Williams Family

Home. .Williams Family Tree. .Reference Info. .Mississippi County AR. .Early Halifax NC. .Early Nashville TN. .John Williams (1). .Richard Williams (2). .Littletown. .Joshua Williams (3). .Maps. .Historical North Carolina Maps . .Two Elishas (a). .Two Elishas (b). .Elisha Williams, Sr (4). .Couer de Lion Thoroughbred. .Scotland Neck Trinity Church. .Betsy Williams (5). .William Williams, Sr. (5). .Mary Wharton Williams (6). .John Wharton Williams (6). Dr. William Williams, Jr. (6) .Charlotte Philips Williams (6). . Elisha Williams Jr (5). .Sarah Josey Ray WILLIAMS (6). .Henry J. Williams (6). .Josiah Frederick Williams (5). .Ewing Family. .Milbrey Horn Williams (6). .Joseph Philips Williams (6). .Rebecca Philips Williams (6). .Rowena Josey Williams (6). .Elisha Williams (6). .James H. Williams (6). .Edward H. Williams (7). .Margaret "Maggie" Williams (7). .Sallie Williams (7). .Edward James Williams (8). .Frank D. Williams(8) . .Nelle Francis Williams (8). .Henry P. Williams (6). .Sarah Elizabeth Williams (6). .Mary Thomas "Money" Williams (6). .John Maxey Williams (6). .Martha M. Williams (6). .Margaret Williams (6). . Mama Nelle and Pop . . Joseph Philips . . Sylvan Hall Cemetery . .Contacts. Larry's Home Page

.Early Halifax NC.

During North Carolina's early history, when the Williams family was living there, authorities used jails to house inmates before they could be tried or have their sentences carried out.  Unlike today, jails were not usually used to punish offenders.  Instead, corporal punishment was the norm and often involved stocks, pillory, and whipping post, all designed to inflict both pain and embarrassment upon the convicted.  The sheriff often administered the punishment the same day the sentence was handed down.
As usual on this web site, click on any picture to open a larger picture in a new window.

That's me below in 2009  standing in front of the Halifax jail constructed in 1838.  It was the third Hailfax jail.  The first two were burned down by inmates to facilitate their escape.  The third jail was constructed of fireproof materials.

Who was the First Williams Immigrant of Our Family?


First, a little history about why the Scotch-Irish came to America


Before 1603 - - Background: For centuries, England had tried repeatedly and constantly to subdue the island of Ireland and the Irish had stubbornly resisted. There had been attempts over the years to transplant English settlers to Ireland in an attempt to "infiltrate" and/or "control" the Irish people and their society, but these had failed. By 1603, the problem was even more acute:

    • From a financial standpoint, Ireland was a drain on the treasury of England.
    • Ireland was one of the areas in Europe where the Catholic faith held steady while Protestantism had spread across much of the continent and even into England and Scotland. Aside from the missionary goal of converting the Irish was the real consideration of not having a neighbor that might hold a religion in common with its enemies.

In the closing years of the 1500's, England had sent a 20,000 man army to Ireland to quell an uprising. After an initial failure, the commander was replaced by a man named Lord Mountjoy, who was particularly ruthless. He destroyed all the food, houses, and cattle he could find. Starvation in their bellies and defeats on the battlefields finally made the Irish submit to England, again, just as Queen Elizabeth lay dieing in 1603.

An area that had been hit hard during this destruction was the north, the "kingdom" of Ireland called Ulster, consisting of nine counties.

In the meantime, in Scotland, times were never all that good, but the turn of the century saw the typical Scottish farmer in dire straits. The western coast of Scotland is only 20-30 miles from the Ulster coast.

Thus, the scene was set for a series of developments leading to:

    • Ireland being carved into two pieces causing disharmony and discord to this day.
    • A "double emigration" from Scotland: to Ireland and then to the United States of hundreds of thousands of immigrants we have come to know as the Scotch-Irish.

1603..  Elizabeth I dies and James VI, King of Scotland, becomes King James I of England

1606..  The first Ulster colonies are settled. Ironically, by private entrepreneurs, and Scottish at that. Some Scottish entrepreneurs had come up with the idea of acquiring some land and transplanting their own countrymen to farm them. These beginning colonies were successful and word quickly spread back to Scotland.

