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Robert McGrew

Birthplace: MacGuirebridge, County Tyrone, Ulster, Ireland
Death: Died in York County, Province of Pennsylvania
Place of Burial: Tyrone, Adams County, Pennsylvania, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of William McGrew and Mary Mcgrew
Husband of Isabella McGrew
Father of John McGrew; Finley McGrew; William McGrew; Alexander McGrew and James McGrew

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Robert McGrew

Date and place of death have also been (erroneously?) reported to be circa 1726 in Adams County, Pennsylvania.


Information from James Vandermark Fitzsimmons Hathaway, Biggs -McGrew and Allied lines; 1720 - 1900; page 171

Relationship: Sixth Great-grandparents, Robert and Isabella Finley McGrew. Comment: Graham: The family was an off-shoot of the Clan Macgregor which was a distinct clan in the Scottish Highlands as early as 1296. The family McGrew moved from Scotland to Ireland when they refused to fight and they were ordered to take another name. Most settled in County Tyrone.

Residences: The family of Isabella and Robert settled near Petersburg (now Dillsburg) in Adams Co., 3 miles NE of Millersburg (?) and 20 miles north of Gettysburg.

Comment: Hathaway says best source of materials on early family is W. A. K. Johnston®s Clan Histories and the Clan Macgregor:The nameless Clan by W. R. Kermack (1953, Edina Works,Edinburgh Scotland). The listings of the families in the Clan include the name McGrewer which was shortened to McGrew when the families moved to Ireland. "The MacGregors were a hardy lot and resented having their lands taken by the King, and when they rose in rebellion he ordered the clan disbanded and banished and the name not to be spoken in Scotland again. This went on for some time, and eventually some lands were restored, but in the meantime many had been driven out and the clan scattered. The Clan is of Royal descent. The genealogy in the Dean's Book by Duncan is stated to have been written in 1512, and to have been taken " from the book of the genealogies of the Kings." It traces the descent through Hugh of Urchy from Alpin, who ruled about 787, the father of Kenneth, "High King of Scotland. The suppression of the name was annulled by Parliament in 1774, but that of course, was after our McGrews were settled over here. At the time of the suppression of the clan many young children were taken to Ireland also at about that time England sent many of the hardy Scots to Ireland to control the Irish. the Scots were not happy in Ireland and after a generation or two emigrated to America. Where, under Penn's rules, they could have freedom of religion.

In the family records, we know that Robert McGrew and wife Isabella came from County Tyrone, Ireland 1726/ 1727 and that when Robert arrived he was wearing a Blue Scotch bonnet or Glengary Cap.

Residences: Family is originally from Scots Highlands near Anstruther, County Fife on the Firth of Forth, 15 miles southeast of Cupar, according to Thomas Dixon Graham.

Comment: Legend says that King Edward banished MacGregors because he believed they were "too patriotic for the safety of his throne."

Emigration: Soon after Robert emigrated, he was followed by two brothers and a cousin.

Burial: Chestnut Hill Cemetery is 1 mile west of Heidlersburg, Pa. On Pa 234 on the farm of Finley McGrew. (Information received from Lesley Wischmann -

