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History of the McKinstry Surname and McKinstry Families in Ireland


McKinstry Surname Origins

Here is the historical material people online found for me on the origins of the McKinstry surname.   The name traces with absolute consistency to two adjacent parishes, Minnigaff and adjacent parts of Penninghame Parish, upriver on the Cree River, in southern Galloway.   It spread slowly at the rate of 30 miles at a time, across Wigtownshire, Ayrshire and Dumfriesshire (counties), in southwestern Scotland, and to neighboring northern Ireland.   In Scotland there are no records of the name anyplace else.   The name first appears in the records just before 1500, and its bearers seems to have been prosperous copyholders, holding several parcels of farmland each.   There is an unusually large amount of records of McKinstry males born to unwed mothers, which means they may not be all of the same Y DNA lineage despite being of a single family group.   The name Marion McKinstry appears frequently and it is often hard to tell if it refers to a male or a woman, or to either with any consistency..  The first McKinstry and his son may both have been named Thomas.   The name has been in and out of the records, but someone who still lives near there reported to me that a McKinstry family lives five miles away from her.


* Barlochan where McKinstry lived is probably an estate of that name in Penninghame parish and not the town of Barlochan.

Next step would have been to row 23 miles across the strait to those red thumb tacks on the Irish coast; one of those is Carrickfergus, where William McKinstry who married Mary Morse was born in 1722.   Another is Broad Island, which MIGHT be the birthplace of Rev. John McKinstry of New England.   His birthplace, “Brode”, was never spelled right, and has been placed in various counties of Ireland by people claiming descent from him.  Roger McKinstry is nearly as popular to have for an ancestor as Hercules.   Broad Island, or Templecorran, was the site of the first Presbyterian church in Ireland

If Roger McKinstry, father of Rev. John McKinstry and possible relative of William McKinstry who married Mary Morse and settled in Sturbridge, did live in Edinburgh, that would not mean he was not of the same family.   Actually, Penninghame and Minnigaff parishes in Galloway should have been turning out Presbyterian firebrands very committed to that church.   That part of Galloway was a hotbed of Presbyterianism, and then of the Covenanter movement.  

One of the main landlords in the two parishes where the McKinstry’s originated, married his daughter, Margaret, to John Knox, as his second wife.   A generation or two earlier, another large landowner and close friend of the first one, was fond of Wycliffe, and took to reading from his Bible in the vernacular, to his neighbors, in the woods.   McKinstry’s were quite possibly among those neighbors.  

This region was very involved in the Convenanter movement, and in that area it has the look of from top down.  The Scottish Reformation was driven by its aristocracy and upper middle classes, and that seems to have been particularly true in Galloway.  Long lists of Galloway aristocrats and landowners, and of commoners, were persecuted for Presbyterianism as Covenanters and during the “Killing Times”.  

I must say that I haven’t found a McKinstry in the detailed compiled lists of people who were persecuted, fined, imprisoned, expelled from Scotland, put to death or murdered, and I paid particular attention to parishes where they were known to live.   The McKinstry’s would not be the first family to make too much out of their contributions to the great historical events of their time.  I wonder if it’s possible that the better sort of McKinstry’s saw the religious troubles coming and got out of there.   By 1684, only an aging female servant of that name can be found in the records in those two parishes, even though a McKinstry family lives today not very far away.  


On the other hand, something does seem different about the McKinstry’s that typified the Scottish Reformation in the region where they lived.    Presbyterianism was a very top down movement.  It was driven by the aristocracy, and favored by the landowners, craftsmen and shopkeepers.    The rebellions of the 17th and 18th century were similarly led by the aristocracy and the middle class.

The overwhelming majority of the Scotch Irish were illiterate and ignorant, dressed and talked strangely, and lived in hovels.   Culturally they weren’t very different from their early medieval ancestors.   They showed up in North America talking strangely and dressed strangely, notoriously superstitious and ignorant, and headed pretty much for the back woods, where they favored things that one could do with a gun.   They were often specifically driven to emigrate in great numbers by periodic severe famine that engulfed Scotland in the 17th and 18th centuries.  They were often driven to leave Ireland by famine and by economic restrictions put in place by the English, with persecution of Presbyterianism playing a smaller role.   It must be said that Scotch Irish communities commonly had some members who were considered “the better sort”, who were more industrious and better organized than their fellows, had it together, prospered, and led their communities.  

