The Descendants of John Alexander of County Ayrshire, Scotland who migrated to County Donegal, Ireland at the turn of the 17th Century is one of mystery and intrigue. It traces the family from a humble beginning to one of the most respected families on the American Continent.



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John Alexander, earliest known ancestor of the Alexander's who migrated to Somerset County, Maryland. He was born about 1587 in County Ayrshire, Scotland, and died after 1665 in Eredy also known as Raphoe, County Donegal, Ireland. The names of his parents are not known. Between the years 1580 and 1609, the surname Alexander does not appear in any surveys taken of the owners of land or baronies in the province of Ulster. What is recorded is the land in County Donegal, it was purchased by Sir James Cunningham from County Ayrshire, Scotland, who rented out this newly acquired property to several Scottish settlers. One of these early settlers was John Alexander who migrated from County Ayrshire, Scotland to County Donegal, Ireland as a tenant farmer.

19 Jul 1610: Commissioners granted letters-patent to Sir James Cuninghame of Glengarnock, County Ayrshire, Scotland. Conferring on him and his heirs two thousand acres in the precincts of Portlagh, Barony of Raphoe and County of Donegal. The parcels of land were designated Moragh, Dryan, Magherybegg, Magherymore, Tyran, Carickmore, Grachley and two portions of land called Eredy.

26 Feb 1613: Robert Alexander of Stirling, a scion of the House of Menstry, was granted a loan of 200 merks to James Cuninghame, to whom Sir Cuninghame was elated, alike by internship and marriage. To enable him to complete the purchase of his lands in Donegal. Sir William Alexander granted to Sir James Cunningham a loan of 400 pounds sterling, for which, on February 26, 1613-14, he obtained a mortgage on the lands.

01 May 1613: Sir James Cuninghame granted legal tenures on his land in Donegal to thirty-nine persons who had made settlements thereon. That portion called Eredy was divided among nine settlers, one of whom was John Alexander. The name Eredy according to Rogers resembles Eradall, one of the merk lands in south Kintyre, granted by James III in 1484 to a Tarlack MacAlexander of Tarbert. (Rogers assume the Alexander's living in Eredy, Ireland were connect to Clan MacAlister's, but further research proves this assumption to be incorrect. However, Alexander's "Lord Stirling" was related to the MacAlister's as well as to Sir James Cunningham by marriage).

24 Jun 1618: Sir James Cunningham's creditors continued importunate, Sir William Alexander (Stirling) proceeded to foreclose on the mortgage and take sasine of the lands. However, this proceeding was only intended for his friend's protection. 1623: Sir James Cunningham died leaving a widow. This lady, a daughter of James, seventh Earl of Glencairn, was pursued by her husband's creditors, from whom she was successfully defended, through the efforts of Sir William Alexander. 1629: Sir John Cunningham, son of the original patentee, obtained the superiority of his father's lands and had them erected into a manor with power to create tentures.

There-upon the original settlers, including John Alexander of Eredy received new titles to their lands, and taking the oath of supremacy obtained denization. 1659: John Alexander recorded in the first census of Ireland. He probably arrived at a much earlier date, with his landlord,  James Cunningham, Esquire, from Ayrshire, Scotland and settled in the Barony of Raphoe, County Donegal, Ireland. 1662: John Alexander is in the parish of Taghboyne, assessed for 4 pounds, 18 shillings. 1663: John Alexander styled himself as "John Alexander of ye Dukes Land." (John Alexander of Eredy occupied several holdings. In the Hearth Tax Roll he is styled, "John Alexander of ye Dukes land." Dukes=Duke of Lennon. He appears to have had several sons, I.e., Archibald, Robert, John Jr., William and Andrew. Burke's Irish Records & Memorials, Vol. II, Pages 63-64). 1665: John Alexander living with his son William Alexander were living in the Parish of Raphoe, County Donegal, Ireland. John Alexander and his wife, whose name is not set out in record, fathered at least five sons, all born in County Donegal, Ireland. They are recorded in the above note.