1607..  King James I declared that the land held by the defeated Irish rebel leaders, who had fled to the continent, was reverted to the Crown. This legal action was over-reaching, but when you're the King, what the heck. King James I took control of 3,000,000 acres of Ulster land.

1609..  James I inform the Privy Council of Scotland: "the King.. out of his unspeakable love and tender affection for his Scottish subjects, has decided that they will be allowed to participate in this great adventure". Remember, James I, becoming King of England in 1603, had already been King of Scotland for 35 years before that (he was crowned the King of Scotland when he was one year old.)

1620..  An estimated 50,000 Scottish (and some English) settlers are now in northern Ireland (Ulster).

1625..  King James I died and his son Charles I was crowned King. King James I was a definitely pro-Anglican and anti-Presbyterian, but at least he was somewhat of a politician about trying to convert the Scots to the more traditional Church of England. Charles I, however, had no tact, he tried to force the Anglican church down the throats of the Scottish people and deprive them of their Presbyterianism. (This is the same climate that led to the first flight of Puritans to found the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630.)

1637..  King Charles required changes in the churches of Scotland to more closely resemble the Church of England. The Scottish people arise and overthrow the episcopacy that Charles I has tried to implement. Presbyterianism in Scotland survived.

1640..  An estimated 100,000 Scottish (and some English) settlers are now in northern Ireland (Ulster).

1642..  England is now in a Civil War, principally over the religious issues of the day: Puritanism versus the Church of England. The Scots are on the fringes of this war. They favor the more like-minded Puritans, but, after all, Charles I is still a Scot.

1642..  The Catholics in Ireland rebel against the north. Estimates of the deaths in this uprising vary, but many thousands die. The emigration of Scots to Ireland drops off.

1650..  The English Civil War ends with Oliver Cromwell responsible for the beheading of King Charles I. Then, he invaded Scotland , conquering the Scots at Dunbar. He then set out to crush the Scottish spirit.

1650..  Meanwhile, back in Ireland, the Irish rebellion went on for ten long years, until Cromwell came from England  in 1650 and crushed the rebellion. He took neither side, however. He killed both Catholics and Presbyterians alike to let them know that England was in charge and wouldn't take disobedience from either side. He was particlularly cruel and viscious during his campaigns.

Whether the ends justify the means or not, at least peace did follow Cromwell's "policing action". The immigration of Scots Ireland now resume in 1650.

1653..  Cromwell ordered venerated leaders of their church driven from their places of meeting by English soldiers and led like criminals through the streets of Edinburgh.

1660..  The Puritan Cromwell dies and Charles II resumes the crown. Here we go again, a pro-Anglican as head of the country. As bad as times were for the Scots under Cromwell, worse times were ahead. During the 1660's, the Scottish suffered through what is called the "killing times", as the English tried again to force the Church of England down the throats of the Scots. This was the time of the rise of the term "covenanter", those Scots that, in effect, were guerillas fighting against the English landlords.

We have an example of the "killing times" that has been passed down in our family. A fourteen year old girl was arrested because of her failure to give allegiance to the English King in a way that connoted his being head of the church. This fourteen year old girl was ordered to DEATH BY DROWNING for refusing. This is how cruel things were getting over there at that time.

Emigration from Scotland to Ireland increased with the killing times.

1679..  The Covenanters (protestant rebels) are decisively defeated at the Battle of Bothwell Bridge in Scotland.

1690..  The King of England, William of Orange soundly defeats James II at the Battle of Boyne in Ireland. William is staunchly protestant, James is Catholic. This assures the continuation of the protestant Irish of the north, most Scottish descendants, to continue their protestant faith.

A result of of the English victory at the Battle of Boyne is reponsible for the last wave of immigrants from Scotland to England in the last decade of the 1600's. An estimated 50,000 Scots leave Scotland for northern Ireland.

1717..  The Exodus of the Scotch-Irish from Ulster to America now begins in earnest. Five thousand Ulstermen leave for America that year. Between 1717 and the American Revolution, approximately a quarter of a million Scotch-Irish will leave Ireland for America. Approximately 100 years after the original Ulster plantations have been planted they have succeeded... and they have also failed. In 100 years, Ulster had been transformed from a totally obliterated landscape to a respectable area with an economy that produced goods. Plagued by high rents, four years of drought, English import/export policies, and the religious factor thrown in (although religion wasn't a prime motivating factor in the Scotch/Irish migration as it was, say, with the Puritans.), many Scots look for a better life in America.

