Irvine Family

First Generation

John Irvine, reportedly of Larne, Ireland, immigrated with his wife Mary Boyd, probably about 1730 and probably in company with James and Sarah (McCune) McElroy whose three sons would eventually marry three of John and Mary's daughters. The tradition that John Irvine was one of seven brothers, all of whom immigrated together on the "George and Anne" in 1729, appears to be false, nor was he a Presbyterian minister, as is sometimes reported.

A detailed account of the nearly disastrous 1729 voyage of the George and Anne survives, but the Irvines are not listed as passengers, nor does this account correspond to one written by John and Mary's grandson, William Irvine, which states that John and Mary's voyage was made "without storm or tempest" although whales nearly overturned the ship at one point, and that John and Mary's first child, Abraham, was born during the voyage.

All accounts agree that John and Mary initially settled in Pennsylvania, and that they moved their young family south to Virginia in the late 1730s, where they were the first settlers at Hat Creek, in what is now Campbell County. However, "Facts and Fiction about Hat Creek", which is based on William Irvine's account states, "These families all landed at Philadelphia and settled in the same Pennsylvania county, where the Irvins lived until seven other children were born. Upon hearing glowing reports of the frontier parts of Virginia, John made an exploratory trip to Virginia. He found the reports true and before returning to Pennsylvania he selected as a site for a future home Hat Creek in (then) Brunswick County, Virginia. A year later, he together with his family and two servants, returned to the Virginia site previously selected and established himself and family in the house, built on his first trip to the area, about one mile north east of this church near the banks of Little Falling River. This was between 1736 and 1739."

See my Hat Creek documents page for copies of William Irvine's history and the "Facts and Fiction" manuscript, together with other Hat Creek material.

I think it's unlikely that all the children were born in Pennsylvania before the family moved to Virginia. Besides the fact that this leaves barely enough time for them to be born if none were twins, it makes the younger daughters too old for their later marriage and childbearing. In particular, the Asher-Fawcett manuscript calls attention to the fact that Nancy Esther, supposedly the third child, didn't marry until she was at least 30, and that her last child was born in 1779 or 1780, when by this reckoning she would be nearly 50. Spreading the children out to two- to three-year intervals would make her born in 1733 or later, which would fit a lot better. Also, with the 1730s birth dates as given in this manuscript, *none* of the children married until 30 or older, four of them in 1770 when they would have been 33 to 37 years old.

Recently it's been suggested that John didn't arrive in Virginia until around 1760, i.e. that the statement that all the children were born in Pennsylvania is true, but that the date of the arrival is off by 20 years or more. We are looking for deeds or other documents that would establish the family's arrival for sure.

There is some evidence suggesting that John Irvine was the brother of an Alexander Irvine, who also came to Virginia in the same period, and whose son Christopher married Louisa Tucker. Whether John and Alexander were two of the seven brothers referred to in some Irvine family materials remains to be established.

The name is often spelled Irvin, sometimes interchangeably with Irvine in the same records. In this family I find few shifts to Irving, however, and virtually none to Ervin or Erwin.

Second Generation

Children of John Irvine and Mary Boyd

Abraham Irvine (1729-1777) m. Margaret Rodgers (1744-1800)
Abraham died of smallpox at Dumphries VA in 1777, during his Revolutionary War service. After Abraham's death, Margaret lived on at Hat Creek for a few years, but in 1781 or 1782 joined some neighbors who moved to Kentucky. In 1785 she married Col. James Smith, a widower with seven children.

Elizabeth Irvine (ca. 1732-ca. 1814)
Elizabeth Irvine did not marry, but had an active life as an independent business woman, owning land both in Virginia and Kentucky.

Nancy Esther Irvine (ca. 1735-1800) m. Hugh McElroy

Mary Irvine (ca. 1738-?) m. Samuel McElroy (?-1806)

Nancy Esther, Mary and Margaret Irvine married three McElroy brothers, sons of James McElroy and Sarah McCune. All three couples moved to Kentucky.

