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The Murdock Family

Murdock Family
Hamilton Murdock | William Murdock | Elliot Murdock

By Steven R. Butler

I am related to the Murdock family by virtue of the marriage of my maternal grandfather William Ollie Jenkins to Ida Lee Seay, who was the daughter of Margaret Inez (Ward) Seay, who was the daughter of Mary Ann (Lowry) Ward, who was the daughter of Elizabeth B. (Murdock) Lowry, who was the daughter of Elliott Murdock and his wife Eliza or Elizabeth Shannon (Magill) Murdock.

The branch of the Murdock family from whom we are descended were "Scotch-Irish" Protestants of Scottish ancestry who originated from Ulster (Northern Ireland). They came to America only a few years before the Revolution, settling first in South Carolina, later moving into northern Georgia.


HAMILTON MURDOCK (ABT. 1736 - 1808)

Hamilton Murdock, the progenitor of the branch of the Murdock family from whom we are descended, was born about 1736, probably in Northern Ireland. About 1754, at the age of about eighteen, he married a girl named Mary who was a year younger than himself. Unfortunately, we do not know Mary's maiden name.

Together, Hamilton and Mary Murdock had at least six children, all of who were probably born in Northern Ireland. They were, as follows: Margaret Murdock, born 1755 (died May 10, 1846 in Newberry District, South Carolina); Elizabeth Murdock, born 1757; William Murdock, born March 15, 1759 (later married Mary Mills, died after 1840, probably in Franklin County, Georgia); Jane Murdock, born about 1762; Mary or Polly Murdock, born 1763 (died after December 4, 1798); and James Murdock, born 1766 (later married Elizabeth Davenport, died June 23, 1857 in Abbeville District, South Carolina).

In 1761 the General Assembly of the Colony of South Carolina passed an act, the purpose of which was to encourage the immigration of Protestant European immigrants. Here is what historian R. J. Dickson has written about it:

By 1760, Indian attacks were causing 'distress and consternation' in South Carolina and, in order to increase the number of the white inhabitants of the colony, a duty was levied on the importation of negroes and the proceeds used to pay the passage money of protestant immigrants from Europe and to give forty shillings to each immigrant to purchase tools and provisions,. Immigrants were to be exempt from taxes for ten years and the head of every family was to be granted one hundred acres of land, together with fifty acres for each member of his family.

Apparently, at this same time life was hard for many people in Northern Ireland. High rents, combined with periodic food shortages, had the effect of driving many young families to seek new opportunities elsewhere. Increasingly, they looked westward, across the Atlantic, for their salvation.

Dickson tells us that no less than "one hundred and ninety-four vessels were advertised to leave north Irish ports with emigrants to America during [the 1760s], the peak years being, significantly, 1766 and 1767." One of these ships, carrying an average of 146 passengers, was the Lord Dungannon, a brig which appears to have sailed from the port of Belfast in late 1767. It was one of nine vessels that departed from ports in Northern Ireland that year, which were bound for the port of Charleston, South Carolina.

On board the Lord Dungannon were no less than one hundred and thirty-nine people (mostly young families), including thirty-two year old Hamilton Murdock - a weaver by trade, his thirty-year-old wife Mary, and their children: twelve-year-old Margaret, ten-year-old Elizabeth, eight-year-old William, five-year-old Jane, and the babies, Mary and James.

We know nothing about our ancestors' journey across the Atlantic but we may imagine, based on accounts of other sea voyages of this time, that it was tiresome, dangerous, and uncomfortable. Nevertheless, the Lord Dungannon arrived safely at the port of Charleston and in February 1768, many of its passengers, upon producing "Certificates of their being members of Protestant Congregations & of their good behaviour," petitioned the Governor of the Colony of South Carolina for payment of "several Bounties allowed by [the Act of July 25, 1761]." Among these "poor Protestants…lately arrived here from Ireland," of course, were Hamilton Murdock, his wife, and their children.

One of the benefits the immigrants received was payment of their passage across the ocean, which was in this case paid directly to "Messrs Torrens and Pouag in behalf of the owners of [the Lord Dungannon]." The amount was either £4 or £2, "according to their respective ages" Another benefit of the Act of 1761 was the payment of "twenty shillings sterling to [the immigrants] themselves." In addition, the head of each family was granted fifty acres of land for each member of his family that had accompanied him on the voyage. Including himself, Hamilton Murdock's family consisted of eight persons. However, for some unknown reason, he received only 350 acres instead of the 400 to which it appears he would have been entitled. One possible explanation is that the land grants were only applicable to family members above a certain age. Perhaps James Murdock, being less than two years old at the time, did not qualify.

Hamilton Murdock's original land grant, like all the others of those who came over on the Lord Dungannon, was located in either Granville or Craven District. A year later, the province's districts were reorganized and the Murdock family found themselves living in the newly-established "Ninety-six" District, located in the western part of the colony.