The family to which this history is continued is through a younger son of John Alexander named William Alexander. William was born about 1614 in Eredy, County Donegal, Ireland, and died about 1668 in Raphoe, County Donegal, Ireland. About the time our ALexander's arrived on the Eastern Shores of Maryland and Virginia, there was already established several other Alexander's living in America. The first Alexander of record was Captain John Alexander of "Gartmore," Scotland. He came to Virginia and granted land in Westemoreland County, where he built his come "Caledon." John Alexander died 1677. The first wife of John Alexander was a Miss Graeme, who probably came to Virginia with him. His second wife, Mrs. Tabitha Smart, daughter of Edmund and Mary (Littleton) Scarborough of Accomack County, Virginia. The second unrelated Alexander purchased 6,000 acres of land opposite the present city of Washington, D.C. In 1670, John Alexander built his home "Abingdon," which is located just north of the city of Alexandria, reputedly named for an earlier Alexander.

William Alexander whom this history is regarding, was born about 1614 to John Alexander living in Eredy, County Donegal, Ireland. He died in 1668 at Raphoe, County Donegal, Ireland. 1662: William Alexander was recorded int he Hearth Tax Roll in the Parish of Clonleigh, County Donegal, Ireland. 1665: William Alexander was last recorded in the Hearth Tax Roll in the Parish of Raphoe, County Donegal, Ireland.

Dr. Alvah M. Stafford in his unpublished work "Alexander Notebooks," on the Alexander's describes the family as follows: "The Alexander pioneers who settled in Somerset County, Maryland were: Andrew, Francis, James, John, Samuel and William. It is reasonably certain that they all came from Ulster, in the North of Ireland and were of pure Scottish blood. It must be concluded that several of the Alexander's recorded here, were brothers, if not, they were undoubtedly a cousinal relationship between them. Probably some of these Alexander's were of County Donegal--possibly from the Parish of Raphoe. Their lineage has not been firmly established. Later in his statement, Dr. Stafford mentioned there were others of the name who may also be considered as of the first generation. These were among the original grantees of land in New Munster, Cecil County, Maryland in 1714 and 1718. The others named were: Joseph Alexander, "Tanner;" Arthur Alexander, "Farmer;" and David Alexander, "Weaver. William Alexander (John1) and his wife, whose surname name is not known, had the following children, all born in Eredy, County Donegal, Ireland.

1. William Alexander, born about 1646, and died between 1707-1715, in Somerset County, Maryland. He married Ann Liston, daughter of Rev. William and Victoria Liston, about 1673, probably at Raphoe, Ireland. (NOTE: numerous researchers mistakenly claim Ann Liston is the same Araminta Liston who married five times including William Alexander of Raphoe, Ireland. However, Araminta was not a Liston, but a Veazey, born about 1705 and who died 1765. Araminta married firstly, Ephraim Augustus Herman; secondly, John Young; thirdly William Alexander, who was born about 1700 and who died about 1736. This is the marriage that confuses so many researchers, but he was born several years after William Alexander Jr of Somerset County, Maryland and he died without an heir, leaving a will, he left the majority of his estate to his wife and provisions to a cousin and a sister still living in Stirling, Scotland. After his death Araminta married fourthly, John MacKey and fifthly, George Catto). William and Ann (Liston) Alexander had Issue: A. William Alexander, III, was born in 1674 in Somerset County, Maryland, and died before 30 Mar 1735 in Somerset County, Maryland. William married his paternal first cousin, Catherine Wallace, daughter of Matthew and Elizabeth (Alexander) Wallace. about 1690 in Somerset County, Maryland.

2. Andrew Alexander, born about 1648, and died between 1700-1702, in Somerset County, Maryland. The name of Andrew Alexander's wife is not known. They had issue both born in Somerset County, Maryland as follows: A. Abigail Alexander, was born 15 Sep 1677. B. Elias Alexander was born 26 February 1679, and died 1747 in Frederick County, Maryland. He married his paternal first cousin, Sophia Alexander, daughter of Joseph Alexander.

