Ancestor of the Month
Our ancestor William Magill’s
family has been traced back to c1650 in Scotland when his grandfather, Robert Magill III, was born at Oxenfurd, Calloway County. Robert and his wife had three sons:
(1) William I (b1670-d?), (2) John I (b. 1675-d. after 1758), and (3) Charles I (b. 1682-d?). Because
of religious persecution and unfair labor practices, in 1715 Robert took his extended family (including his sons and their
wives and families) from Scotland to Tullycarn, County Down, Ireland, settling near Dromore, a few miles south of Belfast. Since they moved from Scotland to Ireland, the family may be labeled as Scotch-Irish,
but the Magills did not consider themselves Irish at all.
In 1713 when William I
(our William’s father) was about 43 years old and still living in Scotland, he married (1) Mary Eakin. Their first son, our William, is said to have been born in Northern Ireland shortly after his parents emigrated
from Scotland. William I and Mary eventually had eight children: 3 sons and 5 daughters.
1. William Magill II, born c1715 in Ireland, died 28 October 1806 in Greene Co., Tennessee He married (1) wife unknown. and (2) Jean/Jane Fowler?
born c1725. William
is our ancestor
2. Esther Magill, born c1715 in Ireland. She married Hugh
Campbell c1739/1740. Hugh was born c1705 in Coleraine, Ireland, the son
of Robert and Margaret Campbell. Esther and Hugh had 7 children, some of whom
ended up in Kentucky.
3. Jane Magill, born c1717 in Ireland. She married (1) William
Dickson and (2) Unknown Magee/McKee. Jane and William had one son.
4. Ann Magill, born c1719 in Ireland. She married Robert Fowler
5. John Magill II, born c1720 in Tullycarn, Ireland, died c1816. He married in 1749 to (1) Mary Cravens, daughter of Robert Cravens, and after 1763
to (2) Agnes Cravens. He and Mary had 8 children, including John Magill, historian
and author. He and Agnes had no children.
Agnes may have been Mary’s sister. (One source gives his wife as
6. Sarah Magill, born c1722
in Ireland. She married William Berry.
7. James Magill, born c1724 in Tullycarn, Ireland. He died
in Rockingham Co., Virginia. He married a Miss Alexander. He and his wife
had 8 children.
8. Elizabeth Eleanor "Betty" Magill, born c1726 in Tullycarn,
Ireland. She married twice. She married first to James Berry. Her second husband
Unfortunately, about 10
years after the Magills moved from Scotland to Ireland, friction developed between the Scottish Presbyterians and the Irish Roman Catholics, and
about 1725 or 1726, all three of the Magill sons became part of the unhappy Scots who were leaving Ireland for the colonies
in America. Robert and his wife stayed in Tullycarn, Co. Down, Ireland and did not
make the trip. He died there after 10 Oct 1749.
Move to the Colonies
When the Magill family
decided to emigrate from Ireland to the colonies, William I brought all his family with him.
Whether his brothers John and Charles did the same is not clear. Apparently
William and Charles arrived together in Bucks County PA in 1727, but their brother John arrived at some earlier or later time. John did, however, make it to the colonies. (He was buried in Augusta Co., VA in 1758.) In September 1838, over 100 years after William and Charles reportedly arrived, another
John Magill (son of John II and grandson of William I) said in a letter to one of his nephews that his grandfather (William
I) and his family came to the colonies in 1727. This letter helps verify the
Magill’s arrival date in America.
It is possible that Mary
Eakin died before the Magills left Ireland for America; one researcher suggests that she may have died on the 2-month ocean
voyage as death on the passage to America was a frequent occurrence. Mary
may have made it to the colonies, but she apparently died sometime around 1727 or shortly thereafter. William I remarried in the colonies, but, unfortunately, we do not have
specific dates for his marriages.
He married (2) Elizabeth Bell sometime before 1745, and (3) Margaret Gass sometime between 1745 and 1749. Margaret was the widow of John Gass who had apparently left her well off financially, for when William
I died, she renounced her share of his will so that his children could inherit more.
All of William’s children came from the marriage with his first wife, Mary Eakin.
There were no children from either his second or third marriage, although Margaret had a son, David Gass, from her
first marriage. (It is interesting to note that even though Margaret
renounced any claim to her husband’s estate, when the accounts were paid for claims against the estate on 15 November
1758, Margaret Magill was one of nine people who each received 9 pounds, 1 shilling, and sixpence from the will's executors,
Hugh Campell and Robert Cravens.)
(There is some disagreement
over William II’s date of birth. Some sources say he was born in 1715;
others say 1725. [ DAR applications indicate 1725]. Since he was apparently the “first born son, ” and since his siblings were born between 1715-1726,
it would seem more likely that William was born c1715. In addition, 1715-1726 would allow all the Magill children to be born
before making the trip to the colonies.)
