Home Genealogy People Places McCreight History A short history of the McCreight Family McCreights in Scotland The McCreight family originated in Scotland. The earliest known family member was William McCreight. His name and the year 1650 were written into a family Bible with no other information.  The Bible was not printed until 1845, so information much earlier than that is questionable.  According to family legend, he was born in Scotland near Glasgow. It is proven, by baptismal records, that McCreights did live near Glasgow in County Lanark a generation later than William. Baptismal records were found of four children of William McCreight and Agnes Anderson in County Lanark, Scotland. They are: Thomas, baptized in Dalserf parish on the 8th of April 1750 William, baptized in Dalserf Parish on the 20th of February 1752 Janet, baptized in Barony parish on the 22nd of November 1753 Robert, baptized in Barony parish on the 30th of September 1764 There are often discrepancies in name spellings in old church records. Few people could read and write. Clerics were given information verbally and spelled it the way it sounded to them. Other McCreights lived in this area with names spelled slightly differently in the records. Baptismal records were found for four other children, obviously of the same parents, but the names are spelled William McCright and Agnes Anderson: Sarah, baptized in Barony Dalserf on the 9th of August 1748 Adam, baptized in Barony parish on the 8th of July 1758 George, baptized in Barony parish on the 23rd of March 1760 John, baptized in Barony parish on the 27th of May 1762 A Thomas McCright, probably the son of William and Agnes, married Jean Kennedy and the baptismal records of two children born in County Lanark, Scotland were found: William, baptized in Bothwell parish on the 19th of July 1778 Archibald, baptized in Barony parish on the 28th of May 1780 Another McCreight family, but spelled McCraught in the records, lived in the same area of County Lanark. The following baptismal records were found for children of John McCraught and Jean Weer. John was about the right age to be the father of the William who married Agnes Anderson and the son of William (born  1650), but there is no proof of relationship, if there was one. Margaret, baptized in Crawford parish on the 14th of December 1715 Mary, baptized in Crawford parish on the 18th of December 1716 Baptismal records were found in County Lanark for the children of John McCraught (apparently the same person) and Janet Whyt. James, baptized in Douglas parish on the 1st of January 1718 John, baptized in Douglas parish on the 23rd of July 1726 These people may all have been relatives of William (born 1650), but unfortunately due to violent religious conflicts in Scotland no baptismal, marriage or burial records have survived for the area and the period in question. By the time most of them were born, William had already moved to Ireland. McCreights in Ireland The earliest birth and marriage record with proven connections to the family were found in Northern Ireland. In about 1650 English landlords in Ireland decided it would be desirable to have conservative, stable protestant Scotsmen as tenant farmers in Ireland, rather than Irishmen. They recruited large numbers of Scot families to resettle in Ireland. Americans call these people Scotch-Irish, but this term is only used in America. In England, Scotland and Ireland these people are called Ulstermen. The earliest McCreight known in Ireland is William McCreight, born in 1650. He leased land at Loughans and Aughere in Guilford, County Down from Sir John Magill on the 1st of November 1695. The name of his wife is unknown. His son William was born in 1680, probably in Scotland. His son William leased 50 acres of land in Mullahead, Guilford on the 10th of September 1716. William had five sons and one daughter: John, born in 1710 in Loughans. He went to Innishannon, County Cork in ca. 1760 where he was a linen merchant and later went to Blarney. He died on the 7th of January 1772 and his will was probated on the 9th of April 1772. Ann born in 1714 in Loughhans. She had two sons. David, born in 1719 Thomas, born in 1720 Andrew, born in 1721 William, born in 1723 A marriage record was found for David McCreight and Mary Harper on the 20th  of July 1732 in County Antrim, Ahogill parish in the Cullybackey Meeting house, now called the Cunningham Memorial Presbyterian Church. Family tradition says David was born in 1709, but no baptismal records for David or Mary were found. The church records from that period in County Antrim, Ireland did not survive, so their birth dates cannot be confirmed.  But, the baptismal records for four of their children were found in the Cullybackey church records: Isabelle, baptized on the 17th of January 1734 William, baptized on the 21st of August 1736 David, baptized on the 29th of July 1746 Mathew, baptized on the 29th of July 1746 Isabelle and Mathew were not named in David's will, which implies they did not survive him. James and John were mentioned in his will, but no baptismal records for them were found. William married Agnes Smith in Cullybackey in December 1759 and the baptismal records of two children were found: Robert, baptized the 4th of January 1761 John, baptized the 19th of November 1764   Robert and John were both mentioned in William's will.  