At the time of the American Revolution there were estimated to be at least five large families of McGrews in the colonies. Most of them had settled in Pennsylvania on the southwestern border of the state. It is believed by some family members and some genealogists that we are descended from a Robert and Isabella McGrew who emigrated from Omagh, CountyTyrone in Northern Ireland. Robert was born in Scotland about1675 and from there went to Ireland until 1725 when he immigrated to America with his wife, Isabella, five sons and a granddaughter. They arrived in 1726 and went to Chester County, Pennsylvania to an areas northeast of Gettysburg which now in Adams County. The five sons were: John, Finley, William, Alexander and James. Genealogists recorded the families of John, Finley and James but not Alexander or William. It is believed but never been proven that our McGrews are descended from William. Our known McGrews are sometimes referred to as the"lost Generation." As at this point there is only speculation, we will leave this family and go on what we do know. A number of the McGrews were among the first settlers of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania - primarily Huntington township. It is here that very likely our Alexander, whom we believe to be the above William's son originated. We do know our Alexander was in Pennsylvania during the Revolutionary War. His son Moses was born there in 1781 and our James, his brother, 1786. We know very little about our Alexander, but in those days when an area became populated, many of the residents would want to move onto more and better open land. Alexander must have been one of these, as he is next found in Shelby County, Kentucky, in 1796. The settling of Kentucky during those years, was in the areas of some of the most hazardous and bloody events of America. Several thousand of the early settlers lost their lives in skirmishes with Indians who were determined to protect their hunting grounds from encroachments of the white man. In one McGrew history, we are told of a flatboat arriving in Kentucky with only half of their number, the other half having lost their lives to Indian attacks. The first McGrew arriving in Kentucky was a John McGrew in 1776. Those pioneers traveling to Kentucky usually came by way of Fort Pitt, now Pittsburgh, down the Ohio River by flatboat until they reached a fertile area they would like, or more likely, where some of the family had gone ahead and found a site for them. Although they probably moved several times, we do know that Alexander, his sons James and Moses and two of his sons-in-laws all settled along Drennon's Lick Creek in Henry County, Kentucky. Henry County had been part of Shelby County. The Jacob Colglazier/Colclasure family also settled there, and on October 4, 1805, our James McGrew married Mary Colglazier, whose hand was given by her father, Jacob. It is very possible the McGrews had known the Colglaziers in Pennsylvania, they all came from there about the same time. Alexander, James and Moses all paid taxes in Henry County, Kentucky, and bought and sold personal and real property there. On March 10, 1809, James McGrew bought all the personal belongings and livestock of his father-in-law, Jacob Colglazier, as Jacob had decided to continue moving on into Indiana Territory, formerly known as the Northwest Territory. Alexander continued to live on his land in Henry County Kentucky until 1821 when he died. His wife's name has never been known for sure, and the only clue that we have is that when his daughter Hannah married John Simmons in 1793, her mother's name was given as Alice. If this is correct, she would have died before 1821, as she was not mentioned in the settlement of Alexander's estate. In the settlement, Alexander names the following children: Hannah, Mrs. John Simmons: John: Molly (Mary), Mrs. Francis May: Moses: Margaret, Mrs. James Carr:James: Joseph: Nelly (Eleanor), Mrs. Joseph Shannon: Alexander; Rebecca, Mrs. Jeremiah Guilion; Elizabeth, Mrs. Jeremiah Riley. During these years of the family's living on Drennon's Creek, some of them began to get restless as new land opportunities were being open up in the Indiana Territory. Jacob Colglazier had already left in 1809. In 1811, James McGrew bought land in Indiana Territory. He sold his land on Drennon's Creek to Daniel Colglazier and moved his wife and daughters to Indiana.


The following is an exerpt from the Introduction to a book called The Southern McGrews Grew by Everette L. McGrew, his book and the gedcom files he gave me from his research are what comprise most of the Information in this page.

The name McGrew is Celtic and most likely was MacGrew in Scotland. There are several theories about the origin of the name with a few examples as follows: came from Buchanan Clan, was MacGruer sept of Fraser Clan, came from MacGregor name, was first MacGruder, came from MacGrewer, or Mulgrew. The tale that seems to be most accepted pertains to the Scottish clans who were fighters. The MacGregor Clan was in the Highlands, near Anstruther (county Fife on Firth of Forth, ca 13 miles southwest of Cupar) and the lairds got the advantage of another clan and misused them. For this the crown of England confiscated their lands, declared them outlaws, and refused to allow them to use the name MacGregor. Therefore, several new names started to be used by this clan and one of them turned out to be McGrew. Many of these former MacGregor people left Scotland and went into Northern Ireland where they primarily rented property to farm or work for others. TheMcGrew family probably went to Ireland in early to mid 1600'sand settled in or near Omagh, County Tyrone, where we first find record of them on a church list signed by a William and a Robert McGrew in 1694 (it is supposed that all McGrews who came to America were William's relatives or descendants, and Robert did come to America 30 years after the signing). Not much is known of all the happenings of the 16th and early 17th century because all records were shipped from Scotland to England and the ship was lost at sea.

James C. McGrew, born in Pennsylvania,in 1761 (later lived in Kingwood, VA) was one of the first known McGrew historians, and he wrote 'There is no doubt that the Mcgrews who migrated from Ireland to America were native Scots or descendants of Scotch immigrants who left Scotland to avoid religious persecution'.(this was found in History of the McGrew family prepared for a McGrew reunion that was held at Olympia Park near McKeesport, PA on August 15, 1912). James C. also stated that his grandfather (Robert McGrew) came to America from Omagh, County Tyrone, Ireland wearing a blue scotch bonnet.

Effie McGrew Materi wrote the following wrote the following in a letter in 1983, 'Did a bit of research in Scotland and Ireland this summer. There were MacGruer, MacGrewer, in Boleshire, Inverness. There are still McGrews in Northern Ireland, Protestants, and reffered to as 'Scots'.