Early Homes in America
Like many of our ancestors,
the Magills chose Bucks County, PA as their new home because of the religious freedom and inexpensive land promised by William
Penn. They stayed there for a time, and then, sometime before 1740, William and
James moved their families south to the frontier and even less expensive land. They
eventually settled in the Shenandoah Valley in Augusta Co., VA.
William Rises to Prominence and Takes a Wife
William II became a man
of prominence after the family moved to Augusta County, VA. He was active in
the Presbyterian church and in local politics. (He was a Whig.) He was appointed as a road overseer on 11 Feb 1745, and the following year he was appointed Constable. He became an important landowner in the area after inheriting half of his father’s land in 1749, and continued to add to his landholdings as time went on. On 11 Apr 1754, William served as appraiser for Robert Foil's estate. In 1758 he was appointed guardian for his nephew,
John Berry, after the boy’s father James Berry died. (James was married
to William’s sister “Betty.”) In 1762 William served
on an Augusta County jury. Since the name William Magill is the eighth entry in the first book of county records in Augusta County, our
ancestor is rightly considered one of the first settlers in the region. (This
eighth entry was the one made11 Feb 1745 above when the county court appointed William and one of his neighbors, Thomas Stinson,
to “view” a road between two locations. This “viewing”
meant that William and Thomas were to keep the road in good repair, although the county would assume expenses.)
By the time our William
II had grown to adulthood, he was a rather striking man. He was six feet tall
and had blue eyes and dark hair. He was robust and healthy. (My source for this description is another Magill researcher who did not specify where he found the information. I’m taking it on faith—sometimes an unwise practice.) Though he had only
a primary education, William attracted the eye of his first wife—name unknown—whom he probably married in the
late1740’s in Rockingham Co., VA. At the time he was about 25-30 years
old. William II and his first wife had five children: four boys and one girl
1. William Magill III (b.18 Nov 1750-d.?) m. Jean Unknown. He was a distiller and a man of some means.
He and Jean had 8 children.
2. Samuel Magill (our ancestor) (b. 1751-d.1809) m. Martha Reed Shannon, widow of James/Joseph Shannon on 4 Nov 1782. Samuel and Martha had at least
7 children, including Martha “Polly” Magill, our ancestor who grew up to marry Reuben Hatcher, Sr. Samuel also became guardian of James/Joseph Shannon’s orphan daughters: Jean and Margaret. In addition, he apparently served as guardian
for Darcas Shannon who is mentioned in his will. Darcas is believed to be the
daughter of Margaret Shannon who either married a Shannon or was a single mother.) (James/Joseph
Shannon’s son William was under the guardianship of Capt. Wm. Herring.) Samuel
Magill outlived his father by only three years.
3. Elizabeth Magill (b.c1755-d?) m. Thomas Walker, Sr. The couple lived in Blount County, TN, and were parents of Rebecca Walker who married Elijah Hatcher. (Elijah is the Hatcher who was “bushwhacked” during the Civil War.) Elizabeth and Thomas had 10 children
4. Robert Magill (b. c1757-d?) m. (1) Mary Craig in 1779; m. (2) Susan Walker in 1801; m. (3) Polly Hall in 1808.
Robert moved to Sullivan Co., IN
5. James Magill (b. c1758-d.24 Aug 1840) m. (1) Betsy Evans and (2) Mary McMeans. James and Betsy had
2 children; James and Mary had 10
All five of William and
his first wife’s children were born in Augusta County, VA.
William I died in Augusta County, VA in 1749, at the age of 79,
and his sons inherited land and other items from him at that time. Our William
fared best in the bequests, probably because he was oldest. He received half
his father's land, his father's white coat, a saddle, tools, plow irons, a mare, a horse, and a portion of the household goods. Brother James received the family’s "Big Bible,"
half his father's land, and a heifer for his son William. Brother John received
a yearling mare and his father’s brown coat. Realizing that the dates are
somewhat “iffy,” the young men were probably about 34, 29, and 25 respectively.
(Numerous dates in the
Magill family history are suspect. For example, some sources say our William
was 24 when his father died and that he married 5 years later. Since his father died in 1749 and William had 3 children by
1755, William II’s wedding date is probably around 1748 or 49 (around the time his father died) rather than 1754 or
55. On the other hand, being 24 years of age when his father died lends credence
to the idea that William may have been born in 1725 instead of 1715.)
After William’s II’s
first wife died around 1758, he married Jean/Jane Fowler, daughter of Robert Fowler, one of the Magill’s neighbors. The couple had three additional children—all boys—to add to the family.
