Early McALEXANDER History
Ralph Hayes has summarized the ancestry and arrival in America of James and Thomas McALEXANDER using data from several McAlexander researchers. Article is written in the first-person. Additional McAlexander researchers listed at bottom of page. Document courtesy of Ralph Hayes, 3-July-1998.

Birth date, birth place and parents of James McAlexander

I have seen Londonderry, Ireland, County Antrim, Ireland, and Scotland. Every source I have seen, except one, has been secondary sources and their rationale or reasoning for selecting that location is unknown. Let me list some of them:

1) Dr. and Mrs. Mavis Parott Kelsey, Sr, Samuel Kelso/Kelsey 1720- 1796, Scotch-Irish Immigrant and Revolutionary Patriot of Chester County, South Carolina, author:Houston, Tx, 1984, pages 447, 448, 455, 457, 458. Kelsey provides considerable information on this family with information obtained from Shelby Reeves Powers of Holly Springs, Miss. (now deceased) on 28 Oct 1973. The McAlexander family originated in Scotland. It is not a large clan, some say part of the McDonald clan. It is not known if the McAlexanders moved to Ireland before moving to America. James and Thomas McAlexander are evidently the first of the name in America. Probably they were brothers.

2) Letter from Virginia L. Wiatt to Ralph Hayes 11 Jan 1996. (As far as I know Virginia is not on the internet.) Virginia included a write up on James McAlexander as well as some family group sheets. James McAlexander was born in Londonderry, North Ireland in 1715 and died in Amherst Co., VA in 1798. Name of wife is not known for sure, some say Sara, others Mary. James had five sons of which the first three must have been born in Ireland from their birth dates.

3) Message from Peggy Light to Ralph Hayes , subject: Re: McAlexander in Patrick Co., VA, date: Thu, 06 Feb, 1997. "I was in Patrick Co over the holidays and visited their historical society, they had a history of the McAlexander family that someone had prepared. In it the author states that the elder William's father was James McAlexander born c1725 in Scotland, died 1798 in either Albemarle or Pittsylvania Co., Va. The author further states that James' father was Robert McAlexander, born c1680 in County Ayr, Scotland."

4) Message from Ken to Ralph Hayes , dated 24 May 1997, subject: MCALEXANDERS HISTORY OF MCALEXANDERS IN PATRICK COUNTY, VIRGINIA. The following received from Eunice B. Kirkman, a McAlexander descendant. Ms. Kirkman resides in Stuart, Virginia, in Patrick County. 1. Robert McAlexander b. cir 1680, County Ayr, Scotland. The McAlexander name originated in Scotland. It is not a large clan; some say it is part of the McDonald Clan. Many of it's members drop the MC or Mac prefix. We do not know when our family came to the colonies, but they were in Virginia by 1756 when Thomas and James received land grants. It is not known whether the McAlexanders moved to Ireland before coming to America. Their ancestral homes in Scotland were in the region of Ayr, in the same general area of the Kelsos. "CORSCLAYS." The old house of Corsclays stood at the junction of the Muck and the Stinchar. The property originally was of small extent, being only a two mark land; but the McAlexanders, to whom it belonged from an early period acquired large possessions in the vicinity. The first of the family that we meet with was Thomas McAlexander of Corsclays, who must have died before 1603, in which year his son, George McAlexander of Corsclays was retoured in the lands of Pinmore and others. George died before 1619, and was succeeded by his son, Robert McAlexander of Corsclays, who in 1649 was appointed curator and overseer to the son of the Rev. Andor Millar, deceased minister of Ayr. (Commissary records of Glasgow). He had a son, George, whose name occurs in the testament of "George Wat, merchant burge of Air," as one of his debtors. George, however, seems to have predeceased his father. Robert Mcalexander of Corsclays, heir of Robert, his father, was retoured in the property in 1658." The article goes on to describe the holdings of the Mcalexanders in Scotland (notice the name is spelled with a small "a".)... "The McAlexanders of Corsclays had thus considerable property. They were connected with the Dalreoch and Drummochrine families, all of whom have long since been extinct."

5) Harold Smith, Up the Brammer Spur Trail (VA), 1990, pp 32-39, copy obtained from Jeanne Tomlin, Spokane, WA. James McAlexander, grandfather of Hannah was born in Ireland in 1715.

6) Bette Butcher Topp, Alexander Agenda, vol 1, 1985, pp 20-22. Copy obtained from Jeanne Tomlin, Spokane, WA. Branch #34 submitted by Peggy Burton Rich, Clemson, SC. James McAlexander was b. c1715.

7) James McAlexander was christened 17 Feb 1717 in Barr-Girvan, Ayr, Scotland, parents listed as Alexander McAlexander and Jonet McAndlish. Source: Jeanne Tomlin who extracted it from Scottish Church Records as found in LDS microfilm C115802.

Here's how I see it. We have an exact christening date from a primary source. Is he ours is the big question? Four things I can think of lean me to say yes: 1) Other sources say maybe Scotland, 2) a Mc name is Scottish, 3) the time frame is about correct, and 4) his father was named Alexander and James names one of his boys Alexander. Nothing is 100% sure in genealogy but this info seems to be the best. He may have moved to Ireland before coming to VA. Jeanne also sent me this extract: James McEshander, head of Protestant household was in Killcranoghen Parish, Laughlinshillin, Barony, Derry, Ireland in 1740. I really cannot see McEshander as McAlexander unless it was really mangled in the translation.

So as I see it, the best info seems to be that James was christened in 1717 in Scotland, which makes him the son of Alexander.

Arrival of James McAlexander in America

James McAlexander bought land in 1756. Virginia State Land Office, Index and Abstracts of Patents and Grants, as recorded in LDS microfilm #29313 and a copy can be downloaded from Paul E. Pennebaker's file located at: http://webpages.charter.net/pepbaker/mcalxlg.htm or from references cited therein.

In Albermarle County, Book 34, p21, James McAlexander obtained 150 acres on north fork of Davis Creek on 10 Mar 1756. This seemed to be the earliest record and set his arrival date. HOWEVER, Jeanne Tomlin found this reference: The survey book No. 1 for Albemarle Co., VA recorded his survey in 1746 but with a twist. "This is a plot of 150 acres of land on the north fork of Davis Creek surveyed for John Confay(?) Feb 6th, 1746 by ..." Inside the surveyed block was "150 Transferred to James McAlexander." The date of 1746 appears to be correct in that the others on that page had the same year. Does that appear that the land was surveyed for John but he sold it to James before the ink was dry? Also in this book are two surveys for Thomas McAlexander, the other early McAlexander that bought land in 1756 as well. His surveys were done in 1749. There is no doubt that Thomas McAlexander was in VA prior to his purchase date in 1756. If Thomas and James are brothers as many of us have speculated, I would have thought they would have come together. Has anyone any experience with a problem like this with two names on the survey?

from: Ralph Hayes

Arrow Up Prepared by Paul E. Pennebaker, 22-Mar-1999.