By Richard Gwynallen
Sarah Ann Tyree
1795 – 1853
Relationship to Fawn: 5th great-grandmother
1782 – ?
Relationship to Fawn: 5th great-grandfather
In An 18th Century Tavernkeeper we introduced the Bowcock family. That essay focused on Henry Bowcock and Mary Tyler. As the same essay mentioned, the Bowcock line (now spelled Bocock) eventually intermarried with the Richardsons.
Henry and Mary’s grandson William married Sarah Ann Tyree in 1825. Having discussed a bit about the Bowcock line, this essay is about the Tyree family. The name has many spelling variations: Tyree, Tyrie, Tyre, and others.
Many of our family lines are well documented. Others, less so. This one is the latter, so this essay will be a work in progress. Updates will be incorporated as new or revised data is found.
Sarah Ann was the daughter of Zachariah Tyree, who was born in 1765 in either Buckingham or Amherst County, Virginia (genealogies vary on this point, though he clearly ended up in Amherst County), and Nancy, whose surname is unknown.
The Tyrees and Tyree-Bowcock descendants were mostly farmers, much as we see in many of our North Carolina family lines. A brief review of lists of landownership deeds for late 17th and 18th century Tyree families in Virginia showed most of the families listed with land holdings of 100 – 300 acres. This made them substantial yeoman farmers, with some becoming larger planters. How many acres were needed to support a family and be workable by that family depended on the size of the family. The farms consisted primarily of subsistence farming growing to include tobacco as a cash crop.
Two things stood out for me as unique for this family. First, was the name itself. It’s an interesting name, Tyree. It struck me as Gaelic in origin, and certainly is. The first thing that came to mind was the island of Tiree. I wondered how they pronounced the family name. “CHi-ree” would be likely as the appropriate Gaelic pronunciation of Tiree. Maybe the Gaelic pronunciation was retained while the “y” was inserted when written in English. Or was it “tire”? Or “tie-ree” or “ti-ree”? Turns out that Tyree or Tiree or any form of it is not today or in the 19th century a common surname in Scotland. The origins of the name both etymologically and geographically are interesting.
Secondly, my scan of Tyree information indicated a possible interesting racial mix for Sarah Ann’s ancestors in the American Colonies.
It’s in pursuit of these two matters that I started this essay.
The Family in Scotland
Let’s start in the beginning. While some researchers point out that some Tyrees might have come from Ireland the broad consensus seems to be that most Tyrees emigrated from Scotland to the American Colonies. But where in Scotland did they reside?
There seem to be at least three different possible origins for the surname:
1. The Parish of Tiree and Coll. The parish includes the island of Tiree. As families emigrated some identified themselves as “of . . . “, their place of origin becoming a surname. However, during the 18th century when we find our ancestors in Virginia I could not find evidence of significant emigration from the island of Tiree. In fact, the discovery in the eighteenth century that soda and potash could be recovered from some seaweed species improved incomes for islanders somewhat. These were essential to the soap and glass industries and linen bleaching. There was an increase in emigration from the island in 1848 – 1852, with most heading to Canada. The nearby island of Coll also did not see concentrated emigration until the clearances of the 1830s and 1840s.
2. The Dictionary of American Family Names, associates the name with Dunideer Hill Fort, near Drumkilbo in Perthshire.
“Near Insch, once an impressive Pictish hill fort settlement circa 1000 BC and the Castle (circa 1260) previous home of the Tyrie (Tyree) family up to the 18th century, sitting on the hill 8,076 ft high.”
The name “Insch” (Scottish Gaelic: An Innis or Innis Mo Bheathain) comes from the Gaelic “Innis” meaning an island. In this case it refers to a raised area surrounded by boggy ground or marsh.
