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Grahams are Scotch-Irish


The Grahams, like many of the early set­tlers of the Valley of Virginia, were of Scotch-Irish descent and came from coun­ties Donegal and Londonderry, in the north­ern part of Ireland. The term, Scotch-Irish, does not nec­es­sar­ily mean a blend­ing of blood between the Scotch and Irish nations, but implies the Scotch who emi­grated from Scotland and set­tled in Ireland. During the years begin­ning shortly after the mid­dle of sev­en­teenth cen­tury, there was a large emi­gra­tion from Scotland to Ireland, hav­ing been brought about on account of reli­gious per­se­cu­tions the Scotch received at home.

The treat­ment and tor­ture dealt out to these pious reli­gious peo­ple, who held tena­ciously to the prin­ci­ples of the Presbyterian faith, by the [2] church of England, under the false cloak of reli­gion, would of itself fill a vol­ume much larger than that con­tem­plated in these pages, and ref­er­ence is merely made to show the stern and unwa­ver­ing char­ac­ter of a peo­ple who were dri­ven from post to pil­lar, and suf­fered almost unen­durable hard­ships and degra­da­tions, rather than depart from a prin­ci­ple which they believed to be the teach­ings of the Bible, as well as hav­ing the approval of their con­science. Thus, more than two cen­turies ago our ances­tral par­ents left their beau­ti­ful homes in their native land, and look­ing for the last time on the green slop­ing swords of the Grampian Hills and bid farewell for­ever to the graves of their fathers and moth­ers, and left behind all that was near and dear to them, even as their own lovely Scotland, and took up their march for the Emerald Isle, in the vain hope that the per­se­cu­tions and tri­als which had hith­erto made life hideous, would cease and they would be free to exer­cise their faith[,] which had so long been the desire of their con­science. [3] But alas! for human expec­ta­tions. Their sojourn is but for a while, until the broad and invit­ing land across the Atlantic bade them once more take up their line of march and plant their homes in the New World, where they would be free to wor­ship God accord­ing to the dic­tates of their own con­science, unhin­dered by church or state. Among the many fam­i­lies who thus emi­grated from Scotland to Ireland and later from Ireland to America, we might men­tion the fol­low­ing names: Forbesses, Stuarts, Hamiltons, Montgomerys, Alexanders, Grahams, Shaws, Moores, Lewises, Pattons, Mathews, Prestons, Baxtons, Lyles, Grigsbys, Crawfords, Comminses, Browns, Wallaces, Wilsons, Caruthers, Campbells, McClungs, McCues, McKees, McCowns, Lockridges, Boyds, Barclays, McDonals and Baileys, described as, “knights and gen­tle­men of Scotland, whose pros­per­ity holds good to this day.” They were Irish Presbyterians, who, being of Scotch extrac­tion, were called Scotch-Irish.

[4] These names are to-day famil­iar house-hold words of the names of our own land and are but a rep­e­ti­tion, and of the same lin­eal descent of their noble ances­tors, who, more than two cen­turies ago stood ever firm to the Magna Charta of Scottish rights, and ral­lied under their brave ban­ners, embla­zoned with the faith of their own creed, in the famous golden let­ters, “For Christ’s Crown and Covenant,” they waited undaunted, the tyranny of their foes.

As we have said, their sojourn in Ireland was but tem­po­rary, as to a large pro­por­tion of those who emi­grated there. Of course, many hin­dered by poverty and other causes no doubt, made that their per­ma­nent home.

The relief which they sought, they found but tem­po­rary in their new found homes in Ireland. Under the rule of tyrant kings, their suf­fer­ing and pun­ish­ment was endurable only for its con­trasts with their for­mer suf­fer­ing. Tithes and taxes demanded from their wrecked estates to sup­port a church, not of their own choice; restrained [5] from speak­ing their own opin­ions; liv­ing in a strange land; dwelling among ene­mies of their faith, all com­bined to make them an unhappy and rest­less peo­ple. Longing for new homes, the silent whis­pers came across the ocean that the Mayflower, years before had landed oth­ers, per­se­cuted like them­selves, safely on the other side of the blue waters. This gave them hope. “For thou, O, God, hast proved us, and thou hast tried us as sil­ver is tried; thou brought­est us into the net; thou layest afflic­tions upon our loins; thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; but though brought­est us out into a wealth place.” Gathering together what lit­tle worldly goods they pos­sessed, which was very mea­gre, and often noth­ing, save their Bible. They embarked for the New World, land­ing upon the banks of the Deleware, [sic] and many rested for a sea­son in the land of Pennsylvania.

