Descendants of James McPherson of Ulster, Ireland

Red Hand Flag of Ulster
(16th Century to 1922)

Generation #1

James McPherson of Ulster, Ireland (Conjecture)

Research Note: Clan McPherson is a Highland Clan of Scotland whose home is in Badenoch District.

James McPherson, the progenitor of this family, was probably born in Ulster, Ireland, circa 1720. He and his family would have been members of the Planter Class of Scots to Ulster, Ireland.

Evidence for James' Scot-Irish origins comes from the immigration pattern of the Presbyterian congregation of Long Canes, Abbeville Co SC. James married an unknown spouse by 1750.

Whether by plantation of Protestant immigrants from Scotland or conversion of the local populace, by the 18th Century Scot-Irish Presbyterians were a majority in several counties of Ulster. Much has been said about subjugation of Catholics in Ireland by the Church of England's proxy, the Church of Ireland, after Cromwell's victory in 1651. Even though Presbyterians were not persecuted to the extent as that of Catholics, their existence in Ireland can be described as "second-class" at best.

Circumstantial evidence leads to the belief that James McPherson was a member of the Rev. Clarke Party from Newry, Ulster, Ireland. First, no McPhersons appear on the passenger lists to Charleston prior to 1/1766. Second, the Great Wagon Road out of Philadelphia was the primary immigration route to the backcountry of South Carolina. Correspondence with a descendant of James McPherson (b. 1783 Laurens Co SC) and Rachael Forgy states that the original McPherson homestead in Laurens Co SC is within eyesight of the "Old Road."

On 7/28/1764 the Rev. Clarke Party arrived aboard the ship John at the port city of New York. Rev. Clarke and others are reported to have led an advance party into Upstate New York. In his absence, a South Carolina land broker informed the party of free land, available to Protestant immigrants to the South Carolina backcountry,  which resulted from the Bounty Act of 1761. And, a portion of the party chose to migrate to South Carolina.

On 1/31/1766 James McPherson was granted 100 acres "on or near Long Canes."

The manners and dress of these first settlers must have been quite primitive. Their dress was as follows: hunting-shirt, leggings, and moccasins, adorned with buckles and beads. The hair was clubbed and tied up in a little deerskin or silk bag. At another time they wore their hair cued and rolled up in a black ribbon or bear's-gut dressed and dyed black. Again it became a custom to shave off the hair and wear white linen caps with ruffles around. The women's dress was long-eared caps, Virginia bonnets, short gowns, long gowns, stays, stomachers, quilted petticoats, high wooded heels. There was little market for produce except to the new settlers. Trade was carried on in skins and furs. Deer and beaver skins were a lawful tender in payment of debts. Winter skins were 18 pence sterling, Indian-dressed skins $1 per pound. (Testimony of James Duncan, son of the first settler.)

    George Howe, "History of the Presbyterian Church in South Carolina," 1965, v. I, pp. 335-336.

The last record for James is the 1779 Census for Old 96th District. James died sometime before the 1790 Census for South Carolina.

A number of the congregation were from Ireland who along with about one hundred families left Newry, Ireland for America. They arrived in New York on the 28th of July [1764] on the ship John. This large body of passengers were all part of the Rev. Clarke’s congregation from Ireland. Part of this group went to Salem, New York and the other part migrated to Long Canes section and formed the congregations of Little Run, Long Cane and Cedar Creek (later Cedar Spring) churches.
[South Carolina] Council Journal 32, Page 709- 710: Meeting of January 31, 1766
-Red the following petitions praying for warrents of Land on their Bounty, vis. James McPherson 100 acres on or near Long Canes.
-The petitioners severally alleged that they were protestants and Produced Proper Certificates of their good behavior and praying that they might have Orders to the Public Treasure to pay their Bounties allowed by the Act of The General Assembly passed 25, July 1761.
-Ordered that the Clerk do issue Certificates to them agreeable to the Prayers of the Certificates.


    1. William McPherson, Sr. b. c. 1750 in Ulster, Ireland

    2. James McPherson, Jr.

    3. Thomas McPherson

Richland County SC Wills, Vol. 2 (1787-1852)

Peter Smith in his will of 1797...bequests to Thomas McPherson, James McPherson son of James McPherson, dec'd. Nancy Campbell dau. of James Campbell. Peter Campbell. Witn: William McGrew, John Elders, Henry Moore.

Thomas McPherson is mentioned in the Martin's suit and the Peter Smith will.

Generation #2


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