Elinor Tyree speculates that these Tyrees drew their name from the practice of the early Scots in establishing strongholds throughout Scotland to which they sometimes gave the name of “tir” (land), pronounced “CHir”, “reigh or re” (meaning King). So, Land of the King. Anyone living on such land could have adopted the name “Tire” or “Tiree”. In specific, the “Tire” that Elinor Tyree ties the family to “was built near today’s Fraserburg in the County of Aberdeen-shire, perhaps on a rock projection just off the northeast coast.” The 11th century parish “was named Tyrie, so called from the ruin of the nearby, old Irish stronghold. The Parish of Tyree is reduced today and better located as the town of Tyree, just 5 miles southwest of Fraserburg.” (Origins of the Tyree Surname, Elinor Tyree)
The Dunnideer and Drumkilbo families were related in some fashion, and variations of the Tyree name appear throughout Abderdeenshire and Perthshire.
By way of example, John Tyre was rector of the parish church of Balingre in 1475. This is probably the parish of Ballingry (possibly derived from the Scottish Gaelic baile iongrach) in Fife. In 1485, Gilbert Tyrye was vicar of Cargill, Perthshire. This is a parish about 7 ½ miles northeast of Perth. Yet another John Tyrie was a Sheriff Deputy of Perth in 1456, and still another John Tyre was a writer in Perth in 1475.
The Tyries of Drumkilbo, Perthshire were supporters of the royalist cause. Thomas of Drumkilbo served under Montrose at Aberdeen in 1644.
The Red Book of Perthshire by Gordon A. MacGregor indicates that the Tyrie family parted with Drumkilbo when Thomas of Drumkilbo sold the lands of Drumkilbo to Patrick, Master of Olipant, on 27 July 1624 due to financial difficulties, but the family had held these lands for 300 years.
The Tyrie family of Dunnideer in the Garioch in Aberdeenshire were out for the Jacobites in 1715. The Red Book of Perthshire references a Thomas Tyree (not the same as the above mentioned Thomas) who was mentor and tutor to the underage chief of the Tyree family of Drumkilbo. This Thomas Tyree was connected with the Roman Catholic clans and families in the early 18th century, and The Red Book of Perthshire references communication in this regard between Thomas Tyree from Drumkilbo and James Tyrie of Dunnideer.
When in 1714 the Earl of Mar (the Earldom encompassing Dunnideer) raised the clans in the Northeast for the “Old Pretender”, the Tyrie’s of Dunnideer joined in. The Tyrie family was stripped of Dunnideer in 1724.
While the heir to Dunnideer, John, inherited nothing, he decided to follow in the footsteps of an uncle, James, and become a Jesuit priest and theologian, later joining Prince Charles. His uncle James was “of Dunnideer” but born in and resident at Drumkilbo.
Two priests were in charge of the well being of the approximately 1,500 Catholics in Glenlivet and Strathavon at the time of the ’45. They were John Tyrie and Alexander Grant. Tyrie and Grant drew lots to determine who would accompany Glenbucket’s regiment to join the Prince and who would remain behind as priest in Glenlivet. It fell to Tyrie to accompany the Glenbucket regiment. The regiment served with the Duke of Perth’s regiment. (The Organization of the Jacobite Army, Jean E. McCann, pp. 113 – 130)
A list of clergymen serving in the ’45 records that John Tyrie was wounded at Culloden,but escaped. It also lists John as being from Clashmore, which, way up north in the Assynt, is far from Glenlivet. It may be that he was assigned there at some point. In any case, John went into hiding while his house and books were burned at Buochlie in Glenivet. He died in exile c. 1755. Glenlivet (Scottish Gaelic: Gleann Lìobhait) is the glen in the Scottish Highlands through which the River Livet flows. Gleann Lìobhait lies in the Highland area of what is now Moray.
Another John Tyrie of Dunnideer was a colorful character. He joined the 1745 rebellion in Aberdeenshire, and was forfeited. “When orders were sent to every parochial clergyman to intimate from the pulpit his Majesty’s design for the suppression of the clans, this John collected a few rebels to oppose the mandate and they went armed to church. When Rev. Alexander Mearns began reading the proclamation, one of the rebels ran to the pulpit, presented a loaded pistol and exclaimed, ‘Stop, Mearns! Stop, Mearns!’ Tyrie rushed forward with his sword unsheathed to plunge it into the body of the minister. Quick thinking bystanders threw a cloak over his head and managed to wrest the sword from him.” (Origin of the Tyree Surname, Elinor Tyree)
3. Robert Black, in Surnames of Scotland has an extended discussion of the name, including the above, but also emphasizes that Tyree can be derived from the surname Macintyre, or in Gaelic Mac an t-Saoir, son of the carpenter. Tyree can be a shortened version of Macintyre.
