FAQ – When did our family first come to America, who were they, and how were they related?

Frankly, surviving records are not very clear. Family tradition says “A man by the name of James Morrison was born in Scotland. James Morrison left Scotland for the north of Ireland in abt 1700 and came to America in abt 1730, settled at Lancaster PA. He had four sons James, William, Andrew and Thomas.”

This same one line sentence can be found throughout the four Morrison brothers lines, which has led to recent researchers (including the four founding members of Morrison-Q) to make treks to parts of Lancaster County (now Dauphin), to try and prove or disprove the above statement, but alas, with no definitive answer. No trace of a James Morrison of the right age could be found in any deed, will, tombstone, etc. that could have been the father of our four Morrison brothers. That doesn’t mean he didn’t exist, it just means that we have been unable so far to find any primary sources to prove or disprove there was an Immigrant Morrison with the possible first name of James, (here again, only tradition states his name was James) that fathered the four sons named above and settled in Lancaster Co., PA in the 1st part of the eighteenth century. The first documentation of our four brothers being in Lancaster Co., PA is that of Brother Thomas, he was named Executor for the will of a John Moore, dated 29 Nov 1730, proved 11 Dec 1730, in Lebanon Twp., Lancaster County, and Pennsylvania .Bro. Sampson Moore. Ex. Thomas Morison.

Frankly, we don’t even have conclusive proof that James, William, Thomas, and Andrew are truly brothers, although, with the results of DNA testing from at least one descendant of each of the four possible bothers, and considering the small differences in mutations, it makes a strong case for that being true, and as other descendents are tested, the case will be made even stronger.

So, in absence of someone locating a family bible, listing a James Morrison born about 1680 and naming his four sons as James, William, Thomas, and Andrew, or someone coming across a Parish Baptismal record in Scotland or Northern Ireland, it is doubtful we will ever have conclusive proof that the father of our four possible Morrison brothers was named James, came with his sons to America, and died in Lancaster County, Pa in about 1745.

There is one theory as to why no primary evidence of an Immigrant James Morrison has come to light. If we are to believe the family tradition as stated above, then Immigrant James would have been approximately 50 years old by 1730, the date it is said that he and his four sons arrived in America. It is doubtful that a person of that age would have bought land for himself (at that time 50 was considered old) and since at least three of his four sons were of age, it is more likely that he went to live with one of them. Also, since it is assumed they were free men, not indentured servants, it probably cost their father a good part of his wealth to pay for passage of himself and his four sons to America. Next if he was living with one of his four sons, and had no land of his own – what few possessions he had likely went to that son, therefore no will. Lastly, he probably died before 1750, it is doubtful that he lived beyond that age, due to the fact we know that the remaining three brothers migrate to North Carolina about that time, (brother Thomas died in 1746 in Lancaster County, PA) and were not likely to have left their father if he was still alive. Very few tombstones from that time survived as records of death and burial.

Therefore, with no land record, no will, no tombstone, there is unfortunately little else left to show that Immigrant James existed. That being said, until it can be proved otherwise – our family assumes a father by the name of James Morrison came to America around 1730, probably from Ulster Northern Ireland with four of his sons: James, William, Andrew, and Thomas. We assume he died in PA sometime before 1750, which is approximately the year the balance of the family migrated to NC.

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