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Southwest Virginia Campbells

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The Origins of the Southwest Virginia Campbells

Note and Letter by Governor David Campbell of Virginia


Governor David Campbell (1779-1859) of Virginia was a conscientious historian and it is mainly due to his work that the story of John Campbell and Grace (Grissell) Hay (parents of White David) and their descendants has survived. Governor Campbell's papers and other documents are part of the Campbell Papers Collection (about 8,000 documents) located at Duke University, Durham NC. A microfilm copy of the Campbell Papers is located at the Tennessee State Library and Archives in Nashville. In 1996, while reviewing this microfilm copy, I found the following note, in Governor David Campbell's handwriting, on microfilm reel number 1 (my comments are in brackets):


"Genealogy - The Campbell Family

"The farthest back the Campbell family can be traced is to Duncan Campbell of Inverary, Scotland, the place where the old Duke of Argyle and most of the Scotch [sic] Campbells lived. It was in the latter part of Queen Elizabeth's reign that Duncan Campbell moved from Inverary to Ireland. Not long afterwards, in the reign of James First, when he had come to the throne, forfeitures were declared at Ulster in 1612, and Duncan Campbell bought a lease of the forfeited land from one of the English officers. One of his sons, Patrick, bought out the lease and estate in remainder, whereby he acquired the [land in] fee simple. How many other sons Duncan may have had is not known.

"Patrick had a son Hugh, and he a son Andrew. The generations from Andrew to our great-grandfather John [husband of Grace Hay] are not stated. It should be to Duncan, father of John Campbell, [who] emigrated to America with his family in the year 1726 and settled in the Sweet Ara river where Lancaster now stands in Pennsylvania. He [meaning John Campbell, husband of Grace Hay] had six sons, Patrick, John, William, James, Robert and David. Three - to wit - John, William and James were never married. John died in in England having gone there with Lord Boyne and became [his] steward."



Governor David Campbell (1779-1859), in a letter to Lyman Draper, dated 12 Dec 1840, spoke of the origins of his branch (White David's) of the Campbell Clan in America.  An extract from this letter [see Draper Manuscripts, Kings Mountain Papers, 10DD6, pages 1 and 2] is presented below.  My comments are given in brackets:


" ... The Campbell family from which I am descended were originally from Inverary in the Highlands of Scotland - came to Ireland in the latter part of the reign of Queen Elizabeth & thence to America. John Campbell [husband of Grace Hay] my great grandfather and the great grandfather of Gen'l William Campbell of the Revolution came from Ireland with a family of ten or twelve children, leaving behind him only one son, and settled near Lancaster in Pennsylvania in the year 1726. His eldest son Patrick was the grandfather of Gen'l William Campbell. His youngest son David [White David] was the father of Col Arthur Campbell and my grandfather. So that Gen'l Campbell and myself were second cousins. The family remained in Pennsylvania but a few years and then removed to the frontiers of Virginia, in that part which afterwards formed the county of Augusta. Here they lived many years. John Campbell (my father) the eldest son of David and Col Arthur Campbell the second son were born, raised and educated in this county. Gen'l William Campbell was also born, raised and educated here. ..."