The McKinstry’s were “better sort” from the beginning of the 16th century.   They appear in records as holding rights to several pieces of land apiece.   Occasionally they served as minor officials in manors and villages where they lived.   Atleast some of them were educated.   In Ireland, one line of them quickly became outright wealthy, and another sent his son to the University of Edinburgh to study for the ministry.   That family may possibly have lived in Broad Island, home of the first Presbyterian church in Ireland, and if so would likely have been among those who were rowing back to Scotland on Sundays to attend communion and have their children baptized, during Archbishop Laud’s persecutions.   My guess is they were among the friends of the Gordon landlord who was reading to his friends in the forest from his Wycliffe Bible.  

They weren’t alone in being unique; their distant Y DNA matches, the Neilson’s, were a landowning family in the Cree River area, who were persecuted repeatedly as Covenanters.  In the 19th century the SMGF database has some of that family placed in Scotland. It’s easy to tell who belonged to that family by their distinctive three or four off from TheophilusMcKinstry Y DNA.   Actually, they and TheophilusMcKinstry share common ancestry about a thousand years ago.  

Whether Roger McKinstry and William McKinstry were related can only be resolved by Y DNA testing, and, if they match, and other McKinstry families match the same haplotype, enough Y DNA testing of the family group to discern how its lines are related to each other.  

The notion that the name McKinstry is Scots Gaelic for “son of a wanderer” or “son of a traveler” comes from a standard reference on Scots Gaelic names and their English equivalents, by a Scots Gaelic scholar.  Scots Gaelic names and their English equivalents are so similar to each other that I couldn’t lay odds that he was right.   The name McKinstry did resist the mangling that is characteristic of Scotch Irish names.   It often lost the final ie or y sound, and occasionally lost the prefix, but never lost the “instr” part.   Rarely the I vowel converted to a short e – McKenstry.   Mc was often spelled Mac, and the final syllable was often ie or ay.   Early on the name was often some version of McInnistrie.    The original is supposed to be Mac An Astrigh, and there is a more complex spelling of that.  


From Scottish records

Black, The Surnames of Scotland, 1979.

MacKinstry.  Formerly a Galloway surname.  M'Kinstrie 1593, M'Kynnistrie 1574.  Woulfe says Ir. Mac an Astrigh, 'son of the traveller' (Ir. aistrightheach), an Ulster surname, probably of Scottish origin. 


I found Woulfe’s Scots Gaelic surname reference at the UT Austin library, and it really says that and nothing more. 


 My copy (of Black) is the Birlinn edition of 1993, but all the editions are much

the same. Turn to page 518 for the MacInstrie entry.

As you don't seem to have a copy handy (mine is falling apart with use,

and my additions that I have found over the years), here is the

MacInstrie, MacInstray entry:

_Wigtownshire surnames, explained by Woulfe as Mac an Astrigh, "son of

the traveller". He says it is an Ulster surname probably of Scots origin.

Thomas Mackinnstre had sasine of Tanedolane in Kirkcudbrightshire, 1499

(E.R. xi, p. 462). Martin Makeynsterre of that Ilk  was juror on an

assize, 1537 ()RMS, III, p.1921), and Elizabeth McKynnestrie in the

parish of Monygof [means Minnigaff]  had sasine, 1585 (ER, xix, p.543).

Marion M'Instrie in Borland of Borgue, 1674 (Kirkcudbright), and another

Marion M'Kinister appears in Barlochan, 1747 (ibid).  McKinstrie 1684._


[ER = the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland; RMS=Register of the Great Seal,

in its Latin title; Kirkcudbright = The Commissariot record of

Kirkcudbright. Executry papers. 1663-1800: this is part of the online

Wills index available free on the Scotlandspeople website]



Your McKinstry name does not appear in "Lands and their owners in

Galloway", nor in Kevin McDowall's "Carrick Gallovidian".



