John "of Eridy" Alexander

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About John "of Eridy" Alexander

From curator Pam Wilson:

In the years leading up to 1610, after a series of wars and battles over sovereignty of Ireland, King James I of England established a system for the private colonization of Ireland by Protestant British subjects who were loyal to his crown; this was done by confiscating land from the Gaelic chiefdoms, a predominantly Catholic culture, as the Gaelic aristocracy went into exile on the continent. These lands were then divided into tracts and awarded to English and Scottish aristocrats who committed to constructing fortified structures upon them and "planting" them with British families (thus, they were called plantations). Warring between Irish rebels and the colonizing English continued, and military units were formed in local communities, with warring and local rebellions continuing for generations.

Sir James Cuninghame of Glengarnock in Ayrshire, Scotland in July 1610 received a patent for two thousand acres in the precincts of Portlagh, barony of Raphoe, and county of Donegal, embracing the parcels of land designated as Moragh, Dryan, Magherybegg, Magherymore, Tryan Carickmore, Grachley, and two portions of land called Eredy. In May 1613, Cuninghame granted settlements in Donegal to thirty-nine persons, one of whom was John Alexander of Menstrie, son of Sir William Alexander Earl of Stirling, who had helped finance Cuninghame's land purchase. John Alexander was one of nine persons to receive an allotment in Eredy. John Alexander occupied several holdings in the district of Laggan, according to Charles Rogers (1877).

John had married Agnes Graham and raised a family in Donegal; he and his sons, especially his son John Alexander Jr., distinguished themselves for their military prowess. Other sons and grandsons became clergy and scholars, such as son Rev. Dr. Andrew Alexander and grandson Rev. James Alexander, Minister at Laggan, who was probably the son of either William or Robert (sons of John). John's sons and their offspring obtained their own land and became lords of estates such as Ballybiglimore (son Archibald Alexander) and Dunvanaddy and Mevoy in County Donegal and Drumquin and Ardstraw in County Tyrone (son Robert Alexander). According to Kingsley (2013), son Capt. John Alexander bought the lands of Enagh and Caw, north of Londonderry, in 1686, which remained in his family until the 20th century, while son Rev. Andrew Alexander inherited Eridy.

Evidence needed for death date and location. There are many conflicting versions of when and where he died. It is not clear whether this older John emigrated to America, as many descendants claim, or whether various historical accounts have ambiguated him and his son John (Jr.), who apparently migrated to Stafford County, Virginia.

John Alexander of Eridy and Raphoe, County Donegal, is undoubtedly the ancestor of the Alexander brothers and sisters who settled on the Eastern shore of Maryland in Cecil and Somerset counties in the 17th century, but various theories abound about just how they are descended from John "of Eridy". Many accounts claim that they were the children of Rev. James Alexander of Laggan Parish, who was probably a grandson of John's through either Robert or William Alexander. Other accounts claim that they were the children of this William Alexander himself. As more evidence is found, I will update this site and these profiles. In the meantime, some of the profiles may be locked to prevent merging with other Alexanders of the same names, since it has taken nearly a workweek to disentangle these various families who have been improperly merged and conflated with each other.

If you have well-researched information, please forward it to me. Thanks!

Pam Wilson, Curator



excerpted from Memorials of the Earl of Sterling and the House of Alexander by Charles Rogers, LL.D., (Edinburgh: William Paterson, 1877), Vol. II, Ch. XV pp. 58-66 available online at

A survey of the province of Ulster, commenced in 1580, was completed in 1609 by Sir Thomas Ridgway, Vice-Treasurer of Ireland. Among the owners of lands or baronies, the family name of Alexander does not appear (Maps of Ireland, 1609; Petty 's Census Returns; Hardinge on the Earliest Irish Census).

In April 1610, James I. issued a commission for the plantation of Ulster. The Commissioners, who were certain English and Scottish noblemen, were authorised "to agree and conclude as to the planting of the several counties, with power to grant warrants for letters-patent under the Great Seal " (Transcripts from the State Paper Office, 2d series, vol. L, 1603-1624, fol).