3. Elizabeth Alexander, born about 1650, and died at her home in New Munster, Cecil County, Maryland. She married before 1665, Mathiaas or Matthew Wallace, "yeoman" in North Ireland. He was the son of John Wallace and Margaret Thomson. Matthew and Elizabeth (Alexander) Wallace are known to have had at least seven children, the first three were born in Raphoe, Ireland and the remainer all born in Somerset County, Maryland. The children are as follows: A. Hannah Wallace was born about 1665. B. Samuel Wallace was born about 1667. C. James Wallace was born about 1669, and died after 31 Jan 1740 in Kent County, Maryland. He married 2 Feb 1720, Sarah McKnitt, daughter of John McKnitt and Martha Dale at St. Stpehens Parish, Cecil County, Maryland. D. Matthew Wallace, Jr was born 1672 in Somerset County, Maryland, and died 3 May 1751 in New Munster, Cecil County, Maryland. He is buried in the Head of Christiana Church Cemetery, New Castle County, Delaware. E. Jane Wallace was born about 1674 in Manokin Hundred, Somerset County, Maryland, and died about 1698 in Manokin Hundred, Maryland. F. Catherine Wallace was born about 1676, and died before 2 Mar 1734 in Somerset County, Maryland. Catherine married her first cousin, William Alexander, III, son of William and Ann (Liston) Alexander Jr about 1690 in Somerset County, Maryland. G. William Wallace was born about 1678.  H. David T. Wallace was born about 1680, and died about August 1751 in Murderkill, Kent County, Delaware. I. Robert Wallace was born 1681. J. Richard Wallace was born about 1682. He married Grace White, daughter of John White of Somerset County, Maryland. K. Thomas Wallace. L. John Wallace was born 24 June 1687 in Manokin Hundred, Maryland. He married 24 Feb  1730, Mary Hollins in Cecil County, Maryland. M. Dorothy Wallace was born about 1689, and died about 1747. N. Ann Wallace was born about 1690. She married her maternal first cousin, Arthur Alexander, son of Francis and Rebecca Alexander.

4. Francis Alexander, born about 1655, and died before October 101, in Manokin Hundred, Somerset, Maryland. He married Rebecca, whose surname is not known and had two known sons both born in Somerset County, Maryland as follows: A. Henry Alexander was born about 1680, and died before March 1722 in Manokin Hundred, Maryland. B. Arthur Alexander, known as "Farmer" was born about 1682, and died before 1771 in Cecil County, Maryland. He married his paternal first cousin, Ann Wallace, daughter of Matthew and Elizabeth (Alexander) Wallace.

5. Samuel Alexander, born 1657, and died April 10, 1733, in Cecil County, Maryland. He was buried beside his wife in the Bethel Cemetery, Chesapeake City, Cecil County, Maryland. Samuel married Mary Taylor, daughter of Elias and Comfort (Anderson) Taylor. They were the parents of seven children, in or near Pocomoke, Somerset County, Maryland and are as follows: A. James Alexander, known as "Farmer" was born 01 Jan 1685 in Annemessex. He died 17 Jun 1717 in New Munster, Cecil County, Maryland. B. Martin Alexander was born 18 Mar 1687 in Annemessex, Maryland, and died 16 Aug 1751 in Cecil County, Maryland. C. Sarah Alexander was born 28 Aug 1690 in Pocomoke, Maryland. She is buried in Frederick County, Maryland. D. Francis Alexander, known as "Weaver" was born 28 Mar 1693 in Annemessex, Maryland, and died 14 Aug 1760 in Carroll's Delight, Frederick County, Maryland. He was buried beside his wife in the Lower Marsh Creek Presbyterian Church Cemetery, at Highland, Adams County, Pennsylvania. (NOTE: This Francis Alexander is sometimes confused with his brother James Alexander's son, also named Francis Alexander. James' son married twice first to Jane Blair's sister then to Eleanore Simonton. Francis of Carroll's Delight was married but one time). E. Mary Alexander was born 1695 in Pocomoke, Maryland. F. Andrew Alexander was born 1697 in Pocomoke, Maryland, and died after 24 May 1782 in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. G. Samuel Alexander was born in 1699 in Pocomoke, Maryland, and died before 9 Mar 1730 in Cecil County, Maryland.