Local historian James Mclay mentioned a house called Stanolane (sp?) on the phone, at Blackcraig, at the southeastern corner of the woods.  Large house stands alone.  It’s an old local joke.   However it isn’t at all clear that it’s the same place as Tanedolane.   If it were it would pin the McKinstry’s on that hill for two or three generations.   People online think Tanedolane was a farm that can’t now be found.  Probably in Minnigaff as Minnigaff is on the Kircudbrightshire side of the river.  


** I suspect that the only surviving record is that line in the

Exchequer Rolls, but I may be wrong. You need to contact the National

Archives of Scotland (N.A.S.) at

> <>

and ask them if there is anything more in their records than that line.

You may have to wait, as they are currently on holiday.

The "Kirkcudbright" can be taken to mean either Kirkcudbrightshire (or

at least what is now that county), or it means "in the general vicinity

of the town of Kirkcudbright." The Register of the Great Seal around

that date consistently uses "vic." (vicinity of) in its geographical


Boundaries back in 1499 were not neccessarily the boundaries now used,

but there was no proper boundary map then.


P.S. In doing a search for Tanedolane in my research library, I also

looked at the surname,  and in the Register of the Privy Seal for 1565 I

found a land transfer (effectively a sasine) to Johnne Creichtoun [John

Creichton] of 3 chunks of land which belonged to the umquhile

[deceased]  Thomas McKynnestre of Blakcrage. the late Thomas apparently

has two daughters and heirs, the second of whom is named as Bessie.


I’ve not found this Tanedolane; probably it was a farm near Minnigaff.  I did find Blackcraig.  See Google Earth shots below.   It has a Newton Stewart address, though it is in Minnigaff parish, east of the river and southeast of the village of Minnigaff..   It is what remains of a small group of ancient farm fields, near a 19th century lead mine, at the base of the large hill that contains the lead mine.  

Kirckudbrightshire contains Minnigaff and is on one side of the Cree River, and Wigtownshire contains Penninghame parish (village of Newtown Stewart) on the other side of the Cree River. 

Borque and Barlochan are to the southeast.   Barlochan is 27 miles away near the coast.   30 miles in all directions was about the distance McKinstry’s were living from their home village in the 18th century.   I’ve heard of them living as far afield as Glasgow, where TheophilusMcKinstry has two distant Y DNA matches at 37 markers.

However, Barlochan may be an estate of the same name in Penninghame Parish.  At that late date it could have been either.  


From local Newtown Stewart historian James Mclay:

  1. Blackcraig was part of three estates - Kirroughtree, formerly Larg;  Machermore;  Bargaly, I believe.   Blackcraig was the hill.    There was no common land.   For details of this see "The History of the Lands and Owners of Galloway" volume 4 on these estates.   You can find this on-line.
    2. Estates contained several fermtouns each of several families.   A family had a house set in an arable plot {infield} and the community was in outfield which was used for grazing and some cultivation which may have been communal.   I cannot name the Minnigaff fermtouns.
    2a Feudal in Scotland refers to paying a feu or rent for land.    There were no woods on Blackcraig 100 years ago - it was moorland, until The Forestry Commission planted it after 1945.   Blackcraig Farm was the only one.
    2b I suspect not - no buying and selling.    Most properties changed through dowries and inheritance.   A person with several scattered properties would have been a lawyer, obtaining these lands through defaulted wadsets [= mortgages].
    3. The people in the valley would have had animals on the hill in summer.
    4.5.6. Blackcraig was noted for its lead mines from about 1750 to 1900.   Most of the houses were for miners but are now residential.
    7. Britain was inhabited by Britons who spoke Old Welsh.   The Welsh people never invaded Galloway.   These Britons were displaced west by Saxons mostly, and Angles who spoke Anglo-Saxon which developed in English and Scots.   While there are placenames of Welsh origin there are no native Welsh speakers now. [slight mixup about the fact that the people of Galloway spoke a very similar dialect to that of Wales - reason for that is controversial.]
    8. There is no lead in the soil - the ore is well underground, beyond the reach of people before 1800.
    9. Since the man I knew as a dweller in Standalane was an incomer [he is now dead] I assumed he had given it this name (like Dunroamin) because it was the first house on the site or because he did not like its name.   It is only since your letters that I could see another possibility, namely that it was the nearest he could get to the original name.   Now that this has occurred I shall keep my eyes open for any confirmation.


