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A Short History of the Alexander Family The Alexanders of Scotland are descended from the Scottish MacDonald clan and Danes who settled in Ireland and founded the first Irish towns. In particular they are descended from King Robert who founded the Stewart dynasty of Scotland and later became the English Stewart dynasty, the Danish kings of Dublin and Waterford and the Danish King Guthrum who was baptized with the Anglo-Saxon name Æthelstan and became king of East Anglia. This is described by: Snorri Sturluson’s  “Heimskringala”, Saxo Gramaticus’  “Gesta Danorum”, “The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles”, Dudo of St. Quentin, “The Annals of Ulster”, “The Annals of the Four Masters”, “The Annals of Tigernach”, The Icelandic sagas “lodbrókar”,  “Tháttr of Ragnarssonum” and “Krákumál” The Orkney Islands poem Háttalykill. King Guthrum led a major Danish invasion of Anglo-Saxon England in 865 and in mid- January 878 attacked West Saxon King Alfred the Great’s kingdom and overrun all of Wessex. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles says the three kings Guthrum, Oscytel and Anund separated from Halfdan’s army and went to Cambridge with a great army.  In 878 at Edington, King Alfred fought the entire raiding Danish army, with a small army, and put the Danes to flight back to their fortifications at Chippingham. Alfred besieged it for fourteen days. The Danes surrendered from starvation, promised they would leave Alfred's lands and that their king would be baptized. Guthrum allowed himself to be baptized during the negotiations under the Anglo-Saxon name Æthelstan, with Alfred as his godfather. A treaty was signed at Aller, now in Somerset. In 880 Guthrum founded a partly Christian state in East Anglia and issued coinage under his baptismal name. King Guthrum was the first of the Danes to settle in England under the peace treaty that established the Danelaw. He died there in 890 and is buried at the royal villa Hadleigh in East Anglia. Guthrum's death was recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle under the year 890. King Echmarcach of Dublin was the son of King Ragnall of Dublin and Waterford in Ireland and the 4th-great-grandson of King Guthrum of Dublin and East Anglia. “The Annals of the Four Masters” says: In 1046, Echmarcach, son of Ragnall, was elected King of Dublin. “The Annals of Ulster” say: In 1052 Echmarcach, king of the foreigners, was banished by the king of Laigin, Diarmait son of Mael na mbó, who made himself king. “The Annals of Tigernach” say: Murchad son of Diarmait son of Mael na mbó defeated Ragnall's son in 1061. It was recorded in “The Annals of Ulster” that Echmarcach died in 1064. The founding of present day Scotland Both the ancient “Irish Chronicles” and the “Scottish Chronicles” say the Irish and the Scots came from Spain. Spain was settled by Celts long before the Romans arrived there, and an area called Galicia, in northwestern Spain, still has a Celtic culture today. The Scots originally settled in what is now Northern Ireland. Until the 10th century Northern Ireland was known as Scotia.  Scots from Northern Ireland invaded what later became Argyllshire Scotland in the 2nd century AD. The earliest Scots settlement in what is now Scotland dates from the 3rd century, when chief, Cairbre Riada, occupied lands in Dalriada, now called Mid-Argyll. Dalriada existed as an independent kingdom until 843, when Kenneth MacAlpin united the Scots of Dalriada with the Picts and founded a new kingdom that eventually became Scotland. He ruled as King Kenneth I. In the 8th century Norse raids began and Norway occupied some Scottish islands from the 9th century until 1266. The founding of the MacDonald Clan Semi-autonomous chiefs of Celtic and Norse ancestry came to power in Argyllshire and the Western Isles. One of them, Somerled, the great-great-grandson of King Echmarcach of Dublin, rebelled against the Norwegians and founded the lordship of the Isles in the 12th century. This title later became the Norwegian title “jarl”, that later changed to “earl”. The title “earl” is only used in Great Britain and is the same rank as the continental title count. In 1164 Somerled lead an attack on the Scottish king Malcolm IV. Somerled was defeated and killed at Renfrew in southwestern Scotland, northwest of Glasgow near the River Clyde. Somerled's descendants held the lordship of the Isles until 1493. One of his descendents, Donald, lord of