Agnes, David, William and Mary were mentioned in his will, but no baptismal records were found. William was born in 1774 after the immigration to South Carolina and his gravestone is in the McCreight famaily cemetery near Winnsboro SC. Mary's birth date is not known. An Agnes McCreight, born in 1742, married Samuel Gladney in 1760. He was from Kinbally, Skerry Parish, Antrim Ireland.  These dates are from a gravestone recently erected by the Gladney family, i.e. not an original gravestone. She is said by the Gladney family to be the daughter of William McCreight, but no baptismal record was found and William did not marry Agnes Smith until 1759. If these dates are correct, her father must be a different William McCreight.  David had a granddaughter named Agnes, daughter of William, but she was born in 1754. She was only 6 years old when Samuel Gladney married, assuming the marriage date is correct. Who this William and Agnes McCreight were remains a mystery. The immigration to South Carolina When the English landlords recruited the Scot families in the last half of the 17th century, they signed long term leases with fixed rent. Some landowners, in particular Sir Arthur Chichester, Earl of Donegal, were spendthrifts and by the time the leases expired they were very hard pressed for cash. They raised the rents to the point where the production of the land would not pay them and many Scots emigrated from Ireland to America. The Reverend William Martin convinced his congregation to pool their resources and lease five ships to sail from Belfast to South Carolina.  One of these ships was the 350 ton Pennsylvania Farmer commanded by Charles Robinson. David McCreight and his sons William, David and James were among the passengers onboard the Pennsylvania Farmer. Their wives and children were not mentioned, but the wives of David, William and James and their children are known to have been in South Carolina. Some estiamtes say a total of about twenty-two McCreights were onboard the ship, but this seems on the high side. All five ships landed in Charleston between October and December 1772.  The Pennsylvania Farmer sailed from Belfast on the 16th of October 1772 and landed in Charleston, South Carolina on the 19th of December 1772. The land grants were free of charge, but surveying and registration fees of up to £5 were to be paid. At that time this was approximately two months wages for a laborer in the colonies and four months in Ireland. The passenger list states which passengers could pay the fees and which could not. All of the McCreight passengers listed were in the group that could pay the fees. Those who swore they did not have the money were classified as poor people and were not required to pay the fee. The land grants were recorded in the council journal on the 6th of January 1773. David received 150 acres on the north side of Broad River on Jackson's Creek. His son David received 200 Acres on Wateree Creek. His son William received 400 acres on Jackson's Creek. His son James received 100 Acres north of Broad River on the south fork of Littler River. As with most of the colonies, the area more than about 40 miles from the coast was largely unsettled and occupied by Indians. The land grants were near the town of Winnsboro in an unsettled area and Winnsboro was still in the process of being laid out by John and Richard Winn. The Gladney family wrote that Samuel and Agnes came to South Carolina before the other McCreights and a great many Gladneys were on hand to greet the McCreights when they landed in Charleston. It was also written that the McCreights had land already arranged for them before they arrived, probably by Samuel and Agnes. Other sources say the Reverend Martin arranged land for the passengers of his five ships. Since the McCreights arrived on one of the last of the five ships, it is quite likely land was already arranged for them by Reverend Martin. The McCreights stayed in Charleston for at least two weeks to finalize the transfer of their land, but may have waited until spring to make the journey, of at least two weeks, to Winnsboro. The Gladney discription of the journey indicate it was in the spring. David and his son William remained in South Carolina, Fairfield County near Winnsboro and built log cabins for their families. James moved to Crooked Creek, Indiana County. David and his wife Martha Orr went to Bath County Kentucky, then to Tranquility, in Adam County, Ohio.   