From Andy Wight document online (he has written extensively on the strange history of land tenure in Scotland, out of an interest in restoring early medieval common land rights)

It didn’t matter if one was a lawyer, aristocrat, or judge in 16th and 17th century Scotland since they were the same people.  

Large areas of land were once designated in one way or another as common land.   (An online map shows none of atleast one type of common land in Galloway, and I’ve written to him to confirm whether there was common land on the Cree River.)

The active participation of the landowning aristocracy in Presbyterianism was driven in good part by greed.   (It was also driven by the fact that they could use the kirk to control the peasants and maintain the feudal social order.)   The landowners took control of large quantities of liberated church lands.  

Lawyers were busy in Edinburgh building and maintaining the new land rights, which could be acquired in various ways, by legislation, by squatting, for example.   The poor specifically did NOT have people to go to Edinburgh to look up land rights or defend their interests.   So, for instance, what is it that Roger McKinstry, father of a future minister, was doing in Edinburgh not long before 1677?   The strongly pro-Presbyterian landlords of the places in Galloway where he lived would have had an interest in his being in Edinburgh.  

Checking into the ownership of the three estates, Kirroughtree, formerly Larg, Machermore and Bargaly, I learned that these properties were owned by the Stewart and Gordon families, the McKie family (from Robert the Bruce), a McDowall family,


From local historian:

Dear Dora


On the hill land of the south west of Scotland, up to the middle of the 18th century it was customary for one extended family, or several families to occupy each land holding.  The fact that your family had strips is absolutely typical of the system.

As you know they would have ‘in-by’ land, which was usually cultivated in small fields or strips, growing barley and oats.  This would be in the valley bottoms, and usually close to the dwellings.  All available fertilizer would be used here rather than following the southern practice of fallowing land every third year. In this area also there would be meadows from which hay was cut for use to see the stock through the winter.

The ‘out-by’ or hill land was used for grazing sheep, which were very small and hardy and expected to survive the winter without extra feeding, and black Galloway cattle, which might receive a little hay.  Every farm would also have one or more of the small black Galloway horses which were famous throughout Britain for their toughness.  A few foals were often bred for sale and these, together with the surplus cattle and sheep, and the wool clip provided the cash to buy what could not be produced on the farm.

They would have lived mainly on the oatmeal and barley meal which they produced and would also have brewed ale from their own barley, but it was very much subsistence farming and younger children would usually have to leave to find a living elsewhere.  This may explain the wandering and movement of the  family.

As regards the Covenanting period, the situation is complex.  The Covenanters upheld Presbyterianism while the King tried to impose Episcopalianism.  The Gordons of Kenmuir were steadfastly Roman Catholic (Viscount Kenmuir was executed for his part in the 1715 rebellion), so this may have been the conflict which you mention.  The Stewarts, like the Maxwells, kept a foot in both camps, so it would rather have depended in exactly which branch of the family was involved.

The family do not sound like people who would have been rievers, this was mostly confined to the ‘Riding Families’ of the Borders and Dumfriesshire, and smuggling was not really profitable much before the 18th century, but, if there is any hint that they may have been Roman Catholics, they might well have been driven out of Ireland by the wars of the 16th and 17thcenturies, or they may just have been younger sons looking for a girl to marry and a place to settle.  Many young men did this, and the direction of travel was usually from west to east as the land and prospects grow steadily better in that direction.


Helen McArthur

Reference and Local StudiesDumfries and Galloway Libraries, Information and Archives

Ewart Library, Catherine Street, Dumfries DG1 1JB

Tel:  01387 253820

Fax: 01387 260294

Drop point 223



For one thing, it appears that McKinstry's were not necessarily wealthy enough to own three properties; they may have simply held three fields as everyone did.   On the other hand they seem to atleast some of the time have been fairly prosperous.

