Was Alexander who we think he was?

But how do we know he was the second son of these parents?

We don’t. We believe it because of two slim pieces of evidence.

1) In Maryland, Alexander named three of his plantations for Dunblane (a cathedral town in Perthshire), Craigneich (the farm where Alexander Magruder the elder was born), and Inchaffray (an abbey and estate near Maderty, where Alexander the elder was Chamberlain–corrupted in Maryland to Anchovie Hills). Craigneich (which means “Rock of the Raven,” by the way) is especially convincing because it was (and is) a private farm, not a large estate. It is unlikely a man without intimate connections there would have bestowed this name on a Maryland farm, and only a few people would have had such connections.

Alexander named no plantations for Balmaclone (or Belliclone) where he is believed to have been born. That was a Drummond farm, to which his mother had a lifetime right as widow of her first husband, Andrew Drummond. Craigneich was a McGruder farm and had been for several generations. Alexander was 7 or 8 years old when his father died and his mother remarried, at which point he probably would have been sent to live at Craigneigh to be raised by his father’s family.

2) The Records of the Privy Council (vol. viii, pp 101-102) show that on 22 November, 1622, one “Alexander McA Growder,” 12 years old, was fined for illegally carrying arms and shooting deer and wildfowl with some other boys at Spittalsfield, Caputh Parish, near Cargill, about six miles from Dunkeld.

This provides a birthdate of ~1610, which places him after James, the known eldest son of Alexander Magruder and Margaret Campbell. This family–and James especially–also show strong association with Cargill. Later in his life, James Magruder is identified as being either in Cargill, indicating he lived there, or of Cargill, indicating he owned land there. In one record he is designated Laird of Cargill, which, if accurate, indicates a significant elevation in status.

And that’s it. That’s our evidence.

McGruders/MacGrouthers were few in number, so other choices for where to locate Alexander among known families would be slim. In 1620, John McGrouther (brother of Alexander the elder) purchased land in Meigor, in Glen Artney, thus making the rare step from tenant to landowner. His descendants owned this farm until the 19th century when the line died out. Because of land ownership, there are more records for that family than for any other, and among them there is no Alexander who could be our immigrant.

Don McGruther has found a few McGruthers, MacCrouthers, and other variations on the name scattered through the southern Highlands, Edinburgh, and as far as Ireland, so we can’t absolutely rule out the possibility that our Alexander came from some other family… though we’d then have to explain why he was so attached to Inchaffray and Craigneich.

* * * * * * * *

See Sources for full citations.

Charles Kurz, “The McGruder Lineage in Scotland to Magruder Family in America.”

Don McGruther, MacGrouthers in Scotland before 1855.

Gordon MacGregor, Red Book of Perthshire.

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