The Tales of a Blair Family    

The Ancestors of Samuel Blair are:

  • Gr. Gr. Grandparents:  Brice Blair (1600-?) and Esther Peden

  • Gr. Grandparents: Daniel Blair (1634-1704) and Ganet Drummond

  • Grandparents: Samuel Blair (1667-1754) and Martha Campbell Lyle

  • Parents: Daniel Blair (1720-1808) and Margaret McCullough

  • Samuel's brother Daniel who married Jenny Locke was the father of Patrick Blair and share the same ancestry.

  • The Origins of the Blair Name

Brice Blair and Esther Peden

Brice Blair was born about 1600 in Old Cumnock, Ayrshire, Scotland.  In 1624, he married Esther Peden.  Esther was the aunt of the much celebrated and persecuted Covenanter, Alexander Peden.  Alexander was also known as the "Prophet Peden."  Their is a monument honoring him in his native town of Old Cumnock, Scotland..

scotmap.gif (105254 bytes)In 1625, Brice and Esther, also Covenanters,  and their infant daughter, Nancy, escaped the persecution that Covenanters were experiencing in Scotland by emigrating to the north of Ireland. They made their escape in a coal sloop and reached Larne on the Irish Coast. (see: Why did our ancestors emigrate to  Ireland?) When they arrived in Ireland, Brice made his way to an influential kinsmen, Lord Edmonstone at Redhall (near Carrickfergus), and the Reverand Edward Brice at Ballycarry.  Reverand Brice was one of the pioneer clergymen of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland and is believed (but not proven) to be a first cousin of Brice Blair.   The Rev. and Brice are thought  to be grandsons of Bruce the Laird of Ayth in Stirlingshire and were descended from Mary, the second daughter of Bruce the Third King of Scotland.  Thus this line of Blair's may carry the blue blood of the Royal Stuarts in their veins.

From Lord Edmonstone, Brice obtained four hundred acres of land in Ballyvallough where he built a home and passed the remainder of his life.  This land is situated a few miles west of Larne and not far from the village of Raloo.  A part of it was still in possession of a descendant as late as 1900.  Near his home, Brice Blair built a flax mill, one of the first, if not the first, in Ireland.  The ruins of the home and mill were still distinguishable in 1900.  redhall.gif (44307 bytes)

Because of Brice and Esther's move from Scotland to the north of Ireland their descen-dants became known as Ulster Scots in Ireland. In America they are referred to as Scotch-Irish.  This does not mean, as many presume, that the Scots intermarried with the Irish for the Irish abhorred the Scots who had usurped their lands.   Their descendants remained "Scotch through and through, they are Scottish out and out."

The children of Brice and Esther were:

1. NANCIE (1624-1691) who married PATRICK CRAWFORD and had one known child: John Crawford.
2. BRICE (1627-)who married JANE REA and lived in Magheramorne, N. Ireland.  Brice and Jane had three known children: Brice, Elizabeth and Randal.
3. ABRAM (1628-) who never married.
4. DANIEL (1634-1704) who married GANET DRUMMOND and had eight children. (see next generation)
5. JOHN (c.1637-) who married ELIZABETH SHAW and had one child, John was an agent of the Sir Andrew Agnew of Lochnawe in 1654.  The son, James Blair, was the James Blair of the Blairmount Estate.
6. RANDAL Blair.(c.1640-)

The following is a deposition regarding Nancie (Blair) Crawford, daughter of Brice and Esther Blair, after the Massacre of 1641.

"On Sunday morning the 23rd of October 1641 the woman went out leaving her infant son with her servant girl named Bridget McMurdagh who belonged to Gleno of Raloo.  When Mrs. Crawford returned to the house, this girl was crying and hushing the babe.  Her mistress asked what was the matter?  At length she cried 'flee for your lifes for Raloo will be burned at 12 o'clock!' Where shall we go asked the frightened woman? Get your horses ready and ride to Carrickfergus Castle where the army will guard you, said the noble girl. I could not bear to see you my kind mistress and the rest burned to death.  I will be quite safe in the village at Crosshill where I was warned to go."

When the Crawfords were but clear of Raloo it was in flames.   When some of the burners were hanged and order restored the Crawfords returned to their burnt house.  The Catholic servant girl returned to them and died in her grateful mistress' arms years later. 

Nancie passed through the dreadful massacre, and by her cleverness saved the lives of seventeen families who would have been burned to death by the Catholic natives.  Many over the years have made pilgrimages of thanks to her grave in Raloo cemetery.