The Commissioners divided the forfeited lands into portions of two thousand, fifteen hundred, and one thousand acres. Those who received the largest portions were bound, within four years, to build a castle and bawn, the latter being a walled enclosure with towers at the several angles. The castle was built in the interior of the enclosure, being intended to secure the inmates and their cattle from the incursions of plundering natives. Owners of the second class were called on, within two years, to erect a stone or brick house and bawn; and those of the third class a bawn only; while all were bound to plant British families on their possessions, and to provide them with defensive weapons (Reid's Presb. Church in Ireland, vol. i., passim).

On the recommendation of the Commissioners, letters-patent, dated 19th July 1610, were granted to Sir James Cuninghame of Glengarnock, Ayrshire, conferring on him and his heirs two thousand acres in the precincts of Portlagh, barony of Raphoe, and county of Donegal. This grant was declared to embrace " the quarters or parcels of land" designated Moragh, Dryan, Magherybegg, Magherymore, Tryan Carickmore, Grachley, and two portions of land called Eredy, while it was made a condition that the grantee should "alienate the premises to no mere Irishman, or any other person or persons, unless he or they first take the oath of supremacy" (Inq. Can. Hib. Rep., vol. ii.).

The lands of Glengarnock, in the parish of Kilbirnie, Ayrshire, and extending to 1400 acres, were acquired in 1293 by Reginald Cuninghame, second son of Sir Edward Cuninghame of Kilmaurs, through his marriage with the heiress, whose surname was Riddell. The lands and barony remained in possession of the family till 1613, when Sir James Cuninghame of Glengarnock assigned the estate to his creditors (Cuninghame Topographised, pp. 168- 178).

On the 1st May 1613, Sir James Cuninghame granted legal tenures on his lands in Donegal to thirty-nine persons who had made settlements thereon. That portion of the lands called Eredy was divided among nine settlers, one of whom was John Alexander (Inq. Can. Hib., vol. ii.).

The name Eredy closely resembles Eradall, one of the merk lands in South Kintyre, granted by James III. in 1484 to Tarlach MacAlexander of Tarbert (Reg. Mag. Sig., lib. x., 9). Sir William Alexander of Menstry, afterwards Earl of Stirling, maintained a correspondence with his relatives in Kintyre, while he and his predecessors were in habits of intimacy with the House of Cuninghame of Glengarnock. When he had obtained his first step in the peerage, he invited to visit him at Menstry his relative, Archibald Alexander of Tarbert, and procured him burghal honours at Stirling, while the chief of MacAlexander, in reciprocal friendship, acknowledged him head of his clan (vol. i., p. 147). Between the families of Alexander of Menstry and Cuninghame of Glengarnock, an intimacy had subsisted for generations. "John Cunynghame of Glengarno" was associated with Alexander Alexander of Menstry, great-grandfather of Sir William Alexander and others, in a contract with John, Bishop of Dunkeld, and Donald, Abbot of Coupar, the instrument bearing date 22d December 1547 (Acta Dom. Concilii Sessionis, xxvi., p. 32). By Robert Alexander of Stirling, a scion of the House of Menstry, was granted a loan of 200 merks to James Cuninghame, fifth Earl of Glencairn, to whom Sir James Cuninghame was related, alike by kindredship and marriage (Will of Lord Glencairn, Edin. Com. Keg.).

To enable him to complete the purchase of his lands in Donegal, Sir William Alexander granted to Sir James Cuninghame a loan of 400 sterling, for which, on the 26th February 1613-14, he obtained a mortgage on the lands (Records of the Irish Eolls, vol. v., p. 96). As Sir James's creditors continued importunate, Sir William Alexander proceeded, on the 24th June 1618, to foreclose the mortgage, and to take sasine of the lands (Records of Irish Rolls). But this proceeding was only intended for his friend's protection.

