Name: Robert (Of Nutfield) Weir
Birth: BEF 1682 in Ulster, County Antrim, Ireland
Death: in Ireland
Notes for ROBERT (OF NUTFIELD) WEIR:
A HISTORY OF THE WEIRS
INTERWOVEN WITH THE HISTORY OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN THE COLONIES
"The surnames, with the same Christian names of the early Scotch-blooded settlers in New Hampshire, were often duplicated at the same dates in the Scotch settlement in Pennsylvania, and among them are Allison, Park, Morrison, Cochran, Boyd, Dickey, McAllister, Stewart, Wilson, Mitchell, Steele, Campbell, and others. Nor is this strange when we remember that as early as 1718 no less than five vessels of immigrants from the North of Ireland arrived on the coast of New England, but, forbidden to land at Boston by the intolerant Puritans, the immigrants moved up the Kennebec and there settled. The winter of 1718-19 being one of unusual severity, the great majority of these settlers left the Kennebec and came overland into Pennsylvania, settling in Northampton County."
Letter of Wm. H. Egle M. D., of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, dated April 13, 1878. He is the author of the ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA" published in 1876.
ROBERT AND MARTHA WEIR OF NUTFIELD
In 1717 a Robert Weir (son ? of the Rev. John Weir) was a Commissioner in Antrim County, Northern Ireland. In less than a year he and his wife Martha boarded one of the five ships from County Antrim bound for Boston. Zella Armstrong, Weir descendant and author of NOTABLE SOUTHERN FAMILIES, says that James McKee was one of the leaders of the group. Another leader, mentioned in many books, was the Rev. James McGregor who was the Presbyterian minister in the Parish where Robert and Martha lived in Ireland.. Elmer Roy Collier begins his book WEIR, WEAR, AND WARE WITH: "The Moore, Rankin, and Weir families petitioned in 1718 to the Governor of New England to come to America..." They arrived in Boston Harbor in August 4, of 1718 but, "forbidden to land by the intolerant Puritans, the immigrants moved up the Kennebec (to Maine) and there settled." Sixteen families sailed to Casco Bay to claim a tract of land there but were frozen in the Bay by early winter weather. It was a severe winter even by New England
standards and they suffered greatly from lack of shelter and food. When the ice broke in the Spring they journeyed to Haverhill and heard of a fine tract of land about 15 miles away called Nutfield. James Gregg and Robert Wear (Weir) sent a request to the Governor and Court (assembled at Portsmouth, New Hampshire) for a township ten miles square. The majority of the Scotch-Irish could not wait any longer and traveled overland to the Scotch-Irish settlement at the Forks of the Delaware (Northampton County, Pennsylvania). "The surnames, with the same Christian names of the early Scotch-blooded settlements in New Hampshire, were often
duplicated at the same dates in Scotch settlements in Pennsylvania, and among them are ALLISON, PARK, MORRISON, COCHRAN, BOYD, DICKEY, MCALLISTER, STEWART, WILSON, MITCHELL, STEELE, CAMPBELL, and others."
The second week of April the remaining families gathered under a large oak tree on the east side of Beaver Pond on land that would soon be theirs. The Rev. McGregor delivered the first sermon ever preached at Nutfield, and the first Presbyterian Church in New England was formally organized. Robert Wear and James Gregg remained to receive the deed for the town of Londonderry, New Hampshire on June 19, 1719. They voted to give lots in the town to the first comers "which is the number twenty". Robert Weir was one of the twenty to receive a lot. IF he indeed was related to the Bucks County Weirs, then they built their first bark covered log home with the help of young sons. In 1723 a daughter Elizabeth was born. Robert Weir was evidently well regarded in the community because he became the first Sheriff of Londonderry.
One of the first threats to the new community was a " War with the Eastern Indians". James Gregg (1678-1735) immediately raised a company of men from the town to fight and he was commissioned a Captain. His sons and grandsons followed in his footsteps as an Indian fighter and one was sent on a special Canadian Expedition for that purpose.
Soon a meetinghouse was built in the eastern part of town with the Rev. James McGregor as pastor. Children learned to read and write and the Rev. McGregor listened to their recitations of the Catechism (Westminster Confession). Much of the Sabbath was spent in the meetinghouse and as the town spread to the west many complained about the long distances they had to walk in the winter (with children in arms) to get to the meeting. The inconvenience of distance prompted a petition to a town meeting in 1730 asking that the western part of town "be set off as a parish, for the better enjoyment of religious privileges". The "meeting" refused this petition but the western settlers persisted. Most likely there were existing divisions in the community as well, even more serious than the threat from
the Indians! The elders in the community may have resisted any action to aggravate that division.
But in 1735 the petitioners' request was granted and sixty families became part of the West Parish of Londonderry. They chose the Rev. David McGregor, son of the pastor, to lead their church. Soon parishioners wanted to shop for the church of their choice. It wasn't long before there were Easterners in the West Parish and Westerners in the East Parish. George Wiley, in his BOOK OF NUTFIELD, records the resulting confusion:
"For many years, these families (traveling to the opposite parish) were accustomed to meet and pass each other on their way to church, and sometimes these meetings were attended with ludicrous scenes. Persons would go miles on foot, carrying their shoes in their hands, and putting them on just before reaching the church. Two or more would use a single horse, each riding a short distance, and hitching the animal for the other to ride when he came up. It is said that two lovers, one belonging to the East and the other the West Parish, though engaged to be married, remained single all their lives and died of old age, because they could not agree on which church to attend."