For another, local historians are of the opinion that McKinstrys moved to Ireland more to find a woman and a bit of land than out of religious motives.   I find no particular evidence that they moved for religious reasons, other than the persistence of the notion in McKinstry genealogy and the frequency with which one runs into it.   It is important to note that at the same time that there was religious conflict, southwestern Scotland kept running out of space for its people, and there was periodic famine when the people exceeded their resources.   Population growth contributed as much as other factors to the Scotch-Irish migration.   

The line of McKinstrys at Blackcraig is shown as daughtering out.  If either of the two daughters mentioned as ultimately standing to inherit the land, had sons out of wedlock, they would have inherited the mother's name.  Otherwise the name McKinstry must have been passed on by another branch of this family.   



Subject: Re: [WIG LIST] Scottish names in Ulster Plantation..& McKinstry

Date: Sat, 31 Jul 2004 17:38:34 -0600

Yes - my wife dug up this info some years ago while she was working with a

college libraray in Hamilton (Scotland, that is, not Ontario!), successfully

bringing me back down to earth & stopping me from chasing all sorts of gaelic

definitions (I was assuming Kin = head or top, as in Kinlochleven & getting

excited when I found a Glen Strae).

I think she found Blacks plus one other source, which I can't remember, but

which had an exciting reference to a Marion McInnistrie being a Baillie in

Newton Stewart in 1512. There is also Buittle churchyard, which apparently

has a fine collection of Kinstrey & even Kingstree (pity the Buittle site is

now pay to access).

(I found the Kingstree listings in the Buittle churchyard - all from 18th and 19th centuries.  The Buittle churchyard covers no other time period.)

Note:  I suspect that this person goofed up that 1512 date and it was really a much later date.   Newton Stewart did not exist until the 18th century; it was laid out by a major landowner, who was trying to capture another area’s market.   The Buittle churchyard listings are all from the 19th century.

 I’ve been told that a Baillie was anything from a sheriff or local public official, to a manor official.   It is clear that baillies oversaw the transfer of copyhold land, and of freehold land, such as it was.  Apparently noone owned land outright in Scotland until later than this time period.

Coats of Arms

During the 19th century, a McKinstry encountered on a steamship claimed that the McKinstry family crest is a burning volcano (or burning mountain), and motto is Luceo non uro – I burn but I am not consumed.    A relative who kept the family’s genealogical records subsequently confirmed that.    I researched it.   Several Grant families, and possibly McLeod families, have used this crest and motto, but it is the crest and motto of the Clan MacKenzie.   The McLeod family may in fact use the same motto but an image of a sun instead of a mountain in flames.   The MacKenzie family is not McKinstry.   It appears that this family mistook their origins.  


A mount in flames Proper.[177]

[from Latin: "I shine not burn"].

The crest and motto within the crest badge are derived from that of the Macleods of Lewis. In the 17th century Mackenzie of Kintail took possession of Lewis, married a daughter of Macleod of Lewis, and added Macleod of Lewis's arms to that of his own. Even today the chiefs of Clan Mackenzie are styledBaron Macleod of Castle Leod.



A raven Proper.[178]

[from Latin: "Endeavour"].

Derived from the arms of Mackie of Larg. The Mackies of Larg were the principal branch of the clan.[178]

McKie may have been landlords of the McKinstry family in Blackcraig.   Larg was one of the estates of Blackcraig.  

Theories of McKinstry origins in Carrickfergus

Most American McKinstry’s who can trace their origins claim to have come from County Antrim.  Some have documentation that they were from County Antrim.  Several of them claim to have come from Carrickfergus.  

Rev. John McKinstry of New England claimed to have been born in “Brode”, County Antrim, Ireland, in 1677, to Roger McKinstry, who allegedly lived near Edinburgh and fled to Ireland in 1669, during the time of the Covenanters, on account of religious persecution.  