Certainly many early holders of the name in Scotland and in the American Colonies used the spelling “Tyre”. However, the vagaries of spelling in those centuries, particularly when translating from Gaelic to English, whether intentional by members of the family, the result of illiteracy, or the preferences of a scribe or clerk in recording the name, result in a very weak foundation for spelling to help determine the possible origin of one family.
Using this possible origin of the surname, there seems to be broad agreement that the earliest historical records of the Clann an-t-Saor place them in MacDonald territory in Kintyre. In fact, some connect the name to a MacDonald chieftain called Cean-tìre because of his possession of the peninsula that came to be called Kintyre (Cinn Tìre in modern Scottish Gaelic).
A further legend holds that the first Macintyre chief was in English Murdock the Wright (carpenter/joiner), who about 1150 was, for his service, honored by his uncle Somerled, King of Argyll and the Western Isles.
Clan tradition says that the Mcintyres originated in Sleat on the south portion of the Isle of Skye, moving to Glen Noe on the North Slope of Ben Cruachan and the South shore of Loch Etive. In the1490s the Macintyres became the 16th clan of the Clan Chattan confederation. Being a small clan living amidst lands dominated by Clan Campbell the clan was motivated to seek the protection of a confederation. At home they hedged their bets by the chiefs frequently marrying Campbell wives.
Despite living next door to the Campbell the clan remained Jacobite. At the time of the ’45, the chief was married to a Campbell and with their lands surrounded by Clan Campbell they could not join the Clan Chattan muster rallied by Colonel Anne, but Macintyres did join the Stewart of Appin regiment.
The way clans moved about all these Macintyre legends and theories could be true as all of them fall within Argyllshire, which corresponds roughly with the original area of Scottish Gaelic settlement known as Dàl Riata.
The Houses of Dunideer and Drumkilbo
All that remains of Dunideer is a ruin,which can be seen below. The excavation of the site confirmed that it consisted of a single rectangular tower of 15m by 12.5m with walls 1.9m thick, that a first-floor hall probably existed, and that it had several floors. More information about the site can be found at Historic Environment Scotland.
There is a theory that the Balliol family built the original Dunnideer structure about 1260 and gave to Morice de Tiry for military services prior to 1292. The “de” in de Tiry indicates an existing landowner. A Morice de Tiry is signatory to the Ragman’s Roll of 28 August 1296 in which the landowners declared support for the English king as overlord. This de Tiry was absent from the original 1292 Ragman’s Roll. Perhaps not a landowner at the time, or perhaps not supportive of signing.
There is reportedly a preserved ruin of a farmstead in Glen Lochay (Scottish Gaelic: Gleann Lòchaidh) in western Perthshire, which is called Tirai and believed to date to the 13th century. Some speculate this might have been an early Tyree settlement, perhaps even a sub-tenancy belonging to Maurice before being given Dunnideer.
South-West view of Glen Lochay near to Stob an Fhir-Bhogha, taken from Southern slopes of Beinn Heasgarnich.
The original recorded owner of Drumkilbo House near Meigle, Perthshire, Scotland appears to have been Robert the Bruce, who most likely gave it to Morice de Tiry as a reward for military service. This Tiry was not a new family, but the existing landowner in possession of Dunnideer.
The house as it looks today is the result of later owners adding to the original structure over hundreds of years.
The Drumkilbo website reads: “When it was first an inhabited dwelling is not known, though from the formation of the ground and from the type of building found in part of the foundations, it may well date from the time of Nechten, when Pictish courts were held in Midgill (Meigle), one of the oldest villages in Scotland.”
“The present house incorporates the remains of a fortified tower dating from the 13th century.” The Tyrees were the first confirmed inhabitants of Drumkilbo. On an old tombstone in Kirkinch (Nevay) Churchyard. they are described as ‘ ‘honest men and brave fellows ‘. The chief of the clan joined Robert the Bruce in the Wars of Independence.