According to Pynnar, who, under the direction of the Plantation Commissioners, made a survey of Ulster in 1619, Sir James Cuninghame had, on his estate in Donegal, erected "a bawne of lyme and stone, and a small house in it, and in which the lady and her daughter do now dwell." Pynnar found near the bawn "a small village, consisting of twelve houses, inhabited with British tenants " (Survey of Ulster).

Sir James Cuninghame died in 1623, leaving a widow. This lady, a daughter of James, seventh Earl of Glencairn, was pursued by her husband's creditors, from whom she was successfully defended, through the efforts of Sir William Alexander (Reg. of Letters). In 1629, Sir John Cuninghame, son of the original patentee, obtained the superiority of his father's lands, and had them erected into a manor, with power to create tenures (Morris's Calendar, Charles I., p. 453). Thereupon the original settlers, including John Alexander at Eredy, received new titles to their lands, and taking the oath of supremacy obtained denization (Irish Inquisitions, vol. ii., 1629).

The district of Laggan, lying between Lough Foyle and Lough Swilly, in county Donegal, was on the plantation of Ulster chiefly appropriated to Scottish settlers (Hill's Montgomery MSS., p. 183, note). In that district 'John Alexander of Eredy' occupied several holdings. In the Subsidy Roll of the county of Donegal for 1662, he is, in the parish of Taghboyne, assessed for 4, 18s. In the Hearth Tax Roll* of Raymoghy parish for 1663, he is styled "John Allexander of ye Dukes [i.e., Duke of Lennox] land." In Clonmany parish he is described as "John Allexander of Erithy" (Eredy), and in the parish of Raphoe as "John Allexander of Maghercolton." He is also named in the Hearth Tax Roll of the parish of Clonleigh.

  • In 1662 the Parliament of Ireland passed an order that a tax for public purposes should be imposed "on the several hearths, firing places, and stoves," in the different counties. Lists were therefore made up, by certain commissioners, of all persons who owned fire-places, i.e., occupied respectable houses throughout the kingdom. These lists are, for genealogical purposes, extremely valuable.

John Alexander of Eredy appears to have had several sons. In the Hearth Tax Roll of Clonmany parish for 1665, is named, as a householder, " John Alexander, jun." In Taghboyne parish Archibald Alexander is, in the Subsidy Roll for 1662, assessed for 13, 15s.; he is, in 1663, in the Hearth Tax Roll of Taghboyne parish, entered as "Archibald Alexander of Ballybiglimore."

In the parish of Clonleigh, in 1663, John Alexander is associated with a "William Alexander," and in the roll of that parish for 1665 he is named along with William Alexander of the parish of Raphoe. In the Hearth Tax Roll of the parish of Errigal, county Londonderry, in 1663, is named Robert Alexander at Dunvanaddy and Mevoy.

The district of Laggan, in which John Alexander of Eredy and his sons occupied lands, became a scene of contention. In this neighbourhood, in 1641, Sir Phelin O'Neill raised the standard of revolt. For its suppression the English Government granted commissions to the Viscount Montgomery (husband of Lady Jean Alexander), Sir James Montgomery, Sir William Stewart of Aughentane, and his brother Sir Robert. These were authorised to raise four regiments of infantry and as many troops of horse (Eeid's Irish Presb. Church, vol. i., p. 344). The small army was entrusted to the command of Sir Robert Stewart and Sir Alexander, son of Sir William Stewart of Aughentane. Garrisons were provided to the forts of Omagh and Newton Stewart, while Sir Robert Stewart at once relieved the garrisons of Lymavaddy and Ballycastle. Sir Robert afterwards attacked O'Neill at Glenmakwin, near Raphoe, and destroying five hundred of his followers, inflicted on him a heavy discomfiture. Sir Alexander Stewart, along with Sir Thomas Staples and Colonel, afterwards Sir Audley Mervyn, vigorously followed up these successes. The rebels were worsted everywhere, till, at a decisive engagement at Clones, county Monaghan, on the 13th June 1643, Sir Robert Stewart subjected O'Neill to an overwhelming defeat.