the Isles, was born in 1097. His son Angus took his name as a surname and was the first MacDonald (son of Donald) and was the founder of the MacDonald clan. King James IV confiscated the vast estates of the last Lord MacDonald, John, Lord of the Isles. The Campbells of Lochow, now called Lochawe, succeed the MacDonalds, and their chiefs acceded as the earls of Argyll. The first Alexanders The Alexander clans are descendents of the MacDonalds. John, Lord of the Isles MacDonald married Mary Stewart, daughter of King Robert of the Scots. King Robert founded the Stewart dynasty that later became the Stewart kings of England. Lord John MacDonald’s son Alexander lord of Lochabar was born in 1454. Alexander obtained a grant of the lands of Menstrie, in Stirlingshire, from the Argyll family. His descendents took his Christian name as their surname and he was the first of the Alexanders. There were six Alexanders before the birth of William Alexander 1st Earl of Stirling. The fourth of these Alexanders obtained a charter from King James V, dated in Stirling on the 15th of April 1530 that confirmed a payment of 24 barrels of corn to confirm the gift of Menstrie.  Earl William Alexander, son of Alexander Alexander, was a Scottish courtier, statesman, and poet born in 1580. William travelled as a companion and tutor of the Earl of Argyll. He later lived in the court of King James VI of Scotland, where he wrote plays and poetry, beginning with romantic poems, but later his interests shifted to philosophy, morals and politics. In 1614 King James knighted him. In 1630 he was made a Viscount of Stirling and Lord Alexander of Tullibody. In 1633 he was created the 1st Earl of Stirling, Viscount of Canada, and reconfirmed Lord Alexander of Tullibody.   In 1603 William Alexander attended the court of King James VI of Scotland in London when James ascended to the English throne as King James I. In 1604 he composed his best-known work, a sonnet sequence called “Aurora”. In 1608 William and his cousin became royal agents for collecting debts owed to the crown in Scotland for the period from 1547 to 1588. The cousins retained a 50 percent reward. William wrote his last important work, “Dooms-day”, or “The Great Day of the Lord’s Judgement” in 1614. King James selected William to translate the book of Psalms in the King James Version of the Bible. In 1621 William Alexander was granted northwestern Newfoundland, but abandoned it in the same year. He received a much larger grant north of the Sainte-Croix River called Nova Scotia (New Scotland) and was awarded the right to mint copper money. The French also claimed part of the same territory. The area was explored from 1622 to 1623 and the first Scottish settlement was founded in 1629. In 1625 William's charter was renewed and he was granted the right to award hereditary baronetcies of Scotland to persons who established six or more settlers in Nova Scotia. For a fee of £1,200 applicants received the title baronet and 16,000 acres in Nova Scotia. But colonization of the region was not a success. In 1626 there were only 28 baronets and by 1631 only 85. This implies only ca. 510 settlers.  In 1627 France challenged Scotland’s rights to Nova Scotia resulting in a war. In 1629 England and France signed the Treaty of Susa in 1629 and agreed to mutual restoration of territory and shipping. Eventually Sir William sold Nova Scotia for ca. £ 6,000 and in 1631 his Scottish settlers were ordered to withdraw. Sir William was left with serious debts. Alexanders in America William’s son John Alexander was born in 1603 and his grandson the Reverend James Alexander was born in 1620. James left Scotland and went to Raphoe in County Donegal, Ireland as a minister in the Laggan Presbytery. He was imprisoned in Raphoe for calling a fast to protest the policies of the Church of England. This probably led to the Alexander immigration to America. James Alexander had seven sons and two daughters. Ulster church records show that the family was in Ireland and members of the Laggan Presbytery in 1680. The Alexander family immigrated to America and settled in Sommerset County Maryland and later in Cecil County Maryland. Family tradition says they came to America about the ship Welcome and anchored in the Delaware River on 21 September 1670, probably at Lewes or New Castle. This is supported by articles in the Daughter of the American Revolution Magazine and in the Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine. However, this date appears to be incorrect. Abstract of an article on the front page of the Charlotte Observer dated 26 April 1931, by Ida Briggs Henderson:    “ … According to the History of Foote, Presbyterian immigrants from Scotland to Ireland to escape religious persecutions, between 1610 and 1688 included 7 Alexander brothers.  