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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