Friday, June 29, 2018

52 Ancestors #26: William Bryan, Sr. (c1685-1789): From Ireland to Virginia

Ancestor: William Bryan, Sr., six times great grandfather
Haplogroup: E-M35

Much has been written about the Bryan family who came to southwestern Virginia in the 1700s. How much of it is true is another matter. Several family genealogies trace the Bryan lineage back to Irish kings. It seems the more recent the book, the more fantastical the lineage.[1]

What I can prove through documents and secondary research that is sourced, is that William Bryan, Sr., and his wife, Margaret (maiden name unknown), were Scots Presbyterians and immigrated to the colonies in American in 1718. According to family tradition William at first studied for the ministry, but shrank from public speaking. He turned to weaving and had an establishment in Northern Ireland that employed help and was a member of Ballyroney Presbyterian Church in Banbridge, County Down, Northern Ireland.

Family lore says William Bryan sent his young son, John, out to cut a stick to be made into a handle for a hook used in weaving. John was arrested for poaching. It cost some money and trouble to settle the incident and William decided to emigrate and join a brother in America where he said timber was free and there were no constables.

William's family sailed in 1718 with a certificate of transfer from their church dated 18 April 1718: "The bearer hereof, William Bryan, who hath been a useful member of this congregation, being now about to transport himself and family to America, these are to certify that he and his wife, Margaret Bryan have been of good repute amongst us, having always deserved the laudable character of blameless and gospel life, so deserve encouragement, a kind and cheerful recognition into any Christian society where the providence of God may cast their lot as also admissions to sealing ordinances in an orderly way all of which is certified by us. -- James Donnell, William Vance, William Doan, John Truesdale, James Dodd, James Moore, Mod., George Irvin, C.S., Francis Wood, Robert McMullan, James McLorver, John Stewart, James Paxton."

Many years later William Bryan wrote in a corner of the certificate, "My age to this year of our Lord, 1775, is 90 years."

William Bryan became one of the first settlers of the Roanoke Community in southwestern Virginia. "Roanoke" is said to be money used by the native Americans of southern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina. At the time the Bryans settled in the region the name Roanoke applied to the entire Roanoke River watershed from present day Staunton to Roanoke. William Bryan settled on 400 acres near present day Salem established Great Spring Plantation on the Roanoke River, which he divided between his sons William, Jr. and James in 1771. It is said the family lived in Pennsylvania and perhaps New Jersey before migrating south to Virginia.

William Bryan, Sr. died in either 1786 or 1789 and was over hundred years old when he died. He, his wife, and son William Jr. were interred at West Hill Cemetery in Salem, Virginia.

Headstone for William Bryan, and William and Margaret
(Watson) Bryan, Jr., erected by a descendant; courtesy of
Find a Grave volunteer, S. G. Thompson

This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. The theme for this week was "Black Sheep," which I did not follow.

Using the Ancestral Reference Numbering System, William Bryan, Sr. is Ancestor number 308 on my family tree:

308 William Bryan, Sr., born about 1685 in Northern Ireland; died in 1786 or 1789 near Salem, Virginia; immigrated in 1718; married Margaret (maiden name unknown).

308.1 Mary Bryan, born about 1710 in Northern Ireland; died on an unknown date; married Philip Bush in 1733 in Spotsylvania County, Virginia.

154 John Bryan, born about 1712 in Northern Ireland; died in 1799 in Campbell County, Virginia; married Mary Morrison on 10 March 1742.

308.2 James Bryan, born about 1714 in Northern Ireland; died in 1816 in Mason County, now West Virginia; married Betsey (maiden name unknown).

308.3 William Bryan, Jr., born about 1716 in Northern Ireland; died in 1806 in Roanoke County, Virginia; married Margaret Watson on 2 Apr 1750 in New Jersey.

308.4 David Bryan, born on an unknown date at an unknown place; died in 1767 Augusta County, Virginia; married Elizabeth (maiden name unknown). She married Col. John Bowman after his death.

308.5 Margaret Bryan, born and died on an unknown date at an unknown place; married James Love.

_______________
NOTE: Many believe William Bryan, Sr., was a brother of Morgan Bryan, who settled in Gloucester County, Virginia. I do not believe this to be the case. William Bryan was Presbyterian and Morgan Bryan was a Quaker. Certainly, interfaith marriages occurred in Colonial Virginia, but they were quite rare. I believe this linkage between men with the same surname began in the 1800s or early 1900s when people more often believed people with the same surname were related. DNA testing has proved that not to be true. William Bryan, Sr., and Morgan Bryan are of different DNA Haplogroups according to the Bryan Y-DNA Project.

[1] For an analysis of how the Bryan genealogy has changed over time, be sure to read The Evolution of William Smith Bryan from Irish Rebel to Virginia Planter, published on 2 Sep 2016 on The Family Connection blog.

Sources:

Brien, Lindsay M. Bryan Wills and Deeds with Genealogical Notes, pages 24-35.
Chalkley, Lyman. Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia, (Rosslyn, VA: The Commonwealth Printing Co., 1912), page 223 (accessed 5 Jun 2018).
Find A Grave (database and images), FindAGrave, William Bryan died 1786, West Hill Cemetery, Salem, Virginia; citing Memorial No. 16202730 (accessed 5 Jun 2018).
Genealogical Research System (database and images), DAR, John Bryan, Sr., born circa 1712, died 9 Dec 1799; citing Ancestor No. A016254 (accessed 2 Jun 2018).
McKenzie, George Norbury and Roades, Nelson Osgood (editors). Colonial Families of the United States of America, etc., (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1966), Volume VI, The Bryan Family (accessed 2 Apr 2018).
Shearer, James William. The Shearer-Akers Family "Combined with The Bryan Line" through the Seventh Generation, (Somerville, NJ: The Press of the Somerville Messenger, 1915), pages pages 11-14 (accessed 1 Apr 2018).
The Evolution of William Smith Bryan from Irish Rebel to Virginia Planter, The Family Connection (accessed 1 Jun 2018).
US, Sons of the American Revolution Membership Application, 1889-1970 (database and images), Ancestry, William Bryan, Sr., born Jul 1686, died 1790; citing SAR Membership No. 35566 (accessed 4 Jun 2018).
US, Sons of the American Revolution Membership Application, 1889-1970 (database and images), Ancestry, William Bryan, Sr., born Jul 1686, died 1790; citing SAR Membership No. 39691 (accessed 4 Jun 2018).
US, Sons of the American Revolution Membership Application, 1889-1970 (database and images), Ancestry, William Bryan, Sr., born 1686, died 1790; citing SAR Membership No. 41663 (accessed Jun 4 2018).
US, Sons of the American Revolution Membership Application, 1889-1970 (database and images), Ancestry, William Bryan, Sr., born Jul 1686, died 1790; citing SAR Membership No. 42819 (accessed 4 Jun 2018).
US, Sons of the American Revolution Membership Application, 1889-1970 (database and images), Ancestry, William Bryan, Sr., born Jul 1686, died 1790; citing SAR Membership No. 43148 (accessed 4 Jun 2018).
US, Sons of the American Revolution Membership Application, 1889-1970 (database and images), Ancestry, William Bryan, Sr., born Jul 1686, died 1790; citing SAR Membership No. 51357 (accessed 4 Jun 2018).
US, Sons of the American Revolution Membership Application, 1889-1970 (database and images), Ancestry, William Bryan, Sr., born Jul 1686, died 1790; citing SAR Membership No. 56106 (accessed 4 Jun 2018).
Y-DNA Classic Chart, Bryan DNA Project (accessed 3 Jun 2018).

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