Thursday, January 12, 2012

Hance Hamilton

For all those McCains with Hamilton connections;  there is some very good research on going about Hance Hamilton who was the de facto leader of the Marsh Creek Settlement in the 1700s.  There are several McCain Hamilton marriages, both in the Colonies and in Ireland, and there was a very consistent and strong bond between these two families.

The new research as peeled away some pseudo history concerning Hance Hamilton.  For example, it is often stated his father was a Hance Hamilton Sr who led 140 families to the Colonies in 1729, yet there are no known records that support this.  To date, no records have been located that even suggest Hance Hamilton's father was named Hance.  A group of 140 families would have needed several large ships at the very least and there is no records in the Colonies nor Ireland of this event.  On the other hand, there are records of Hamiltons coming over in 1729 on a smaller ship and landing at New Castle, Delaware.  Hance could have been aboard this smaller ship, we do not know for certain, but we do know just a few years later he shows up in the Marsh Creek Settlement, fully grown, very active, and a leader of men.

The early life and parents of Hance Hamilton are for the time being a mystery.  There is now some DNA results that connect Hance to the Abercorn Hamiltons in east Donegal and northwest Tyrone.  Of interest, some of our McCains were living on the Abercorn Hamilton lands prior to coming the Colonies and the McCain Hamilton marriages in Ireland are with the Abercorn line.   Given this information, it does look like Hance Hamilton is connected to that particular Hamilton line.  If so, it is very likely that eventually records of his family will turn up in Ireland.

Part of the confusion with Hance comes from the birth year listed on his stone in Gettysburg, which is 1721.  The stone that exist today is not the original one.  It was replaced in the late 1800s as the original stone was badly weathered and broken.  Given the age of his oldest son it is very probable that the 1721 date is an error.  He would be older, so perhaps the original stone read 1711 or some other date that was illegible by the late 1800s.

McCain Family DNA Research Update

A short update for all our McCain families.  First, thank you to all the McCain gents that upgraded their DNA kits to the 111 markers.   This has been a great help in getting a much better idea of the chronology of our shared common ancestor.  We use the geneticists DNA logarithms to do the analysis.  Additionally, as the geneticists make progress in their research these logarithms are more precise.  

All the McCains that have tested go back to one family living circa mid 1600s.  This includes the New England and Nova Scotian McKeens, the Marsh Creek McCains, the north Antrim McKanes, and the east Donegal McKeans.  We now have a much better idea of where we were living from 1400s to the 1650s.  This came via a lot of reading of the primary sources in Argyll and east Donegal.  The DNA and traditional research go hand in hand.

As some people might have heard, I did finally 'find' the elusive Willam McKean the soldier that is part of the oral history of the New England McKeens.  He is the earliest McCain I can find paper records on, and he was indeed a soldier.  He was an adult male in 1630, so his birth date would be around 1595 to 1605, give or take a few years.   Whether or not he was born in Donegal or moved there I do not know, I suspect he was born in Donegal and his family came to Donegal from Argyll in one of the groups of men sent there by Giolla Easpuig Caimbeul, the 5th Earl of Argyll, or by the 6th Earl of Argyll.  All that will be explained in the book Finding the McCains. 

Hope every one has a prosperous New Year, and I will post updates as news comes in.