First Americans

First things first: no way was David the Weaver, son of "James the Trooper", first to hit the shores of the New World as per the majority of genealogies.  As far as I can make out we have three to four waves of McKinley immigration in the first half of the 18th Century, ie pre 1750.  In the following entry I will set out the names and dates and try to work out where these individuals came from.  But before that it is important to highlight just how the Irish migration worked and for that I refer to "Scotch Irish Pioneers in Ulster and New England" by Charles Knowles Bolton (Boston 1910).  see link

Prior to 1718 the vast majority of Irish that emigrated to the New World were Quakers that left the Armagh and Waterford areas and went to Pennsylvania. Bolton estimates, citing various sources, that by that date there were fewer than 500-600 Irish in the New World colonies.  But in 1718 six ships reached New England from Derry, Coleraine, Belfast and Dublin, bring with them a number of young men and women to be assigned as servants to merchants and families in Boston.  Along with these came the earliest Presbyterian groups, following on from the arrival into New England of two Ulster Presbyterian preachers three years earlier: the Rev William Homes, of Strabane (Co. Tyrone) settled on Martha's Vineyard and his brother-in-law the Rev Thomas Craighead settled just across on the mainland at Fall River.  These two had sent back favourable reports and had lobbied locally to bring new colonists from Ireland.

More or less at the same time (1719 to be precise) the Ulster Scots started to arrive into Delaware and Pennsylvanie.  The main port of entry was New Castle, which by that time was already a bustling town.  The newcomers pushed north soon gained sufficient number and settlement to obtain a formal name for their first settlement on the western banks of the Susquehanna River up at current day Harrisburg: the name of that settlement was Donegal.  Soon enough nearby to Donegal came, Derry and Toboyne.  Seems to me pretty clear as to where those early Presbyterians came from!

The First Wave c1720s-30s

Delaware:  Moses McKinley marries local widow Elizabeth Greenwater in New Castle 22nd Aug 1722.  Where did Moses come from; not a notion.  Where did he end up? Looks like we have another Moses McKinley fifty years later in North Carolina (not the Carburrus line).  The name is sufficiently un-McKinley'ish to assume a link.

Pennsylvania: Matthew McKinley is named as administrator of Samuel McKinley in the latter's will of 1728, in Chester County PA.  Typically this means that Samuel was in-extremis.  But later that same year we have (another?) Samuel McKinley witnessing a will  in the same county.  The next McKinley to appear in Chester County gives us a bit of a break-through: in 1735 Patrick McKinley married Elenor Galbraith, daughter of James Galbraith.  Galbraith had been one of the main forces behind the founding of Donegal and the family came from Newtown Cunningham, just 15 miles to the west of Londonderry.  Patrick dies within the next ten years and his widow married one Benjamin Glas, but that first marriage produced three McKinley children: John, Joseph and Janet.

Boston: William MacKinley marries local widow Lydia Pomroy 1722. We than have in 1733 Lydiah Mekinly marrying a certain Youth Young in Boston on Dec 20th 1733.  I take this to mean that William had passed away and the merry widow moved on to the aptly named third husband.  By that time two more McKinley's had arrived in Boston as there are marriage records of Duncan McKinley marrying Mary  Frost in October 1730 and John McKinly marrying Tersy Frayr the following year.

Last in in the 1730's, as far as I have found, was John McKinley (arrived 1736) who fathered Robert McKinley who in turn was sent as a ten year'old to live with his uncle in Chester, New Hampshire.  This John had travelled over with a group including Robert Craige, Allen Templeton and John Orr: as my notes below show, this group looks as if it came from North Antrim.  John and wife Ann stayed in Boston, but I suspect both parents died given that Robert McKinley (born Boston 1736) was sent up to his uncle at the age of 10 and subsequently became his heir.  Clearly the eldest son of John being called Robert, suggests that this was the name of John's father.

From whence had they hailed?
Few Scotsmen emigrated to the US in the first half of the 18th century and post the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie at Culloden in 1745 most fled to France and Spain if they fled at all.  The main Scottish emigration only gathered steam in the latter part of the 17th century.  Thus there is a high probability that all of these McKinleys were Scots-Irish.  This begs the question as to just who was in Ireland at those times.  We know that prior to the 1660's the bulk of the Irish McKinleys were in the Donegal, Londonderry, Tyrone area, then came the second wave into the North Antrim area.  These two groups are are seeding ground for the New World settlers.  Names now come into play as one assumes that they maintained in this period the old Scottish method of first sons being names after the paternal grand-father, first daughter, paternal-grandmother etc.  In Antrim the relevant names we have are a number of Daniel's and an occasional John and William.  In Donegal the men-at-arms of the 1630's went by the names of John (four of them), Robert (two of them), Duncan, Fyndley, Thomas and James.  By the time of the 1665 Hearth Money roll we have the name Patrick McKinley appearing alongside Fyndley in Taghboyne (place name of the third Scotch Irish settlement on the Suquehanna River in Pennsylvania). A generation later the name Samuel starts to appear in the Londonderry family.  Both Duncan and Robert, as first names, remained resolutely west-Ulster rather than east-Ulster (ie Antrim), suggesting that John, who stayed in Boston where Duncan, John and William were already based, also hailed from the Donegal line.
So it seems to me that this first wave of McKinley's hailed from the families of the first settlers into Ulster.