The property came into the hands of the Nairn family, who enlarged it in 1811. The property was sold to Lord Wharncliffe in about 1851, then in in 1900, Drumkilbo was sold to Edward Cox of Cardean for his younger son, John Arthur Cox. The Cox family were the leading proprietors of the jute industry in Dundee. In 1920, John Cox commissioned the leading Scottish architect of the day, Sir Robert Lorimer, to enlarge the House. It passed into and out of yet more hands, but it wasthis expansion created the house as it exists today.
Drumkilbo House – 19th century
Drumkilbo House today
Both Dunnideer and Drumkilbo were seats of the family, and, as such, our own Tyrees, assuming this is the accurate place of origin, may well have attended festivities or other gatherings at these houses, or worked in the houses or on the lands. However, in case anyone gets the idea that any of our own Tyree family lived in such houses, the images below represent the more likely type of dwelling of our 18th century Tyrees prior to emigration.
Restored mid-18th century thatched Aberdeenshire house on Culloden Battlefield
The Family in the American Colonies
Were there patterns of immigration of Tyree families into the American Colonies that could be identified?
Most researchers seem to agree that the Tyree or Tyre name can be found in New Kent County, Virginia as far back as the mid-1600’s. The first appearance of a Tyree is in 1660 when Howell Pyrse was granted land for importing Henry Tyree and 28 others.
Further, there is general agreement that several branches of the Tyree family in North Carolina, West Virginia, and Kentucky, all trace their ancestry back to New Kent County.
From New Kent County, Virginia, Tyree families expanded to Campbell County, Virginia.
Further, these researchers are firm that these family lines originated in Drumkilbo, Scotland, at least as far back as the 1500’s. Such a place of origin would include both Drumkilbo and Dunnideer families. This indicates an initial migration to the Virginia Colony in the mid-1600s, with future migrations in the 17th and 18th centuries joining family already settled in the American Colonies.
From what we know of the Dunnideer and Drumkilbo families, remaining in the majority royalists and Catholics even after being dispossessed and all the way to the ’45, members of these families could have often had reason to emigrate during the supremacy of the Protestants in the 17th century before the restoration of Charles II, and as result of failed Risings in 1715, 1719, and 1745.
Does that rule out emigration from further west in Argyllshire by families still more associated formally with Clan MacIntyre? Not necessarily. The name Macintyre appears on passenger ships throughout the 18th century, and after being squeezed out of their lands after the ’45 by their more powerful neighbor, Clan Campbell, with even the Chief emigrating to the United States in 1806 after selling the last lands, emigration increased.
Sarah Ann’s ancestors
Sarah Ann’s father was Zachariah. Her mother was Nancy, but with no other information about her. The family was based in Amherst County, Virginia, and it seems clear that our Tyree family can be traced to the Tyrees of New Kent County and Campbell County, Virginia, but exactly which line is less certain with the limited documentation available.
Our main hint is the name Zachariah. It is not common across Tyree family lines, but does repeat in the generations of certain lines.
The following is the most likely scenario:
Sarah Ann was the daughter of Zachariah Tyree (1765, Amherst County – 1821,) and a woman named Nancy.
Zachariah was the son of William Tyree (1734, Amherst County – 1803, Amherst County) and a woman whose name I have not found.
William appears on tax rolls for 1785-89, 1792-1807, and 1809-12. His children sold his land in Lexington Parish in January 1807, his children being listed at the time as Reuben, Nathan, Zechariah, Mary, and Elizabeth.
Zachariah had the following siblings: William, Jacob, John, Mary, Elizabeth, Reuban, and Nathan.
Zachariah, William, Jacob, and John all served in the Revolutionary War from Amherst County. John was appointed on 28 February 1777 to the 6th Virginia Regiment of Foot under Samuel Jordan Cabell who marched his Company north where it was commanded by Lt. Col. James Hendricks. Then John served (based on pay records) August – October 1777 as part of Daniel Morgan’s Company. Private John Tyree was wounded and died 21 October 1777 in hospital in Albany, New York.
Zachariah served in the Revolutionary War in the 2nd Division of the Virginia Line under Captain Samuel Higgenbotham (information from pension application of John Cash). In the Cash pension application he appeared on a list of men who marched north in 1776 from Amherst [now Nelson] County thru Albemarle, Fluvanna, and Goochland counties to Richmond to take charge of the artillery there.
