The Irvines and their kin; revised by the author in Scotland, Ireland and England; a history of the Irvine family and their descendants, also short sketches of their kindred, the Carlisles, McDowells, online

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3 1833 01369 3566




The late Rev. Dr. Ciiristopher Irvine of Gistle Irvine, Ireland,
compiled a history of all the branches of the Irvine family. He left
it in manuscript. From that book and other sources I revised my ^^^

book, "irvines and Their Kin," and compiled Col. John Beaufin
Irvinp:'s book, the greater part of it, at hjs solicitation.




The late John Bell-Irving, Laird of Whitehill, to whom the
Chieftainship of Hoddom branch of the Irvings descended from the
Dukes of Hoddom. His son, John Bell-Irving, Laird of Milkbank,
succeeds him.







GAULTS, Mcelroys, etc., from a. d. 373


















Preface 9

Account of Scottish Borderers ix Early Times 15

Part I — Derivation of Name 23

Part II — Introduction 3fJ

Part III — The Irvings of Drum 63

Part IV — The Irvines or Irwins or Irvings of the Old

Country and the New 131

Part V — Clan Contemporaries in Scotland 365


To THE Irving Clan, Greeting:

I have the honor to belong to this Clan, the most numerous on
the globe; but not to the Clan militant, as my forbears did. No.
If a trumpet should sound "To Arms!" to-morrow, I might mount
and ride; but not to the cannon's mouth. But ever since I could
read, I have been a hero-worshiper, and have admired the brave
men who faced death in its most awful forms, in battle by sea and
land, and have been proud to learn that the Irvines were second
to none on any field.

The Erinvines warred with the Romans, A. D. 373, and ever
since that time they have fought, and many have fallen, on all the
battle fields of the world.

They were as dauntless as any when Bruce was crowned, 1306,
and one, Baron Irving, of that date, protected him when he fled
from Edward Longshanks, King of England. How they fought and
fell at Hardlaw, 1411, history relates, and at "Fatal Flodden Field"
the ground ran red with their best blood. Says an ancient Chronicle :
"Here all the male Irvines of the House of Bonshaw, who were able
to carry arms, were killed, and few of that House were left to
preserve the name, except those unborn."

The ancestor of the Canadian Irvings, Jacob ^Emilius, was
wounded at Waterloo; he was a gallant officer who was honored by
his country.

I hope the Irvines who read this history will understand that
the titled Irvines are not of more distinguished descent than those
of the Clan who bear the same name. Says history: "Of these
Irvines of Bonshaw are the most part of the Scotch Irvines de-
scended, and those of Ireland in a very fiear line." (Dr. Christopher
Irvine, Historiographer to King Charles II., and Historian of Scot-

Men of the Irvine Clan: Allow me to appeal to you to make my
American Irvine Book a success. I have crossed the ocean and
visited Scotland, Ireland, and England, to gather data to make
my history as comprehensive as possible. I have compiled all
that is of importance, from A. D. 373 down to the present time.
It has been the fond hope, and the toilsome work of years, to em-
balm the deeds of your ancestors in undying form. I have used


my best endeavors to accomplish what I have so longed to do. If
my book pleases you, then my hopes will have found fruition.


I place the Irvines, etc., of the old country, first, in order to
prove the immutable law of hereditament. The germ of life in
man is like the seed of the thistle, that may be borne thousands
of miles and fall into rich loam, and it will come up a thistle, as all
of its fathers were. It may be warped by strong winds, or increased
in size by the rich nourishment of its new home, but it will still
bear the unmistakable marks of its ancestors, and wounds, if one
handle it too roughly. The same courage and strength of mind
that the ancestors of the Irvines of the old country displayed on
many a battlefield have been repeated by their descendants in
this new land. The same ability in literature, statesmanship, and
theology, that characterized many an Irvine of the old country,
has distinguished the Irvines of America.

The training and easy living of many generations of pure-
blooded men make aristocrats. The ease that wealth and careful
training of many generations of aristocrats give, enervates and
depletes them. They diminish in size and strength, and lose, in a
measure, their hardihood and capacity to endure, but never lose the
distinctive characteristics of their race.

