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The Laird Family of County Donegal, Ireland
and their descendants in America, 1700s and 1800s.
James Laird was born about 1792, probably in County Donegal, Ireland,
to parents not yet identified.
The following is a Memorandum by one of his granddaughters,
Emily Laird Dallery, written in 1956. She died in 1966 at age 92.
She wrote at least two slightly different versions, one of which
has come down through Katherine Laird Pippitt, the other through
Edgar Laird Dallery. (Here we have merged the two versions
together). Some of what she says must be taken with a grain of
salt, as it appears to be colored by excessive family pride (e.g.
the family never owned a large estate in Ireland, as far as we have
been able to determine), by a memory clouded by age, and by some
strong religious and ethnic prejudices, which were common at the time.
"[Katherine's] great grandfather James Laird was born in
Ireland or Wales; no dates known. Can trace relationship back to
'William of Orange' whoever he was. Great grandfather...
inherited [and] owned... a large estate and had many servants...
in Letterkenny, County Donegal, North of Ireland. Some folks used
to say he was Laird by name and a Laird (Lord) by 'position'.
Great grandmother's name was Anne Mitchell Laird of Scottish
descent. They had eleven children, seven sons and four daughters.
Sons were Nathaniel, John, Martin, Walter, William, Andrew, and
James A. Laird (your grandfather). Daughters were Anne, Rebecca,
Emily, and Ellen. [In the Dallery copy, the order changes to...
Sons: James A., William, Martin, Walter, Nathaniel, Andrew, and
John; daughters Rebecca, Ellen, Emily, and Ann.]. When her
husband died, Great Grandmother brought her eleven children
to America in a sailing vessel, taking at least two or three
months [in the Dallery version... three months to reach
New York City, where they all lived until they married].
Presumably her statements were based on family tradition,
since she was born in the U.S. in 1873. Her parents were both
dead by 1890, when she was only 17, so she may have received
her information from a sibling -- most of whom were not much
older than she. Unfortunately (as so often happens with
facts passed down by "family tradition"), the few genealogically
significant relics available from the 18th and 19th century do
not bear out the above details. There were few large estates
in County Donegal during the period, and none in Letterkenny,
as far as we have been able to determine. From Griffith's
Valuation (1847-1858) one of the few extant Irish census
documents of the period (most of Northern Ireland's records
having been burned in a fire in Belfast early in this
century), it appears that James and Anne Laird lived in
the small parish of Raphoe, in the townland of Muntertinny,
where they leased 35 acres of land from Mrs. Angel I. Stewart,
a local aristocrat.
James's birth and marriage dates come from a note written
by Anna Mitchell Sadler (circa 1870-1960), another one of
James Laird's granddaughters, stating that James was 35 when
he married Ann Mitchell, who was 18 and was born May 1, 1809.
From this, we deduce that the couple were married about 1827,
and that James was born about 1792.
James probably died in Ireland during the period 1850-58
(age abt 58-66). There is a James Laird (along with several
other Lairds who may or may not be related to our James and
Anne) listed in "Indexes to Irish Wills", Vol V, Derry and
Raphoe, edited by Gertrude Thrift, London, 1920. Thrift
lists "Laird, James, Tullyvenny, 1855".
Ann Mitchell was born 1 May 1809, probably in County Donegal,
Ireland, to parents not yet identified.
Ann and her children probably emigrated to U.S. between
1856 and 1858, and may have lived with son John Laird
(b abt 1828, married in NY on 20 Nov 1856) in New York
City for a couple of years before Ann secured her own
apartment at 164 Sixth St. sometime before May 1859.
The Laird family is listed in "Trow's New York City Directory"
(est. 1842, compiled by H.Wilson) starting in 1859
(covers period 1 May 1858 to 1 May 1859). Ann Laird, wid.
James is not listed in editions from 1851-1852 to 1857-1858,
but is in subsequent listings as follows:
1858-59 as of May 1, 1859: Laird, Ann, wid. James, h 164 Sixth
1859-1860 " " 1860: " " , h 78 Hammond
1860-1861 through 1863-1864: Same as above.
1864-1865 as of May 1, 1865: Laird, Ann, wid. James, h 139 W. 18th
1865-1866 " "
1866: Laird, Ann, wid. James plus Laird, Ann, wid. Martin, h. 139 W.
18th. (This Martin, deceased by 1866,
may or may not be Ann's son Martin, b 1846/47 per 1870 census.)
1866-1867: Laird, Ann, wid. James plus Laird, Ann, wid. Martin, h.
139 W. 18th.
1867: Same as above
1867-1868 " "
1868: No listing for either widow.
1868-1869 " "
1869: Laird, Ann, wid. James, h 217 W. 18th
1869-1870 through 1873-1874: Same as above.
1874-1875 and on: Missing in this directory.
James and Ann had the following children:
1. Nathaniel Laird, b 1827/1828 in County Donegal, Ireland.
He married about 1855/56 (age abt 28) Mary -----, and died probably between 1860 and 1866. Nathaniel was a witness at the wedding in NY City, on 19 Apr 1856, of his sister Annie and cousin Edmond
Laird, at the Charles St. United Presbyt. Church. At the same
church, on 19 Aug 1866, a "Mary Laird, widow of Nathaniel Laird",
was received, apparently from an Episcopal parish. According
to undated note from Anna Mitchell Sadler, Nathaniel married
(apparently to Mary ----, probably abt 1855/56), and they
had 3 children.
