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The History of the Stewart Family

By

Bucher Ayres of Philadelphia, Penn., in 1876.

 

(Transcription, by Vincent Edward Summers of a copy of a 3rd copy by Minnehaha Finney, from a copy loaned to her by Prof. James Barnette of Eugene, Oregon University. His copy was made from an earlier copy.)

 

It is the desire of the writer and the recommendation of this book that it shall be kept and preserved and handed down from generation to generation by the eldest male descendant of HUGH STEWART, who shall bear the Stewart Family name of Stewart and continue to reside in Dauphin County, Penn. The hope is also likewise expressed that this Family record shall continue in the manner and form as begun; then it will become a matter of just and exceptional Family pride, esteemed and valued the more by each succeeding generation, as the years roll on.

No one can be indifferent as to the origin and descent of his family, and no one can be insensible to the beneficent influence descending from the virtues and homes of his forefathers.

Pride of ancestry seems to be innate and therefore does it become an endearing pleasure to perpetuate the names and deeds of those who have gone before. The Laws of Primo-Geniture as they exist in Europe require the establishment of a Herald’s College, in which the descent of families is enrolled as a matter of State and Public necessity, but in America, where every family makes for itself a station among men, where birthright does not imply the right of inheritance, the Family Record becomes a matter of personal interest and care, and is too often treated with shameful indifference or total neglect.

Fortunately this Centennial Year of 1876 makes an era when there is a disposition to accord the consideration which the importance of the subject deserves, and fortunate are those who can trace to Revolutionary times their family history. Pre-eminently fortunate therefore is it to be regarded this family which has a History, not presumptive or traditional, but founded on indestructible facts, dating from the eventful days of the Scottish Covenanters.

Identified with the earliest settlements of Pennsylvania and Ohio, these families withstood the dangers and privations of a frontier life, living in peaceful and friendly proximity with the Aborigines, vying with them in the chase and sportive contests, ere he lost his rights to the soil,-- then the victims of his barbarity, and undergoing all the terror entailed by the French and Indian War.

Then down through the dark days of the Revolution, offering its best blood for the cause of liberty, fighting on even through the Great Rebellion for the perpetuation of the Government, inaugurated and established in 1776.

In the annals of Scotland, Stewart is an honored name; we find it woven into her history throughout the ages, borne by Kings and Lords and Yeomen, by Philosophers and Heroines; from Robert Stewart, nephew and successor to Bruce of Bannock-burn in the 14th Century, to the present time.

The name is strictly and purely Scottish; Stewart is the alternate in English and was originally derived from the office or occupation of the men who bore it.

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It is now the Title of one of the largest Clans in the Highlands of Scotland, "Clan Stewart." It is also the sixth most common name in Scotland, and was developed by the Census of 1861, the actual count at that date being 31,896.

Names are perpetuated in families as well as personal characteristics, and we shall find the six most common names in the Stewart families run in the following order: --

 

John Mary

James Ann or Nancy

Samuel Sarah

William Margaret

Robert Jane

David Elizabeth

 

The six most common names in Scotland, as elicited in the census referred to above, run in the following order; --

 

John Margaret

James Mary

William Elizabeth

Alexander Ann

Robert Jane

David Isabel

 

The reader will perceive on comparison the predilection of the Stewarts for the familiar Scottish names.

We have no hesitation in asserting that the Stewarts of these pages unquestionably flourished as agriculturists, farmers, and freeholders in Scotland and in Ireland and in America, while some have branched out into the learned professions, the great majority continue in the honorable occupation of cultivation of the soil, a thrifty race and Lords of the Broad Acres which receive their care.

 

1st. Robert Stewart

The first on record was born near Glasgow, Scotland, A. D. 1665, when Charles II was King. Some time-worn manuscripts in the family indicate that he was the son of John Stewart; it is tradition that John Stewart, being a Covenanter, would not comply with the Royal Edict enforcing attendance at the Parish Church, and consequently incurred heavy penalties which impelled him to emigrate to Ireland. At that period the north of Ireland was a refuge for proscribed Presbyterians and condemned Covenanters of Scotland, and thither he directed his steps, a refugee for conscience sake, preferring to abandon his native hills rather than go back on the Solemn League and Covenant.

(John Stewart fled to Ireland, 1665, returned to Scotland 1685, died in 1720 in Scotland.)

Robert remained in Scotland till the death of his father in 1720, when he removed to Ireland, and where he died in 1730, aged 65 years, leaving three sons, Viz.;---

 

2nd. Samuel

3rd. Robert

4th. Hugh

 

Robert Stewart’s family is said to have been large, but we have knowledge of only those three here named. The lives of father and son, John Stewart and son, Robert, therefore embrace the most interesting period in English History, commencing in the reign of Charles I through the Common-Wealth and Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell, the restoration, and the reign of Charles II, James II, William and Mary, Queen Anne, George I, and into George II, whose reign commenced in 1727. The Stewarts were Covenanters, and here let me pause to make a

 

 

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brief reference to contemporaneous history which seems to be essential at this period to enable us to get at the root of the religion of our ancestors upon which they staked their lives.

Charles I, son of James VI of Scotland, and first of England, and grandson of that unfortunate Mary, Queen of Scots, was born in the year 1600 and commenced his reign in 1625. At this time, the Church of Scotland, (which had its remote origin in the first introduction of the principles of the Reformation about 1527, and which was the mother of the Presbyterian Church,) was dominant.

