Peter HAIRSTON ID#1, b. about 1695
Birth*Peter HAIRSTON was born about 1695; born in Ireland or Scotland. 
Marriage*He married Agnes "Irish Lady of Rank" (surname unknown) about 1714. 
Property*On August 16, 1726, Peter Hairstones signed a lease for 120 years for farm land that was owned by Sir Robert Adair in County Antrim, Ireland. At the time he was living on a farm in Straidnahanna in the parish of Bellyclair in the same county. William Owens and Andrew Allett also signed the lease with Peter. Peter signed with his mark. Since the lease started in 1723, it is possible Peter had been farming the land for 3 years before signing the lease. I have not found any other records in Northern Ireland relating to Peter Hairstones.

Straidnahanna is northwest of Belfast in Ballylinny, County Antrim, Northern Ireland in the map below and it is about 100 miles from Dumfries, Scotland following the red arrow on the map.1

ImmigrationPeter Hairston and family immigrated to America about 1728, probably due to the drought that affected Ireland in 1727 and 1728. 
PropertyRecords indicate that, prior to 1730, he was living in Donegal, Chester County, Pennsylvania near the Susquehanna River. In 1729 this area became part of Lancaster County. Peter's last name is spelled "Hairstons", "Horstons", and "Harstons" in some of the old Donegal Township surveys of 1736 to 1739.

Owners of land ajoining Peter's farm at the time were William Allison, John Kelly, James Mitchell, James Harris, David Byers and Lazarus Lowry. A survey was requested for this land by Peter Hairstons and it was surveyed in April 8, 1736. However, a patent was issued to Lazarus and John Lowry in 1744. Therefore, it is assumed Peter sold the land to the Lowrys. Lazarus Lowry (Lowrey) was born in Ireland and arrived in in Donegal in 1729 and died in 1753. It is possible that Peter and Lazarus came together from Ireland, however, I have not seen any record of this. Also in the Donegal area at this time was Michael Woods, from Ireland, who would later move to Goochland, Virginia, probably with Peter Hairston. The Presbyterian Ministers, Rev. James Anderson and Rev. Samuel Black were also in Donegal, Pennsylvania and traveled to Ivy Creek in Goochland County, Virginia.

A copy of the survey of Peter's land is shown below.2,3,4,5

PropertyLancaster County, Pennsylvania - survey dated 8th April 1736 shows land originally surveyed to Peter Hairstons next to James Mitchel, John Kelly, William Allison, David Byers, Lazurus Lowry and James Harris...."By order of the Proprietary Surveyed to Peter Hairstons a Tract of Land in Donegal Township & County of Lancaster (now in possession of Lazarus Lowry) Containing Two Hundred & eighty four acres and the usual allowance. Bounded according to ye above figure & Surveyed April ye 8th Ap 1736. By Sa. Blunston.5 
PropertyPeter Hairston and Andrew Hairston both recieved a "Blunston" license in 1737 for property in western Pennsylvania, but it is not known if they ever lived there. Samuel Blunston issued licenses for land West of the Susquehanna River starting 1734 for Thomas Penn. Samuel Blunston was the Deputy Surveyor and Justice of the Peace living in Lancaster County. These licenses were for remote land were ownership was being disputed by Maryland, Pennsylvania, Germans, Scotch-Irish and the Indians.

The Blunston Licenses were issued to Peter Hairstons for 200 acres and to Andrew Hairstons for 200 acres on 6 June 1737. This land is currently in Franklin County, PA and is about 3 miles southwest of Greencastle, PA and just north of Hagerstown, Maryland. The amount of land obtained with a Blunston Licenses was between 100 and 500 acres, with the most at 200 acres.

"June 6, 1737 Peter Hairstons 200 acres
On the South side of the South East Branch of the Conegochege."

"June 6, 1737 Andrew Hairstons 200 acres
On the South side of the North East Branch of the Conegochege in the fork."

Conecochheague - Indian word for "indeed a long way......seems to refer to some occasion when a party of Indians became impatient of travel" 1

There are no records of Peter and Andrew settleing this land.

It is also interesting to note that Evan Shelby also received a Blunston Licenses for land on the Conegochege. Peter 's grandson, Capt. Peter Hairston (1752-1832) served under Evan Shelby's son, Major Evan Shelby Jr. (1720-1794) in 1777.6,2,7,8 
Property1 December 1738 Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, William Allison acquires 391 acres "formerly seated by Peter Hairston" in the Township of Donegal, Lancaster County. Recorded the 1st Day of December, 1738.5 
Travel*Sometime around 1739, Peter and his family moved from Pennsylvania along the Great Wagon Road thru Wood's Gap (now Jarmin Gap) into Goochland County, Virginia. 
Court Record*On 15 Sep 1741, Peter Hairston, Michael Woods, John Woods, William Wallace and two dozen other residents signed a petition to have a road cleared from Thomas Morrisons to Michael Woods property in Goochland County. It is well known that, in 1734, Michael Woods led a group of families from Pennsylvania through the Shenandoah Valley to settle in Virginia. The gap in the Blue Ridge Mountains that Michael Woods led these families through was called "Woods Gap" until the name was changed to "Jarman Gap" in the 1800s. Michael Woods obtained his first patent in Goochland County in June 1737. Michael Woods was a Presbyterian from Ireland and his grandson John Woods would later marry Agnes Anne Hairston, Peter's granddaughter.

