special ser-
vice and whose names T wish U) mention in particidar.
First, the late Col. Charles McCiure, of 111., Avhose intere>!t
in the subject moved me primarily to the undertaking;
Eev. A. D. McClure, D. !>., Wilmington, N. C; Prof. Geo.
M. McCIure, Danville, Ky.;Prof. C. F. W. McCIure, Prince-
ton University; Rev. James W. McXUure, Cynthiaiui, Ky.,
Mr. Wallace M. McCIure, Knoxville, Tenn.; Mr. Hugh S.
McCIure, New York City; Mr. Wm. A. Mc(0]ure, Fairfield,
Va. ; Mrs. N. J. Baker, Nace, Va., Mr. Edward Frazer,
Lexington, Ky.; Dr. .1. D. McCIure, London; Mr. John
Wilfried McCIure, Dublin.

The classitication of the material which covers ovei- two
hundred years, seven generations, is as follows:

The fii-st generation, born aVjout 1700, is undesignated.

The second generation, born about 1733, is designated
A, B, C, etc.

The third generation, born about 1767, is designated
I, 11, HI, etc.

The fourth generation, born about 1800, is designated
1, 2, 3, etc.


The lifth {general ion. Ixtin mIjouL 1S;^;>, is tlcsignated
(1), (2), (3), etc.

The sixtli }i;enerali()ii. lioin alxuit lS(i7, is (Icsignuted
a. h, c, etc.

The sr\('i)th geiieiiitioii, lioiii nhoiil 1!)(>(). is dcsifjiiutert
(II), ( b), (e), etc.

There are tloubtU'ss (M-rors and omissions oIIkm- than typo-
graphical, to wliich readei-s will kindly call i)i\ attention.

It is my desire to have memhei-s from tlie \arioiis l)rauch-
cs of the family send me from time to time all items of
family interest, marriages, l)irtlis and deal lis, that they
may be caivfully lilcd as a bjisis of information foi" any fu-
ture family record.

And may there be fiiUilled irnto irs the prophecy of .Jer-
emiah, who said unto the house of the Kechabites, "Thus
saith the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, Because you
have obeyed the commandment of.lonachib your father and
kept all his precepts and done according to aJI that he hath
commanded you, Thereforv thus saith the Fjord of Hosts,
the fxod of Israel, Jonadab the son of RechaV) shall not want
a man to stand before me forever."

.J, A. McC'I-L'KE.
Petersburg, V^irgiuia, ^

<)ctol)ei- 15, 1914.


THE ORIGIN of the name McCluke has been frequently
discussed in the genealogical literature of Great
Britain. The following theories have been advanced:

1. The name (variously spelt McClure, McCluer, Mc-
Clewer, Maclure, McLewer, McLure, and McLuir), comes
from the Gaelic word MacLobhair, pronounced MacLour,
and means ''son of the leper,"

2. That it comes from the Gaelic MacGioUa-odhar (which
in the genitive is uidhar and pronounced ure), contracted
to Macllure and hence McLure or McClure, and means
"son of the pale one." This theory is advocated by Rev.
Edmund McClure, M. A., London, Secretary of the Society
for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge.

3. That it is a derivation of the Gaelic MacLeabhair,
(pronounced MacLour) and means "son of the book," i. e.
they were the teachers in the Clan McLeod, just as the Mc-
McRimmons (or McCrimmons) were the clan pipers. They
were MacLeabhair McLeods, McLeabhair (McLour, Mc-
Lure, McClure), eventually becoming the sir-name. Sev-
eral Gaelic scholars deny this derivation of the name, tho'
admitting the very ancient tradition of the McClure tutor-
ship in the Clan McLeod.

4 That the name is identical with MacLir (or MacLur)
the seagod of Ireland and the Isle of Man. This theory is
advanced in an article published in the Dublin University
Magazine on the late Sir Eobert McClure, the navigator.

5. The McClures were originally a Manx family, the first
legendary king of the Island being a Mananuan McClure,
is the tradition inherited by the McClures of Manchester,
England, to which family belong the late Sir John W. Mc-
Clure, M. P., and the Very Eev. Edward C. McClure, D.
D,, Dean of Manchester. Held also by Sir Edwaid Stanley


6. That the name means "great bruiser." An ancient
king of Scothmd was attacked by highwaymen. One of
his attendants so distinguished himself by his prowess that
he was called MacCIure, "Mac" signifying "great" as well
as "son of." A blow from the fist is still known in Scot-
land as a dure.

