History and genealogy of the Hairston, Hairstanes, Hairstones, Harston families of Scotland, Ireland and America and the descendants of Peter Hairston, who arrived in America about 1728.
The Hairston family is said to be from the Dumfries area of Scotland. Handwriting from 17th century Scotland is often difficult to read, but there are Hairstanes, Hairstains, Hairstones, Harestons, Herstaines, Hairstens, Harston, Hairsteins, Hairstons, etc. listed in old records. Dumfries Customs & Excise documents indicate a William Hairstanes was in the Tobacco trade with the American Colonies in 1721.
There is a 1726 farm lease between "Peter Hairstons" and Sir Robert Adair in Antrim County, Ireland. Peter was living in Straidnahanna, Bellyclair, a few miles North of Belfast. Peter and his family probably came to America during the 1727/1728 Irish drought. Documents found in Ireland.
Peter Hairston was living in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania from about 1729 to 1739 at three different locations. Between 1739 and 1741 Peter and his family moved to Goochland County, Virginia with the Michael Woods group. Peter Hairston first appears in a 1741 road request in Goochland County.
Many stories have been handed down through the years that are not based on known records. As an example, these stories mention that Peter Hairston's wife was an "Irish Lady Of Rank". How many children did they have? Is the travel trunk at Cooleemee the trunk that Peter used coming to America?
1. Did “Peter the Immigrant” or his sons fight in the Battle of Culloden, 1746? Answer is No.
Ruth Hairston Early wrote in her book “The Family of Early: Which Settled upon the Eastern Shore of Virginia”, 1920 (page 107) the following; “The Hairstons were of Scotch ancestry: Peter, the emigrant, left Scotland after the battle of Culloden, having fought on the losing side, came to America about 1747-8 landing at Norfolk,.......”
From the “Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography” 1915: “Peter Hairston, the emigrant as known in the family, left Scotland after the battle of Culloden, 1746, having fought on the losing side, that of the Pretender. He fled to Ireland, remained there for a short period of time, and about 1747-48 came to America, landing at Norfolk, Virginia".
These writers probably did not have the benefit of the following information:
1. Peter Hairston is listed on a land lease in Antrim County, Ireland in 1726
2. Peter Hairston documented living in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania from c1729 to c1739.
3. Peter Hairston listed on a 1741 road work order in Goochland County, Virginia
4. Andrew Hairston listed in Goochland records in 1744, Albemarle 1749, etc.
5. Samuel Hairston listed in Goochland records in 1743-1744, Albemarle 1744, 1746, 1749, etc.
6. Battle of Culloden was fought 16 April 1746 near Inverness, Scotland.
7. Peter Hairston listed in a March 1747 church letter in Ivy Creek, Goochland County.
8. Robert and Samuel Hairston are in court for "breach of peace", May 1747 in Albemarle County.
9. Wills of Samuel and Andrew Hairston state that Samuel, Andrew and Robert were brothers.
2. Did “Peter the Immigrant” have a son named Peter Hairston, Jr.?
I have not found any original documents relating to Peter Hairston, Jr., a brother to Andrew, Samuel and Robert who were born in Ireland or Scotland. There is no brother Peter Jr. mentioned in the wills of Andrew, Samuel or Robert. There are no known wills for "Peter the Immigrant" or a son named Peter Jr. in Virginia or South Carolina. There are no known records of a Peter Jr. in the Goochland or Albemarle County Militias during the French and Indian Wars and he would have been required to sign up. Goochland County court records mention Andrew Hairston, Samuel Hairston, Robert Hairston and Peter Hairston, but no Peter Jr. The Albemarle County court records and jury lists from 1744 to 1748 mention Robert, Samuel and Andrew, but no Peter or Peter Jr.
The Peter Hairston that purchased the 250 acres in North Garden in 1743 and then sold it in 1762 was "Peter the Immigrant" and his wife Agnes. Agnes is mentioned by name in the sale records. Her name, Agnes, is also confirmed in a 1940 letter that records the bible notes on the naming of the children of Jane Hairston Rentfro, the daughter of Robert Hairston (Peter the Immigrant's son). Jane wrote that she named her 5th child "Agnes", for her grandmother Hairston. There is some discussion on whether this 1940 letter is correct and it needs to be verified.