Robert (Robin) Irvine (ca. 1742-1799) m. Mary South (1754-ca. 1820)
Robin and Mary moved to Kentucky around 1781-1782, apparently in company with Margaret Rodgers Irvine, widow of his brother Abraham, and his sister Elizabeth. Mary South's father, John South, had already settled there, in Estill County. Robin and Mary moved to Logan Co. KY around 1792.

William Irvine (ca. 1744-1809) m. Elizabeth Holt
William Irvine became a Presbyterian minister and was one of the founders of Liberty Hall, later Washington and Lee University, and of Hampden-Sydney College. He settled in Albemarle Co. VA.

John Irvine (ca. 1746-1814) m. Mary Ann Tucker (?-1817)
John and Mary Ann stayed in Hat Creek. John served in the Campbell County militia, and was known thereafter as Major John Irvine.

Margaret Irvine m. James McElroy (?-1804)
Margaret was apparently the youngest child. She moved with her husband to Lebanon, Kentucky, and died there after 1804.

Third Generation

Children of Abraham Irvine and Margaret Rodgers
William Rodgers Irvine
Jane Irvine m. William Morris
Three additional children, names unknown


Children of Robin Irvine and Mary South
John Irvine (1771-?)
Abraham Irvine (1773-?) m. Sarah Graham
Mary Irvine (ca. 1775-?)
Margaret Irvine (ca. 1777-?)
Elizabeth Irvine (ca. 1779-1846) m. Samuel McLean; for more information on the McLean family, see Nancy's Family Tree
William Irvine (1783-?) m. Mary Duncan
Robert Irvine m. 1) Rachael Hill, 2) Nancy Smithers
Josephus Irvine (1786-1830) m. Jane Patton
Jesse Irvine (1790-1846) m. Margaret Hadley
Sarah Irvine (1792-?) m. Melchior Jerome Duncan


Children of William Irvine and Elizabeth Holt
Joseph Holt Irvine m. Elizabeth Cole
Nancy Irvine m. Thomas W. Gooch
Sarah Irvine m. Robert Sangster
John Irvine
James Irvine
Thomas Irvine
Margaret Irvine m. Matthew Tucker Irvine, a cousin
Elizabeth Irvine m. Dabney Gooch
David Irvine
William W. Irvine (1778-1842) m. Elizabeth Davis


Children of John Irvine and Mary Ann Tucker
Lucretia Irvine (1773-?) m. David Strong
Margaret Irvine (1774-?) m. 1) James Black, 2) Johnson McNeal
Louisa Irvine (1776-?) m. William Hunter
John Irvine (1778-1852) m. Katherine Maxey
Mary Ann Tucker Irvine (1778-1851) m. Paulette Clark (1771-1855)
Matthew Tucker Irvine (1781-?) m. Margaret Irvine
Joseph Irvine (1783-?) m. Nancy McDearman
Nancy Esther? Irvine (1785-?) m. James Maxey
Abraham Irvine (1786-?)
James H. Irvine (1788-?) m. Susan Maddox
William Irvine (1791-?) did not marry. He was the historian of Hat Creek Church.
Catherine P. Irvine (1795-?) m. George Hurt


Manuscript history of Irvin and Clark families, by Julia Asher and Marian Fawcett

History of Hat Creek Presbyterian Church, written by William Irvine, a grandson of John and Mary Boyd Irvine, in 1854

History of Hat Creek Church by L.C. Asher

Paulette Clark, A Brief History, manuscript memoir

Personal communications from Julia Asher and Marian Asher Fawcett to Elizabeth Pollard Jerome and Elizabeth Holder

McElroy, John M., Rev., The Scotch-Irish McElroys in America A.D. 1717- A.D. 1900, Fort Orange Press, Albany NY, 1901

Many thanks to Dave Reese and other cousins who have formed an information e-mail group to work on the Virginia Irvines. Their research has been a tremendous help to me in sorting out truth from fiction.

Other Resources

IRVINE family DNA project
Ulster Kith and Kin page by Leo McDowell

This site focuses on descendants of John Irvine of Camgart, whose will was dated 1725.

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Elizabeth Harris,