William Penn, hav­ing been for­merly a sub­ject of the King of England, and wit­nessed the perse– [6] cution of his own church (though he him­self was a favorite of King James) it was but nat­ural that these peo­ple should seek out in the New World, those that had been per­se­cuted for con­science sake in the old world.

Among those who sought fresh relief and new homes amid the untrod­den forests of America, few stood higher or occu­pied posi­tions more exalted than the Grahams. During that bloody, treach­er­ous, and ever mem­o­rable strug­gle in England, Ireland and Scotland, in which King James was dethroned, and William, Price of Orange, a pres­by­ter­ian, became his suc­ces­sor — a time when no man could remain neu­tral, but, all must declare, either for the time hon­ored estab­lished church of England; the papistry of King James; or for that faith which they believed to be taught in Holy Writ. According to the dic­tates of their own con­science, the Grahams occu­pied promi­nent posi­tions on either side.

One Richard Graham, known as Viscount Preston, held the posi­tion of Secretary of State of [7] Scotland, under King James, about the year 1685; and his­tory tells us that he was one [of] the privy coun­cil, and most trusty advis­ers of the king; that his plans and rec­om­men­da­tions were often adhered to, rather than those of the king him­self. As a leader of the House of Commons, he coun­seled King James to reassem­ble the Houses of Parliament, in order to secure a peace­ful set­tle­ment of dif­fer­ences between church and state. He was also made Lord Lieutenant for both the coun­ties of Cumberland and Westmoreland, a posi­tion very rare and remark­able for one man to occupy.

During the absence of King James from the throne, who, on account of his fear of opposers, had fled to Salisbury, Richard Graham and four asso­ciates were appointed a com­mit­tee, known as the Council of Five, to trans­act the busi­ness of the Throne until such time as might be deemed expe­di­ent for the king to return.

The posi­tions of high honor and trust, held and occu­pied by this one man were many, and to rehearse [8] them all in detail, would require more space than it is our pur­pose here to con­sume in this brief sketch; suf­fice it to say that he seems to have been a leader of his party in both civic and mil­i­tary affairs; a min­is­ter at the courts of for­eign coun­tries; hon­ored, trusted and adhered to, and we might add, obeyed by kings; feared and esteemed by the House of Commons, and held in the high­est respect by the com­mon peo­ple. While he was true and devoted to King James, in the sense of patri­o­tism, it does not appear that he was a per­se­cu­tor of those who dif­fered from the king’s reli­gious views.

James Graham, of Claverhouse, vis­count of Dundee, was also a noted char­ac­ter in that event­ful strug­gle, and while his per­se­cu­tion of those who dif­fered from the reli­gious per­sua­sions of King James, must ever be deplored, we take con­so­la­tion in the fact that he but car­ried out the dic­tates and decrees of his Master. That his fidelity to the king was ever true through life, and even in the hour of death, is fully sub­stan­ti­ated [9] in his last utter­ance, after hav­ing spent an event­ful life in the king’s cause.

After King James had vacated the throne, and William and Mary had been tri­umphantly crowned, and the armies of James aban­doned and scat­tered, General Graham, with his indomitable will and ever-to-be admired energy, hop­ing against hope, col­lected together such as he could of the remain­ing frag­men­tary army of his escaped mas­ter and repaired to the Highlands of Scotland, where he suc­ceeded in inter­est­ing the Scottish Chiefs of those Highland Clans, in behalf of the cause of the late king. The remote­ness of these semi-barbarians from the active scene of war, cou­pled with their dis­in­cli­na­tion to inform them­selves of the nature of the con­flict, soon led them through the flu­ency of Graham’s speech to espouse his cause. Having sought and obtained the sym­pa­thy of all the prin­ci­pal chiefs of the var­i­ous clans, he assem­bled them together and a coun­cil was held to decide the mode of war­fare. The detached frag­men­tary of the army whom [10] Graham hith­erto com­manded, cha­grined with for­mer defeats, protested against a bat­tle with those who espoused the cause of King William. While the lead­ers of the Highland Clans urged imme­di­ate assault, say­ing their men were ready and eager for the fray.