Read the long list of honors won by the Irvines of Scotland,
England, and Ireland, and then follow their descendants, from 1729
when they first landed in Pennsylvania, down to the present time,
and be convinced that the law of hereditament in man is as immu-
table as the law that governs the animal and vegetable worlds. Is
not the blood in man as strong to paint its hkeness, from genera-
tion to generation, as the sap that colors the rose on its tree, with
unchanging fidelity, from year to year and from age to age, in all
climates and in every land?

County Antrim, Ireland, has furnished five Presidents to the
United States:

First — Andrew Jackson, whose father was born at Ballahill,
near Carrickfergus Castle (now a fortress), County Antrim, Ireland,
and emigrated to America and settled in Tennessee, near Fort Bled-
soe, near where Gallatin now stands. Andrew Jackson was born
there, and became President of the United States. He is related to







the Irvines as follows; Sarah Jackson, sister to President An-
drew Jackson's grandfather, married Frances Craig; the daughter
of Sarah Jackson and Francis Craig, Anne by name, married Alex-
ander Iryine, son of Robert Irvine and Elizabeth Wylie, his wife.

The son of Anne Craig and Alexander Irvine married Gault,

whose family were of the nobility, and lived at Glenoe, Ireland,
where his three sons, William, Christopher, and Andrew, were
born. Alexander Irvine, with his wife and three sons, emigrated
to Bedford county, Virginia, where, shortly after his removal,
he and his wife died on the same day, and were buried in one grave.
The Virginia Irvines reared Andrew, who was a lad when his parents
died, and the Pennsylvania Irvines reared Christopher and William.

All three of the sons of Gault and Alexander Irvine were in

the war of the American Revolution.

Second — President Benjamin Harrison's grandfather, four
times removed, Benjamin by name, came to Pennsylvania, 1642,
lived at Ballamena, County Antrim, Ireland. John Scott Harrison
married Elizabeth Irwin.

Third — Tresident Theodore Roosevelt is descended from the
great house of Drun, Aberdeen, ^North Britain. (Pedigree in full

The ancestors of Andrew Johnston lived at Ballamena, County
Antrim, Ireland.

The ancestors of President Garfield lived at Lisburn, County
Antrim, Ireland.

President McKinley's ancestors lived at Dervock, County
Antrim, Ireland.

There is no district in all Ireland so rich in armorial bearings as
the neighborhood of Larne. The churchyards of Carncastle, Glynn,
and Raloo abound with them. The churchyard of Raloo is over-
grown with long grass and weeds, so as to be almost inaccessible.
But one may pull aside obstructions and remove lichens from the
tall gray tombstones; trace the arms carved upon them, and read
the names of the Craigs, M'Dowells, Crawfords, Boyds, and others.
In the churchyard of Raloo, ^Margaret McDowell lies buried. She
was the wife of Ephraim McDowell, and daughter of Robert Irvine.

There is an old book, more than six hundred years old (I was
told), that I found at Fair Hill, near Larne. It had belonged to
successive sextons for hundreds of years, from the dates it contained,
the last one being 1775, and giving a description of the flag adopted
by the American Colonies. It is written in longhand, and has


pen-pictures of the Coats of Arms of the Cariisles, Earls of Ivilmar-
nock, McDowells, Irvines, Johnstons, Crawfords, and Blairs, and
many others not connected with this history. In the beginning of
the book this appears, written in a clerkly hand:

" Nobilitatis virtus non stemma" (virtue, not pedigree, is the
mark of nobility).

Says this same old chronicle: "A son, w^ho was named James,
was born to Christopher Irvine, shortly after he fell at Flodden
Field. He had two sons, Robert and John, who fled to Ireland in
time of the English persecution, and settled at Glenoe. John
afterwards removed to Cushandall and became a Presbyterian
minister. John Irvine had two sons, one named Abram, the other
Robert, who went to America, and Robert Irvine, Sr., had sons
who went to America.

