viernes, 11 de febrero de 2011

David the Trooper: Claypool was wrong

On the pages of's GenForum's McKinley Forum there has been some lively discussion centring around some of the instances of early McKinley's in the USA. Yet as more responses and comments come through, they all come to the same roadblock: David the Weaver's link back to James the Trooper and his ancestors in Ireland and Scotland. As those of you who have read this blog know, I am deeply sceptical as to the entire issue of James the Trooper and of his origins, and finally today I have some vindication, backed up by documentary evidence. "The King is dead; Long live the King!".

I had come across a brief mention of one William MacKenly who arrived in the family group of a certain John Weir, into Isle of Wight County Virginia in 1653. Neat - a documented McKinley into the States almost a century before James the Trooper. That got me back on to my favourite rant of trying to disproove Claypool. (For the unitiaiated Edward Claypool was the professional genealogist from Chicago, who wrote up the supposed genealogy of President William McKinley and managed to link him the whole way back to good MacDuff - the bloke that finally killed no less a tyrant that Macbeth). Now Claypool based some of his sources on data from the first meeting of Clan McKinley in the USA in the 1890; so he is not entirely to blame.

The key ancestor in PoTUS' lineage back to MacDuff was the father of David 'the Weaver' McKinley. David is documented as having registered land in Chanceford PA in 1743, if I am not mistaken. The essential claim was that he was the first McKinley into the US - not true, but that is not the point of this discussion. David was said to be the son of James McKinley who hailed from Dervock in North County Antrim near the north east coast of Ireland, close by to Bushmills, where the wonderful whisky comes from. The family legend claimed that James had come over from Scotland and had guided King William's troops at the time of the Battle of the Boyne (when William defeated the last of the Jacobite monarchs, namely James II). The story goes that for his valour James was awarded land by the grateful King William. The only problem with this story is that James was nineteen at the time, freshly into Ireland from Scotland, yet with some magnificent knowledge of the local geography. Basically the story didnt seem to stack up. Furthermore, despite the fact that the Battle of the Boyne was in 1690, there is clear documentary evidence of more than a handful of McKinley's already living in Antrim, and infact on his very farmland, a generation earlier. Hence my rant.

So what has changed? in a word "everything". There I was calmly googling away through various digitised books when I stumbled upon a well-documented account of how one "trooper" McKinley helped King WIlliam with his horse (that had got stuck in the mud on the banks of the Boyne) and had then shown the muddy monarch where the best place to ford the river happened to be. Eureka: perhaps I had actually found the real "James the Trooper". But further googling made two three things abundantly clear: one, I had found our man; two, his name was David; three, he became a local hero of the place he came from, namely Enniskillen in the province of Tyrone.

Private David McKinley of Conyngham's Dragoons performed this service and is still remembered in the name of an Orange Lodge Number 1539, County Fermanagh, the McKinley Orange Lodge.

Now the repurcussions of this are wonderful: it unblocks the logjam and gets us sorting out the bulk of the McKinley lineage back across to the States. How? The McKinley's of the Tyrone and Donegal area are pretty well documented (see other parts of this blog), plus it is not a major leap to tie one David McKinley who bought land in Chanceford in 1743, with a relatively famous and rewarded David McKinley who was a youngish man in Ireland in 1690. So the gist of the story was right: Claypool and the others just got the name and the district wrong: but with that disappears the whole MacDuff stuff too.

So who was David "the trooper"? He was a mounted trooper in Albert Cunningham's Dragoons and this was the troop that William of Orange led across the Boyne just as their own General fell in battle. In the midst of the battle, just across the river from James's French troops, William had frantically tried to find a spot to lead the entire left flank of his army across - the right flank and the centre having been seriously mangled. His horse got stuck in mud and our man David, being as a dragoon well used to handling horses, held the panicked horse as the monarch dismounted; then extracted the horse from the moud and helped the much-obliged monarch back up into his seat. William then turned to the Enniskilleners (as Conyngham's Dragoons came to be called) and asked them if they would save the day: to which apparently our man replied with fervour "Yea!". Nice story and what's more it makes sense that the glorious monarch showed his gratitude to the young soldier. David is also said to have been instumental in earlier helping to lift the Irish confederate seige of Enniskillen in 1687.

On the 1st of July the Enniskilleners were to play a very important part in that famous battle. The centre of William's army on that day was composed of four regiments of foot the Dutch Blue Guards, the Brandenburghers, the Huguenot Regiment and the Enniskilleners. William knew that the brunt of the fighting would be borne by these regiments and that they would not falter in their resolve. The first two because of their love for him and his cause, the latter two because of their devotion to the Reformed Faith.

When William knew that his horse regiments had successfully forded the Boyne upstream, he sent orders to his centre division to cross the river. The four regiments stepped forward to the tune of 'Lilliburlero', which had chased James from England and was now heralding his defeat at the Boyne. The centre regiments gave a good account of themselves and although repeatedly attacked by the Irish horse, held firm their positions. When ordered to advance again they did so in good order, but the Irish rallied and stopped the advance at this point in the battle.

Hamilton's frish Horse attacked and the critical moment in the conflict had arrived. William rode up to the Ermiskilleners, and asked them what they would do for him. Tradition alleges that David McKinley, an Enniskillen trooper, who had pointed out the ford to the King when he and his division were about to cross the river, cried out, "Anything your Majesty pleases".


Where did he come from? Conyngham's dragoons were hand-picked local men from the Cunningham local estates and many of them had fought in the Laggan Army that defended area during the War of the Three Kingdoms just forty years earlier. So it makes sense that David came from one of the fifteen McKinley men at arms that we find in the Donegal, Tyrone, Londonderry area in the 1630's and their morphing into notional farmers in the late 1660's. If indded he was from the Enniskillen area it points to his father either being called John or Robert. Essentially he was second, if not third generation Scots Irish. Were these McKinley's linked back to the great Finlay Mor, royal standard bearer that fell at the Battle of Pinkie: almost ceratinly yes, given that we have no less that two ffyndley's listed in the Muster Rools and Hearth Money Rolls of 1630 and 1665. So maybe we really do get back to MacDuff after all!

More to follow later.

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