The Covenanter rebellion was extremely bloody, and was at its most ferocious in Galloway.   Charles II was trying to do something like force the Presbyterian Church to have bishops, and somehow this led to the formation of local covenants, which were vehicles of resistance.   The British reaction was imprisonment, executions, expulsion, and steep fines.   The minor aristocracy and landowning class of Galloway took the bulk of the punishment.

Willis, the 19th century author of a genealogy of the three main New England McKinstry families, cited vague family tradition that these three families were closely related to each other from Ireland.   He provides no specific evidence that the families weren’t merely related over mugs of rum, which is the standard method of doing Irish genealogy.

Susan, of, contacted many of the McKinstry’s who still live inCounty Antrim, and she got a letter from a very elderly farmer.   This farmer said that Rodger McKinstry had three sons; Robert (or maybe Robert’s father) who went to County Armagh and became wealthy, Rev. John McKinstry who trained at the University of Edinburgh and went to America, and Samuel who was a farmer, stayed put in Templecorran, and had many progeny.   Since some McKinstry’s of the Templecorran area were fairly prosperous, able to buy sizeable amounts of land in the American colonies, that isn’t totally inconsistent, but, on the other hand, other McKinstry’s of this area were bone poor.   What is remarkable about the story is that it comes from the place where it is said to have originated.   This makes it look like it was handed down Rodger’s line of descent in that place.   It is possible that the McKinstry’s of this area learned the story and adopted it, but they probably didn’t adopt it from Willis.   One particularly troublesome aspect of the story is that the Armagh McKinstry’s were so different from any other McKinstry’s in socioeconomic status, and it seems to have taken them just one generation to get there.   None of the stories ever say what means Roger had nor what he did for a living.  

One has to understand that even Protestant families in Ireland do genealogy as rather an over too many mugs of beer enterprise, and its common to think that everyone with one surname is related.  

Y DNA could in time shed light on whether Rev. John McKinstry was particularly closely related to a family that still lives in Templecorran, and whether other McKinstry families in the United States belong to the same McKinstry branch.

To investigate that it would be necessary to attract project members from the Templecorran area, and descendants of Rev. John McKinstry.  At this time, I have neither.

To prove this family originated in or near Minnigaff, it is necessary to do Y DNA testing on McKinstry’s who still live in Scotland, and who never left.   A local Minnigaff or Newtown Stewart librarian told me that a McKinstry family lives five miles away in one of the parishes named Luce.  I do not know if they never left Scotland.   Both other McKinstry families I’ve located in Scotland back migrated from Ireland.  

It may be possible to logically deduce that the Y DNA lineage originated in Ireland if it becomes possible to conclude that the common ancestor of McKinstry’s in the Y DNA project must have lived before the Scotch-Irish migration began.   To do that properly, we need multiple participants from the family groups from which one person has tested.   If, for instance, we consistently see that 300 year old McKinstry families have just one and a half times as much genetic distance within the family groups as between them, then we could possibly conclude that their common ancestor lived before McKinstry’s left Scotland.   Currently we have one case of that, in the presence of two unpredictable markers acting like energizer bunnies.  

Otherwise, if only McKinstry’s whose emigrant ancestors came from County Antrim or from Carrickergus (in County Antrim) ever get Y DNA tested, we might never cannot know if this entire Y DNA lineage came to be associated with the McKinstry surname in County Antrim.  

In mid 19th century Griffiths Evaluation, which was a tax census of all Ireland done over a period of years, most McKinstry’s were found in two locations.  They were found around Carrickfergus and Ballycarry (modern Templecorran), and nearby Ballyclare, in eastern County Antrim, in a clump in western County Antrim, around Belfast especially in Shankill, and in one community in County Armagh.  

The legend that Roger McKinstry came from Scotland in 1669 and sired all of the McKinstry’s of Ireland, strongly appears to focus on Carrickfergus, Templecorran, and Ballyclare.  

Here is a map of this region.  

Here is a map that shows the parishes where McKinstry’s lived northeast of Carrickfergus in 1862, specifically in Ballycarry, Larne, the island (looks more like a peninsula) immediately to the west, and other parishes immediately west and north of Ballycarry as far north as Larne.  Places where they lived included Kilwaughter and Raloo, and Larne, with the greatest number in Ballycarry, former Broadisland or Templecorran.  The letter A shows the location of the first Presbyterian Church in Ireland.  (or else the current Presbyterian church in Ballycarry). 

