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.
Some 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's sons, Peter and 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. A 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? Did she arrive in America or die at sea? 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 son Robert fight in the Battle of Culloden, 1746?
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. 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 1744,46,49, 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. The wills of Samuel Hairston (1782) and Andrew Hairston (1771) state that Samuel, Andrew and Robert were brothers. Peter Hairston (their brother or father) is not mentioned in the wills.
11. First record found so far for Robert Hairston is a land survey dated 1749 in Albemarle Co., VA.
2. Did Peter Hairston fight in the Battle of Culloden in 1746 in Scotland?
Both of the above listed book quotations are incorrect as to Peter Hairston and his family immigrating after 1746. They had been in America almost 20 years. The possibility of Peter returning to Scotland to fight a battle in 1746 is highly unlikely.
3. Did Robert Hairston fight in the Battle of Culloden in 1746 in Scotland?
Ruth Hairston Early wrote that the Hairston Family arrived in Virginia in 1747-48. This is incorrect since there a numerous records indicating that the family had been in America for almost 20 years. Also, family stories (“Irish Lady of Rank”), Bible records and Irish land records indicate that Peter and his family were in Ireland before arriving in America. It is unlikely that Robert was left in Ireland as a child and stayed twenty years to fight in the Battle of Culloden in 1746. The question would then be why he would leave America and go to Scotland to fight a battle that lasted less than one hour. Either scenario seems improbable.
If you have knowledge of any information or documents pertaining to the Hairston family before 1741, it would greatly help us to complete our family tree.