martes, 5 de octubre de 2010

President McKinley and James "the Trooper"

As anyone who has started searching through the genealogy websites for McKinley's will know, there is mile upon mile of text referring to an ancestor of the late President McKinley, who's son emigrated from Ireland to the US, thereby launching the line that culminated with the assasinated 25th PoTUS. The story goes that one James McKinley left Scotland for Ireland in 1690 to work as a guide for the Williamite forces in their fight against the Jacobins, which culminated in the Battle of the Boyne and the end of King James II's regal ambitions. Having done his job well, the youngster was given lands in North Antrim, in Dervock, and went on to father four sons, two of whom emigrated to the US in the early 1720's or thereabouts. The sweet part of this story is that the person who put it all together was a commercial genealogist from Chicago (Edward A Claypool) upon McKinley's election as President. Not only therefore did young James "the Trooper" fight for the Protestant cause, but his bloodline was link to no lesser figure that Duncan MacDuff - he that finally put an end to that well-known villain Macbeth! Nice story.

Not that any of this really matters, but the real James the Trooper was someone very different and what follows is my best shot at sorting out who he was. It may also serve to remove the road block that nearly all US McKinley have i trying to trace their ancestry back to Ireland: because details of James the Trooper, based in Antrim are non-existent. To put it simply, they are all looking in the wrong field.

Why "James the Trooper" couldn't have been the one Claypool suggests.

You can find Claypool's tome in Google Books (The Scotch Ancestors of William McKinley). The relevant bit for this discussion is McKinley's number 21 through 27 i.e. from Findla Mór through to David the Weaver (ie the first US member of the family). I am going to assume that most readers know the outline of who was who, and go straight for the facts. Findla Mór existed and is a known historical figure. A giant of a man, he was a famed warrior of the sixteenth century, being killed on the battlefield of Pinkie Cleugh when a cannon ball in the midriff tore the royal standard bearer in half on September 10th 1547: he was aged sixty. He indeed was the first of the McKinley's, being granted that right basically for his feats of arms. His father was one Donald Farquharson, a lesser chief of the clan Farquharson (Invercauld line). So far as I know, the line from Findla Mór (aka great Finlay) does go back up through to Macduff, certainly the Farquharson family trees always have it thus.

Getting back to our royal standard bearer and father of the McKinley clan, Claypool has him marrying twice and fathering at least eleven sons. More recent and critical research by the Farquharson family suggests a different and more trustworthy story. Findlay indeed married twice: by his first wife (Margaret reid) he had a son William, who went on to become the 2nd laird of Invercauld, but it seems that this William had no male heirs, just a daughter called Janet. By his second wife Beatrix Gordon (Claypool has her surname as Gardyn, which is a bit mortifying if one is a Scots Gordon!) he had no less than six sons and four daughters, so we do get to the notion of eleven children. Only the names of the boys have come down through history and dates are very few and far between. the eldest son, James seems to have died in his childhood, next was Donald, who inherited James's property. Third Robert who for some reason becomes the third laird of Invercauld (suggesting William of the first marriage didn't last much after the arrival of his one and only daughter). Then come Lachlan, George and Finlay, plus four girls. Son number three, Robert, has dates c1540-1590 and married one Marjorie.

Now, Mr Claypool's artwork suggests that Finlay had a son called William McKinley who settled in a farmstead called "The Annie" near Callendar in Perthshire. This William is deemed to have died during the reign of James VIth i.e. between 1603 and 1625. William is deemed to have had four sons: John, Donald, Thomas and Son #4. The eldest son John then fathered three boys, Donald, James and John, with James being our Irishman James "the Trooper". But in fact William had no sons and the first John that I can find is a generation later, being the son of Robert, 3rd laird. Finally I have always had a problem with the story that James "the Trooper" came over aged twenty to Ireland and was hired as a guide to King William's army. A scout, maybe, but a guide denotes knowledge of the land and of the routes, which a twenty year old immigrant would be unlikely to have had.

Continuing for a moment with the notion that James indeed was a successful guide to William's army and was paid with land in Antrim (common method of payment in those days). It is commonly assumed that his first son was born in Dervock, Antrim in 1708. Of the four sons two stayed in Ireland (William and Donald) and two left for the New World (David and James). SO what traces of them can be found in the local records? The closes national record is a national survey taken of Protestant householders in 1740 (the remaining two boys would have been in their mid-thirties). Dervock is in North Antrim, in the parish of Derrykeighan and the Barony of Dunluce Lower. In that census we find one McKinley household: that of Widow McKinla. Two other McKinley's are registered in North Antrim, these are Joh (I assume John) in the parish of Billy (just to the north of Dervock) and ffrans (Francis?) in Ballyshrane. So indeed we do possibly have two brothers who stayed behind, and definately a mother. James "the Trooper" having popped his clogs by then.

Conclusion #1: A McKinley family did exist in the vicinity of Dervock some forty years later, with quite possibly James's widow being listed as householder.

Are there any other candidates for James "the Trooper"?

Yes and candidates that fit the bill of being guides and fit the bill with family members of similar names. But before delving into this a couple of pointers. The heirs to Finlay Mór would have had a certain fame and a name, but they didn't have any land. If Finlay indeed had eleven children they would have been a hungry mob, and with such a famous father one has to assume that the younger sons would have followed their father's footsteps in soldiering. Another point to underline is that with the surname of McKinley effectively being created by and for Findla Mór there would't have been that many of them, even two or three generations later (although clearly the founding father did his utmost too populate).

So it is that we come across no less that eight McKinley's all working as men at arms and new immigrants in Donegal in the 1630's. As a reminder Findla Mór's sons were William (died without male heir), then James (also died young), Donald, Robert (who lived 1540-1590), Lachlan, George and Finlay. The Muster Rolls of Donegal name Robert, ffyndley and John as being men at arms for the Duke of Lennox; Duncan, for Sir John Cunningham; another John for the Duke of Annandale; and two more John's and a Robert. Two items to note: we have a Finlay McKinlay present in Ireland in 1630, probably arriving sometime after 1610 (dating of the landgrants) and a Robert; secondly, there are an awful lot of John's. Claypool has one John McKinley as being father to James the Trooper. Maybe there were more John's than just the son of Robert, the third laird. To be listed in muster rolls one had to be of eighteen years or older, thus the notion of one of these John's possibly fathering James "the Trooper" is a distinct possibility.

Of this brood I would add one final point at this stage: church records for St Columb's Derry have one John McKinley marrying Margaret Deveny on 26th November 1657. Assuming a fertile marriage there may well have been a resulting James born in the 1660's who might have learnt the tools of his trade and the lay of the land from his father. Certainly there is a far stronger argument for a second generation Irish McKinly being hired as a guide, rather than a twenty year old fresh out of Perthshire!

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