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Re: Parents of Robert John McCandlish (Va. abt. 1760)
Posted by: Robert Prichard (ID *****6839) Date: June 01, 2006 at 08:38:38
In Reply to: Re: Robert John McCandlish -> Va. abt. 1760 by Fran Caldwell of 104

Fran and Alan:

The tradition that Robert came to Essex directly from Scotland in 1760 was printed in an 1898 William and Mary Quarterly article. I think it may be incorrect, however. He may have been born in Scotland, but I believe that he was the son of William McCandlish, who immigrated to Organge County, Virginia in the late 1730s.

When I cut and pasted the document, it stripped off the footnotes. If you are interested, I can send the full document directly to you. I also have a transcription of the 1784 Whigton parish list, which records the members of multiple McCandlish families.

I am one of three children of Nancy M. McCandlish (b. 1916) of Fairfax, Virginia, who is one of the three children of Fairfax Sheild McCandlish Sr. (1881-1934) of Saluda and Fairfax, Virginia, who was one of the six children of Robert McCandlish [III] (1745-1900) of Williamsburg and Saluda, Virginia, who was the four sons son of Robert McCandlish of Williamsburg, who was the 5th son of the Robert McCandlish who taught in Essex in 1760.

Bob Prichard


William McCandlish

According to testimony that he later gave in court, William McCandlish was born about 1713.1 The Whithorn parish register records two baptisms of children by that name in 1714, one in 1716, two more in 1717, and one in 1718: i) the son of Patrick McCandlish and Grissell Sloan baptized January 8, 1714; ii) the son of William McCandlish and his wife Agnes Candlish, baptized on March 7,1714; iii) the son of George McCandlish and Helen Stewart, baptized on March 17, 1716; iv) the son of Alexander McCandlish and his wife Grissel Conning baptized on June 23, 1717; v) the son of a William McCandlish and Elizabeth Collins [or Coltrone] baptized on October 10, 1717; and vi) the son of the prolific John McCandlish and Jean McCrady [or McCready], baptized March 2, 1718.
There are good arguments for each of these six. A 1713 birth date accords better with the first two or three couples. The fith couple named a son Alexander, a name that William McCandlish would give to one of his children. The sixth couple named children both Alexander and Anthony, the name of another William McCandlish son. The name Robert, which was fairly rare in Wigtownshire, was used by members of the Candlish and Coltrane families, which would suggest the second or fifth couples. Any of these six were possible and probably were all related to William McCandlish in some way. William's grandfather, or perhaps great-grandfather, was probably the Alexander McCandlish listed in the 1684 parish census. He was married to Helen Clellane, and at the time of the census had just one child over twelve living at home--a William. Alexander may well have been the common ancestor of all five of the families who baptized children named William from 1714 to 1718. The earlier two names are most likely chronologically, however.

The younger William McCandlish married Elizabeth (Mc)Nuckell [McNuckel, Nuckal] in Withorn on 6/15/1726. She was probably the daughter of William McNuckall and Grissal Connin, although the parish baptismal records, which began in 1712, recorded the baptism of only David (5/19/1717) and Agnes (5/19/17) NcNuckall. The 1684 parish survey had mentioned only one family of the name: a John McKnuckell married to Janet Jerdane with children William and Janet. The William of the 1684 census was probably Elizabeth's grandfather.

William and Elizabeth McCandlish had their first child baptized on August 17, 1730, a daughter Elizabeth who probably died as an infant. Their second child, Anthony, was baptized on April 15, 1733, and another daughter Elizabeth on March 21,1736.

In 1739 William and Elizabeth immigrated to America and settled in Orange County, Virginia. Later court records, which show William as making his mark, may indicate that William was not literate. For that or for some other reason the spelling of his name would change constantly after his departure from Scotland. He and his wife appeared on the immigrant list as McCandless; court records in Virginia preferred that spelling but also listed McCanless, McCaunles, McKennless, and McCanlos.
William and his wife were part of a large group of settlers who were each given grants of 100 acres in the 173Os and 174Os from the 92,100 acres owned by Benjamin Borden in what was then Orange County, but is now Augusta County, Virginia . Borden, in a document drafted on 21 February 1738/9, specified that the settlers on his land should "build and improve on said property by April 1 next. The deed to the McCandlishes was dated 16 August 1742.

It is possible that by 1749 William McCandlish's wife Elizabeth had died and that he married the widow of another settler. This might explain the curious court suit in which he was involved in 1749. In that year James Bell, McCandlish, and sixteen other petitioners charged that the Borden family had never given them deeds to their property. The original Benjamin Borden had died by that time, but a son of the same name countered by suggesting that some of the settlers had obtained their land by false means:

Benjamin Borden, Jr. charges in answer that James Bell caused a servant wench of his to be dressed in man's clothes and made an entry in her name as a man, and also caused another woman, the wife of William McKenless, to appear in her proper person on a different part of land as the wife of another settler and thereby obtained another entry.

In May 1753 the court apparently sided with the settlers.
Despite the charge against him by the younger Borden and the fact that he appeared in court as a character witness for a Francis McCown accused in April 1749 of being a pickpocket, McCandlish seemed to be a respected fellow. He appeared in court to vouch for on 12 February 1745/6 for R. Galloway. On 28 November 1750 he vouched for his neighbor Samuel Dunlap in a land transfer. He was apparently appointed as the assistant constable on 18 August 1767:

Robert Allen appointed surveyor of highway, vice Isaac White. Robert Gragg appointed surveyor from Duck Ponds to Middle River. William Patton appointed Constable, vice William McCandless.

William must have stayed on the same piece of property over time for the notation of "to the corner of William McCanless's land" appears frequently: 19 August 52, 13 March 57, 18 June 63, 17 August 65, and 15 May 1770. He did, however, acquire additional property, perhaps adjoining his original parcel. On 13 March 53 he received 37 acres from Benjamin Borden under the name of McCandless. On 16 May 1668 he paid Andrew Moore 60 for 150 acres. On 14 May 1770 he appeared as McCandless paying George Campbell 119 for 183 acres from what had been Borden land. McCandlish may have named the farm "Green Briar," for in the 1770s McCandlish is referred to in court records as being from that location.

McCandlish appeared frequently as an assessor of the value of land in the probate of wills, often in combination with his neighbor James Eakin. He did so on 3 May 53,10 August 54,17 June 62,22 February 63, 21 May 65, and 21 October 65. He was also a witness to the will of Edward Hynd on 1 December 77, and was mentioned in the will of Joseph Gamble, which was probated on 16 April 88, as having paid cash to the estate.

McCandlish had additional children after immigrating to
Virginia in 1739. An 11 August 1773 county record refers to a piece of property at Boutetourt that had previously been identified as his, as belonging to "Alexander McCanles," who must have been his son.

William McCandlish lived a long life. He is referred to as having paid cash to an estate in a will probated 16 April 1788. While the reference does not prove that he was still alive in 1788, at which point he would have been 74, it does indicate that he was alive after the death of the person whose will was probated at that time.

William McCandlish may be the father of Robert McCandlish of Essex County. Robert named one of his children William. Robert's appearance as a school teacher in Essex County in 1760 would have been at about the right time for a son of William. Tidewater families were generally more prosperous at the time and it would not have been unusual from a bright young man from the Western part of the colony to seek a job as a tutor for a Tidewater family.


Robert W. Prichard
Spring 1993
[Revised 5 August 1993 and 20 April 2006]


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