General Graham was influ­enced by the coun­sel of the Highlanders, assur­ing them that he would lead them to vic­tory; that he him­self would march in front of his army; to this, his sub­or­di­nate offi­cers objected, say­ing, he was too valu­able a leader to expose his per­son in front of the bat­tle, and urged him to remain in the rear and dic­tate the move­ments of his army in the on-coming con­flict. To this Graham replied, “your peo­ple are accus­tomed to see­ing their leader in the van of bat­tle, and there I shall be seen this day, but after the deci­sion of this day, I shall be more care­ful of my per­son and not expose myself in action as hereto­fore has been my cus­tom.” After that state­ment, his army was com­manded to move for­ward, him­self being in the lead. [11]

Soon the foe was met and the bat­tle of Killikrankie was fought. Early in the engage­ment Graham was shot, hav­ing raised his hand above his head and stand­ing erect in his stir­rups, giv­ing com­mand, his shield or armour raised above his waist­band, expos­ing his per­son, when the ball took effect, he fell from his horse and one of his sub­or­di­nate offi­cers com­ing up to him, inquired if his injuries were fatal, Graham answered by say­ing, “How goes the cause of the king?” The atten­dant answered, “the cause of the king is well; how is your lord­ship?” Graham replied, “it mat­ters not for me, so the cause of the king is safe.” These were his last words. Though dying on the field, his army won a great vic­tory and the bat­tle of Killikrankie has passed into his­tory, as one of the most mem­o­rable events of that time. History hands down to us other names of the Grahams, who were more or less noted in their day and time, of which we might men­tion, Malcolm Graham, who is last, but by no means least, stood high in soci­ety and was [12] bound with a golden chain by King James the II to Ellen Douglass, the girl he loved so well; dis­hon­or­ing thus thy loyal name.

    Fetters and war­den for the Greame (Graham)
    His chain of gold the king unstrung;
    The links o’er Malcolm’s neck he flung,
    Then gen­tly drew the glit­ter­ing band,
    And laid the clasp on Ellen’s hand.

From the above selec­tion it will be noticed that the name is spelled Greame. Whether the author drew upon his poet­i­cal license for this mis­nomer or whether the name was some­times so spelled by the Scotts, we are unable to determine.

In the early set­tle­ment of this coun­try, when peo­ple paid but lit­tle atten­tion to the orthog­ra­phy of names — the name was often spelled Grimes. There seems, how­ever, to have been no author­ity what­ever for this con­tor­tion of the name.

The only excuse that might be offered for this mis­ap­pli­ca­tion of the name is that the names of the early set­tlers were scarcely, if ever, seen in print and but sel­dom in writ­ing, but were handed [13] orally from one to another, thus giv­ing plenty of oppor­tu­nity for mis­un­der­stand­ings. We can recall many names, which in our youth were pro­nounced dif­fer­ently from what they now are. To illus­trate, the name Stevenson was called “Stinson”; the name Withrow was called “Watherow”; Stodghill was called “Stargeon” and so on. We even find in this day a few of the old-styled fathers and moth­ers who do not like to dis­con­tinue the old-fashioned way of express­ing these names.

The Graham name in all English his­tory and in the his­tory of our coun­try, as well as in all the legal writ­ings per­tain­ing to the fam­ily, from the ear­li­est set­tle­ment in America down to the present time, is spelled as we now have it — Graham.

The peo­ple of Scotland of the same fam­ily tree were known as clans; and these clans seem to have been bound together by very strong and endear­ing ties.

Such were the adhe­sion of these fam­ily clans that they kept them­selves almost entirely aloof [14] from other clans; mar­riage and inter­mar­riage by mem­bers of one clan to another was scarcely admis­si­ble. If a mem­ber of one clan pro­voked or insulted a mem­ber of another clan, the insult was resented by the clan whose mem­ber had been insulted; thus we find arose many of the clan feuds, with which Scottish his­tory so much abounds.

Each clan had its offi­cial head chief or leader, whose duty it was to dic­tate to his peo­ple such a course as seemed to him most wise and dis­creet or that hap­pened to please the whims of his own fan­cies. In mil­i­tary affairs this leader or chief was expected to occupy the most dan­ger­ous posi­tions and to per­form the most dar­ing of the exploits in the heat of bat­tle. He must either win a vic­tory, in which he per­formed some noble part, or die in defeat.

The Graham clan was a very large and influ­en­tial one, and, per­haps, at the time of its great­est power, had for its offi­cial head James Graham, the Earl of Montrose, who laid down his life for love to his king.

[15] It is claimed in Scottish his­tory that the Graham fam­ily dates back for a thou­sand years, and has been con­spic­u­ous in the annal of their coun­try, “from hovel to the palace, in arts, in elo­quence and in song”. “It was a dar­ing man by the name of Graham that first broke through the walls of Agricola which the Roman gen­eral had built between the firths of the Clyde and Forth to keep off the incur­sions of the Northern Britons, and the ruins of which, still vis­i­ble, are called to this day the ruins of Graham’s Dyke”. [end of sec­tion, but not of page]

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