It is interesting to note that even though the Catholic Irish endured many of the same hardships as their Northern counterparts, the Catholic Irish did not participate in this Exodus. The emigration was 99% Protestant, Ulster-Scots leaving for the America's. Although there were Catholic Irish who fled to other Catholic countries, principally France and Spain.

1776..  The American Revolution marks the end of this immigration era. Approximately 200-250,000 thousand Scotch-Irish have immigrated to America since 1717. There are more than that by 1776. If one is to assume the doubling of a population every 30 years, and a ratable rate of immigration, one could expect the Scotch-Irish numbered perhaps 10-25% of the 2 1/4 million Americans in 1776. At the time of the Revolution, the Scotch-Irish comprised the second largest ethnic group in America after the English, and ahead of the Germans.

(PS. As you do your census work, you may see the results of a study done by the census bureau by categorizing names based on where the name "might" have come from in estimating the ethnic make-up of the 1790 census. That study is a joke. Pay no attention to it. (How can one look at a Scottish name and tell if it is Scottish or Scotch-Irish? Or look at Smith or Taylor and tell what nationality it is?).

One parting word. All of the above history speaks in terms of generalities. As we family historians try to discover and unlock the secrets of the past of our individual ancestors, there are always individual exceptions to account for. There were English settlers in northern Ireland. There were French Huguenots (the French protestant rebels, "roughly" equivalent to the Puritans in England and the Covenanters in Scotland) in northern Ireland. There were German Palatine refugees in northern Ireland. There were refugees from other parts of the world to Ireland, as well, at various times.

My recommendation is to not worry about the actual blood line of your ancestry, but to appreciate the historical significance of the above events that your ancestor lived through, no matter how he or she got there. (e.g. your ancestor passing through Scotland for a generation or two, or three, or four, was simply one more stop on the genealogical chain of your past, just as significant as two or three generations of your ancestors living in Ohio in the 1800's.)

You also certainly cannot rely on a name to guarantee any source of your ancestry. French, English, and German names could all be "Irish'd" on coming to Ireland, as they might have been again been "anglicized' in coming to America. In fact, Scotch names were "Irish'd", as well as the other way around, on coming to America, ie O'Neill switched to MacNeil or vice versa. I even have one line of Scotch-Irish relatives that changed their name from Campbell to McCampbell on coming to America. There is no equivalent for McCampbell in either Ireland or Scotland - it is an all-American original made-up name! 

In 1619, the headright system was instituted. This allowed anyone who could afford passage to bring new settlers to Virginia. The sponsor would receive fifty acres of land, while the emigrant received a trip to the colony. In some cases, these headrights were indentured servants, who then owed service to the patentee who sponsored him. In other cases, a patentee might sponsor a friend or family member in exchange for the land. Land grants based on headrights were made through the early 1730s.

Many of the early immigrants to Virginia were from the British Isles. These included the Scots-Irish, who moved down from Pennsylvania from around 1730 to the time of the Revolution. Some Irish and Scots also settled in Virginia. The first colonies to be formed from Virginia were Maryland in 1632 and Carolina in 1663. There were no major changes for nearly one hundred years. 

Source: http://www.usahistory.info/southern/Virginia.html


An anonymous pamphlet published in London in 1649 gives a glowing account of Virginia, describing it as a land where "there is nothing wanting," a land of 15,000 English and 300 negro slaves, 20,000 cattle, many kinds of wild animals, "above thirty sorts" of fish, farm products, fruits, and vegetables in great quantities, and the like. If this was intended to induce home seekers to migrate to Virginia, it had the desired effect. The Cavaliers came in large numbers; and they were of a far better class than were those who had first settled the colony. Among them were the ancestors of George Washington, James Madison, James Monroe, John Marshall, and of many others of the far-famed "First Families of Virginia." By the year 1670 the population of the colony had increased to 38,000 and 6,000 of these were indentured servants, while the African slaves had increased to 2,000.


Based on the above, it seems likely that the first immigrant of our family came to the U.S. after 1649.  However, according to William M. Mann, Jr. there were over 350 persons with the name Williams appearing as headrights in the land patents of Virginia prior to 1667.