Nielsen Hayden genealogy

Alexander Magruder

Male Abt 1610 - 1677  (~ 67 years)

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  • Name Alexander Magruder  [1
    Born Abt 1610  Belliclone, Maderty Parish, Perthshire, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location  [2, 3
    Gender Male 
    Alternate birth 1610  of Prince George's County, Maryland Find all individuals with events at this location  [4
    Died Between 12 Mar 1677 and 17 Apr 1677  Calvert County, Maryland Find all individuals with events at this location  [2, 5, 6
    Person ID I34711  Ancestry of PNH, TNH, and others | Ancestor of JMF
    Last Modified 11 Nov 2021 

    Father Alexander McGruder,   b. Abt 1569, Craigneich, Muthill Parish, Perthshire, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Bef 1 May 1617  (Age ~ 48 years) 
    Mother Margaret Campbell,   b. Abt 1571, of Keithick, Couper Angus Parish, Perthshire, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Aft 8 Aug 1631  (Age ~ 60 years) 
    Married Bef 26 May 1605  [2
    Family ID F20407  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Sarah,   d. Between 1671 and 1672 
    +1. Samuel Magruder,   b. Abt 1660,   d. 1711  (Age ~ 51 years)
    Last Modified 2 May 2021 
    Family ID F20406  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • One of JMF's two gateway ancestors, but fittingly, given JMF's delight in ambiguity and historical contingency, his status as a "gateway ancestor" is controversial. In 2015, the lineage society the Order of the Crown of Charlemagne announced that Margaret Campbell was not his mother and therefore his descendants no longer qualified for membership, but (to the best of our knowledge, and that of historian Susan Tichy), no evidence for this was put forth.

      It is certainly true that the evidence for the Maryland immigrant being the Alexander who was second son of Alexander McGruder and Margaret Campbell is circumstantial. In our view, it passes the test of being strong enough circumstantial evidence to warrant recording what appears to be the probable line.

      From Susan Tichy, "Was Alexander Who We Think He Was?":

      But how do we know he was the second son of these parents?

      We don't, not absolutely. We believe it on the basis of two pieces of evidence.

      1) In Maryland, Alexander named three of his plantations for Dunblane (a cathedral town in Perthshire), Craigneich (the farm where Alexander Magruder the elder was born), and Inchaffray (an abbey and estate near Maderty, where Alexander the elder was chamberlain--corrupted in Maryland to Anchovie Hills). Craigneich is especially convincing because it was (and is) a private farm, not a large estate. It is unlikely a man without intimate connections there would have bestowed this name on a Maryland farm, and few would have had such connections.

      Alexander named no plantations for Balmaclone (or Belliclone) where he is believed to have been born. That was a Drummond farm, to which his mother had a lifetime right as widow of her first husband, Andrew Drummond. Craigneich was a McGruder farm and had been for several generations. Alexander was seven or eight years old when his father died and his mother remarried, at which point he probably would have been sent to live at Craigneich to be raised by his father's family.

      2) The Records of the Privy Council (vol. viii, pp 101-102) show that on 22 November, 1622, one "Alexander McA Growder," twelve years old, was fined for illegally carrying arms and shooting deer and wildfowl with some other boys at Spittalsfield, Caputh Parish, near Cargill, about six miles from Dunkeld.

      This provides a birth date of ~1610, which places him after James, the known eldest son of Alexander Magruder and Margaret Campbell. This family–and James especially–also show strong association with Cargill. Later in his life, James Magruder is identified as being either in Cargill, indicating he lived there, or of Cargill, indicating he owned land there. In one record he is designated Laird of Cargill, which, if accurate, indicates a significant elevation in status.

      And that's it. That's our positive evidence.

      What we might call negative evidence boils down to the simple fact that no other candidate can be found in the records. McGruders / MacGrouthers were few in number, so other choices for where to locate Alexander among known families would be slim. In 1620, John McGrouther (brother of Alexander the elder) purchased land in Meigor, in Glen Artney, thus making the rare step from tenant to landowner. His descendants owned this farm until the 19th century when the line died out. Because of land ownership, there are more records for that family than for any other. Among them there is no Alexander who could be our immigrant, nor is there a Maryland plantation called Meigor.

      Don McGruther has found a few McGruthers, MacCrouthers, and other variations of the name, scattered through the southern Highlands, Edinburgh, and as far as Ireland, but it seems far-fetched to imagine that Alexander came from one of those families. His strong attachment to Perthshire, in particular to Inchaffray and Craigneich, establishes his origins in the McGrouther heartland.

      From Susan Tichy, "Alexander Magruder, The Immigrant":

      [Alexander Magruder] was the first of his name in America. Born about 1610 at the small estate of Belliclone (now Nether Belliclone farm) in Madderty Parish, Perthshire, in Scotland's Central Highlands, Alexander was the son of Alexander McGruder, the elder, and Margaret Campbell of Keithick. He is believed to have arrived in Maryland in January 1652 as a prisoner of war, having been captured during Cromwell's invasion of Scotland late in the civil wars that attended the Protestant Reformation. Upon arrival, Alexander was sold into indentured servitude. In the disease-ridden Chesapeake, half of all indentured servants died within a year. Those who survived their term--most commonly five years--received their freedom and a "headright" to 50 acres of unimproved land--which they first had to find, then pay a surveyor and, for a fee, register their ownership. Alexander received his first of two headrights in November 1653, indicating that he served a remarkably short indenture. He went on to be one of the largest landowners among formerly indentured men of his generation. Historian Russell R. Menard, who studied men who arrived as indentured servants from 1648-1652, identifies him as one of only three who owned more than 1,000 acres when they died.

  • Sources 
    1. [S1579] The Royal Descents of 900 Immigrants to the American Colonies, Quebec, or the United States, Who Were Themselves Notable or Left Descendants Notable in American History by Gary Boyd Roberts. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2018.

    2. [S5590] Charles G. Kurz, "The McGruder Lineage in Scotland to Magruder Family of America." Yearbook of the American Clan Gregor Society 63, p. 53, 1979.

    3. [S5591] Charles G. Kurz, "The Ancestral History of Margaret Campbell of Keithick (1571 - c. 1631)." Yearbook of the American Clan Gregor Society 62, p. 55, 1978.

    4. [S6113] Nathaniel Lane Taylor, "My Children's Royal Descents.".

    5. [S5591] Charles G. Kurz, "The Ancestral History of Margaret Campbell of Keithick (1571 - c. 1631)." Yearbook of the American Clan Gregor Society 62, p. 55, 1978., year and place only.

    6. [S6113] Nathaniel Lane Taylor, "My Children's Royal Descents.", year only.