1. John Magill II (b. 1759-d?)
m. Ann Ferris
2. Hugh Magill (b. c1761-d.?) m. Mary Henry. (Hugh, William
3, and John moved to Lincoln Co., KY. By 1820, Hugh had moved again to
Sullivan County, IN)
3. Charles Magill II (b.c1764-d.?) m. Elizabeth Lester. Charles also moved to Sullivan Co., IN
William and Jean were involved
in a number of land deals. In 1769 they deeded 400 acres of land on Buffalo Lick
Branch to Charles Phillips. They had bought that land in 1760 from William and
James Bell. On 18 Aug 1772 William bought 150 acres on Cooks Creek from Joseph
Cravens. The land sold to Charles Phillips and the land bought from Joseph Cravens
amounted to 5 shillings per parcel. Indeed, land was inexpensive at that
time in Virginia.
Before the Revolutionary
War broke out, the Magills served in the colonial militias. Several served during
the French and Indian Wars. After the Revolution began, William and his kin did
their part in defending and protecting our country.
In September of 1758, both William Magill
Sr. and Jr. (I and II) were awarded 3 shillings each for being part of the Militia of the County of Augusta, VA and for furnishing supplies.
William III began military service around
1777, participating in the VA Dunmore's War. He was a Quartermaster and a wagon
master in Capt. Joseph Haynes Company, Bedford Co., VA. Later he was involved
in additional military service in 1781 at Charlottesville, NC, fighting Cornwallis.
On 30 Mar 1782 William was paid for military supplies, teams, and so forth. He
served as wagon master under Gen. Wayne on 26 May 1783 at Rockingham Co., VA.
William I’s brother John I (Our
William’s uncle) was listed as “one of the Colonial soldiers and pensioners of Old Frederick county, which adjoined
Augusta County on the northeast in the Valley of Virginia." This was also part
of the pre-Revolutionary Colonial militia.
Our William’s Uncle James began
militia service in 1758 at Augusta Co., VA, and served in the militia with his brothers and two sons
Our William’s son John II had a
distinguished military career. He enlisted 23 September 1777 in Capt. George
Moffett's Co., Col. John Dickinson's VA Regiment. While serving in Capt. James
Tate's Co. under Maj. Triplett, he marched to the mouth of the Kanawha River to fight against the Wyandotte Indians at an
important Revolutionary battle.
William II’s son and John II’s
half-brother, James, also had a distinguished career. A family member wrote of
Magill enlisted in Rockingham County, Virginia, in the month of September, year not given, and served four months as private
in Captain Craven's company, Colonel Benjamin Harrison's Virginia regiment, was out against the Shawnee Indians, and assisted
in building Forts MacIntosh and Laurens. He volunteered, shortly afterwards, and served three weeks in Captain Craven's company
in Colonel Harrison's regiment, in pursuit of Tories in Hampshire County. He enlisted sometime in June, 1781, served two months
in Captain Hanson's company in Colonel Harrison's regiment, and was in the Battle of Jamestown.”
(our ancestor who was son of our William and father of Martha Magill, wife of Reuben Hatcher) participated
in an "expedition against the Cherokees" in 1778 under the command of Capt. John Gilmore
(Our Magill ancestors, like so many of our other ancestors, named their children the same names. Keeping them straight is difficult, but I think I have the correct Johns, James, and Williams above. If you notice any discrepancies, please let me know.)
While the war was going
on, one theory suggests that William II’s second wife, Jean/Jane returned to her home county in Bedford County PA while
her husband, sons, and stepsons were fighting. After the war was over they returned
to VA but soon decided to move again. (In William II’s will, his wife
is called Jean in one place and Jane in another.)
The Family Moves to Tennessee
In 1783 after the Revolution
when William II was about 68 years old, the Magill family—father, mother, seven sons, a daughter, and assorted spouses
and children—migrated south from VA to a wilderness region where land was fertile and cheap. At the time the area was part of NC, but it eventually became part of TN.
In 1784 when the petition for an independent state of Franklin was presented, William Magill (our William II) was one
of the signers. The state of Franklin existed for a brief period but was not
added to the US. Eventually the area was expanded and became TN, the sixteenth
state of the union. The Magills were living in the area that became Greene County,
In Greene County, TN, William’s
plantation lay on Meadow Creek and consisted of 300 acres. In addition, he owned
other land in the area. His sons, too, owned plantations of some size. (I am not being pretentious in using the term plantation; William himself uses the word in his will.)
Wherever the Magills lived,
they were quite religious and staunchly Presbyterian. In PA they had been churchgoers. In VA they attended the Tinkling Spring Church in Augusta Co., and some of the Magill children were baptized there by Rev. John
Craig. In TN they were charter members of the Timber Ridge Presbyterian
Church. Later, after our William’s son James died, some of his children
moved to GA and were among the founders of the Chickamauga Presbyterian Church in Catoosa County near Ringgold, Georgia.
James’ son, Robert, was the first elder of the church after it was organized on 2 September 1837.