The rebellion was renewed in 1649. On the 21st March of that year the Laggan troops recovered from the rebels the forts of Newton Cuninghame and the Corrigans, and proceeded to lay siege to Londonderry. But in the following August a party of Irish dragoons burned the fort of Corrigans and Manor Cuninghame and the town of St Johnstone, compelling the Stewarts to abandon the siege of Londonderry and return to the Laggan. In former, as well as present operations against the rebels, John Alexander of Eredy and his son John, had rendered important service, and so recommended themselves to the favour of Sir Alexander Stewart, younger of Aughentane, one of the commanders of the Laggan army. Probably on his recommendation, John Alexander the younger received compensation for the destruction of his property by the rebels in 1649. He is named tenth in a long list of persons so compensated, in a document issued on the 2d January 1668, by Sir Edward Smyth, Lord Chief-Justice of the Court of Common Pleas, Sir Edward Bering, Bart., Sir Allan Brodrick, and others, commissioners for the settlement of Ireland. The entry respecting him is in these words : "To John Allexander, forty-seaven pounds two shillings and ten pence" (Parchment Roll, Act of Settlement).

John Alexander, younger of Eredy, joined the army of the Laggan, in which he obtained the rank of captain. He resided some time at Londonderry, and latterly at Dublin. He died at Dublin in the year 1690. His will, dated 23d September 1690, was proved in the Prerogative Court on the 21st of the following February. The testator styles himself " Captain John Alexander," and appoints his wife, Susanna Alexander, his executrix and sole legatee. In the Register of the Prerogative Court, the testator is styled " Captain John Alexander nuper de Londonderry," while the seal attached to his will displays a dexter arm embowed, the hand holding a dagger, the crest of his Scottish ancestors, the MacAlexanders of Tarbert.


Memorials of the Earl of Sterling and the House of Alexander by Charles Rogers, LL.D., (Edinburgh: William Paterson, 1877), Vol. II, Ch. XV, pp. 59ff.

John Alexander of Eredy appears to have had several sons. In the Hearth Tax Roll of Clonmany parish for 1665, is named, as a householder, "John Alexander, jun." In Taghboyne parish Archibald Alexander is, in the Subsidy Roll for 1662, assessed for 13, 15s.; he is, in 1663, in the Hearth Tax Roll of Taghboyne parish, entered as "Archibald Alexander of Ballybiglimore."

In the parish of Clonleigh, in 1663, John Alexander is associated with a "William Alexander," and in the roll of that parish for 1665 he is named along with William Alexander of the parish of Raphoe. In the Hearth Tax Roll of the parish of Errigal, county Londonderry, in 1663, is named Robert Alexander at Dunvanaddy and Mevoy.

------------------------ Nick Kingsley, Sunday, 29 September 2013

There are five main branches of the Alexander family based in Ireland. They all trace their descent from John Alexander (?1587-1662), who came over from Scotland c.1613 to rent lands at Eridy (Donegal) from Sir James Cunninghame of Glengarnock (Ayrshire), who acquired them in 1610 as part of the settlement of Ulster. It is generally assumed that John Alexander was distantly related to the Alexanders of Menstrie, Earls of Stirling, although no connection has been shown.

John Alexander had five sons, the eldest of whom, Capt. John Alexander (d. c.1690), bought the lands of Enagh and Caw on the east bank of the River Foyle, just north of Londonderry, in 1686, and they remained in his family until the 20th century. The youngest son, the Rev. Dr. Andrew Alexander, inherited Eridy, and was the ancestor of the Alexanders of Ahilly and Milford, the Cable-Alexander baronets, and the Earls of Caledon. ...