6. Joseph Alexander, born about 1659, and died before March 9, 1730, in New Munster, Cecil County, Maryland. He married first about 1679, Jane McKnitt, in Somerset County, Maryland. Jane was the daughter of John McKnitt and Elizabeth Wallace. They were the parents of the following children, all born in Somerset County, Maryland. A. Sophia Alexander was born 26 Feb 1680, and died after 13 Dec 1726, in Slate Hill, Cecil County, Maryland, but now in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. She married her paternal first cousin, Elias Alexander, son of Andrew Alexander, about 1705 in Cecil County, Maryland. B. Francis Alexander was born about 1689, and died in 1781 in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.  C. Jane Alexander was born about 1691. She married Muley Mackey. D. Abigail Alexander was born about 1693, and died in 1781 in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. She married Francis Clapham. E. James Alexander, known as "Yeoman" was born about 1695 in Manokin Hundred, Maryland, and died before 31 May 1779 in Cecil County, Maryland. Joseph Alexander married as his second wife, Abigail McKnitt, sister of his first wife, Jane McKnitt, daughters of John McKnitt and Elizabeth Wallace. The records do not show any children born to this marriage.

7. James Alexander, born about 1660, and died about 1755, in Cecil County, Maryland. James was twice married, the names of his first and second wives are not known. By his first wife, he had issue at least one son as follow: A. David Alexander, known as "Weaver" was born about 1680 in Somerset County, Maryland. He died after 23 Oct 1769 in Cecil County, Maryland. By his second wife, Joseph had the following known children, all born in Somerset County, Maryland.  B. James Alexander Jr., born about 1690, and died after 1755. C. Moses Alexander, born about 1693, and died before 1 Dec 1762, in New Munster,       Maryland. He was buried in the Head of Christiana Church Cemetery, Newark, New Castle County, Delaware. D. Sophia Alexander, born about 1697, and died after 1755, in Cecil County, Maryland. She married John Gardner. E. Mark Alexander, born 1700. Mark married his paternal first cousin once remove, Mary Wallace, daughter of Matthew Wallace and Sarah Alexander, and granddaughter of Samuel Alexander and Mary Taylor.

8. John Alexander, born about 1662, and died in Maryland after 13 Mar 1735. John married Mary Barbary about 1692 in Annemessex, Maryland. They were the parents of two known children as follows: A. Esther Alexander was born 18 May 1693 in Pocomoke, Maryland.  B. Henry Alexander. He was mentioned in the will of Philip Kacey, planter of Talbot County, Maryland. The testator makes legacy to Henry, son of John Alexander, and mentions that after his wife, Mary Kacey's death, the residue of his estate is to be divided between John Alexander and Edmond Kacey.

9. Jane Alexander, born about 1665 and died March 28, 1691, in Manokin Hundred, Somerset County, Maryland. She married about 1683, John McKnitt Jr., in County Donegal, Ireland. John was the son of John McKnitt and Elizabeth Wallace. Upon their arrival in North America, Jane and John McKnitt settled in Somerset County, Maryland. They later migrated with several members of their family to Cecil County, Maryland, where Jane died and John married as his second wife to Jane Wallace, then after her death, he married Martha Dale as his third wife. Jane and John McKnitt had the following known two children, both born in Manokin Hundred, Maryland. A. Robert McKnitt was born 4 Jun 1685, and died before 7 Apr 1769 in New Castle County, Delaware. B. John McKnitt, III, was born 8 Sep 1687, and died before 13 Jun 1733 in Cecil County, Maryland.

Current DNA research has been conducted on these and several other descendants of early American Alexander's. The above Alexanders are closely related, but several other Alexander descendants who originally claim descent from the 9 siblings living in Maryland and North Carolina, found their DNA blood type different from the above Alexander's. Especially true of the Alexander's who migrated to South Carolina from North Carolina.

Known descendants of the above Alexander's include Elizabeth "Bess" Wallace, wife of President Harry S. Truman; Gov. Adlai Stevenson of Illinois. Lamar Alexander, former Governor of Tennessee, Secretary of Education under President George Herbert Walker Bush, and currently US Senator from Tennessee. During the 1992 primary election, Lamar ran against Senator Robert Dole of Kansas. Senator Dole's wife Elizabeth is also a descendant of the above Alexander's. Other's include, Aviator/Billionaire Howard Hughes, who is also alleged to be a descendant.

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