The original South Carolina Hairstons were named William, Thomas, John, and Peter. They appear to have been born during the same time frame as the known children of Andrew and Robert.
The idea that a Peter Jr. was the father of the South Carolina Hairston's was proposed by Carl Greenway in a 1966 letter. Even in this letter, Carl Greenway states that his addition of a son named "Peter Jr." is based on "circumstantial evidence". A Peter Jr. is also mentioned by Elizabeth Seawell Hairston in her book "The Hairstons and the Penns" in 1940, however this Peter was actually Andrew's son Peter who died unmarried and left a will about 1780.
Therefore, I do not believe that "Peter the Immigrant" had a son named Peter.
3. Who is the father of the South Carolina Hairstons?
At this time I do not have any documentation about who was the father of the Hairstons that went to South Carolina - William Hairston, Thomas Hairston, John Hairston, or Peter Hairston. They start showing up in South Carolina records in the mid 1760s, which is shortly after "Peter the Immigrant" and Agnes sell their Albemarle County, Virginia property in 1762. It appears that the South Carolina Hairstons (William, Thomas, John and Peter) may be brothers. The first recorded South Carolina Hairston birth I have found is William's son James Robert Hairston born on 2 March 1766. It is interesting that John McCord was a neighbor of "Peter the Immigrant" and a member of Mountain Plain Congregational Church. John McCord Sr. died in 1764 and his son John McCord Jr. moved to Abbeville County, South Carolina and witnessed John Hairston's will in 1806.
"Peter the Immigrant" had three sons, Andrew, Samuel or Robert. Peter's son Robert was a Captain in the militia, Justice of the Peace, literate and his family is well documented in bibles, records, etc. Samuel was also a Captain in the militia, High Sheriff, Justice of the Peace, literate and appears not to have married or had children. Andrew signed with an "X" and it appears could not read or write. The wills of Andrew and Robert mentioned a total of 15 daughters and 5 sons. The normal birth ratio of males to females is about 1:1. It is possible that some sons were not listed in Andrew's will. There are many possible explanations including infant mortality. But, it is also possible that some of these missing sons moved to South Carolina.
It is also possible that Andrew did not list some of his sons in his 1771 will because they had already moved to South Carolina. None of the Hairston's in South Carolina named their sons Andrew.
Recently found records that indicate that the niece Jane Phillips and nephew Samuel Phillips, mentioned in Samuel Hairston's 1782 will, ended up in Franklin County, Georgia. Jane Phillips married Jonathan Jackson Hays and had two sons. Also note that both of Samuel Hairston's brothers named a daughter Jane "Jenny", possibly after a sister.
What if "Peter the Immigrant" had a second wife and they had children? There was a story handed down that "Peter the Immigrant's" wife died during the trip to America. Assuming Peter was born in 1695, he would have been in his 40s when he arrived in Virginia and young enough to remarry and have children. I have not found any records relating to a second wife, but it is something to think about.
Some Hairston relatives believe the South Carolina Hairstons immigrated directly from Scotland or Ireland.
4. What are the birth dates of Peter the Immigrant and his sons? Where were they born?
I have not found any original records indicating birth dates or places for Peter and his three sons. Any birth dates and birth places that are listed in books and websites, including this website, are estimates. A "c" before a date indicates "circa", which means approximately.
1. We should remember that Peter and his son Andrew signed with an "X", indicating that they could not read or write.
2. None of the known Hairston Family Bibles list the birth dates of Peter or his sons. One bible states that son Robert was born in Ireland.
3. Most old church records for Northern Ireland were lost in the Irish Civil War of 1922.
4. Peter was not a common name in old Northern Ireland records. I did not find any Peter Hairstanes in Scotland between 1600 and 1750.
5. People in the 1700s did not remember and celebrate birthdays like they do now.
Obviously, more research is required.
Please note that there are many people listed in this website that are Not related to the Hairston family.