"On this petition of James Bell, William Verdeman, William Miller, Peter Hairston, Edward Molloy, Thomas Bell, James Bell Jun., John & Thomas & Hugh Dobbins, Thomas & Charles Hughes, William White, Davis Stockton, Alexander Reid, John Heard, Samuel Bell, William Morrison, John Roberts, David Martin, James Armour, James Robertson, John Fulton, Geo. Powel, John McCord, Saml. Arnett, Richard Stockton, Thomas Stockton, & Hum Dobbins. Leave is given them to clear a road from Thomas Morrisons to the D. S. tree in Michael Woods road. And that the petitioners be exempt from working on any other road." Goochland County Court Order Book 5, page 3.9,10,11
County Change*1744 Albemarle County was formed from part of Goochland County. 
Church Record*In 1747 Peter Hairston and other members of the church sent a letter inviting Reverend Samuel Black to be their minister of the Mountain Plain Congregation, Ivy Creek, Albemarle County, Virginia. They were Orthodox Reformed Presbyterians. Albemarle County had been formed from Goochland County in 1744. A transcript of the letter is shown below. (NOTE: it is possible that this is Peter Hairston Jr., Peter's son.)12

NOTE*Note: It is mentioned in several books that Peter and his wife had another daughter that married a Mr. Seldon and moved to Kentucky.

I have also heard that the name was Shelby, not Sheldon. The Shelby family was in Pennsylvania and Maryland area when the Hairstons arrived in America. They were issued a Blunston License in Pennsylvania on Conecocheague Creek, moved to Virginia, were in the Virginia Militia and then moved to Kentucky and Tennessee. There is a quote of a Shelby calling a Hairston his cousin.

As to who Pete the Immigrant's parents were. I found an interesting lead while in Dumfries, Scotland, that an Andrew Hairstanes of Holywood had several sons; Robert born 1694, Andrew born 1697 and John born 1691. Is it possible that our Peter was also one of Andrew's sons.13,14,15 


Agnes "Irish Lady of Rank" (surname unknown)
ChartsDescendant Chart
Descendant Chart Box

Sources (

  1. [S104] Contract between Sir Robert Adair, Peter Harstones, Andrew Allet and William Owens - 1726, PRONI - Public Records of Northern Ireland, 2 Titanic Boulevard, Belfast, Northern Ireland.
  2. [S216] Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Bureau of Archives and History, Pennsylvania State Archives, Harrisburg, PA.
  3. [S221] Ellis, Franklin, 1828-1885. History of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania: With Biographical Sketches of Many of Its Pioneers And Prominent Men. Philadelphia: Everts & Peck, 1883. Hathi Trust Digital Library.
  4. [S227] Ziegler, J. L. An Authentic History of Donegal Presbyterian Church: Located In East Donegal Township, Lancaster Co., Pa.. Mount Joy, Pa.; F. McManus, Jr. & Co., Philadelphia, 1902 ., Hathi Trust Digital Library.
  5. [S3097] Pennsylvania Achives, Third Series, Volumn VIII, edited by William Henry Egle, M.D., Harrisburg, Clarence M. Busch, State Printer, 1896,
  6. [S234] Indian Local Names with Their Interpretations, Stephen G. Boyd, (Published by the author, York, PA 1835).
  7. [S3421] Publications of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania, Vol. XII, No. 1, March, 1933, p.65, unknown repository.
  8. [S3422] Donehoo, George P. Dr., A History of the Cumberland Valley in Pennsylvania, Vol. 1, The Susquehanna Hostory Association, Harrisburg, 1930.,
  9. [S219] Goochland County Road Orders, 1728-1744 - Nathan Mason Pawlett, Virginia Highway & Transportation Research Council, Charlottesville, Virginia, June 1975 VHTRC 75-R71…
  10. [S3080] Blomquist, Ann K., Goochland County Virginia Court Order Book 5, Heritage Books, 2007, Personal Collection - printed book.
  11. [S3272] Goochland County Virginia Court Order Book 5, 1741-1744, Reel 22, Page 3, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia.
  12. [S146] Woods, Edgar. Albemarle County in Virginia: Giving Some Account of What It Was by Nature, of What It Was Made by Man, and of Some of the Men Who Made It. Charlottesville, Va.: Michie Co., printers, 1901. Print., Personal Collection - printed book.
  13. [S145] Pedigo, Virginia G. and Pedigo, Lewis Gravely. History of Patrick and Henry Counties, Virginia - Genealogical Publishing Co., 1933, Personal Collection - printed book.
  14. [S22] Hairston, Elizabeth Seawell, The Hairstons and the Penns and Their Relations, Roanoke, Virginia 1940, Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.
  15. [S191] Old Parish Records, Dumfries & Galloway Family History Society, Dumfries, Scotland.
  16. [S101] Will of Samuel Hairston - 1782, Campbell County Will Book #1, page 6 and Will Book #6, page 141, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia.
Last Edited26 Mar 2018