Second Generation

DANIEL BLAIR, #4 of generation above, was born in northern Ireland in 1634 and married GANET DRUMMOND.  Daniel died January 5, 1704.  His wife Ganet died May 1, 1704.  Daniel and Ganet had eight children as follows:

1. SAMSON.  Samson was a soldier in the Army of King James.   He fought at the siege of Derry and in the Battle of the Boyne, 1689-90-92.   Samson was wounded at Aughrim.  On the defeat of King James, he went into hiding and refused offers of a pardon he believed insincere.  About 1700, he was smuggled aboard a brig dressed as a woman named "Sally" and made it to safety in Philadelphia but was never heard of again.
2. SAMUEL.  (see next generation)
4. PHOEBE married JOHN MCNEILLY (may be incorrect)
5. JOHN. born 1670 and went to America about 1700.
6. JENNY. Married SAMUEL BRYSON and had many descendants near Belfast, Carmoney and Ballyclare.
7. ELIZABETH. Married DAVID HILL.  They had children who emigrated to America.
8. JAMES. Married MARTHA RANKIN.  One of their daughters married a MR. BRECKINRIDGE and went to America about 1740.

Third Generation

SAMUEL BLAIR was born in 1667 and married MARTHA CAMPBELL LYLE who was born in 1695 and died May 2, 1729.  Samuel's second marriage was to ANN GRAHAM.   Samuel owned 400 acres of freehold land.  When he first married, he built a home by the waterside near the flax mill built by his grandfather, Brice.  He later abandoned it for a better home he built nearby on higher ground.  This later house was still in good condition, even though much altered, as late as 1900.  In the first house, his daughter Esther was born.  She was living in the other house when she married Matthew Lyle in 1731.  The ruins of the first house remain and mark her birthplace.  Six of Samuel's children came to America about 1735.  Samuel died March 20, 1754 at the age of 87.  He is buried in the Raloo cemetery.  The Blair Coat of Arms is on his tombstone: on a saltire five mascles, in the chief a mullet, in the base a garb, in the flanks each an increscent all within a tressure. Crest: a stag courant. Motto: Amos Probos (I Love the Virtuous). Samuel and Martha had nine children as follows:

1. WILLIAM. Born about 1715, he married MARY REA and died May 26, 1788. Buried in Raloo cemetery.
2. NANCY. Married DAVID ROBINSON, born about 1683 and died May 22, 1765.  Several of her sons were Hearts of Steel boys and fled from Ireland to America.  They settled in Pennsylvania. Nancy lived to exceed 100 years of age.
Samuel Houston3. ESTHER. Born about 1712, married MATTHEW LYLE on September 18, 1731. Matthew was born in 1711 and died 1774 in Rockbridge County, Virginia. "The Lyle Genealogy" by Oscar Lyle deals mainly with the descendants of this family.
4. SAMUEL. (confusion abounds on who this is)
5. JAMES. (more confusion)
6. MARY. Married December 27, 1735 in Larne, County Antrim, n. Ireland to DAVID LYLE. They probably went to South Carolina?
7. JOHN. (yet more confusion)
8. MARTHA. Born about 1721 in n. Ireland and married JOHN PAXTON in 1742 in Rockbridge County, Virginia. John Paxton was a Captain in the military and died February 13, 1787 in Lexington, Augusta County, Virginia.  Martha died August 12, 1821 at the same place. Martha is said to be the Grandmother of GEN. SAMUEL HOUSTON.
9. DANIEL. (see the next generation).

Fourth Generation

DANIEL BLAIR was born in 1720 and died in 1808, he is buried in Raloo Cemetery.  He married MARGARET MCCULLOUGH and had five children as follows:

1. PATRICK. born 1745/1751. Married JEAN BURNS who was born 1759/1765.  Patrick died in Ireland in 1826. They had two children;
    A. NANCY
    B. SAMUEL: Samuel married ESTHER CRAWFORD and they were the parents of NANCY (BLAIR) KNOX and seven other children. Home of Sam & Esther; Grave of Sam & Esther; Letter written by Samuel-1848.
2. SAMUEL "The Renegade".
3. MARY. May be the same person as Margaret below.
4. MARGARET. Married BRICE MCNEELY. Either this Margaret or the Mary above is the twin sister of Samuel and the subject of the "Farewell to Erin" story.  Brice is said to have fled Ireland with or at the same time as "Renegade" Sam.  They were living in Pittsburgh at the time of her father's death in 1808.
5. DANIEL. Born about 1749 he married Jenny Locke and had the following children: PATRICK, DANIEL and NANCY.

* The bulk of the above information is taken from the book "Lyle Family, The Ancestry and Posterity of Matthew, John, Daniel and Samuel Lyle, Pioneer Settles in Virginia by Oscar K. Lyle, (Brooklyn, N. Y.: Lecouver Press Co., 51 Vesey Street, New York City: 1912).