Robert Irvine built a house, in 1585, of red limestone, roofed in
by slate. It stands just outside of the village of Glenoe. Passing
down the one long street of that village, bordered on each side by
tall stone houses, once the property of the Irvines and ^IcDowells,
one is struck by the good repair in which they remain, after with-
standing the storms of centuries. The blacksmith-shop of Ephraim
McDowell looks as if he had laid his hammer down but yesterday,
and gone with his brothers-in-law, Alexander Irvine (not his brother-
in-law then, as Ephraim was a mere lad, as was Alexander Irvine
also), to Londonderry to fight for "The Faith" behind the weak
walls, in time of the famous siege. Ephraim was fifty years old
when he came to America.

I followed the narrow, rocky street until I came to the mills, once
belonging to the Irvines, Wylies, and McDowells. The mill-wheels
are still now, and moss and rust-covered, and the mills are open
to the night-birds, and afford homes for tramps, who sometimes
seek lodging in that picturesque spot.

The Ballyvallog furnished the water power that turned these
wheels of the many mills, so sadly silent now. It is a narrow
stream and runs across a beautiful brae, falling seventy-five feet
into a well-shaped opening in solid rock, into a pool that no plum-
met has ever fathomed. From this pool the water leaps over an
immense stone that crosses the space at the bottom of the opening
of this well, formed by nature, and just opposite the waterfall.
The village of Glenoe is the most silent place I ever saw. If any
business is carried on there, I couldn't discern it. It seems but a
monument of the long ago.





J »

MOTTO. Laudem implebit




Historij should be painted as a stern goddess, tvith Truth on
her right hand and Memory on her left, while in the background
should appear Tradition, like a wandering ligfd glimmering
along the quicksands of oblivion, and in the foreground slwuld
stand an angel pointing to the future.

— Sorrows of Nancy.


A short account of the conditions of the Scottish Borders be-
fore the Union may perhaps be of interest as introduction to the
history of an old Dumfriesshire family.

This sketch consists largely of extracts and quotations from
well-known authorities, and refers more particularly to the Western

Even from the earliest historical times, the Borders were the
scenes of constant conflicts; no sooner had the country been over-
run and settled by one race of invaders than another invasion took
place with fresh bloodshed; struggle succeeded struggle, till by the
end of the twelfth century the inhabitants consisted of an extremely
mixed race, descended chiefly from Picts, Scots, Saxons, Norwegians,
Danes, and Normans.*

After the Norman Conquest of England, large numbers of Saxons
fled into Scotland, and later on various powerful Normans also
settled there and obtained large estates, both on the English and
Scottish borders.

There had been frequent wars between England and Scotland
in the twelfth century, but Richard I of England, before starting
for the Crusade against the Saracens, made such friendly arrange-
ments with Scotland that for a period of nearly one hundred years
there were very few outbreaks between the two countries. This
condition of affairs lasted until the death of Alexander III in 1294.
By that time numbers of nobles owned large estates in the Border
counties of both England and Scotland.^ Friendly relations pre-
vailed and frequent intercourse between the two countries was
carried on without let or hindrance. The similarity of language
also helped to promote cordial relations. The Scotch language,
from early times up to the end of the fourteenth century, was almost
the same as Northern English, though with a number of words
derived from races who still spoke Gaelic, or Celtic, after it had been
abandoned in all England except Wales.

^ Buckle's History of Civilization in England, vol. 3, ch. i. McDowall'a
History of Dumfries, ch. i.

^See Scott's "Tales of a Grandfather," vol. 2, ch. iv.


Later on, when Scotland became the ally of France during the
wars of independence, a large number of forms and words were
adopted from the French. These must be distinguished from the
Norman French already introduced into both England and Scot-
land by the Norman Conquest.^

On the death of Alexander III the relations between the two
countries became entirely changed. Edward I trumped up old
claims to the feudal sovereignty of Scotland, which had been
renounced by Richard I, and determined to make himself master
of the country. Buckle graphically describes the result, as follows:

"In 1290, Edward I determined to avail himself of the con-
fusion into which Scotland was thrown by disputes respecting the
succession to the crown. The intrigues which followed need not be
related; it is enough to say that in 1296 the sword was drawn and
Edward invaded a country he had long desired to conquer. But
he little recked of the millions of treasure and the hundreds of thou-
sands of lives which were to be squandered before that war was
over. The contest that ensued was of unexampled length and
severity, and in its sad course the Scotch, notwithstanding their
heroic resistance and the victories they occasionally gained, had
to endure every evil which could be inflicted by their proud and
insolent neighbor. The darling object of the English was to sub-
jugate the Scotch, and if anything could increase the disgrace of
so base an enterprise it would be that having undertaken it, they
ignominiously failed."^

The English invaded Scotland, burnt and destroyed the whole
country as far north as Frith of Forth, in 1296, 1298, 1310, 1314,
1322, 1336, 1346, 1355, and 1385. During that time the country
was constantly overrun and castles and towns laid waste.

