Blair Family of Massachusetts and Nova Scotia

Last update of page: 15 March 2010.

The Blair family was originally Scottish and there are many Blair place names there, such as Blair Atholl in Perth, Scotland, cited by (2) as the origin of our Blairs but without any substantiating information. Our branch of the Blairs were part of a large movement from the Scottish lowlands to Ireland in the 17th century, filling a vacuum left by the outward migration of many Roman Catholics from Ireland from the repression of James I. In the middle of the 17th century, they were among the more than 300,000 "Ulster Scots" living in the Ulster area of Ireland (2). More than 200,000 of them emigrated in the period from 1717 to 1775 to America and Canada escaping poverty and oppression (3).

David Blair, b. 1618 (of Ayrshire, Scotland)


James Blair, b. ca. 1644-1650 (of Ayrshire, Scotland, to Ulster) --- m. --- Rachel Boyd (at least 2 sons)


Robert Blair, b. 1683 (of Ulster, to Massachusetts)--- m. --- Isabella Rankin (7 sons)


William Blair, b. 1716 (in Mass., moved to Truro, Nova Scotia) --- m. --- Jane Barns (11 children)


Hannah Blair, b. 1747 (in Mass.) --- m. --- Robert Archibald (9 children)


Elizabeth Archibald, b. 1768 --- m. --- Samuel Tupper (2 children)


Hannah Tupper, b. 1787 --- m. --- William Creelman (8 children)


Rachel Creelman, b. 1822 --- m. --- James Graham (7 children)


James Blair, b. ca. 1644-1650

According to (8), James Blair was born ca. 1644-1650 in Ayrshire, Scotland. James Blair's father was David Blair, born 1618 in Ayrshire, Scotland (wife unknown). James was married in 1660 Aghadowey, Antrim, Ulster, Ireland to Rachel Boyd, born in Scotland, died May 10 1700 in Aghadowey. James died March 10 1705/06 in Aghadowey.

Col. Robert Blair, b. 1683

According to (8), Robert Blair, b. 1683, was the son of James above and according to (9), another son was William Blair:
1) William Blair, Jr. (according to (9), descended from this William), b. 1680, d. 23 August 1724, m. to Mary Grey. They had eleven children.

2) According to (8), Robert was born in 1683 in Aghadowey, Antrim, Ulster, Ireland and he died February 2 1775 in Worchester, MA. His wife's name was Isabella Rankin.

Miller's book (2), which I suspect to be less reliable as concerns ancestors of Robert Blair, states:

A large, splendid, and expensive monument was erected about the year 1825 in the city of Londonderrry, in the North of Ireland, to the memory of the brave men and apprentice boys who defended that city so manfully during the siege, in the years 1688 and 1689. On this monument is engraved the name of Colonel Robert Blair, with a large number of others of the most brave. This Robert Blair belonged to the family of Blairs of Blairathol, in Scotland. His son, of the same name, Colonel Robert Blair, came to North America with his regiment, and brought with him his wife and family, and afterwards settled in Worcester, Mass., where they spent the remainder of their lives. Mr. Blair died there in the year 1774, aged 82 years, and his wife, Isabella, died in the year 1765, aged 82 years.

William Blair, b. 1716, and Siblings

Robert and Isabella Blair had seven sons:
1) Matthew (more detailed information here from (10)), b. 1704/5. He had a son Isaac Blair, b. about 1741, buried in Blandford, MA (the source of (10) is descended from Isaac).

2) James.

3) Joseph, who remained on the homestead at Worchester. He married, had a son Charles, and five daughters.

4) John, settled at Warren, Mass. (just west of Worchester) and had a family. According to (7), he was born in Ireland, 1710, died Warren, MA in 1796. According to Joe Blair's site (3), he probably was m. to Ann Pepper in 1747 in Hardwick, MA (see that site for his children).

5) David, also had a family and settled at Warren. According to (13), he was born 1708/1709 and died February 20 1804.  His son William fought in the revolution and that William's son James moved to Canandaigua, NY.

6) Francis, came with the original settlers to Onslow, Nova Scotia and with 47 others was granted the 50,000 acres of Onslow Township. The grant was made 21 February 1769 by Lord William Campbell, Governor of Nova Scotia. Francis however became discouraged with the hardships of settling the new land, sold his 1700 acres of Onslow land for eight dollars (!) and returned to New England.

7) William, b. 1716 in MA, married in 1740, in New England, to Jane Barns. Capt. William Blair (2) first came to Nova Scotia in 1758 on military duty. He assisted in subduing the French and taking Louisburg. He returned to New England, but when relieved of military duty, emigrated to Nova Scotia with his wife and family. They were among the first settlers of Truro in 1760. They settled on the North River but a few years later moved to Onslow. William died 4 August 1791. He was buried in the "Burial Island"; (1) reports that the inscription on his monument reads: "Here lies interred the body of William Blair who departed this life on the 4th day of August 1791 aged 75 years". That of his wife reads: "Jane Blair Consort of William Blair Senior who died on the 8th day of January 1814 in the 91st year of her age".

