Malcolm McPherson, Sr. and his wife Christian Downie

Malcolm McPherson and Christian Downie McPherson, both of whom hailed from "Glenurcha" (Is this a misspelling of Glenorchy in Argyllshire west of Oban?) in Scotland. They sailed from Greenock, Scotland, in 1774 aboard the ship Ulysses, and landed at Wilmington with their two young children, William aged 9 and Janet aged 10. By 1778 Malcolm has arranged to buy 100 acres east of Beaver Creek in Cumberland County, NC, from Alexander McPherson, Jr. The deed, dated 1778, is witnessed by "Robt" McPherson (is this Robert McPherson of Anson County, NC?) and John McPherson, but the deed is not entered into the record until 1784. According to a later Cumberland County deed of 1808, this same property is said to have been surveyed in 1785 yet purchased through the 1778 deed from Alexander McPherson "Junr" on Beaver Creek in Cumberland County, NC. Nonetheless, Malcolm Sr. and his sons eventually amassed over one thousand contiguous acres there.

The Alexander McPherson Jr. who sold Malcolm the 100 acres in 1778 must have been Alexander McPherson of Jura who in 1790 married the widow Elizabeth (nee Murray) Baker. Records show Alexander of Jura had land east of Beaver Creek near its northern source. Also, the 1778 deed states "Alexander McPherson Jr". The term 'Jr.' was used very often to differentiate a younger man from older man in the region who had the same name but who may not have been related to the younger man (i.e., Alexander McPherson son of Old John McPherson). Yet Malcolm, Sr. and the Alexander Jr. who sold him this tract may have been related, as newly-arrived immigrants often settled close to relatives already settled when possible (called chain migration).

It is perhaps Malcolm and Christian's daughter Janet who married late in life Thomas Brown in Richmond County in 1815. Cumberland County deeds show Malcolm's and Christian's son William went to adjacent Richmond County, NC, and records indicate other siblings of this family left for Richmond as well. Some even moved into South Carolina's bordering county, Chesterfield District. In moving to neighboring Richmond County William left behind his land patented with his three brothers on Beaver Creek in Cumberland. Brothers William and Daniel in 1808 signed over via a quit claim deed their interest in this property to their younger brother, Malcolm (known as "Malcolm, Jr." in Cumberland County).

Although the passenger list of the Ulysses shows Malcolm, Sr. and his wife Christian had two ten-year-old children with them upon arriving in America, they had many more children. These children likely were born later than Janet and William. Some may have been older and some certainly were born later in Cumberland County. From the passenger list we know Malcolm and Christian's able son William was born in 1765. HOWEVER, another older William McPherson was in Cumberland County in 1760 where and when he registered in county court his cattle brand alongside a John McPherson (very probably Old John McPherson as he appears to be the only John McPherson in the county at this time and mature enough to be initiating a court proceeding). This older William is not Malcolm Sr.'s son; could he have been Malcolm, Sr.'s brother? A Captain William McPherson (in the militia?) is listed as a road overseer in Cumberland court records in 1788, and he may have been the William registering his cattle brand in 1760. A William McPherson and Malcolm McPherson are found owning land in neighboring Richmond County on Gum Swamp in the 1790s. Perhaps Malcolm Sr. and his oldest son William were investing in land there, so perhaps the whole McPherson family moved to Richmond. Therefore, it should be noted by all researchers of a William McPherson coming out of this area that there were TWO William McPhersons from Cumberland County who were contemporaries, who lived in the same part of the county just west of the Cape Fear River and who may have been related. More research is needed.

Malcolm and Christian Downie McPherson's children:

  1. Janet McPherson, born c.1764 in Glenorchy, Scotland. Brought to North Carolina with her parents in 1774, and stated on passenger list as being ten years old. Believed to have married Thomas Brown in Richmond County, NC in 1815. No children.
  2. William McPherson, born c.1765 in Glenorchy, Scotland. Brought to North Carolina with his parents in 1774, and stated on passenger list as being nine years old. William moved to Richmond County, NC, and the 1800 Richmond County census shows a William McPherson household with 4 males under 10 year of age, 1 male 26-45 yrs., 1 female under 10, 1 female 10-16, 1 female 26-45, and one slave. He is also found on jury duty in Richmond County court records for 1804. Some say William moved from Cumberland to Richmond County before 1808 and many believe the date of his move was 1817 which I believe is in error, though he is living in Richmond County in 1818. In 1808 he and his brother Daniel signed over to their younger brother, Malcolm Jr., via a quit claim deed some of the lands purchased and granted to them. A William McPherson and a Malcolm McPherson both owned land on Gum Swamp in Richmond County, NC, in the 1790s. There is much research to be done in Richmond County on these McPhersons.

