Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Blairs of Ayrshire Scotland


The surname Blair was first used in the Scottish/English borderlands by the Strathclyde-Briton.  The first Blair family lived in the village of Blair, in County Ayrshire Scotland.  In ancient history they were known as the DeBlair Clan, being that they were "of Blair".  Their clan fought alongside Robert the Bruce and William Wallace in the 11th century.  Many genealogists have traced this line back as far as 1033, just prior to the Norman Conquest.  It's reasonable to assume that many lines have no older data.

BLAIR CASTLE
NOW FOR SALE!


A large number of Scottish Blairs, however (like many Scottish border clans), were banished by King James in the early 17th century, and forced to moved to Northern Ireland to help Scotland settle the historically Gaelic land and make it Protestant.  These people were known as the Ulster Scots.

David Blair (1613-1655) my 8th great grandfather, was born in Blair, Scotland, and was part of the Blair clan that was banished to Ulster, Northern Ireland.  He migrated to Aghadowey, in Londonderry County, Northern Ireland in the mid 1600s, and started a family there that lasted in Aghadowey for only two generations.

David's grandson Robert Blair (1684-1775) was born in Aghadowey.  Robert and his wife, Isabella Rankin, had many children, including my 5th great grandfather, Captain William Blair (1718- 1791).  Robert & Isabella and family (including Robert's parents) sailed to the New World in 1733, and landed in Massachusetts.  Robert died at 91 at the beginning of the American Revolution.  Many of his descendants remain in Massachusetts today

His son, Captain William Blair, made extensive purchases of land as early as 1744 in Worcester & Blandford, Massachusetts and also in Voluntown, CT.  He earned the rank of captain and served in many pre-Revolutionary campaigns in New England.  William left Massachusetts with his regiment in the fall of 1759 (also with his new wife, Jane Barnes), and started a settlement by driving the French settlers out.  The settlement occurred in Onslow Township in Colchester County, Nova Scotia, where their son James was born.

GRAVE OF CAPTAIN WILLIAM BLAIR
ONSLOW CEMETERY, NOVA SCOTIA

GRAVE OF JANE BARNES-BLAIR
ONSLOW CEMETERY, NOVA SCOTIA

James Blair (1766-1858) and Isabella Catherwood (1766-1795) were my 4th great grandparents.  They stayed in Onslow Township all their lives, where their daughter Isabel (1795-1868) was born, and where Isabel married a stone mason by the name of John Browning (1799-1868). 

John & Isabel were my 3rd great grandparents, and their children moved to Portland Maine, where their descendants still live today.  John and Isabel lived in Machias Maine toward the end of their lives, and John served time in Maine State Prison.  John died in either Machias or Nova Scotia by 1868, and Isabel died in Salem, Massachusetts of lung congestion in November of 1870.

In doing some research at the Mormon library, I was pleased to see that someone had saved a document that indexed all birth, marriage and death records from Nova Scotia newspapers in the 1800s.  Here is an abstract of the announcements I found as they relate to Blairs living in Nova Scotia, even though I don't know yet how they figure into my family:

-26 Mar 1797, Mr. John Blair died, 43 [grocer]

-27 Jan 1819 at London, Dr. Primrose Blair, Physician to the Fleet
-18 Nov 1819 at Truro by Rev. J. Waddle:  Marriage of Mr. William Blair & Susannah, youngest daughter of James Kent, Esq.

-23 Aug 1830, by Rev. F. Uniacke:  Richard Inglis, Esq. married Jane, daughter of Major Blair.

-9 Sep 1832, at Cornwallis, by Rev. J. Moore:  Adam Gordon Blair, Esq. & Harriette, youngest daughter of late Colin Campbell, Esq.

-4 Dec 1833, James Blair, Esq., died at 75.

-3 Mar 1835, at Truro by Rev. J. Burnyeat:  Marriage of Joseph McLean Dickson and Lavinia, 2nd daughter of James D. Blair

-7 Apr 1835, at Onslow by Rev. J. Baxter:  Marriage of William Elliot & Jane, 3rd daughter of James Blair, Sr.

-14 Jan 1836, at Onslow by Rev. J.J. Baxter:  Marriage of Daniel Cock, Jr., of Truro & Agnes, 2nd daughter of Samuel Blair

-21 Mar 1848, by Rev. R. Arnold:  John Bell, Workington, Cumberland, Eng & Miss Jane Elizabeth Blair, Halifax.

-1 Jul 1848, Joseph Howe, died at 6, youngest son of John Blair

-9 Dec 1848 (Friday last at Halifax:  Corporal Samuel Blair & Miss Agnes Blyth, from Aberdeen, Scotland.

-24 May 1849, at Truro by Rev. W. McCulloch:  H.L. Dickey, Cornwallis & Nancy, eldest daughter of James D. Blair

-2 Aug 1849 at Liverpool by Rev. J. McMurray:  John Blair & Miss Letitia R. Burnaby

-5 Dec 1849, at St. John, N.B., by Rev. Mr. Dimock:  John Blair, Onslow & Caroline M., 2nd daughter of late Captain Forsyth

-14 Jun 1851, Adam Gordon Blair, died in Halifax at 46.

***

SOURCES:
The Blair Family of New England, published 1900 by David Clapp & Son

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