William Jr. was born 18 months later, on the 14th of June 1774, in the log cabin his father built near Winnsboro. His father died on the 5th of December 1776 when William Jr. was only two and a half years old. Other sources say when he was seven years old, but William's death date in 1776 is engraved on his gravestone. William’s mother remarried and he did not get along well with his stepfather. At the age of seven he left home and a year later bound himself as apprentice to a contractor for four years. In 1797 William married Nancy Austen [or Agnes]. There is dispute about her first name. The name on her gravestone is Nancy.  Her daughter-in-law, Mary McCreight née Randolph (1806-1901) wrote a McCreight genealogy and called her Agnes Austen. Perhaps she had a double name. William built a two-room cabin and a shop in Winnsboro. Winnsboro was little more than a small village of log cabins.  William built the first house in Winnsboro of hand planed pegged heart of pine planks. It was still occupied by the family and in good condition until it was willed to the town of Winnsboro in 1976. The house is considered a fine example of colonial architecture of the period. It is claimed that this house was built by William senior in 1774, two years before he died in 1776. But this hardly seems possible. William Senior's land grant was about ten miles from Winnsboro and various sources say he lived on his land. Several sources say his house was burned by Tory sympathizers, because his sons fought in the militias before the revolutionary war actually started. He died on the 5th of December 1776 and was buried in the McCreight family cemetery on his father David's land grant adjacent to his own land. William junior was only two years old when his father died and he would not have been able to build the house until after he served his apprenticeship. It seems likely that the house was built no earlier than 1794 and, because some children were said to have been born in a log cabin, it was probably built after 1803. William Jr. was the first indentant (mayor) of Winnsboro, a founding father of the Sion Presbyterian church in Winnsboro and the first elder. He serves as a church elder for 60 years until his death. He was one of the founders of Sion College  and president of the Sion College Society.  William founded a construction company that built the Fairfield County Courthouse and other buildings in Winnsboro. He ordered the parts of a clock from England and installed it in the tower in Winnsboro. He manufactured fabrics and began producing mills and cotton gins that remove the seeds from cotton. He built the first cotton gin to process a bale of cotton in South Carolina. Although cotton gins, called roller gins, had been used since the 1st century AD and were found on every continent, Eli Whitney is generally believed to be the inventor of the cotton gin. Eli Whitney patented his own design for an improved mechanical cotton gin on the 17th of March 1794. The patent was not validated until 1807 and was assigned the number X72.  An article published in the Library of Southern Literature in 1870 claimed Catherine Littlefield gave the idea to Whitney, because women could not apply for patents. Whitney's gin used a roller with hooked spikes and a mesh. Cotton fibers torn off passed through the mesh, but the grid was spaced so the seeds could not pass through. Whitney's gin could process fifty-five pounds of cotton per day and it transformed southern agriculture. Cotton became a major contributor to the national economy. Whitney and his partner Miller did not sell cotton gins. They charged planters 40% of their yield, paid in cotton, to process their cotton., but did not have enough gins to meet the demand. The gin was simple to produce, and resentment of his payment policy caused planters to infringe Whitney’s patent and build gins. Patent laws were weak and legal costs eroded profits. Patent laws were later changed, making it easier to contest infringements, a year before Whitney’s patent expired and his company went out of business in 1797. In 1810 federal census marshals counted 2,741 cotton gins in South Carolina and roller gins had been largely replaced by saw gins. In some districts there were no roller gins at all. The survey found the average saw gin had 40 saws, one had 100 saws, two had 130 saws and the largest had 140 saws. William produced saw gins and his are included in this survey.   The details of William's gins can be found in his newspaper announcements. The book inventing the Cotton Gin by Angela Lakwete presumes William had a license to produce and sell gins from Eli Whitney. This seems unlikely, because no evidence has been found and William produced a different type of cotton gin than Whitney patented. By 1796, a year before Eli Whitney’s company went out of business, at least three other people already held patents for cotton gins. William's newspaper announcement in 1809 said after seven years of experience he believed he had reached a state of great perfection in cotton saw gin design. This means he did not begin cotton saw gin production until 1802; five years after Whitney’s company went out of business. In fact William and his son James both held patients on their improved cotton gins and they were licensed as far away as Texas and Virginia.   