William Tyree’s parents, Zachariah’s grandparents, were Jacob Tyree (1719 – 1801) and Mary Martha (1730 – 1799). Mary’s family is uncertain, but there is speculation that she was an Allen or a Currie. Both names appear in some genealogies. Jacob’s place of birth is unknown. Speculation is that Jacob was among the immigrant ancestor party for this line and was born in Scotland, but married in the American Colonies.
Jacob Tyree’s parents, Zachariah’s great-grandparents, were Benjamin Tyree (assumed birth around 1690 and died 1784) and Sarah (unknown years or family, but believed to be a Drummond)
Benjamin Tyree’s father is thought to be David Tyree, but not much is known about him. A David Tyree does appear among the muster at Braemar of the Earl of Mar’s forces in the1715 Rising. He is identified as a blacksmith from Comrie, which is in the highland part of Perthshire and the area anciently known as Strathearn (Scottish Gaelic: Srath Èireann), the strath or valley of the River Earn. Comrie is today a historic conservation town, but at the time of our ancestors it would have been a center of weaving and a drover town, a staging post for cattle being driven from the Highlands to Lowland markets. However, Comrie and western Strathearn suffered considerable from early clearances in the 18th century. In the early 19th century, cleared of much of its Gaelic communities, Comrie became a destination for tourists and the wealthy.
The name Cormrie comes from con/comh ‘together’, and ruith ‘to run’, ‘running’, “translating literally as ‘running together’, but more accurately as ‘together flowing’ or ‘the place where rivers meet’. In modern Gaelic the name is more often transcribed as ‘Comraidh’, ‘Cuimridh’ or ‘Cuimrigh’. This is an apt toponym as the village sits at the confluence of three rivers. The River Ruchill (Gaelic: An Ruadh Thuill, The Red Flood) and The River Lednock (Scots Gaelic: An Leathad Cnoc, The Wooded Knoll) are both tributaries of the Earn (Gaelic: Uisge Dubh-Èireann) at Comrie, which itself eventually feeds into the Tay (Gaelic: Uisge Tatha).” (Wikepedia)
Could the Comrie area be the area of residence for our Tyrees in the generations prior to emigration?
Interracial Marriages in the American Tyree Family
Zachariah’s brother William (born 1760) married Frances McDaniel, and they had a son named Zachariah Tyree (1787 – 15 December 1871). Zachariah’s son, Reuban (born 1830) filed for Indian rights to the Dawes Commission in which he stated that his father, Zachariah, had married an Indian woman born about 1809 and who died about 1839. This marriage may have been a common law marriage. This is confused by Reuban’s clearly stating elsewhere that his mother was Zachariah’s second wife, Polly Curry. Reuban’s application (#18196) of 21 July 1908 at Johnson City, Tennessee for Cherokee Indian rights lists his wife as Lurany, her application #18197. He had married Luthemia Beverly in 23 January 1855 in Amherst County, Virginia. Is Lurany the same person as Luthemia? To make it more confusing, the1870 Census shows Reuban’s wife as Sarah. Some connection to the Beverly family existed. On 19 December 1881 James Tyree and Reuben Tyree made a land bond with Edward Beverly who represented the widow of deceased Samuel Beverly.
Since Lurany had an independent application for Cherokee rights was she alone part Cherokee and the woman referenced as Zachariah’sfirst wife from a Virginia Native Nation? Neither application seems to exist, just the index of the filing.
The Dawes Commission was authorized under a rider to an Indian Office appropriation bill on 3 March 1893. Its purpose was to convince the Five Civilized Tribes to agree to cede tribal title of Indian lands, and adopt the policy of dividing tribal lands into individual allotments that was enacted for other tribes as the Dawes Act of 1887. During this process, the Native Nations were stripped of their communally held national lands, which were divided into single lots and allotted to individual members of the nation. The Dawes Commission required that individuals claim membership in only one tribe, although many people had more than one line of ancestry.