The agricultural laborers either fled or were murdered, and the
fairest parts of Scotland became a wilderness, overgrown with briers
and thickets.^ Thousands died from want and starvation, and on
the authority of contemporary authors, some of the starving in-
habitants were even driven to cannibalism.*

The inhabitants of the Borders being thus prevented from
tilling the ground, or from any other peaceful employment, were

^ See Introduction to Pitscottie's Chronicles, Scottish Text Society Edi-
tion, p. 132.

2 Buckle, vol. 3, ch. i
8 Buckle, vol. 3.
* Buckle's Leslie.

1. Ruins of Woodhouse.

2. Staple Towers.

3. Blackyett House, an old watcli-tower.

4. Merkland Cross.
5. Robjiiil Tower.


driven to inaccessible places in the hills and moor, and were forced
to take cattle and other provisions where they could get them.
Forming themselves into strong bodies of armed men, all mounted,
they made constant forays into the neighboring parts of England,
burning and pillaging wherever they went and returning home by
the most secret paths and byways, known only to themselves.

The following extract is from Leslie's account of the Borders,
and taken almost verbatim:

"They get their hving by steahng and reiving, but they are
averse to shedding blood, but are not particular whether they steal
from English or Scottish.* They live chiefly on flesh, milk, and
cheese; they do not care much for bread and little for wine.^ Their
buildings are merely huts of sods and branches and they do not
care much if they are burnt. They also build strong castles, all
made of earth called Peils, which cannot be burnt, and are difficult
to destroy.

"Some of the great nobles do not openly take a share in the
booty, but they do not like to break with the reivers, as they are
useful in time of war.

" When the princes of the country come against them, they take
to the hills and morasses, and from there to the woods and rivers.
Their horses are light and active, and being unshod they can go
over the bogs and marshes where other men could not follow.
They have a great contempt for those who go on foot, therefore
they are all horsemen, and provided they have good horses and
clothes for their wives, they care little about their household gear.

"The old writers say that the Scottish men were in the habit
of eating men's flesh, but that ought not to be attributed to all the
Scots, but only to the wild men of Annandale.

"They believe that in times of necessity, by the laws of nature,
all goods are common, but that slaughter and such like injuries are
against the laws of God. They are very revengeful, and will resent
any injury against any of the clan. But they are true to their
word and hold any of their number in scorn who would go back on
his word.

"They are still good Catholics and are fond of singing about the
exploits of their ancestors and are never more fond of praying than
when driving a prey.

' See History of John Leslie, translated into Scottish by James Dalrymple.
2 Scottish Text Edit., 1888, vol. 1, pp. 97-103.


"The man who can best lead a foray and knows all the by-paths
is considered a man of great parts, and is held in great honor."

Froissart speaks of their qualities as soldiers as follows:

"The Scots are both hardy and much inured to war. When
they make their invasions into England they march from twenty to
twenty-four leagues without halting by day and night. They are
all on horseback except the camp followers. They carry no pro-
visions of bread or wine, for their habits of sobriety are such in times
of war that they will live for a long time on flesh half sodden and
drink river water without wine. They have no use for pots and
pans for they dress the flesh of the cattle in the skin. They take
none with them, being sure to find plenty.^

"Under the flaps of their saddle each man carries a broad
plate of metal; behind the saddle a bag of oatmeal. When they
have eaten too much of the sodden flesh and their stomachs appear
weak and empty, they place the plate over the fire, mix with water
their oatmeal and make a cake or biscuit which they eat to warm
their stomachs. It is therefore no wonder that they perform a
longer day's work than other soldiers.