More later....

0: fnu McKyndley, late 1690's New York area.  Possibly came over with Richard Coote when Coote (from Sligo) was appointed Colonial Governor of Massachusetts and New York in 1697. Work in progress, not sure if surname is a misspelling.

Two new McKinley's
0.1: Moses McKinley, Delaware 1721/22
Land Records of the State of Delaware record the passing of 100 acres of land to one Moses McKinley and his wife Elizabeth.  Now Elizabeth had inherited that land from her father and the deed is basically the formalization of the ownership.  Delaware marriage records show this same Elizabeth, a widow, married Moses on 23rd August 1722 in New Castle.  This puts Moses in poll position as first McKinley proven to be in the USA.  Later records show that this Moses became an elder of the Presbyterian Church later renamed Church of Drawyers, Delaware (1732).  The same document (an address to the congregation of said church over a century later) also sates an interesting piece of folklore: namely that John McKinly, 1st Governor of Delaware, was said to be a son of an elder of that church.  Given that there is only one McKinley named as being an elder, this suggests that Governor John was in fact second generation American.
Clearly Moses is not your typical Scottish or Irish or Scotch name, and we have clear proof as to his Presbyterian faith.  So who was this Moses and where did he come from?  So far (24 hours later) I haven't found a Moses McKinley in Scotland, but I have found the name recurring in later years in Ulster.  I have also found a story of one Moses McKinley who ended up being press-ganged into military service just before the War of Independence and who ended up in Nova Scotia.  But clearly this Moses is likely two full generations older that the Canadian of that name.  Intriguingly the Canadian line refer to a story that there were three brothers from Ulster names Moses, Aaron and John Jacob McKinley who had been brought over by their father to Pennsylvania.  But again that would have been in the 1750's and not the 1720's.
Nor should this Moses, let's call him "Delaware Moses", be confused with he of North Carolina, born of David McKinley, son of David the Weaver.  That Carolinian Moses was born in 1785.  One has to wonder though, at the recurrence of the unlikely name.
Having said that, my suspicion is that this "first" Moses was an Ulster-man: the digging continues.

0.2 Samuel McKinley and Matthew McKinley.Chester County, Pa 1728
Samuel McKinley is witness to a will dated Sept 19th 1728 in Chester County, and in the same year Matthew McKinley is named administrator to the will of Samuel McKinley.  Is this Samuel the same man as Samuel below?

1: Samuel McKinly, Virginia 1737
So, who was first on the scene? The earliest sourced reference to a McKinley that I have found so far is a Will that mentions one Samuel McKinly as being witness and executor and is dated 14th November 1737, Prince William County, Virginia.  ( .  The will has a later amendment in February of the following year whereby Samuel and another witness remove themselves as executors in favour of Widow DeBell.  Who was Samuel and where did he come from: no idea!  What I would say is that Samuel is NOT a name found amongst the Lennox (Scotland) McKinlays, but is a name that recurs through the Ulster McKinleys (as of 1796 I have two in Donegal and one in Monaghan).  Having said that, it should also be pointed out that it became a popular Presbyterian name: so whether he was Socts or Scots-Irish is as yet unknown.  A further point here is his possible relationship to Samuel McKinley, born in Pennsylvania in 1766, who went on to marry Agnes Scott and have two sons (Alexander and Samuel Jnr). Source:  No proof yet.

Next up, in close succession, are David McKinley (David "the Weaver") and John McKinley (Tyrone/Monaghan 'John'), around 1743 and 1744.  David certainly arrived on site before John and came from Antrim. Woops, no they aren't - we have an interloper: John McKinley of Ireland, who marries Ann Craige ans settle in New Hampshire.

2: John McKinley, Chester, NH 1737 dies NH 1830's
This line comes from an old book called "the History of Old Chester" (you can Google it).  On page 563 there is a section regarding the John McKinley.  McKinley arrived to Boston with his in-laws, being married to Ann Craige, in 1736/37.  Initially they stayed in Boston where their son Robert was born in 1737.  In 1747 they moved up to Chester, New Hampshire and young Robert became sole heir to his mother's brother Robert Craige.  We are told in this history that John had come over to the US with Robert Craige and Allen Templeton amongst others: this may help to trace the origin of John.