William III’s Adventures
seemed to enjoy being on the frontier more than in more heavily populated areas. Our
William’s son, William III, was no exception. In 1803 he and two
friends, Innis Harris and Nehemiah G.
Lostater, applied at the Cherokee Indian Agency at Southwest Point, New Kingston, Tennessee, for a permit to
go into the Indian Territory inhabited by the Cherokees. This territory heretofore
had been entered only by “trappers, traders, and missionaries." William Magill’s permit allowed him to ply his trade as a blacksmith among
William III and his friends traveled approximately seventy-five miles from Kingston in Roane County to a trading post
called the Old French Store which was located just above Moccasin Bend on the Tennessee River where Chattanooga is now located. Apparently their endeavors were successful. William III was known as an explorer, pioneer, distiller, and blacksmith. He eventually ended up in Hamilton Co., TN
William II’s Death
By the time the family
moved to TN in 1783 our William was in his late 60’s. He lived to see most
of his children move away to other counties and states. When he was in his 90’s
William became ill and wrote his will 19 Jun 1806. He died sometime between that
date and 28 Oct 1806 when the will was probated. He was 92 years old.
Last Will of William Magill, Sr.
(actually William II)
In the name of God, amen. I, William Magill, of the County of Greene and State of Tennessee, farmer, being
in a bad state of health but of perfect mind and memory thanks be given unto God, calling unto mind the mortality of my body,
and knowing that it is appointed for all men once to die, do make and ordain this my last will and testament . . . That is
to say, principally and first of all I give and recommend my soul into the hand of Almighty god that gave it and my body I
recommend to the earth, to be buried in decent Christian burial at the discretion of my Executors, nothing doubting but at
the general resurrection I shall receive the same again by the mighty power of God. And as touching such worldly estate wherewith
it has pleased God to bless me in this life, I give, devise, and dispose of the same in the following manner and form . .
First I give and bequeath to Jean Magill my dearly beloved wife the whole of my household furniture, also
her choice of two milk cows and two steers out of my stock of cattle, and my riding mare, her side saddle and bridle together
with my negro woman named Jude, the whole of which I bequeath to her as her absolute property, and also one ewe and one lamb.
I give and bequeath unto Samuel Magill, William Magill, James Magill, Robart [sic] Magill, John Magill, Hugh Magill,
and Charles Magill my sons, and Elizabeth Walker, my daughter, wife to Thomas Walker, the residue of my stock of cattle to
be equally divided amongst them.
Thirdly, I give and bequeath unto my beloved sons Hugh Magill and Charles Magill the
whole plantation on which I live for to remain in one entire tract until they may agree to dispose of it and then the money
or property from thence arising shall be equally divided between them reserving a comfortable living for my dearly and well
beloved wife Jane Magill out of the plantation or of the profits arising therefrom at sale during her natural life.
Fourthly, I hereby make, constitute, ordain and appoint Hugh Magill and Charles Magill my sole executors
of this my last will and testament and I do hereby utterly disallow, revoke, and disannul all and every former testaments,
wills, and bequests and executors by me in anyways before named, willed, and bequeathed.
Ratifying and confirming this
and no other to be my last will and testament. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this nineteenth day
of July in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and six.
William Magill (seal)
We do not know how long Jean/Jane lived after William died, but we do know that she survived him.
William Magill’s life was lengthy, adventurous, and productive.
He and his family became part of the new land to which they had come and were indeed models for the kind of pioneer
we tend to think of as American.
William Magill was Mary Elizabeth (Betsy) Hatcher’s 3 great grandfather. If you are Mamaw’s great, great grandchild, William is your 7-great grandfather.
Line of Descent from William Magil, ll to Mary Elizabeth (Betsy)
William Magill (1715-1806) +
Unknown (?- c 1758)
Samuel Magill (1751- 1809) + Martha Reed Shannon (c1754-aft
Marthew/Martha (Polly) Magill (1802-1875) + Reuben Hatcher (1798-1970)
James H. (Pete) Hatcher (1839-1911) + Mary Elizabeth McInturff (1837-1915)
Elder Israel Alexander Hatcher (1860-1950) + Susan Sutton (1866-1903)
Mary Elizabeth (Betsy) Hatcher (1889-1969) + Rev. Eli McCarter (1886-1955)
Butler, Steven R. “The Magill Family “http://www.watermelon-kid.com/family/bios/magill_family.htm#magill3
“Excerpts from MAGILL FAMILY HISTORY.” Compiled by A. C.
Magill, 1950; Revised by Delbert R. Wilson, 1983. http://www.electriccemetery.com/dkpmag01.htmlMAGILL
Hages, Linda. “Family Group Sheets:
Magill Family Genforum http://genforum.genealogy.com/magill
McCarter Family Charts and Group Sheets
McGill Family Genealogy
VAAugust L Archives