Alexander, John (?1587-1662), of Eridy (Donegal). Born in Scotland and relocated to Donegal c.1613. He married and had issue:

(1) Capt. John Alexander (d. c.1690) (q.v.);

(2) Archibald Alexander (b. c.1611; fl. 1665), of Ballybiglimore;

(3) William Alexander;

(4) Robert Alexander (fl. 1663-90), of Dunvanaddy; took part in the Siege of Derry and for his services there was granted lands at Drumquin, Ardstraw (Tyrone); married and had issue two sons;

(5) Rev. Dr. Andrew Alexander (d. 1641); ancestor of the Alexanders of Ahilly, Milford, Caledon and Dublin [see subsequent posts].

He rented the lands of Eridy (Donegal) from Sir James Cunninghame of Glengarnock (Ayrshire), who had acquired them in 1610 on condition that he did not 'alienate the premises to no mere Irishman or any other person unless he or they first take the Oath of Supremacy'. At his death the lands of Eridy passed to his youngest son.

He is said to have died in 1662.


Note from curator: The source of the following narrative is not clear, but it contains some valuable information about the descendants and possible descendants of John Alexander "of Eridy."

Note that the entire Alexander line prior to William b. 1749 is terribly terribly weak. But it is plausible, so I am keeping it for now as I try to get better info.

According to Historical Society of Cecil County, John immigrated from Scotland, possibly with his son William, and, maybe not at the same time, the famous seven Alexander brothers (and two sisters) offspring of William.

Robert ALEXANDER b. 1610. (once thought this was our line)

Andrew ALEXANDER D.D.Rev..

Archibald ALEXANDER b. Abt 1614.

William ALEXANDER (I now treat this as our line, and this William as the father of the seven brothers)

Following data is my source for disapproving the Rev James Alexander as the father of the seven original Alexander of New Munster

Norris W. Preyer; Hezekiah Alexander and the Revolution in the Backcountry; Charlotte, NC, 704 334-5022 Heritage Printers,Inc. Charlotte,N.C. second Printing Charlotte, North Carlonia Sept 1998 Charlotte, NC, 28207 Lib ref E 263.N8 A357 1987

Noris W.Preyer pg 5 " The Alexander forebears came to Raphoe, Ireland, as tenants of Sir James Conningham, as Scottish nobleman from Ayrshire, and settled on lands granted him in Donegal County in Laggan district. In 1640's William Alexander their son left Scotland to seek a better life fro himself in America .He first settled in on new lands opened up in Eastern Shore of Va, Northamptons County In 1670 William and his children left Va and moved to Somerset Co Md

Norris W Preyer pg 11 " William Alexander who came to America was a first cousin or brother to a John jr.,William, Archibald, Robert, and Rev.Francis Alexander who remained in Donegal County. Herdon wrongly has the Somerset Alexanders descended from the Rev.James Alexander of Raphoe who died without offspring. (see Raphoe,54) unlike Herndon's claim that Rev. James was the father of the seven brothers, that Susie Ames states in her document that Rev. James had no heirs. The reference is: " The Reunion of Two Virginia Counties", Journal of Southern History 8 Nov 1942: 536-48

MEMORIALS OF THE EARL OF STIRLING", and or the HOUSE OF ALEXANDER", by the Rev. Charles Rogers, LLD, and Chart by Francis Thomas Anderson Junkin, LLD.,Chicago Vol I Edinburgh William Paterson, 67 Princes Street Published Scotland 1877 referring to Raphoe, Donegal, Ulster, Ireland, looking for Rev James Alexander I found a Rev. James Alexander "at Raphoe", who was a Presbyterian minister there from when he was ordained on 12 Dec 1677 until he died 17 Nov 1704 (Reid's Irish Presb. Church, reference given in book). It says that he left a will dated 13 Mar 1702 (Probate Court record) naming his wife Marian Shaw as executrix and sole "legatee". She left a will dated 1711 with a bequest to a niece, Elizabeth Shaw. The book states he died without issue. Your/our Samuel Alexander could have been a contemporary of his, judging from the dates, but not his son.