Young Robert was in the local militia by 1758 and in 1760 was in a regiment sent off to "invade" Canada.  But clearly his heart was not in the venture for in April 1776 he is one of the signatories against the British and for Independence.  Robert married one Sarah Harriman and they had nine children: Margaret, John, Thomas, Ann, Mary, Sally, Elizabeth, Jane and Robert.

Additional info: the name Allen Templeton is not a common one, and tracing vis the web I find mention of one Allen Templeton being part of a representation to the Presbyterian Synod of Antrim in 1715 in Ulster to get a preacher for the area of Ballymoney (source:,+Ireland&hl=es&ei=89fjTO3NNtLc4gbe6L2CBQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CC0Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=Allen%20Templeton%2C%20Ireland&f=false  ) see page nine under Dinsmore.  The interesting point here is that the same text mentions one John Dinsmore as being the first of that name to emigrate to New Hampshire.  So that is good enough for me to say that this John McKinley came from the Ballymoney area (Ballywattick for the Dinsmores) of Antrim in circa 1737.  Does this ring a bell - yes, because it is about three miles south-west of a place called Conogher, from when David the weaver came. Hmmm.

3: David McKinley, Pennsylvania 1743-5
The first known record of David is a warrant issued to him for a tract of land in Chanceford Township, York County, Pennsylvania dated 1745.  Some researchers place his arrival as being in 1743 - but I have no firm data on that.  What we do know is that his father was James McKinley, who lived in Connagher, County Antrim in Northern Ireland.  we also know and have clear proof that this is the founder of the line that went on to produce William McKinley, 25th PoTUS.  David had four children: three boys John, David and Stephen, and a girl, Mary.  Many researchers say that his wife was one Esther Wilson: this is not correct - Esther was in fact the wife of our next McKinley, John, and we have proof of that marriage.

4: John McKinley, (Abbeville, SC) 1744 (dies Abbeville SC 1771)
John McKinley arrived in the US in 1744; we know this because his son William was born at-sea, en route to the US. This William went on to marry Mary Beatty in 1767 in South Carolina.  For me this John is one of the most interesting characters to date, because we have clear reference to his marriage to Esther Wilson in the previous year in Ireland: which is to say we have direct documented proof of a McKinley shifting form one country to the other.
This John tends to get confused with a John McKinley, son of David McKinley (2: David McKinley Pennsylvania) who died in Chanceford on 18th Feb 1779.
John McKinley was born some time around 1720 in Ballybay, County Monaghan, Ireland (see section on Tyrone).  In the annals of the Clougher Church of Ireland Parish, is noted the marriage on May 3rd 1743 of John McKinley to Esther Wilson.  Ballybay is about twenty miles south south-west of Clougher. The transcription of the records has a spelling error putting Esther's name as Easter,...but let's forget that.  It would appear that a brother and a sister married a brother and a sister, with Esther Wilson marrying John McKinley and Jane McKinley marrying Matthew Wilson the same year.  The Wilson family had married into the McKinley's some fifteen years earlier, when one Owen McKinley married Ann Wilson, also in Clougher.

John and Esther marry: William, the eldest son is said to have been born on 10th Aug 1744 in the Atlantic Ocean, i.e. en route to Philidelphia, suggesting the arrival of the family by end September 1744 quod erat demonstrandum. This comes from "The Journal of Archibald C. McKinley" as per the following link:  William goes on to marry Mary Beatty in Pendleton District, South Carolina in 1767 and hence all the SC McKinley's.

A number of researchers state this John as being son of David the Weaver: I do not by that story specifically because David was notionally born in 1705 and this John in about 1720 and fifteen year-olds didn't get married that early even then.  However, what I don't discount in the notion of him being a younger brother...but i will come on to that later.  Some people suggest he was born a few years later (1725-28), but that makes him under-age for the 1743 wedding - so again unlikely.

Now John McKinley is doubly important, because his origin in Ballybay is also another significant pointer, for the Presbyterian seceders known as the Cahans, came en-masse to the Abbeville area in the late 1760's.  As the records on the following link shows, these "Cahans" had formed their original congregation in the field of one William McKinley outside Ballybay, County Monahan.  My assumption here is that this William was related to John: being either uncle or brother.  The critical issue here is that our John was in the US some twenty years before the Cahans Exodus and would have been instrumental in bringing them over and finally either bringing them to South Carolina or going with them to South Carolina (where a goodly number go massacred by the local Cherokees).  Source:   A pointer as to why I suspect he was there before the rest is the fact that he was not on the Long Cane settlers list: one James McKinley is listed as getting a grant for 100 acres in 1775.

Finally a word on the full family: John and Esther had eight children as far as I can make out, and most are listed as having been born in Virginia.  William, b 1744; John, b 1750; Jane b 1759; Esther b 1764; Susannah b 1765; Martha b 1770; James, b 1777; and finally Sarah 1780.  Now I have to verify this because I rather doubt that poor Esther Wilson was still having children in her late fifties.  So this will be subject to change.

More later