7. That it originated in the ancient sport of Falconry, in
which the lure wjis used to recall the falcon. The crest of
this family of McLures is a hand in armour holding a fal-
coner's lure.

8. A soldier from the ancient town of Lure in Normandy
crossed over with William the Conquerer. He Avas re-
warded for his service by a grant of land in the Island of
Skye and was known as DeLure, Mac being later substitu-
ted for De, to harmonize with the Gaelic custom. J

9. The theory advocated by Rev. J. Campbell McClure,
Minister of Mary kirk, Kincardinshire, Scotland, is that
the McClures are a sept of the Clan McLeod. In addition
to extant records in Galloway of the McClure family, show-
ing it to be of McLeod origin, Mr. McClure states that the
family tradition handed down to him through a long line
of long-lived ancestors is, "In early times a sept of the Mac-
Leods left the Island of Skye for Ulster, where the north-
ern Irish slurred the 'd' of MacLuide (as it was then pro
nouuced) into 'r,' hence, MacLure. Later many of the
name passed over from the northeast of Ireland to Galloway,
thus to ^Yigtonshire and so on to Ayrshire. These dis-
tricts to day contain many McClures."

It is certain that McClures are in some way connected
with the Clan McLeod, evidenced by the fact that the old-
est traditions of the family in Scotland take them back to
the Isle of Skye; the traditions of Skye link together the
McClures and the McLeods; McClures have always had
the same motto, crest and tartan as the McLeods, and their
right to them has never been called in question.

McClure history, then, properly begins with the Mc-


Some authorities aver that they are of Irish descent. In
an old volume of the Ulster Journal of Archaeology there
is given a long pedigree of the McLeods, deducing them
from various Scottish chieftains and princes, back to one
Fergus Mor MacBarcha. The generally accepted theory is
that they descended from Leod, one of the three sons of
Olave the Black, King of Man and the Isles, tho' it is said
that there is no documentary evidence extant to prove this

Leod, born early in the 13th century, married the daugh-
ter of MacRailt Armuinn, a Norwegian chieftain, and by
her acquired large possessions in Skye, including the fort-
ress of Dunvegan, which is still in the possession of the

They held mainland estates under the Crown as early as
1340, and island estates at the same time under the Lords
of the Isles. When the final forfeiture of the Lords of the
Isles took place at the end of the 15th century, the McLeods
got charters of their island estates from the crown.

Their name is conspicuous in Scottish history. They
occupied the post of honor at the battle of Harlaw, 1411;
they were at the battle of the Bloody Bay, 1485; they took
part in the negotiations to transfer the allegiance of the
Highland chiefs from the Scottish to the English king and
signed the commission under which these negotiations were
carried on. They took part in the battle of Worcester,
1661, led by Sir Norman McLeod of Bernera, where they
lost 700 men.

Treated by Charles II with the grossest ingratitude, they
took no part in subsequent Stuart uprisings, tho' there is
a letter extant from James II, dated Dublin, 1690, implor-
ing McLeod to join Dundee.

It is said that the name (Maklure) occurs in Scotland as
early as the 12th century. A very old record is one of
1485, where Ewin MakLureand Gilbert Mak Lure witnessed
a contract between Thomas Kennedy of Blaresguhan and
Margaret Kessox, of Little Dunrod, Kirkcudbright. These
McClures are supposed to have been friends (or relatives)


of the Kennedy (Seneschal) of Carrick in Scotland and ca-
dets of the Carrick family of McLures of Bennane. These
are all Galloway folk.

In the Acta Dom. Audit., published by the government
in 1839, there is, under date of October 6, 1488, a decree
that Johue Lord Kennydy, Johne of Montgomery and
Michiell McLure shall devoid, &c., the lands of Barbeth
to Janete Hamiltowu. There is a record of January 24,
1489, that Johne Lord Kennydy, Johne of Montgomery,
and Michell McClure shall pay to Janete Hamiltown, &c.
(Note the two spellings of the name in this short extract.)

Barbeth is close to Kirkintulloch, northeast of Glasgow.

It is claimed by some that the original home of the Mc-
Clures in Scotland Avas in the southwest, probably in Gal-

Andrew McClure, late of Glasgow, now of London, states
that Ayrshire is full of McClures. In Munsey's Magazine,
February, 1911, in an article on Robert Burns, illustrated
with a photograph of old AUoAvay Kirkyard, the name
George McClure appears on one of the stones. Many of
the family are buried here. Rev. J. Campbell McClure,
Kincardineshire, Scotland, belongs to this family. There
is a family tradition that one of his ancestors, an ecclesi-
astical reformer, suffered persecution under Charles II in
those well known days when the heroic and faithful Cove-
nanters were subjected to such unholy treatment. His
home in Dalmellington was invaded and all his furniture
taken out and burned.