William sold his cotton gins for $3.00 per saw, if the customer picked them up in Winnsboro and $3.50 per saw if he delivered them to the customer. This means his cotton gins cost an average of $120.00 FOB or $140.00 delivered, but could cost up to $490.00. In the early 1800s this was a substantial investment for a planter. In 1809 William manufactured fabrics and cotton bags, but apparently after 1812 he concentrated on cotton gin and mill production. In 1817 in the Southern Patriot and Commercial Advertiser, William announced the arrival of English sheet iron for gin saws on 1809 terms. In 1836 William and his son James patented a reverse motion gristmill and improved cotton saw gin. They manufactured these in Winnsboro and also licensed production to Bloomfield & Elliot in Raymond, Mississippi. William's employees included whites, free blacks and ten black slaves and he required all of these employees to attend his daily family prayers. In 1802 a South Carolina planter named William Elliot apprenticed a black slave named April, who may have been Elliot’s own son, to William. April served his apprenticeship and continued to work for William, on behalf of Elliot, for a total of fourteen years. He learned blacksmithing, gin production, reading, writing and calculation. In 1816 Elliot released April from slavery. April legally changed his name to William Ellison and opened a cotton saw gin production business in Stateburg. He later became a cotton planter and owned black slaves himself. His businesses survived the civil war and in 1874 the credit agency R. J. Dun & Company rated him as honorable, upright, hard working, industrious and worth $7,000 to $8,000. Books concerning William Ellison and William McCreight’s relationship include: Stolen Childhood, Slave Youth in 19th Century America by Wilma King The Essence of Liberty also by Wilma King No Chariot Let Down by Michael P. Johnson & James L. Roark These authors present two very different accounts of this relationship: In chapter 1 of Stolen Childhood, Wilma King wrote about the distress of slave parents at delivering their children into a life of bondage. She described the indifference of April Ellison towards his daughter Maria Ann. April Ellison was freed in 1816. He became a prosperous landowner and bought the freedom of his wife Matilda and their daughter Eliza Ann. Maria Ann, the offspring of another woman remained in bondage. William McCreight, whom he trusted, held title to his daughter, who lived as if she were a free person. After fourteen years of freedom April Ellison finally bought Maria Ann, but never emancipated her. Maria Ann technically remained enslaved.    This unjustly presents William Ellison in a bad light and William McCreight slightly less so. Wilma King failed to mention that the state of South Carolina legislature passed a law in 1820, four years after William Ellison was freed, making it illegal to free slaves. She also does not mention that William McCreight never owned Maria Ann. He helped William Ellison, with no benefit to himself, with a deed of trust. This was a mechanism used to circumvent the law of 1820 and allow slaves to live as free persons even though it was forbidden to free them. This is clearly described by Michael P. Johnson & James L. Roark in No Chariot Let Down.   No Chariot Let Down says, although many slaveholders wanted to free slaves, by an 1820 act of the South Carolina Legislature, slaves could not legally be freed. The deed of trust was used as a way to circumvent this law. A slave owner could vest the ownership of a slave to a trustee and the terms of the trust allowed the slave to live as a free person.  On the 17th  of November 1830, ten years after the act was passed, William Ellison bought his daughter Maria from her owner. He could not free her, but he made a deed of trust with Colonel William McCreight, under whom he had served his apprenticeship, when he was a slave himself.  In contrast to what Wilma King calls indifference to his daughter, the deed of trust begins by saying: Under consideration of the love and affection I have for my natural daughter Maria. The deed of trust established de facto freedom for Maria and allowed her to live as a free person with her father, or anyone else he designated. He reserved the right to emancipate Maria, if in the future South Carolina law allowed, or in another state. In the event Ellison predeceased William McCreight, William was to secure Maria's emancipation in South Carolina if possible, or another state, at the cost of Ellison's estate and without contest by the executors. Neither William McCreight nor any of his heirs were to have any right to Maria's services, nor service of any of her children. William did not own Maria and derived no benefit for himself. With his participation in the deed of trust he made Maria as free as any slave could possibly be under the South Carolina law of 1820.   Documents Gravestones Home Genealogy People Places Gravestones Documents