From there they decided to go to the New World, but before leaving sent to Scotland for their Minister to come and bless them in their new venture. The Minister arrived on board and held religious services. A band of armed men broke up the meeting and carried him off to jail. He was arrested for ordering fasting days. Towards nightfall an old woman honored as head of the clan said:  " Gang ye away, tak' our mineester oot o' jail and tak' th' gude soul wi' us 'till Ameriky." Before morning the man was back on shipboard.. .”   Colonial land records show that Alexanders were living in Maryland and Pennsylvania between 1707 and 1720.  Alexanders named in these records include Elizabeth Alexander and her husband Mathew Wallace,  William,  James and James Jr.,  Arthur, David, Joseph, Moses, Elias, Arthur and Hezekiah. The Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine Volume 16 page 85, Oct 1948 said seven Alexander brothers, Presbyterians from Scotland came from Northern Ireland to Somerset County, Maryland, later to Cecil County. Circumstantial evidence shows they came with two sisters. One was Elisabeth, wife of Matthew Wallace and the other named Jane was the wife of John McKnitt.  The article said William, Andrew, Samuel, John, James, Francis, Joseph and Samuel Alexander all lived in Somerset and Cecil Counties the author believed they were sons of the Reverend James Alexander.     An article "Alexander Pioneers" by Aaron Boggs, published in the Monroe Enquirer in August and September 1960 said the children of Reverend James Alexander came to America on the ship Welcome that anchored in the Delaware River in 1679. At about the same time John Mcknitt and Joseph Alexander and Abigail McKnitt settled there. One of his sons was John Mcknitt Alexander who settled 1707 on a branch of the Elk River on his 90 acre plantation "Glasgow". Samuel Alexander, son of Reverend James Alexander and Mary Maxwell, had a tract of 900 acres. In “The Daughters of the American Revolution Magazine” Volume 86 Page 311 to 315  the article "The Six Alexanders who Signed the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence" Mrs. Benjamin W. Ingram wrote that The DAR accepts that the Reverend James Alexander (1620-1704) was the father of the Seven sons and two Daughters.    Alexanders in North Carolina Abraham Alexander was born in Cecil County, Maryland in 1717. Around 1750 some Alexanders and others of Scottish ancestry move farther south and settled in North Carolina in the region of the Catawba River. The other Alexanders were Adam, Charles and Ezra and their cousins Hezekia and John McKnitt. Some sources say Abraham was the son of Moses Alexander and Mary Wallace, but the evidence does not support this. Abraham's great grandson W. R. Morgan wrote that Abraham was the son of Elias. Congressman Mark Alexander, born 1792, wrote that Abraham was his great uncle. Abraham Alexander  was prominent and prosperous, active in affairs of church and state. He was a leading Whigs of the day and was: A trustee of the Town of Charlotte and of the Queen's Museum, Lieutenant Colonel of Militia, Honored chairman of the inferior court before and after the American Revolutionary War, Represented Mecklenburg County in the assembly of 1767, Member of the Colonial Assembly in 1771, Chairman of the County Court, Chairman of the Committee of Safety in 1775, Chairman of the Mecklenburg Declaration Committee May 19th and 20th of May 1775, Signer of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence in 1775. Member of the justice court, Trustee of Liberty Hall in 1777.   Abraham Alexander died at the age of sixty-nine on the 28th of April 1786 and is buried at the Old Sugar Creek Presbyterian Church Cemetery. He was a founder and ruling elder of this church.    