The first McGrew of definite record was Robert (undoubtedly the same who signed the above mentioned church record.) Robert was born ca 1675 in Scotland or Ireland and brought his family consisting of wife, 5 sons, wife of the eldest son and their two children to the colony of Pennsylvania from Omagh, County Tyrone, Ireland ca1726. They were Episcopalians when they came over and eventually settled in what is now Adams County, and they named the Township, Tyrone (data obtained from a book, Boyd family). Most of Robert's descendants went west from Adams County, PA, but data pertaining to his family will be shown here because there is little doubt that many of his descendants went into the South, even though there was only one instance recorded in the early days where one of his grandsons went to North Carolina for a few months before returning to PA to get married.

Everette's book comprises of four McGrew families. The first starts with Robert McGrew born ca1675 in Scotland or Irelandwho later migrated to Adams Co, PA. The second begins with Alexander McGrew born ca 1715 in Ireland who later migrated to South Carolina (this family is the main concentration of the book and is the beginning of the southern migration of McGrews). The third family begins with Thomas McGrew born ca 1733 in Omagh, Co. Tyrone, Ireland who later migrated to South Carolina and then to Tennessee. The fourth family begins with James A. McGrew who was born probably born in or near Omagh, Co Tyrone, IRE and migrated to South Carolina in Sep 1773.


Robert & Isabella and their 5 sons & 2 grand children came toAmerica probably first to New Castle Co., DE then to ChesterCounty, PA. Chester at that time comprised a great part ofSoutheastern PA. They then settled in Lancaster County after1719, York County after 1749 which became Adams County after1800. Robert's will made 9 Apr 1789 proved 18 May 1789 York Co.,PA, Will book G, Pg 404. Information from "Descendants ofRobert & Isabella McGrew" by Thomas Dickson Graham and PhyllisMcGrew Walklet, Clearwater, Flordia, 1979. This microfilm #1,299,999 is also available through the LDS Library in SaltLake City, UT. Donald Powell Maxwell, Jr. MD


Russ, I have no idea where that date came from. Robert was verymuch alive when he came to PA with his family in 1725-6 fromOmagh, Co. Tyrone, Ulster (N. Ireland). He died about 1745 andis buried in Chestnut Hill Burial Ground, Adams, PA which is 1mile west of Heidlersburg on PA 234 on Findley McGrew farm andthat is Petersburg (now Dillsburg) 20 miles NE of Gettysburg."DAN" C.J. McGrew

According to the most widely accepted tradition, Robert McGrew came fromCounty Tyrone, Ireland, to Pennsylvania, about 1726/27, with his wife, Isabella, their five sons, and two grandchildren, Archibald and Catherine, children of John. Isabella's surname is not known, but it has been suggested by a number of investigators of the family history that it may have been Finley. There is a strong association of the name Finley with the McGrew family. Robert and Isabella named their second son, Finley, having named the first one John, which was probably the name of Robert's father.

It is probable that this family came first to New Castle, Delaware, and then to Chester County, Pennsylvania. Chester County at that time comprised a great area in Southeastern Pennsylvania. As western lands were opened up, through Blunston licenses, Robert and his sons moved westward, crossing the Susquehanna River, into what was Lancaster County after 1729, York County after 1749, and Adams County after 1800. In 1732, Thomas Penn gave a commission to Samuel Blunston of the Lancaster County Court, to grant licenses to sundry persons who wished to settle and take up land on the west side of the Susquehanna River.

The family were believed to have been Episcopalian when they came to America. It has been said and generally accepted that two of the sons, Finley and James, married Quaker wives, and joined that faith. But it will appear later that both Finley and James were married in the Old Swedes' Holy Trinity Church, in Wilmington, Delaware. Devout Quaker girls would not have been married in this church. (A girl from a Quaker family, as was Mary Dick, who was more interested in being married than in being a Quaker, might have.) Soon after Robert emigrated, he was followed by two brothers and a cousin.

BURIAL: Chestnut Hill Cemetery is 1 mile west of Heidlersburg, PA on PA 234 on the farm of Finley McGrew.


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Robert McGrew's Timeline

MacGuirebridge, County Tyrone, Ulster, Ireland
Age 32
County Tyrone, Ulster, Ireland
Age 34
County Tyrone, Ulster, Ireland
Age 37
County Tyrone, Ulster, Ireland
October 8, 1706
Age 38
County Tyrone, Ulster, Ireland
Age 38
County Tyrone, Ulster, Ireland
Age 77
York County, Province of Pennsylvania
Tyrone, Adams County, Pennsylvania, United States