A member of one of the Scottish families states: **The
earliest ancestor we actuallv know of is Martin McClure,
who lived at Balmaghil in Kirkcudbrightshire about 1750,
where, I believe, he is buried. He had five sous: William,
John, David, Robert and Andrew, all of whom came south,
we being descendents of the eldest, and I know more or less
of the descendents of the others. The crest and arms of
our branch are, —

Arms: Argent, on a chevron engraOed azure, in chief


two roses, and in base a quatrefoil, gules, a martlet be-
tween two escallopes of the first.

Crest: An eagle's head, erased, proper."

Mr. Eobert W. McClure, of the firm of Black, McClure
& McDonald, Glasgow, writes, February 17, 1913: "My
grandfather, James McClure, was a sea captain and I rather
think was born in Bargany Estate, a few miles from Gir-
van. My father, James McClure, was Parochial School-
master in Eiccarton, near Kilmarnock, Ayrshire.."

Ian Maclaren has given a master's touch and added inter-
est to the name in Scotland in his portrayal of William
McLure, in A Doctor of the Old School. — "A tall, gaunt,
loosely made man, without an ounce of superfluous flesh on
his body, his face burned a dark brick color by constant
exposure to the weather, red hair and beard turning grey,
honest blue eyes that look you ever in the face, huge hands,
with wrist-bones like the shank of a ham, and a voice that
hurled his salutations across two fields, he suggested the
moor rather than the drawing room. But what a clever
hand it was in an operation, and what a kindly voice it was
in the humble room when the shepherd's wife was weeping
by her man's bedside. ***** He was 'ill pitten the
gither' to begin with, but many of his physical defects were
the penalty of his work, and endeared him to the glen. He
could not swing himself into the saddle without making
two attempts and holding Jess's mane, neither can you
'warstle' through the peat-bogs and snow-drifts for forty
years without a touch of rheumatism. But they were hon-
orable scars, and for such risks of life men get the Victoria
Cross in other fields. McLure got nothing but the secret
affection of the Glen, which knew that none had ever done
so much for it as this ungainly, twisted, battered figure,
and I have seen a Drumtochty face soften at the sight
of McLure limping to his horse. 'His father was here afore
him,' Mrs.McFadyen used to explain, 'atweenthem, they've
hed the country side for well on tae a century.' "


"Aye, dear Maclure; him maist o' a'
We lo'c, and thro' the drifts o' sna',
Unniindfu' o' the north wind raw

We tearfu' come;
Wi' a' the mourning glen to draw

Near-haun his tomb.

An' barin' there cor heids we pray
That we may so live ilka day
That when we come to pass away

Frae a' things here,
Truth may the tribute to us pay

O' love wrung tear."

The scene of the doctor at the home of Tammas and Annie
Mitchell is of peculiar interest to the McClures of Augusta
county, Virginia, when it is remembered that the Mitchells
and McClures were friends and among the first settlei-s of
Augusta county.

The name is frequently found in Scotland to-day, and as
in America, they are usually among the substantial mem-
bers of their communities. Dr. John Watson, on his last
visit to America, introductory to an address in Philadel-
phia, speaking of the Scotch families in the United States
and their noble ancestry, mentioned especially the McClures
and requested any of the name to come forward and speak
to him at the conclusion of his address.

The late Earl of Stair, Scotland, states that the McClure
family is one of the oldest in the list of the Scottish Unti-
tled Aristocracy.



When and why did members of the family emigrate from
Scotland to Ireland ? There are two answers to this question.

First, in the Planting of Ulster. Following the accession
of James VI of Scotland to the throne of England, 1603,
the Earls of Tyrone and Tyrconnell inaugurated a general
rebellion against the King. ^ The eifort failed, resulting
ultimately in 511,465 acres of land, six counties in the
province of Ulster, being forfeited to the crown.

James sought to settle upon these lands a Protestant
population. Grants of land and numerous privileges were
held out as inducements. Thousands availed themselves
of the advantageous offer, and settled with their families
upon these forfeited estates.

Among these emigrants were three McClures from Ayr-
shire, Scotland, supposedly brothers, who crossed over the
channel to Ireland in 1608.