Such a division in a close knit community is not surprising but no less distressing. Those in leadership may have grieved over the state of their community and prayed for God's rule in the hearts of men and women. A grandson of James Weir and Janet Ferguson wrote about his grandfather," He was a steady, industrious and pious man....The family were all pious and raised under the faith of the Presbyterian Church.... Margaret was a woman well acquainted with history, both sacred and profane." I would like to think that those words described Robert who may have been raised in (or acquainted with) that pious household.
WEIRS IN BUCKS COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA
Not far from Bath, the overflow (from Bucks County) Scotch-Irish Settlement at the Forks of the Delaware in Pennsylvania
(Northampton County), a spiritual awakening rumbled. Students from the Rev. William Tennent's "Log College" on the Banks of the Neshaminy in Bucks County, as it was derisively called, traveled as far north as Londonderry, New Hampshire and preached in the meetinghouse to all who would attend.
The name of Weir began to show up in the Scotch Irish community along the Neshaminy Creek in Bucks County along with the names of other Scotch-Irish families from Londonderry, New Hampshire and elsewhere. There were Craigs, Walkers, Grays, Creightons, Barclays, and McKinstrys by 1740. The Carrell family lived on the farm adjoining the Neshaminy Presbyterian Church. The Log College was a mile down the road across from the Tennent home. By 1740 Robert Weir (who may have been a son of Robert and Martha of Nutfield) had fallen in love with and married Rebecca Carrell. By 1740 John Weir and James Weir owned land about 10 miles from the
church and a William Weir owned land in Springfield Township, Bucks County. By the late 1750's Samuel Weir was living on John Weir's tract and Robert and Rebecca Carrel Weir had moved to Augusta County, Virginia (now Rockbridge County) where many of the same names in Londonderry, New Hampshire and Bucks County appeared.
Thanks to the research of Evelyn Eisenhard, I do have DOCUMENTATION for the family of Samuel Weir and his descendants. According to JoAnn Wear Spore, Samuel was the son of John Weir. I have read Samuel's will, walked through the restored homes of Samuel Weir and his son John, and visited the Neshaminy Presbyterian Church and site of the famous "log college" at Neshaminy. By reading about the ministers who served the congregation at Neshaminy in the 1700's, about the Log College (which served as a model for the more formal college its students helped establish at Princeton), and about the Great Awakening......I have learned quite a lot about the religious and historical context of my ancestor's life.
Just ten years before the names of John and James Weir appear on the records, central Bucks County was little more than a wilderness with no roads. Each year more and more Scotch-Irish "dissenters" were among the refugees attracted to William Penn's Colony and the ones who, after landing at Philadelphia (the largest port in the colonies), made their way up the Delaware River to the mouth of the Neshaminy. Then they headed north using the Neshaminy Creek as their highway and finally built primitive homes on its banks. By the time John and James arrived in Pennsylvania (from New England or Ireland), the Scotch-Irish in the area had formally established two townships and erected a building for their Presbyterian Church.
More About ROBERT (OF NUTFIELD) WEIR:
Accuracy 1: 1999, The Rev. John Weir and Janet Ferguson had a son Robert and a Robert Weir came to New England in 1718 from Ulster. There is NO EVIDENCE THAT Robert of Nutfield is the Son of The Rev. John Weir and Janet Ferguson. The notes below concern Robert of Nutfield.
Accuracy 2: At this point in November I am using most of Zella Armstrong's "PROBABLES".She believe it is probable that this
Robert Wear was the father of the Robert Wear who took advantage of the Borden grant in Augusta Co. Va. and who was the father of Col. Sam. Wear.
Charter: June 22, 1722, Granted to Londonderry, New Hampshire (16 original grantees)
Emigration: August 1718, To New Eng. from N. Ire. with 100 other families in 5 ships. Rev. James McGregor was the pastor of the Parish of Aghadowey, County of Londonderry, from 1701-1718 and Mr. Allison accompanies the Rev. McGregor to Boston and then to Nutfield in April 1719.
Migration patterns 1: 1719, The five ships tried to land in Boston but the "intolerant Puritans" forbade their landing. They then went to Kennebec and settled for the very severe winter of 1718-19. The great majority of the settlers left Kennebec in the spring.
Migration patterns 2: While later his brothers went to Jamestown, Virginia ...and Savannah, Georgia where he died. The other remained in Jamestown, Virginia and is the ancestor of Allisons in Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Ohio..."
Migration patterns 3: The majority left Kennebec in the spring and came overland to settle in Northampton County, Pennsylvania.
Office held 1: 1717, A Robert Wear was Commissioner in Antrim County, Ireland
Office held 2: 1719, Sheriff of Nutfield after asking the court assembled at Portsmouth, New Hampshire for a township 10 miles square.
Petitioned 1: 1718, The Moore, Rankin, and Weir families petitioned the Governor of New England to come to America from Ulster. Permission was granted and they and almost 100 families came and settled in Nutfield, Massachusetts (now Londonderry, New Hampshire)
Petitioned 2: 1719, The Court assembled in Portsmouth, N.H. for a township 10 miles square (with James Gregg)
Father: John Weir b: BEF 1643 in In Lowlands, Near Lanarkshire, Scotland
Mother: Jane(t) Fergusson b: ABT 1652
Martha b: ABT 1701 in Nutfield, Massachusetts
- John Weir , Sr. b: AFT 1700 in Londonderry, Ireland
- Robert Weir b: 1715 in Ulster, Northern Ireland
- Elizabeth Weir b: 1723
- James Weir b: AFT 1700
- William Weir b: AFT 1700