When Charles I, weak and obstinate, thoroughly inoculated with the Divine Right of Kings, with the view of assimilating the two Churches of England and Scotland, determined to introduce a liturgy and a set of Canons abolishing control over ecclesiastical measures, he was met with prompt opposition by the people of Scotland, who in 1643 entered into the Solemn League and Covenant, binding themselves to maintain their religious principles and to abolish Episcopacy, which had been established in Scotland by James I in 1606, and were forced to revolt and threw all their influence toward carrying out those measures which resulted finally in bringing his head to the block in 1649.

Thus did the Stewarts become covenanters, and as a consequence the Westminster Confession of Faith which was ratified by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1647 became their only recognized standard.

Charles I who was beheaded was succeeded by Oliver Cromwell, as Lord Protector of the Commonwealth, who was professedly a Puritan, and established the dominance of his Independence over the Presbyterians. Cromwell dies Sept. 3, 1658 in the 60th year of his age, in Huntingdon, England.

Then succeeded in 1660 the Restoration of Charles II and the re-establishment of the Episcopacy in Scotland by act of Parliament in May, 1661; Charles, although at first well disposed toward the Covenant, turned against it as a religion, for Presbyterian morality and (conduct) strictness did not accord with the laxity of his conduct; wherefore he refused the religion which he knew would hold him to account for his misdeeds.

His portrait from life in the State House collection at Philadelphia indicates licentious character. With the re-establishment of Bishops in Scotland, commences measures for harassing the Presbyterian Clergy and the extirpation of the present religion, and from 1665 to 1666 Military oppression and persecution at last drove the people into insurrection.

That celebrated historical character, "Graham of Claverhouse," the terror of the Covenanters, "Bloody Claverhouse," as they called him, came upon the scene in 1679, leading an attack upon a Coventicle at Drumelog.

All who refused to abjure the Covenant were regarded as Rebels and obliged to betake themselves to the Desert Moore and Mountains of their native hills, where they were hunted like wild beasts till the establishment of freedom of conscience by the Revolution of 1688.

On the death of Charles II in 1685, his brother, James, Duke of York, succeeded under the Title of James II. Having imbibed Popery in his youth, his zeal for his religion led him into measures arbitrary and subversive of the Constitution and of the established religion of the Kingdom, which

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induced a powerful Nobility in 1688 to invite his nephew, William, Prince of Orange, who was the husband of his daughter, Mary Stewart, to take Possession of the Crown; he embraced the occasion and landed in England without opposition, James escaping to France; having secured an army by the assistance of the French, he was utterly routed by William at the famous battle of the Boyne, July 12th, 1690 in Ireland.

Though William III was bent on preserving the same form of ecclesiastical government both in England and Scotland, the Bishops refused to transfer their allegiance to him, and by this means, the way was opened for the establishment of the Presbyteries, which was ratified by act of Parliament in 1690.

At the union of England and Scotland in 1707 in the reign of Queen Anne, the last of the Royal Stewarts, it was agreed that Presbyterianism should be the only religion recognized by the State of Scotland.

4th. Hugh Stewart (see page 2)

Hugh Stewart, youngest son of Robert Stewart, No. 1, was born near Glasgow, Scotland, June 11, 1719, and was in his infancy when his father emigrated to County Down, Ireland; he accompanied his older brother, Samuel, who was 21 years his senior and his guardian, (his father, Robert Stewart, having died five years previously, in 1730 in Ireland,) in his emigration to America in 1735.

They settled at Chestnut Level in Lancaster Co., Pa., in the spring of 1735; he landed with a capital in coin equivalent to one dollar and twenty-five cents, which he spent for a jack knife to cut threads, considering it the most necessary tool in his business of weaving, an occupation he had learned in Ireland and which he followed here for many years.

[Note: Minnehaha Finney descends from Samuel Stewart, Sr., through his son, Elijah. Maude G. Stewart descends from Hugh Stewart, a young brother of Samuel Stewart, Sr. These two brothers emigrated to America in 1735.]

Samuel Stewart, the brother of Hugh Stewart, had married early in Ireland, so that his oldest sons were nearly of the same age as their Uncle Hugh. His entire family consisted of 12 sons and 1 daughter, the eldest of whom was Samuel Templeton Stewart, three of whose children married with three of Hugh Stewart’s children, as will hereafter appear.

It will be instructive and interesting to follow the emigrants to their home in the strange land, and accompany with some historical memoranda appertaining to this period. A charter for the Province of Pennsylvania now to be seen in the State Department in Harrisburg, had been granted to William Penn by Charles II, King of England, March 4th, 1681. Philadelphia, Bucks, and Chester Counties were the three original Counties; Lancaster Co. was laid out in 1730. The City of Philadelphia laid out in 1682 by Penn’s directions, was chartered in 1701 and in 1735 had a population of 7,000, showing remarkably rapid growth. The city which in 1876 covers 129 square miles, with a population of over 800,000, was then mostly encompassed by Vine and South, the Delaware River and Fourth Streets; all else principally forest and marsh, infested with Indians, except the Germantown Settlement, and an occasional cabin and clearing. George II was King; John, Thomas and Richard, sons of William Penn, who had died in 1718, scarcely having seen his grand domain were proprietaries of the Province, and Patrick Gordon, their Lieut. Governor, resided in Philadelphia.

The voyage across the ocean in 1735 was attended by perils and inconveniences not now understood. Vessels were small and overcrowded, ill ventilated, slow in speed, poorly equipped, and ill fitted to withstand the forces of the elements; as illustration of the force of these remarks, we will make record here that after the two brothers, Samuel and Hugh, had successfully crossed, Robert with his family sailed from Belfast, but were driven back by stress of weather; after three different attempts, and each un-

 

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