One settled at Saiutfield, County Down. In this branch
of the family the name Anthony frequently occurs, as it
does also in an Ayrshire family of McClures ' 'represented
now as sole survivor by Mr. William McClure, Solicitor,
of Hill Crest, Wigton, Scotland."

From him descended the late William Waugh-McClure,
Justice of the Peace, Windsor Terrace, Lurgan, Ireland;
also Thomas McClure born 1716, married in 1750 Elizabeth
Ealston, the ancestor of John Wilfrid McClure, the author
of several articles on The McClure Family published in the
Belfast Witness, 1904, and from which the facts here stated
are taken. He was connected for a number of years with
the Munster and Leinster Bank, Dublin. This couple,
Thomas and Elizabeth McCl.ure, were weavers, the latter
being famously deft in the use of the distaff. They died
aged 101 and 102, respectively.

The most distinguished of the McClures of Down was
Rev. Eobert McClure, for sixty-three years pastor of the
Presbyterian Church at Anuahilt, ordained and installed


April 29, 1760. His great grandson. Prof. Jolin Ro})inson
Leebody, M. A.. D. Sc. of Magee College, Londonderry,
furnishes the following:

*'My great-grandfather, the Rev. Robert McClure, was
minister of Aunahilt from 1760 to 1823. His family re
sided near Belfast where they owned some property. From
this Mr. McClure derived income sufficient to live in easy
circumstances. His staff of servants included a butler —
not a usual luxury for a Presbyterian minister either then
or now. His wife was a daughter of Archdeacon Benson,
of Hillsborough, and a grand-daugher of a former Bishop
of Down and Connor. Mr. McClure was on terms of inti-
macy with the country gentry and a great favorite with
the ^Marquis of Downshire, with whom he used to dine
every Wednesday at the castle. Many offers of promotion
were made to him if he would consent to join the Episcopal
Church, which he resolutely declined.

He had a numerous family, but of the history of several
of them I have no details.

One of his daughters married Rev. Dr Wright, his as-
sistant and successor. Another. John Robinson, a gen-
tleman farmer near Hillsborough, who was my grand-
father and after whom I am named. Another, Rev, Mr.
Ashe, an English rector. One of his younger sons, Arthur,
was in the army, and I believe attached to the staff of the
Duke of Kent, After retiring from the army he resided
near Lisburn, and I recollect being at his house when a
boy. He used to tell that he had frequently carried our
late Queen in his arms when she was a child.

Mr. McClure was the Moderator of the Synod 1779;
preached from Philip , 4: 1-5, At the opening of the Synod
in 1780 his sermon on I Timothy, 4: 16, was printed.

Mr. McClure is described as a man of distinguished ap-
pearance. I have heard my mother say that she remem-
bered seeing him frequently when she was a girl, and her
recollection of him was a tall, Avhite-haired old gentleman
with an ear trumpet. I may mention an anecdote I have
heard which illustrates, amougst other things, the diflfer-


ence between the present standard of ministerial propriety
and that current a century ago. Near Hillsborough, at a
place called The Maze, there is a race-course, once very fa-
mous, and I believe still of considerable repute. Riding to
it one morning during the race week with some of the local
gentry, he overheard an altercation between a woman and
her son, whom she was endeavoring to persuade to stay
away from the races. To the final declaration of the youth,
^Iwill go; there is our minister going, ^ Mr. McClure merely
remarked, 'No one will ever say that again,' turned his
horse round and despite the exhortations of his friends for
being so needlessly scrupulous, rode home and was never
seen on a race course again."

The second brother settled at Crumlin, County Antrim,
ancestor of the late Sir Thomas McClure, (1806-1893), M.
P. from Belmont, son of "William McClure and Elizabeth
Thomson and grandson of Thomas McClure and Anne Swan,
of Summer Hill, County Antrim; whose remote ancestor
was an oificer under William III, at the Battle of the Boyne.

The third brother settled in Armagh, ancestor of James
l^IcClure, of Armagh ''attained 1688 in the reign of James
II, along with quite a number of other Protestant land
owners in Ireland." He is referred to as "James McClure,

Dr. David Miller, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church
of Armagh, writes under date of January 28, 1913: "My
records of the 18th century, baptisms and marriages, are
very defective, covering only the period 1707-28. I can find
only one entry with the name McClure; it is a marriage —
John McClure and Margaret Martin, June 13, 1723. The
name does not seem to have been common about Armagh,
nor is it yet. In the records of the Synod of Ulster I notice
that an Elder, James McClure, attended the Synod at An-
trim in 1705. His minister's name was Archibald Maclane,
who could not have been the minister of the Armagh church,
for his name was John Hutcheson, but his congregation
was in the Presbytery of Armagh.

