I have always had a great interest in the family of the late Linda Lawhon of Texas, that
starts with Robert Boyd, who was born about 1728 and married Eleanor McCullock in 1752 at
Philadelphia, PA. After her death, I have kept an eye for any publications that might
tell us where this Robert Boyd was born in 1728 and what his origins might be
During my trip to the USA in 2010 I found the book Song with a Tenor Lead, The Story of
Joseph William Boyd and Mary Cerena Hampton, with Ancestors and Descendants, Jim Boyd,
2002. On pages 36-37 provides this information on this Robert’s father:-
“Robert Boyd the Immigrant
Let’s step back in time about 250 years to 1743; the place is Scotland or perhaps as some
people have suggested, Ulster, Northern Ireland. Robert Boyd is making plans with two of
his brothers to take their families to America. We will call this Robert, Robert the
Immigrant. He is our earliest known direct Boyd ancestor.
People are migrating to America for many reasons and we do not know exactly why Robert the
Immigrant and his brothers decided to take this major step. Most likely it was the
promise of a better life for themselves and their families. Perhaps it was one of the
famines that plagued the country that drove them to migrate. Religious circumstances,
such as the conflict between the Moderate and Popular parties within the Presbyterian
Church, may also have influenced their decision.
Robert the Immigrant and his brothers can expect to have friends and possibly other family
members with them on their journey, because many other Scots and scotch-Irish families are
migrating to America at this time. As they make their plans to sail, spirits must be
high; but there must also be deep sadness in leaving behind family and friends whom they
will probably never see again. In final preparations for the trip, Robert the Immigrant
and his brothers dispose of all of the belongings that they are not bringing with them.
We do not know the name of our ancestors’ ship or the port from which it sailed. However,
it was certainly a small ship, crowded and very uncomfortable as ships of the period were.
With Robert the Immigrant are his two daughters and his teenage son, Robert. We will
call this Robert, Robert Sr., because he too will have a son named Robert. After about
seven weeks at sea, much to the delight of everyone on board, land is sighted. A short
time later the ship docked in Pennsylvania and our Boyds begin their American odyssey.
The year is 1744 or 1745.
Nothing further is known of Robert the Immigrant or his brothers. All that is known of
his daughters is that one married a Smith and the other married a Witherspoon.
Fortunately, it is his son Robert Sr., who is of interest to us. Although he was a farmer
and never realized fame and fortune, he left his mark. He and his wife Eleanor McCullock
had several children who had several children who had several children and on and on. We,
the descendants of Joseph William Boyd, are only a few of the thousands of descendants of
Robert Boyd, Sr. and Eleanor McCullock.
Robert Boyd Sr. was born in Scotland about 1728. While on board the ship coming to
America with his father, he met a young lady by the name of Eleanor McCullock. Eleanor
was born about 1732 in Ireland; her father had moved there from Scotland to escape
religious persecution. We know only that he was a ship builder and owner by trade and
that he was lost at sea on one of his own ships. Her mother also must have died because
Eleanor is said to have come to America with friends. A romantic relationship developed
between Robert Sr. and Eleanor such that in 1752, about seven years after they arrived in
America, they were married in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (The period of seven years
poses a question: could it simply be a coincidence; or, since it is the usual term of
servitude for indentured servants, could Robert Sr. have contacted out his services to pay
for his passage.)”
Unfortunately, Jim Boyd does not cite any sources as to where he got Robert Boyd’s Sr.
father Robert Boyd’s name from.
So what data might be now researched from this above article?
1) In 1744 and 1745 are there any shipping records for the Pennsylvania Ports
or for New castle, or Wilmington, Delaware?
2) Can we make a list of those Boyds who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1744 and
1745 to try to find the names of the two brothers?
3) Is there anyway of finding out where Robert Boyd, the Immigrant or Robert
Boyd, Sr might have been living between 1744 and 1753?
4) With the suggestion that Robert Boyd, Sr. MIGHT HAVE BEEN AN INDENTURED
SERVANT, so are there any records – like contacts, legal agreements, etc that might help
to identify him?
5) Would the marriage record of 1752 between Robert Boyd, Sr and Eleanor
McCullock in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania provide any names of his brothers, etc?
6) With Robert, the Immigrants two daughters marrying a Mr Smith and Mr
Witherspoon, I assume in Pennsylvania in the 1750’s or 1760’s, is there anyway of finding
these marriages? Or are there any publications on Witherspoon families that might tell us
about this daughter and hopefully might tell use something about her sister Mrs Smith?
7) With Eleanor McCullock, said to have been born in 1732, and the ship coming
in 1744, would make her only 12 years old when she made the trip. This would suggest that
she was under someone’s guardianship? So would there be any legal papers, etc covering
this guardianship in Pennsylvania?
8) With Eleanor McCullock, being cited as coming from Ireland and Robert Boyd,
Sr. being born in 1728 in Scotland, it may suggest that his family moved to Ireland
between 1728 and 1744. So my guess is that the ship left from one of the Irish Ports
rather than a Scottish Port.
9) With Eleanor McCullock’s unnamed father being listed as a “ship builder and
owner by trade and that he was lost at sea on one of his own ships.” So can any records
of him be found before 1744 in Ireland?
10) When I was at the Greenville, SC, Highland Games, Harriet Gentry from
Evansville, Indiana visited the Boyd tent and gave me some origins for Robert Boyd Sr’s
father – a Robert Boyd (1703-1761) who is said to have married Barbara Baird (1703-1785).
I will have to write to her about these ancestors, as this APPEARS to be the Captain
Robert Boyd who came to the Cumberland Valley in 1737 from Ireland and died in 1761.
11) Can the birth places of Robert Boyd, Sr and Robert Boyd, the Immigrant be
found in Scotland
12) I assume that there could be other research questions that could be asked
form the above article that I have currently missed listing. If so, please ask them?
House of Boyd Society