    Some people believe the William McPherson below who married Christian McDonald is the son of William McPherson above. I don't believe this is true; I believe the family of McPhersons below is Capt. William McPherson's family who owned land on the east side of Cumberland County on Black Mingo Swamp. But, then again, intensive research is needed to separate these two seemingly unrelated William McPhersons.
    1. William McPherson [believed by some to be son of William McPherson who was son of Malcolm Sr. and Christian McPherson] married Christian McDonald. Children:
      1. Christian McPherson, born 2 Jan.1841, married John Tomlinson
      2. Grace McPherson, born 2 Feb.1843 and died 23 Jan. 1884, married Louis Stahl
      3. Eliza McPherson, born 20 Jun.1844 and died 20 Aug. 1846
      4. Frances McPherson, born 22 Dec.1845, no further information
      5. Margaret McPherson, born 7 Mar.1848 and died 22 July 1880, married E.R. Hodges. The granddaughter of Margaret McPherson Hodges, Mrs. Margaret Moore of Beaumont, TX, supplied the Bible from which this list of William's children was taken.
      6. John Daniel McPherson, born 6 Aug.1849, married Mattie E. Barton
      7. James Alexander McPherson, born 10 Jun.1851, died 30 July 1889
      8. Martha M. McPherson, born 5 Mar.1853, married John Landrum

  3. John McPherson, born [date unknown] probably in Cumberland County, NC. He was perhaps the John McPherson who married Mary McPherson in February 1821. John died around 1824 or 1825, leaving a widow Mary, with 280 acres on Blounts [now Bransons] Creek in Cumberland County [now in the city limits of Fayetteville]. John is listed in deeds with Malcolm Sr.'s sons. There has been interesting research on a prominent John McPherson of Alabama who appears to tie in with this family.
  4. Daniel D. McPherson, born c.1770 probably in Cumberland County, NC. Bought 139 acres on Blounts Creek in Cumberland County from Colin McPherson in 1796. It is believed he married and had children but they are unknown at this time. The initial "D." in Daniel's name comes from his signature on a Cumberland County deed. Further research is needed on this Daniel McPherson.
  5. Malcolm McPherson, Jr., born c.1782 probably in Cumberland County, NC. Died unmarried at his home near Cheraw in Chesterfield District, SC, in 1850 at the age of 68. See his will of 1850.
  6. Mary McPherson, born [date unknown] probably in Cumberland County, NC. She married a McCall and moved to Florida. She was alive in 1850, according to her brother Malcolm's will in Chesterfield District, SC.
  7. Nancy McPherson, born [date unknown] probably in Cumberland County, NC. She married a McNair according to her brother Malcolm's will in Chesterfield District, SC. Nancy was alive in 1850.
  8. Christian McPherson [?], born c. 1780 probably in Cumberland County, NC. There is a very strong possibililty that this Christian was the daughter of Malcolm and Christian Downie McPherson as there was a Christian McPherson of Cumberland County, NC, who married Silas Brogden of Chesterfield District, SC, in May of 1804. Research by Donald and Louise McPherson of Texas show some intermarriage with Brogdens (first-cousins) by descendants of a William McPherson from Cumberland County, NC. Other researchers of this line have information which points to Christian as being their daughter. More research is needed on this line.
  9. Katherine McPherson [?], born [date unknown] probably in Cumberland County, NC. I believe she may have been a daughter of Malcolm and Christian Downie McPherson—there is a Katherine McPherson in Richmond County, NC, who was married to Norman Morrison by 1822. According to the Richmond County Record, Journal of the Society of Richmond County Descendants by J.M. McLaurin, Norman Morrison is found in the September 1813 Court minutes in an Alien List, showing him as aged 48 and having been in the United States for 11 years. Katherine was a sister of a Malcolm McPherson according to the estate of Neill McPherson of Richmond, and owing to its rather confused wording may have been the daughter of Neill and Sarah McPherson. More research on Katherine is needed.

Malcolm McPherson, Jr.'s signature

Malcolm's signature from Colin McPherson's Cumberland Co., NC, estate,


Malcolm's signature from his Chesterfield Co., SC, will,

The two curiously similar signatures at left, plus the information from his 1850 obituary from the Fayetteville Observer, show that the Malcolm McPherson of Chesterfield County, SC, and the Malcolm McPherson of Cumberland County are indeed the same man, and the son of Malcolm and Christian Downie McPherson. Malcolm is identified as "Jr." in Cumberland records and as "Sr." in his Chesterfield will indicating the presence of a younger Malcolm McPherson in the area of Chesterfield in which he resided. Moreover, a Cumberland County deed from Malcom McPherson to John A. Williams, dated 1849, in which he is selling his inherited lands in Cumberland County, shows Malcolm's residence as Chesterfield District, SC. The location of this Cumberland property can be seen on an 1884 map at the Cumberland County Library; a J.D. Williams's name is found adjacent to the McPherson name at the top.

It is not known at this time whether Malcolm McPherson married or had children; the terms of his will do not indicate a surviving spouse or children.

Also, the 1822 estate record and family of Neill McPherson of Richmond County should be examined for obvious additional relationships to the family of Malcolm McPherson.

[more on Malcolm McPherson to come]