You may want to locate a copy of "History of a Fragment of the Clan Linn and a Genealogy of the Linn and Related Families" by Dr. George Wilds Linn (1905). Dr. Linn was a 2nd-great-grandson of James Widney and his wife, Mary Wilson. The historical section of Dr. Linn's book was taken largely from the history given to him by his grandfather, Hugh Linn II, who was three when their family came to America. Hugh's father, Hugh Linn I, was married to James and Mary Widney's daughter Sarah Widney.
I also corresponded a great deal with Beulah (Widney) Wall, in the 1980s and early 1990s, as we each helped compile an update to Dr. Linn's book, which was published in 1993. (You would only be interested in the update if you are descended from Hugh and Sarah Linn because the historical section is a verbatim transcript of Dr. Linn's 1905 book.)
When I last corresponded with Beulah, there was no record of the first name of Col. Widney, grandfather of the elder James Widney (James II). James's father, however, was also named James (James I). As to the first name of Col. Widney, Beulah surmised that it was John because that is the name given to the firstborn son of each of James' and Mary's sons. I felt Beulah's view had some weight, but it is not conclusive evidence.
You may know that James I had a son named William baptized in 1711 in Glenavy. There, the family name was written Woodnay. The name Woodney also appeared in Ulster in 1653, almost 40 years before the Battle of the Boyne, as related in an 1853 article entitled "The Anglo-Norman Families of Lecale in the County of Down" by J. W. H. and published in the Ulster Journal of Archaeology, Series 1, Vol. 1, Belfast (1853). The article lists a Woodney, first name unknown, as being among Scots Presbyterian landholders proposed to be transplanted from Lecale to Leinster and Munster in order to promote Presbyterianism and loyalty to the monarchy. Whether all these folks actually went is not evident. The information that is available and included in the article was attributed to Doctor Reid, historian of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. I wonder if the Widneys/Woodneys were Scots who came to Ireland during the plantation of Ulster. A number of Scots-Irish troops supported William of Orange at the Battle of the Boyne and elsewhere, including at the siege of Londonderry, which happened the previous year. It's possible even that Col. Widney and/or his father left Ireland sometime between 1653 and 1690, to return and fight for William. Perhaps it was in the interim that the Widneys became Methodists, or perhaps it was later. I'm sorry I don't have a record of which church William Woodnay was baptized in.
I am a 5th-great-granddaughter of James and Mary Widney through Hugh and Sarah Linn, who were married in Ulster (probably County Tyrone) in 1776. Sarah's brother, also named James (James III), came to Path Valley in 1784. Sarah, Hugh, and their three eldest children followed in 1788. James and Hugh together helped to found the village of Concord. Until there was an established Methodist church in the valley, Hugh opened his home to neighbors for Bible reading and prayer. Hugh and Sarah are buried in the Concord Union Cemetery. I'm sorry I don't know if James III is there or not.
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