The Beginning of the City of Charlotte North Carolina  In 1761 Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg, Germany married King Charles III of England. Anson County North Carolina was named for the British Admiral who brought Princess Charlotte to England aboard his ship. When Anson County was divided the new county was named Mecklenburg and the County Seat was named after Queen Charlotte. In 1763 Henry Eustace McCulloh, agent of Augustus Selwyn, donated 360 acres of land in trust to build the Mecklenburg county courthouse, prison and stocks. Abraham Alexander, John Frohock and Thomas Polk were the trust commissioners. The courthouse was built of logs, with the cracks were filled with straw and mud, in 1767. The Court and public meetings were held in the upper floor and the lower floor was a market.  In 1779 Thomas Polk and Duncan Ochiltree were appointed commissioners to build a stone wall around the courthouse. The building was badly damaged in the British invasion and occupation and court had to be held in Joseph Nicholson's house until the building was repaired in 1882.  By the end of the revolution Charlotte was a village with about a dozen houses and 176 inhabitants, half of whom were Negroes. Industry consisted of a flour mill, a saw mill, a blacksmith shop and a rifle factory, but merchants and craftsmen were beginning to go into business in Charlotte. The post office was established in 1792.  The Alexander North Carolina Home Site     Abraham Alexander received several hundred acres of a huge royal land grant held by Augustus Selwyn.  Abraham’s tract was several hundred acres 3 miles NE of Charlotte on Alexander Mill Creek and he built his house there. At that time most homes were log cabins, but he built a colonial style house on a hill were the Charlotte country club is now located. The brick house later built on the same site by Elias, Abraham's grandson, became the clubhouse. The Alexanders operated a grist and flour mill powered by a water wheel fed by a stream from a spring on Abraham’s property. The Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence from England Josiah Martin was appointed Governor of North Carolina in 1717 and he made demands assembly members regarded as great injustices. He and the British government micro- managed local affairs, from England, and this caused discontent and a rebellious atmosphere.  Since war was a distinct possibility a factory was built to manufacture rifles. At that time the New England blunderbuss was in common use and locally produced long rifles were superior to other weapons of the time. There were only two other rifle factories in all of the colonies. General Washington greatly admired the workmanship of the Charlotte rifle he was given as a gift. Thomas Polk was military commissioner. He called for each of the 8 military districts to send two delegates to an assembly in the Charlotte courthouse on the 19th of May 1775.  The original plan was for 18 delegates on the committee, but so many turned up that 27 delegates were selected. Abraham Alexander was elected chairman of the committee and cousin John McKnitt, a magistrate, was selected as secretary.     The committee considered many resolutions and after midnight Secretary John McKnitt read the declaration. At 2:00 the morning of the 20th of May 1975 Chairman Abraham Alexander called for a vote. The declaration was unanimously approved and the delegates signed the documents at noon the same day. Colonel Polk stood on the courthouse steps and read the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence from England to a few thousand people, who greeted it with great enthusiasm. Abraham, five other Alexanders, and two cousins signed the Mecklenburg Declaration and it was issued one year before the general Declaration of Independence of the colonies written by Thomas Jefferson. It was sent by courier to Philadelphia and read before the Continental Congress. Thomas Jefferson used some of this declaration’s exact phrases. Alexanders in South Carolina Abraham Alexander’s son Dr. Isaac Vardrey Alexander was born in 1750. He married Margaret B. Smith, who died on the 14th of December 1788. He married two Campbell sisters whose names are unknown, but one died in 1805. He married his son Isaac’s mother Sarah Thornton in 1807 and she died on the 9th of December 1863. Isaac Vardrey Alexander Graduated from Princeton University in 1772, where he was a class mate of Aaron Burr and others who became prominent in revolutionary politics. Isaac opened a medical practice in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. He later lived in Camden South Carolina where he was mayor in 1794 and 1807. Isaac served as a surgeon in the continental army during the American revolutionary war and was at Camden, South Carolina when General Gates was defeated at the Battle of Camden.
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