Here is a map of the Ballyclare area.  Most McKinstry’s who lived here lived within a few miles of each other, and the bulk lived in Ballycor.   However, this entire area is only six to eight miles from Carrickfergus.  

After thoroughly examining McKinstry’s in Griffith’s Evaluation and plotting the actual townlands on a map, and also, finding some older tax data, it became clear that actually an independent McKinstry line settled in Glenhead, at the northern end of a shallow glen, and they subsequently, mostly it seems in the 19th century, spread through the glen as far as the town of Ballyclare.  

The Hearth Money Rolls of 1666 and 1669 show that just one McKinstry family lived in County Antrim at that time, and they consisted of three households, headed by John McKinstry Sr, John McKinstry Jr, and Thomas McKinstry.  Spelled sometimes McKenstry and sometimes McKinstrye.   They lived in Ballynashee townland, in Rashee parish.   By 1710 a James McKinstry, almost certainly related, lived in the next townland to the north, which was Glenhead, Glenwhirry Parish.   He lived near a clan of border reivers named Graham who were expelled from Scotland at the beginning of the 17th century, and his family may have already intermarried with theirs, since he made common cause with them.   Like them, he was quarrelsome and loved to drink and to fight.  He married the daughter of a Catholic family who lived just a little to the north, at the base of a dormant volcano in a valley called “The Braid”.   Subsequently they were illegally evicted, killed someone while fighting back, and became outlaws, with a Robin-hood like reputation.   One day James McKinstry was arging with his brother in law, and probably they were both drunk.   McKinstry is Scots Gaelic for son of a wanderer, and brother in law, who spoke Gaelic, told James his family were a tribe of wandering gypsies.   James got angry and turned brother in law in to the British for 10 pounds.   There is apparently some tax record of James from 1710.  

The Glenhead McKinstry family lived at the head of the glen, at the base of the hill, by a “McKinstry Bridge”, which may today be a culvert, and their home was at one point the “McKinstry Inn”.   People in the U.S. claim descent from them beginning about 1800.   By about 1800 they had a huge farm, on barren moor land, suitable for grazing cattle or sheep, a very short distance away.   That farm is still there, occupied by Brian McKinstry, who grows sheep.  The terrain looks pretty much as Minnigaff, Galloway looked before the hills were forested in the 20th century.   Even the river looks like the Cree.  

19th century Griffiths Evaluation, wills, and other documents, and the family tree of descendants of the family that owned the farm in Glenhead then, make it clear that a small number of McKinstry families owned pieces of land and houses in villages all over that glen.  Here is their distribution in Griffith;s.

McKinstry’s were also scattered through Carrickfergus, Templecorran/ Ballycarry, Island Maghee, and Larne, and eastern Killwaughter.   Western Killwaughter may have been an extension of the family in the Glen.  

Of those in the McKinstry Y DNA project, half claim their ancestors come from “County Antrim”, and half claim they come from “Carrickfergus” all based on contemporary documentation or else the reports of family members of the emigrant ancestor.    Ballyclare at the southern end of the glen is only six miles from Carrickfergus, leaving open the question of what people who had moved three or four thousand miles away meant when they said they were born in Carrickfergus.  Carrickfergus was the largest town in southern County Antrim until industry developed in Belfast in the 19th century.   It was also a fortified town, that farmers in the surrounding region were expected to come to defend if called upon.   Carrickfergus does not look large by today’s standards, but it was a major medieval town.  

Another aggregation of McKinstry families lived at the southern end of County Antrim as well as in Shankill and Belfast.   A small family of wealthy farmers who became gentry lived in County Armagh, and there were a few more in County Down.  

Here is a map showing the proximity of the Carrickfergus/ Templecorran area to Stranraer, the main town on the western coast of Galloway, and one from which boats regularly go to Larne and to Belfast.   Newton Stewart, the parish adjacent to Minnigaff on the other side of the Cree River, can just be seen on the right side of the map.