" The knights are well mounted on large bay horses; the men on
little Galloway hackneys, which they never tie up or dress but turn
immediately, after the day's march, into the pastures."

The Scots seem to have used as war instruments of music long
cows' horns, — see Froissart. "The Scots made such a blasting and
noise with their horns, that it seemed as if all the devils in hell had
been there."

These horns must not be confused with bagpipes; according to
Francesque Michel, bagpipes were introduced into Scotland from
either England or France, where they had been in common use for
a long time. They seem to have been first used in war during the
sixteenth century.^

In these warlike days foreign trade was small and manufactures
of any kind scarcely existed. Even the weapons and armor
which they used had to be imported from abroad. There were
numerous laws against exporting horses, cattle, and all provisions
into England, but trade with France and Flanders seems to have
been encouraged. The only trade of any importance seems to have
been salting salmon, and there are numerous Acts regarding the

* Vol. 1, ch. xvii.

^ See critical enquiry into the Scottish language, by Francesque Michtl,
p. 225.


industry. There were laws fixing the close season; another passed
in 1469 prohibits all fishing for three years in tidal waters, to pre-
vent depletion. Other laws dealt with size of barrels and branding
of same.^

The rivers of Esk and Annan were exempted from the close
season on account of the proximity of the English making such
regulations useless.

The selling of salmon to Englishmen was prohibited except the
English bought it in Scotland for "English gold."

The punishment for breaking the fishing laws was, for first
offense, 10 to 40 shillings, and for third offense, death. It may
well be imagined that on the borders little or no attention was paid
to these laws, or in fact to any others.

There also seems to have been a small trade in hides and cod-
fish. How little the trade of Scotland amounted to is shown by the
fact that at the time of the Union, in 1707, the total export trade of
Scotland was under £100,000. Up to the seventeenth century,
rents were chiefly paid by feudal service and in kind. Fletcher of
Saltourne, writing in 1690, says that the poor state of the country
was largely due to all rents being paid in kind.

The continued wars with England had greatly weakened the
power of the king and proportionately strengthened the powders of
the nobility.^

The Borders had to bear the first brunt of all English invasions,
and so well were they prepared and so used to war that in twenty-
four hours from 10,000 to 20,000 men, all armed and mounted,
could be raised and assembled by the wardens. When the English
invasions became less frequent the Scottish kings made desperate
efforts to reduce the power of the nobles and generally to restore
order in the Borders. Their services as guardians of the Marches
against the English were less often required, and the constant feuds
and depredations on the more peaceable inhabitants in the Middle
Counties of Scotland became intolerable to the Scottish monarchs,
and numerous Acts were passed to bring the Borders into order.
The Border and Highland clans were usually classed together in
these Acts, probably on account of their general lawlessness, but
in constitution and habits the Highland and Lowland clans were
altogether different.

' See The Laws and Acts of Parliament, by Sir Thomas Murray of Glen-
dook, Edinburgh, 1682, pp. 3, 21, 45, 84, 106, 401, and 433.
' See Robertson's History of Scotland, vol. 1, pp. 18-25.


In the Highlands the entire clan was absolutely at the sole com-
mand of the chief.

"The chief could determine what king, what government, what
religion, his vassals should obey; his word was the only law they
respected; a complete devotion to his interests, an absolute obedi-
ence to his commands, was the first and almost the single article
of their moral code." ^

In the Borders the conditions of things were entirely different;
no traces of any such blind devotion to clan chiefs or leaders can
be found. The mixture of the races on the Borders produced a
race that was conspicuous for its dogged independence and dourness
and insubordination to all authority.

The need for mutual protection, the expectation of mutual
benefits to be obtained, and the obedience of a feudal tenant to his
landlord probably formed the basis of the Border clans.

The Normans and Saxons who early settled on the Borders in-
troduced the feudal system, traces of which still existed in Scotland
till the middle of the nineteenth century.

Robertson remarks that "many years after the declension of
the feudal system in the other kingdoms of Europe, and when the

Online LibraryUnknownThe Irvines and their kin; revised by the author in Scotland, Ireland and England; a history of the Irvine family and their descendants, also short sketches of their kindred, the Carlisles, McDowells, → online text (page 1 of 38)