Historical Society of Cecil County: "The "infamous nine" came over with their father, William. William's father, John (Sir William Alexander's son), migrated to Virginia with some of his children in 1659. They apparently decided that Maryland was a better place and migrated there from Virginia about the same time that William and the nine arrived in 1670. Thus, a father was reunited with a son, siblings were reunited, and some of the younger nieces and nephews met their aunts and uncles for the first time.

Register of Maryland's Heraldic Families by Alice Norris Parran, "Alexanders", Vol 1 and 2 Pub. H. G. Roebuck and Sons 1935, Baltimore AD pages 57-73 contains information on early lines of Alexander, mentions Samuel, William Sr. and Jr. and Andrew of Somerset and Cecil Co. lines.

Register MD Heraldic Families pg 64 " One William Alexander came from Scotland before 1675, and with his son William II bought lands in Somerset County, Md. The first deed to land recorded in that county is made to William Sr. Ch--of William Sr. unknown but for William Jr., who m- Catherine. (Will dated 3/7/1732, Somerset Co., Md., book E. B. 9, folio 174; made 2nd will after death of his son, James.) Issue--James, m-- (???) (Will dated 3/30/1725. Somerset Co., Md., book W. B. 9, folio 174.) Samuel; Moses, issue--Mary; Eliza; Samuel. Liston (???); Mary (???); Agnes, m--William Alexander, her cousin, parents of Col. Adam Alexander, with line proven.

THE GREAT HISTORIC FAMILIES OF SCOTLAND Bibliography: Taylor, James. The Great Historic Families of Scotland. London: J.S Virtue & Co., 1889. : "William Alexander, Earl of Stirling to John Alexander, b.c 1590, Tarbert, Kintyre, Scotland whose children were William, and seven other sons .William, son of John had the 7 boys and two girls who came to Somerset. and Cecil Co."

"My g granddad told us that they were forced out of Scotland since Cromwell was persecuting anyone who didn't follow his version of Protestantism (these Alexanders were all Presby.). Granddad said the Irish Catholics welcomed these Protestants to Ireland since they had one thing in common--they all hated Cromwell."


Source for the following?

John Alexander (son of Sir William Alexander, First Earl of Stirling and Lady Janet Erskin) was born Abt. 1603 in /Menstrie/ Parish of Logie/ Clackmann., Stirling, Scotland, and died Abt. 1677 in Stafford Co, VA. He married Agnes Grahame on Abt. 1623 in Tassagart, Saggart, Co Dublin, Ireland.

John Alexander married Miss Agnes Grahame and sold his home in Gartmore, Scotland and emigrated to America in 1690 . . . They settled in Stafford County, VA. ***

More About John Alexander:

Emigration to America: Abt. 1645, Emigration to America in 1659, settling in Stafford Co., Virginia. Residence 1: Sold home, GARTMORE ESTATES, IN Scotland. Residence 2: Moved to Ireland before emigrating to America.

More About John Alexander and Agnes Grahame: Marriage: Abt. 1623, Tassagart, Saggart, Co Dublin, Ireland.

Children of John Alexander and Agnes Grahame are:

+Capt. John Alexander, b. Abt. 1630, /Stirling/ Scotland, d. 1677, / Stafford Co./ Virginia.

-------------------- emigrated to VA 1659 "Alexander Family Records" William M. Clemens

view all 21

John "of Eridy" Alexander's Timeline

Clackmannanshire, Scotland
November 2, 1600
Age 20
Wester, Fife, Scotland
Age 30
Age 31
Stirling, Scotland
Age 39
Stirling, Stirling, Scotland, United Kingdom
Age 40
Edinburgh, Mid Lothian (Sterling), Scotland
Age 41
October 9, 1622
Age 42
Easton Royal, Wiltshire
Age 42
Coleramie, Ireland
Age 44