In the fall of 1776 or 1777, during the American Revolution and while living in the Ninety-Six District, seventeen or eighteen-year-old William Murdock, substituting for his father Hamilton, enlisted for service as a private in a regiment of South Carolina militia led by Col. James Williams. Serving as a horseman in a company commanded by Captain Robert Gillam, young Murdock "was sent to Kellott's Station on Reedy River to keep the Indians in check." After being discharged, "he was drafted during June 1780 under the same officers" for another three-month term. He afterward "volunteered to serve under Lt. Christopher Hardy, a Captain Henderson and Colonel Williams as a horseman and sent against the Indians in Georgia."

It appears that sometime before 1779, Hamilton Murdock's wife, Mary, died and that he afterward remarried. His second wife's name may have been Jean. It is likely that they had some children together but their names are unknown.

In 1779, for the sum of £2,400 "current money," Hamilton Murdock (his name misspelled as Hambleton) purchased two tract of lands, one 250 acres, the other 89 acres, in Craven County, from one Thomas Clark, a Ninety-Six District planter, and his wife Mary. These were located on the Little River (a branch of the Saluda) and were bounded by "lands of Thomas Edgehill, Mattias Clark," originally granted to Thomas. Clark in 1768 and 1772.

Four years later, Hamilton Murdock, "planter," sold these same tracts to a blacksmith named Thomas Eakins for the sum of £600 "current money."

Hamilton Murdock, for some unknown reason, was not enumerated in the 1790 federal census for South Carolina but in 1800, he is shown living in Newberry District, along with sons James and William, who were each listed separately with their own families. By this time, it appears that Hamilton Murdock's wife had died. There are no older females listed in his household, which consisted of himself and probably a widowed daughter and her two young sons, one under the age of ten, the other between ten and sixteen years of age. He owned one slave.

Hamilton Murdock died about 1808 in Newberry, South Carolina. We do not know where he was buried.


WILLIAM MURDOCK (1759 - ABT. 1840)

William Murdock was born March 15, 1759 in Northern Ireland. He was a son of Hamilton and Mary Murdock.

In 1767, when he was eight years old, Willam's family immigrated to South Carolina from Ulster aboard the brig Lord Dungannon. Shortly after arrival, his father received a land grant of 350 acres and twenty shillings for each member of the family.

In the fall of 1776 or 1777, during the American Revolution and while living in the Ninety-Six District, seventeen or eighteen-year-old William Murdock, substituting for his father Hamilton, enlisted for service as a private in a regiment of South Carolina militia led by Col. James Williams. Serving as a horseman in a company commanded by Captain Robert Gillam, young Murdock "was sent to Kellott's Station on Reedy River to keep the Indians in check." After being discharged, "he was drafted during June 1780 under the same officers" for another three-month term. He afterward "volunteered to serve under Lt. Christopher Hardy, a Captain Henderson and Colonel Williams as a horseman and sent against the Indians in Georgia."

William Murdock was married about 1780 to Mary Mills, probably in Ninety-Six District, South Carolina. Together they had the following named children: Ann Murdock, born 1781; David Murdock, born 1784; John Murdock; James Murdock; Elliott Murdock, born 1790 (later married Eliza or Elizabeth Shannon Magill on December 6, 1821 in Greene County, Tennessee); and Thomas H. Murdock, born before 1797.

There is a William Murdock enumerated in the 1790 federal census for South Carolina, living in Salisbury District. However, we cannot be sure if this man was our ancestor.

In 1800, the family of "our" William Murdock was found living in Newberry District, South Carolina, along with the families of his brother James Murdock and his father Hamilton Murdock. William Murdock was also included in the 1810 and 1820 federal census for Newberry District.

Around 1830, an apparently-widowed William Murdock went to live with the family of his son Thomas Murdock in Franklin County, Georgia. There, on September 3, 1832, he applied for and was granted a pension based on his service in the Revolutionary War. It appears that he also lived for a period of time in Elbert County, Georgia and that he died about 1840 in Franklin County. We do not know where he is buried.


ELLIOTT MURDOCK (1790 - AFT. 1850)

Elliott Murdock, a son of William and Mary (Mills) Murdock, was born in 1790, probably in Newberry District, South Carolina.

On December 6, 1821, in Greene County, Tennessee, he married twenty-one-year-old Eliza or Elizabeth Shannon Magill, a daughter of Samuel and Maggie Magill. They afterward settled in Walker County, Georgia.

Together, Elliott Murdock and his wife had the following named children: William H. Murdock, born September 26, 1822 (later married Mary McCrary); Elizabeth B. Murdock, born August 30, 1824 (later married Mark Lowry on September 17, 1845 in Walker County, Georgia, died January 30, 1862); Patsey Murdock, born February 10, 1827; John T. Murdock, born June 5, 1829; Carroll Murdock, born January 15, 1832; Mary A. Murdock, born June 14, 1832; Daniel J. Murdock, born March 11, 1837; Elliott Francis Murdock, born October 11, 1839; Thomas J. L. Murdock, born October 26, 1842; and Martha Murdock, born December 21, 1845. All, presumably, were born in Walker County, Georgia, with the possible exception of the older children, who may have been born in Tennessee.

Apart from the 1840 and 1850 census for Walker County, Georgia, we do not have any other information about Elliott Murdock. He probably died and was buried in Walker County, Georgia.


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