He and Jane had eleven children, considered in the following section. Miller writes the name as "Barns" but (11) uses "Jane Barnes".

Hannah Blair, b. 1747, and Siblings

The eleven children of William and Jane Blair were the following:
1) Susan, b. 1741. She m. on 10 June 1763 to Isaac Farrell and they returned to New England. Isaac was an officer and fell at the Battle of Bunker Hill.

2) Sarah, b. 1743. She m. Ephraim Howard on 8 December 1763. According to (1) this was the first marriage recorded in "The Book of Records for Deaths, births, and Marriages for the Town on Onslow", begun in 1761. They settled on the North River where Ephraim built the first mill in Onslow. He later sold his mills and they moved to St. Andrew's River. He built more mills there and continued in the milling trade for the rest of his life. They had one son and six daughters.

3) Hannah, b. in New England, in 1747. She married April 2 1767 (1) to Robert Archibald, son of David Archibald and Elizabeth Elliott. They had nine children, one of whom was Elizabeth, who married Samuel Tupper. She died at Musquodoboit on 4 November 1834, aged 87. See the Archibald family for their children.

4) William, b. in New England in 1750. He m. on 26 November 1772 to Mary, b. 1750, daughter of James Downing and Janet Montgomery. They settled on a farm on the North River where they raised their large family. Mary d. in November 1817 and he d. in March 1841, aged 91. They had ten children, covered in detail in the Miller book.

5) Dorothy, b. in New England in 1753. She m. in 1775 to Simeon Whidden of Truro and had eleven children. She died in November 1827.

6) Rebecca, b. 1757. She m. Thomas Lynds on 27 January 1774. Thomas was born in Ireland in 1747 to Jacob Lynds and Mary Guild (Jacob and Mary Lynds had emigrated to New England in 1756 and to Onslow in 1761; Mary, after being widowed, would later marry James Whidden). Thomas and Rebecca Lynds raised their family and lived together for 63 years. She d. 9 January 1838 aged 80 and he d. 6 January 1839 at the age of 92. They had twelve children (see Miller book).

7) John, b. 1758. He was two when his family came to Nova Scotia. On 20 September 1781 he m. Agnes (Nancy?) Downing, b. 23 January, 1762, a daughter of James Downing and Janet Montgomery. He inherited his father's farm in Onslow where they lived. She d. 9 January 1829 and he d. 5 October 1847. They had eight children.

8) James, b. 19 July 1766. He m. first on 20 July 1792 to Isabella Catherwood. They had two children but then she died 16 April 1795. He remarried to Sarah Cutton (parents not given; see also Mayflower chapter under Cuttin) on 4 February 1800 and had five more children. He d. 1 November 1858 aged 91 and Sarah d. 27 October 1872.

9) Elizabeth, b. in Onslow on 2 July 1768. On 19 September 1793 she m. Shelomith Woodworth, b. 1766 and they had 8 children. She d. 5 October 1848 aged 80 and he d. 19 May 1850 aged 84.


The detailed information on the Blairs of Nova Scotia comes primarily from Miller's genealogical history of Colchester County (2). Unless stated otherwise, the information comes from this source. There seem to be a very large number of excellent sites (e.g. 3, 4, and 5) on the Blair family and several organizations devoted to Blair genealogy. Many of them have extensive information on the history and origins of the family.


(1) Israel Longworth's History of Colchester County, Nova Scotia (circa 1886). Edited by Sandra Creighton and privately printed in Truro, 1989. Consulted by me in Boston in July 1999; I have a photocopy of the Onslow chapter. (2) Miller, Thomas. 1873. Historical and Genealogical Record of the First Settlers of Colchester County. Halifax, N.S. Halifax, A. & W. MacKinlay (facsimile edition by Mika Studio,Belleville, Ontario, 1972). (3) "Joe Blair's Guide to Blair Genealogy" with a good overview of Blair Genealogy and many interesting links. (4) Site of the Clan Blair Society of North America also has good general information. (5) Blairs of the World is the site of Shawn Blair of Maine and includes many genealogical links. (6) There is also general information at another Blair clan site. (7) GENFORUM (Internet query board) posting of David Goldrup on April 17, 1999 (his source unknown, as is the case for all these Genforum postings). (8) GENFORUM posting of Roland Sheppard on April 18, 1999 (he is researching Bairds of Ayrshire). (9) GENFORUM posting of Robyn King on May 1, 1999. (10) GENFORUM posting of Katrina _____ on May 8, 1999. (11) GENFORUM posting of Cindy Donovan of Nova Scotia on May 17, 1999 (and other postings). (12) Personal visit of myself and William and Margaret Graham to the Truro Cemetery on 22 August 2005. A few more detailed notes in my own records. This was not a systematic visit but rather just a few quick observations. (13) Personal communication with Marion Taylor [ID-359], March 2004.

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