Hairston Family Genealogy - Scotland Ireland America HAIRSTON - Family History and Genealogy

History and genealogy of the Hairston, Hairstanes, Hairstone, Harston families of Scotland, Ireland and America and the descendants of Peter Hairston, who arrived in America about 1728.

Hairston Family Beaver Creek PlantationSome of the old Hairston plantation homes are still standing, including the Cooleemee Plantation home which has been designated a National Historic Landmark. 

The Hairston family is said to be from the Dumfries area of Scotland. Handwriting from 17th century Scotland is often difficult to read, but there are Hairstanes, Hairstains, Hairstones, Harestons, Herstaines, Hairstens, Harston, Hairsteins, Hairstons, etc. listed in old records.  Dumfries Customs & Excise documents indicate a William Hairstanes was in the Tobacco trade with the American Colonies in 1721.

There is a 1726 farm lease between Peter Hairstons and Sir Robert Adair in Antrim County, Ireland.  Peter was living in Straidnahanna, Bellyclair near the city Carrikfergus (a few miles North of Belfast).  Peter and his family probably came to America during the 1727/1728 Irish drought.  Documents found in Ireland.  

Peter Hairston was living in East Donegal, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania about 1730 and requested a survey of his land in 1736.  However, he sold his land to Lazuraus Lowry in 1736. Peter Hairston and his son Andrew, received "Blunston Licenses" for two pieces of land west of the Susquehanna River in 1737.  A 1739 survey shows a Peter Harstons still having property next to James Mitchell in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. It is between 1739 and 1741 that Peter and his family moved to Goochland County, Virginia with the Michael Woods group.  Peter Hairston appears in a 1741 road request in Goochland County, Virginia.

Many stories have been handed down through the years, but there are no written records.  As an example, these stories mention that Peter Hairston's wife was an "Irish Lady Of Rank".  What does this term mean?  How many children did they have?  Is the travel trunk at Cooleemee the trunk that Peter used coming to America? 

1. Did “Peter the Immigrant” or his sons fight in the Battle of Culloden, 1746?  Answer is No.

Ruth Hairston Early wrote in her book “The Family of Early: Which Settled upon the Eastern Shore of Virginia”, 1920 (page 107) the following;  “The Hairstons were of Scotch ancestry: Peter, the emigrant, left Scotland after the battle of Culloden, having fought on the losing side, came to America about 1747-8 landing at Norfolk, Va.; his son, Robert, was an ensign in the French and Indian wars and served one term in the House of Representatives; m. Ruth, dau. of George Stovall, clerk of the House of Burgesses; Col. Sam'l Hairston, the' father-in-law and guardian of Joab Early, was their third son.”  

From the “Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography” 1915:  Peter Hairston, the emigrant as known in the family, left Scotland after the battle of Culloden, 1746, having fought on the losing side, that of the Pretender. He fled to Ireland, remained there for a short period of time, and about 1747-48 came to America, landing at Norfolk, Virginia, according to tradition, no authenticated records being in possession of his descendants. He seems to have held land in Albemarle County, but finally settled in Bedford County.” Tyler, Lyon Gardiner, 1853-1935. Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography. New York: Lewis historical publishing company, 1915 – page 117.

Neither of these writers had the benefit of the following information:

1.      Peter Hairston is listed on land lease in Antrim County, Ireland in 1726

2.      Peter Hairston is listed as living in Donegal, Lancaster Co., Pennsylvania prior to 1730. 

3.      Peter Hairston had land surveyed in Lancaster County, PA that was completed 1736. 

4.      Peter and Andrew Hairston received Blunston Licenses in Pennsylvania in 1737.

5.      Peter Hairston is listed on a 1741 road work order in Goochland Co., Virginia

6.      Andrew Hairston is listed in Goochland records in 1744, Albemarle 1749, etc.

7.      Samuel Hairston is listed in Goochland records in 1743-1744, Albemarle 1744, 1746, 1749, etc.

8.      Battle of Culloden was fought 16 April 1746 near Inverness, Scotland.

9.      In 1747 Peter Hairston listed in church records in Ivy Creek, Goochland Co., Virginia. 

10.    Robert and Samuel Hairston are in court for "breach of peace", 1747 in Albemarle Co., VA.

11.    Wills of Samuel and Andrew Hairston state that Samuel, Andrew and Robert were brothers. Peter Hairston (their brother or father) is not mentioned in the wills. 


2.  Did “Peter the Immigrant” have a son named Peter Hairston, Jr.?

I have not found any original documents relating to a Peter Hairston Jr. in Virginia or South Carolina. There is no brother Peter Jr. mentioned in the wills of Andrew, Samuel or Robert. There are no wills for "Peter the Immigrant" or a son named Peter Jr. in Virginia or South Carolina. There are no records of a Peter Jr. in the Goochland or Albemarle County Militias during the French and Indian Wars, 1754-1763. Goochland County court records mention Andrew Hairston, Samuel Hairston, Robert Hairston and Peter Hairston, but no Peter Jr.  The Albemarle County court records and jury lists from 1744 to 1748 mention Robert, Samuel and Andrew, but no Peter Jr. 

The Peter Hairston that purchased the 250 acres in North Garden in 1743 and then sold it in 1762 was "Peter the Immigrant" and his wife Agnes.  This is confirmed by a 1940 letter that records the bible records the naming of the children of Jane " Jenny" Hairston Rentfro, the daughter of Robert Hairston (Peter the Immigrant's son).  Jane wrote that she named her 5th child "Agnes", for her grandmother Hairston. 

The original South Carolina Hairstons were named William Hairston, Thomas Hairston, John Hairston, Peter Hairston and James Hairston. Who is their father?  They appear to be born during the same time frame as the known children of Andrew and Robert.

The idea that a Peter Jr. was the father of the South Carolina Hairston's was first proposed by Carl Greenway in a April 3, 1966 letter.  Even in this letter, Carl Greenway states that Peter Jr. is based on "circumstantial evidence". 

Therefore, I have removed Peter Hairston, Jr.  But who is the father of the South Carolina Hairstons? 


If you have knowledge of any information or documents pertaining to the Hairston family before 1780, it would greatly help to complete our family tree.