2. Anne Laird, b 1835/36 in County Donegal, Ireland.
She married Edmond Laird 17 Apr 1856. Edmund is a cousin
(exact relationship not yet determined by us) of his spouse
Anne. According to Anna Mitchell Sadler's note, Edmund was
"no good". Also, she says, Edmund's sister Jane married a
cousin, "Z. Laird". Marriage date and place is per church
3. John Laird, b 1835/36 in County Donegal, Ireland. The
records of the Charles Street Church list a John Laird who
married Eliza Jane Pearson 20 Nov 1856 at the church.
Witnesses were Sarah Blair and Mary Jane Blair (frequent
witnesses at Charles St. Church; probably wife and daughter
of Hugh H. Blair, the rector). Death date not known.
4. Emily Laird, b 1835/36 in County Donegal, Ireland.
Per church records, an Emily was received into the Charles
St. UP Church on Sep 22/26 1866, and was married there on
4 Feb 1867 to John G. Armstrong. John and Andrew Laird,
her brothers, were witnesses. Emily was "certified" in
the church 3 Jan 1872 (#780, "listed 23 July 1868...
daughter of Mrs. Laird"). The church records for 5 Oct 1878 show:
"#1345 Oct 5 1878 John G. Armstrong -- A Policeman;
#1346 [same date] Mrs. Emily Armstrong -- formerly
Miss Laira (sic)". The couple were dismissed from the
church on 6 May 1880, to "Presbyterian Ch", presumably
because they moved out of the area.
5. Ellen Maria Laird, b 1837/38 in County Donegal, Ireland.
In the 1860 census, Ellen is listed with her mother and
family as "tailoress". She was received into Charles St.
UP Church 22/26 Sep 1866. Apparently she never married.
She is listed as living with her mother Ann in the 1870
6. James A. Laird, b 1837/38 in County Donegal, Ireland.
He married Matilda Crawford about 1866. He is our direct
ancestor. See detailed notes on him elsewhere.
7. Walter Laird, b 1839/40 in County Donegal, Ireland.
He apparently married, though we have found no record.
"Walter lived in NY City and whole family are dead", says
Anna Sadler in a note, though she says they have 5 or 6
8. Andrew Laird, b 1841/42 in County Donegal, Ireland.
He married Margaret ------ about 1865. Andrew was witness
at sister Emily's wedding in Feb 1867, when he was about
25 years old. Although we have not found a record of his
marriage, Anna Sadler says Andrew and wife had 6 children.
There is an Andrew Laird, married and with 6 children,
appearing in the 1880 Illinois census for Mercer Co. IL
as follows: Andrew Laird, age 38, b Ireland; Margaret,
age 36, b Ireland.... plus six children, all born in IL:
Martha Jane 13, David 11, Annie 9, Emily 7, Maggie 5, and
Minnie 3. We are entering those data here, because of the
good age and name fit.
9. Rebecca Susan Laird, b 1835/36 in County Donegal, Ireland.
She was received into the Charles St. church on 21 Jan 1866,
and certified by the church 7 May 1874. She was called
"Rebecca Susan Laird (new Mrs. Mitchell)" in the church
record (#614), and is called "youngest [dau] of Mrs. Laird
Sis[ters?]". Anna Sadler says she had 8 children in 12 yrs,
although our search has turned up only two. Mrs. Sadler said
in 1956: "Rebecca married a Scottish man named Robert Mitchell
and their daughter and one son are still alive. Andrew, the
son, lives in Westchester County NY and has been many years
with W and J Sloan [a large furniture store] in New York."
She was married 29 Jan 1874 per church record. Witnesses
were James Mitchell (perhaps brother of the groom) and Mary
Waugh (future wife of William Laird, Rebecca's brother).
10. Martin Laird, b 1835/36 in County Donegal, Ireland. She
married Edmond Laird 17 Apr 1856. His death between 1861 and
1 May 1865 (perhaps in the War Between The States?) is evidenced
in the NYC Directory for 1864-65, which lists "Ann Laird, wid.
James plus Ann Laird, wid. Martin" at home at 139 W. 18th St.
Her name does not appear as such before that issue. Anna Sadler
says they had 5 children, but this seems unlikely in view of
the short time (3 or 4 years) that he was alive after marriage,
barring one or two sets of twins.
11. William Laird, b 1835/36 in County Donegal, Ireland.
He married Mary Waugh 30 Jun 1874. Marriage date and place
is per Charles St. UP Church records, which also indicate
witnesses were William Waugh Jr. and Ellen Waugh (probably
siblings of the bride, indicating that her father's name
was William Waugh). Same church shows a baptism on 28 Jan 1878
of Mary Mitchell Laird, dau of William and Mary Laird.
William was recvd at church 30 Apr 1874, dismissed 11 Jul 1881
to U[nited?] P[resbyt.?] Church of Newark NJ. Anna Sadler
says he had 4 children.
Much of the information we have been able to trace on the
children of this family has come from the records of the
Charles Street United Presbyterian Church in New York City,
which several members of the family attended in the 1860s and
1870s. The church itself is no longer in existence, but
microfilmed church records are available through ther
LDS Church genealogy library.