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'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 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?  I do not have an answer to this question. 

I have not found any original documents relating to a Peter Hairston Jr. in Virginia or South Carolina. There is no brother Peter mentioned in the wills of Andrew, Samuel or Robert. There are no wills for "Peter the Immigrant" or a 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. "Peter the Immigrant" would have been over 60 and too old to serve.

I feel that the Peter Hairston that purchased the 250 acres in North Garden in 1743 and then sold it in 1762, with his wife Agnes, was more likely "Peter the Immigrant".  "Peter the Immigrant" cleared the roads in 1741 and was a member of the Ivy Creek and Mountain Plain Congregation in 1747.

Did the first wife of Peter "The Immigrant" die at sea, as stories are told? Did he then, at about 45 years old, marry a second time in Virginia and have more children? Would "Peter the Immigrant" at about 70 years old have traveled by horse to South Carolina with his children?   But, if Peter Jr. did not exist, then who was the father of the South Carolina Hairston's. Or are the South Carolina Hairstons children of Andrew or Samuel.

The original South Carolina Hairstons were named William, Thomas, John, Peter and James. Notice that none of these men are named Andrew, Samuel or Robert. They also appear to be born during the same time frame as the children of “Peter the Immigrant’s” son Robert. If the SC Hairstons were from a second marriage of “Peter the Immigrant”, they would not have been named the same as his other children. It is also interesting that none of the SC Hairstons named their children Andrew or Samuel and only one child was named Robert. There were several children named Peter in South Carolina.

In Elizabeth Seawell Hairston’s 1940 book “The Hairstons and the Penns and Their Relations” she mentions four sons of “Peter the Immigrant” named Robert, Peter, Andrew and Samuel. She goes on to state that “Peter Hairston, brother of Samuel, and son of the first Peter, died unmarried. His will is recorded in Bedford County, Virginia, dated June 14, 1779, an was proved March 27, 1780. He was a captain of a company of Virginia troops in Colonel Abram Penn’s regiment in the Revolutionary War.” However, if you read the will of this Peter Hairston, he appears to be a young man heading to war and leaving his rifle, land and $227 to a friend that is under 21. The Peter Hairston that was a captain under Col. Abram Penn and was the grandson of “Peter the Immigrant” and son Robert, who was born in 1752 and died in 1832. This Peter became a Captain in the Henry County Militia in July 1780, four months after probate court was held for his cousin Peter. Carl Greenway, in his April 3, 1966 letter agrees that the Peter that left a will in 1779, was not a brother of Andrew, Samuel or Robert, but was probably a son of Andrew.  However, Carl Greenway did think that Peter Jr. was the father of the South Carolina Hairstons.

At this time, I have not removed Peter Hairston, Jr., more research and discussion is needed. If you have any ideas or comments, please let me know.

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.