Zachariah later married Polly Curry, who died in 1840. Zachariah lived until 1871. There is confusion about which of Zachariah’s children are by which wife and what their dates of birth are, but using one list, the children include: Charles Tyree (all lists show Charles as the first born),Sally, Lucinda, George Washington, Mary E., Reuben, Jacob Tyree, and Catherine. It is clear that Charles was by the first wife and possible that Reuban was by Polly but the rest are uncertain.
Many of Tyrees from these family lines were listed as Mulatto in the Federal Censuses of the 19th and 20 centuries, and several applied for benefits from the Dawes Commission. It is possible that these Tyrees actually were of mixed bloodlines. But the Dawes Commission did not approve the applications. And the Memoranda listed in the Appendices shows how by the mid-20th century, the government had a habit of treating families differently based on suspected racial ties. Simply because many Tyree’s were known to have intermarried with African and Native Americans, all would be seen as mulatto.
The wife of Sarah Ann’s cousin, Zachariah (D. Wright), her own mother (Nancy), and her grandmother all lack any substantial surviving information about them. To the best of my knowledge, no one has even uncovered anything to explain whether D. Wright died or left Zachariah. The lack of records could indicate she, and the others, were not white. North Carolina records of the Native partner in a marriage between a Native person and a white person were more complete, but in Virginia records regarding Native partners were left bare and often an English name was recorded even if it was not really used. Many researchers report this same idea. However, this is simply supposition on all our parts.
Summary Ideas Regarding Origins
We speculate that our line left Scotland between 1719 and 1735 because Jacob is believed to have been born in Scotland but married in the American Colonies. We assume Benjamin and Sarah brought their family to the American Colonies, but there is no proof of that. Many a young man or woman emigrated alone or with siblings, frequently entering a period of indenture to learn a trade.
The years following the collapse of the 1715 Rising and then Glenshiel’s Rebellion in 1719 saw significant emigration from Scotland, as prisoners in 1716 and 1719, and as refugees from clearances in other years. Significant emigration from the West Highlands and Islands occurred in the 1730s creating Gaelic-speaking communities in the Cape Fear area of North Carolina and south of Savannah in Georgia. This is the broad context for the lives of our ancestors, but we do not know their exact reasons for emigrating.
Given the apparent limited emigration from the islands of Tiree and Coll in the 18th century it seems an unlikely place of origin for our ancestors. The greatest likelihood is that they came from the Tyree families of Dunnideer and Drumkilbo. These families had family centers in the foothills and lowlands of Aberdeenshire and Perthshire, but were scattered from the Highlands of Moray to the Aberdeenshire coast. It is possible that Comrie in western Perthshire or Strathearn in the southern Highlands was the area of their residence. However, which environment our ancestors came from is uncertain and this remains speculation.
The possibility also remains that while even if they had been of the Dunnideer and Drumkilbo families, they could have all descended from the Macintyre clan. The origins of the Morice de Tiry who received likely received Dunnideer from the Balliols are cloudy. Despite the French structure of the name, the conveying of that property, or later of Drumkilbo by Robert the Bruce. does not seem to represent the planting of a foreign family, but recognizing a family already in existence in the Highlands and northern Lowlands. Many were recorded in official documents in a French fashion who did not use that form of their name in daily life.
Our emigrating Tyree ancestors seem to have headed for Virginia where Tyrees had settled earlier. Yorktown was a major port of entry to the colonies and Tyrees had been settling in New Kent County and Campbell County, as well as other counties along the James River. Some respected researchers believe that these diverse Virginia families and branches that moved on to North Carolina can be traced back to the Dunnideer and Drumkilbo Tyrees.
War and the clearances took their toll. There are few of their name left in the Highlands, northern lowlands, or even in Scotland as a whole.
The first currently identified appearance of this line on any surviving records in the American Colonies is with the appearance of Zachariah Tyree (Sarah Ann’s father) and his brother John as Revolutionary War soldiers from Amherst County in 1777. What they did in the decades between immigration and 1777 I don’t as of yet know. Much of this Tyree family moved on to Kentucky and then Illinois. Our direct line is through Sarah Ann’s daughter, Margaret, who married James Bondurant in Virginia, and some of their children moved to North Carolina.