The second distinct emigration of McClures to Ireland


was from 1661 to 1688. Under the last two Stuarts the
acts of oppression in Scotland were so severe and so con-
tinued that to escape them many sought a refuge with
their countrymen, who had colonized Ireland in peaceful
times. Crossing the channel in open boats, exposed to the
greatest danger, they reached the friendly shores of Ireland
and found a hearty welcome and homes free for a little
while from the oppression that made them exiles.

In Boswell's "Tour through the Highlands," he men-
tions under date of October 16, 1773, meeting at the house
of The Mac Quarrie, "Chief of Ulva's Isle," a Capt. Mc-
Clure, of Londonderry, master of the Bonnctta sailing
vessel. He says: ''Capt. McClure was of Scottish ex-
traction, and properly a MacLeod, being descended from
some of the MacLeods who went Avith Sir Korman Mac-
Leod, of Beruesa, to the Battle of Worcester, and after the
defeat of the Eoyalists, fled to Ireland, and to conceal
themselves took a different name. He told me there were
a great number of them about Londonderry, some of good

We have another native of Londonderry in the person
of Captain Eobert McClure, born about 1775, "an officer
in the old 89th Foot and served abroad." He saved the
life of a fellow-officer, General le Mesurier, a gentleman of
considerable property and a native of Guernsey, who after-
wards became guardian to his son. Capt. McClure, while
stationed at Wexford with his regiment, married in 1807
Jane, d. of Archdeacon Elgee. His son. Sir Robert John
Le Mesurier McClure (1807-1873) was the discoverer of the
North-west Passage, for which he received a large grant
of money, the thanks of Parliament and knighthood.

A distinguished soldier died recently in Dublin in the
person of William McClure-Miller, formerly of Ochiltree,
Ayrshire. On his retirement from the service, he was ap-
pointed Governor of H. M. Prison at Arbour Hill, Dublin.
He served in a regiment of Lanceis and passed through no
less than twenty-eight engagements on the foreign field,
some of them the most important and decisive in the his-


tory of recent times. Like those of his name in general,
he was long-lived and his death, though he had passed the
four score limit, was hastened by an accident. Paternally
a McClure, he was obliged on succeeding to some property
to assume the second name of Miller. He left a son and
namesake who is one of the clerks in H. M. Prisons' Board,
Dublin Castle. A long and description memoir appeared
in the Dublin papers at the time of his decease.

There are records on a tombstone erected at Findrum,
County Donegal by Andrew McClure, Surgeon, Eoyal
IS'avy, to the memory of his ancestors whose remains lie
deposited in the vault beneath, and who for upwards of
two hundred years had resided at Findrum. This tomb
has inscribed upon it the coat- of -arms, crest, and motto
of the McClures,

About 1850 there was published an article on Surnames
in Down and Antrim, at which time not a single parlia-
mentary voter named McClure lived in Co. Down and only
three in Co. Antrim. There were many of the name living
in East Donegal. "James" was a common name among
them, but still more common was ' 'Eichard. ' ' There were

"Fiel Dick, Deel Dick and Dick of Maghesnoppin,
Red Dick, Black Dick and Dick who supped the broughin,"

all alive at the same time and all related.

Eev. W. T. Latimer, Eglish Manse, Dungannon, Ireland,
writes June 6, 1913: ' 'My great grandmother, Bell Kelso,
died 1781, aged 58. A sister of hers, probably younger,
married a Donegal McClure, whose Christian name I don't
know. The family all went to America, including a daugh-
ter who married a Mr. Elliott. A sister, Susanna McClure,
in 1764, married John Dill of Springfield, Co. Donegal,
whose son Samuel was minister of Donoghmore, Co. Done-
gal. Captain McClure, the arctic explorer, belongs to this
Donegal family."

In my judgment this Donegal McClure was Samuel who
died in Eockbridge county 1779, leaving a wife, Mary, and
among other children, Jean Elliott.

Mr. J. W. Kernohan, M. A., Secretary of the Presbyte-


rian Historical Society of Ireland, writes on Aug. 5, 1913;

"We have not in our care church records of East Done-
gal, nor do I know of any except one in Magee College,

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Online LibraryJames Alexander McClureThe McClure family → online text (page 1 of 18)