Posted by: Jim Bell | February 6, 2011

The McClellan families of Chester County, Pennsylvania.

The Encyclopedia of Pennsylvania, Biography, by John W. Jordan, LL.D., Vol. III, New York, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1914, page 872, states:

“Laird” McClellan, founder of the Chester county (Pennsylvania) branch of the family, was of Bannagachen, Ireland, and in 1685 was banished to the American colonies on account of the part he had taken in the wars. He was accompanied by three of his children and the family settled in the New Jersey Neighborhood, where they remained until 1689, when news of a favorable change in affairs at home caused the “Laird” to resolve to return. On the voyage he was taken prisoner by the French, but finally arrived at home on the last day of October, 1691. The children remained in America and became the progenitors of the Chester county branch of the family.

The story related would seem to be identical to that of Robert McLellan of Barmagachan, Parish of Borgue, Kirkcudbrightshire. See the article on the Kirkyards Website.

There is no question that the McClellan family were established in Chester county at an early time (not long after 1700), see for instance History of Chester County, but there seems no evidence to link them to Barmagachan. Does anyone have any?



  1. Mr. Bell,

    Thank you for your message. As you imply, the 1914 article by Jordan has many errors. As far as I know, there is no evidence connecting Sir Robert McClellan (1633-1703) to McClellans of Chester County, PA. The progenitor of these folks is Robert McClellan who died in Chester County in 1741, who is often, and erroneously, referred to as the son of Sir Robert McClellan. The latter cannot be true because the actual son of Sir Robert McClellan, also named “Robert,” died in Scotland in 1717.

    It is possible that Robert McClellan who died in 1741 could be a grandson of Sir Robert McClellan, but I can find no evidence of this.

    Thanks again,

    Clive McClelland

  2. Hello Clive. Do you by any chance have the reference for the death of son Robert in Scotland in 1717? Thank you. Jim

  3. Hello Jim,

    I just noticed your query while doing a search of “Robert of Barclay” McClellan. Anyway, here is the info requested:

    The following is quoted from: Testament Dative of Ephraim McClellan of Barmagachan – 1746; ref. CC13/6/71 Kirkcudbright Commissary Court in Scotland, where Ephraim and Robert McClellan are noted as sons of Robert McClellan of Barmagachan in 1699 (p. 6):

    “…being the half of the sum of six hundred and twenty merks scots of principall contained in a bond granted by Robert McClellan of Barmagachan and Ephraim and Robert McClellans his sons as cautioners for him to William Laurie writer in Drumfries dated the first day of September 1699 years…”

    Also, on page 8 Samuel and Ephraim are noted as brothers, and the death of Robert McClellan, Jr., is referenced (1717):

    “Item the sum of ten thousand merks scots money of principall and annual rents thereof from the term of Whitsunday 1717 years being the first term after the decease of Robert McClellan of Barclay with which sum and interest from the said term the said Robert McClellan burdened the disposition of his estate to the foresaid Samuell McClellan in favors of the said Ephraim McClellan his brother by the said disposition bearing date the fourteenth day of April 1716 years registered in the Books of Council and Session first day of January 1723 years…”

    The above shows: (1) that Robert, Ephraim, and Samuel were brothers, (2) their father was Robert McClellan of Barmagachan, (3) Robert McClelland, the son, died in 1717, and (4) that at some point Ephraim McClellan inherited Barmagachan.

    Hope that helps.


  4. To Mr. Bell and Mr. McClelland………..I have traced my McClelland history to Robert McClelland who arrived in New Jersey in 1685. I know he returned to Scotland in 1689 and died there, however, my ancester is Nicholas McClelland who did not return with his father to Scotland but went to the Carolina’s. My Nicholas is either the son of Robert or grandson of Robert,,,,his father being Nicholas (the son of Robert).There is confusion in our research on this issue. Do you have any information? I will share all I have found, however, you most likely already have the information. I traveled to Kirkcudbright last year to do rsearch and it was a fascinating adventure!

  5. Hello Emily,

    Thanks for your message which I just discovered a few minutes ago. Do you have any documentation about Nicholas being your ancestor and being a descendant of Robert of Barmagachan? By any chance, do you have living male relatives with the surname McClellan? If so, it would be great to get a DNA profile done. Did you get any good information at Kirkcudbright?

    Clive McClelland

    • Hello Clive….I just found this mesage from almost 2 years ago….So sorry but I never saw it or was never notified. I do have some info on Nicholas McClelland and info on Sarah McClelland who was the daughter of William Nicholas McClelland (b. 1700 in County Antrim, Ireland). Wm.N.McClelland was either the son or grandson of Robert McClelland who was deported to the US from Scotland in 1685.He returned to Scotland and died there after getting his land returned….(There is a lot of info on Robert McClellands voyage to America on the ship, Henry and Francis)…Sarah was born in Ireland on 1743 however, she married Phillip McConnell in 1763, in Salisbury, Rowan County NC. I do have lots of information on them….Phillip died in the Rev War and they had one son Wm. McConnell. You most likely have all this info however, if you do not I will send you all I have. Also, at McClelland Castle in Kirkcudbright I bought several books you might be interested in if you have not visited the area. The entire area has a tremendous amount of McClellan history….If you think I might have something of interest that you do not have please notify me.I have left my e-mail address below.

    • Hello Clive…I just located your last message and it is now Jan 2014…I must have gotten lost from this site! (Are you by chance on Facebook..easier to find you…I am on under Lyle Reynolds Klich, if I should lose you again)…The largest confusion my family is having over our McClellan Branch continues to be… one William Nicholas McClellan. He was born in Antrim County Ireland in 1700 and died in Rowan Co. NC in 1778. He is believed to be grandson of Robt. McClellan of Barmagachan.. His father is supposed to be Wm. Nicholas or Nicholas McClellan, born about 1675, sometime referred to as, the son of Robt who went “to the Carolinas” after arrival in the US. My family know a great deal about William Nicholas and much about his daughter, Sarah McClellan …She married Phillip McConnell and from her fathers generation to present we have a lot of info…wills, etc…Our main interest is… Is William Nicholas the SON of Robert McClellan or the Grandson. Have 2 men, William Nicholas or Nicholas been combined into 1 man > William Nicholas? I hope new info has been found that may help us….I plan to return to Kirkcudbright Scotland this fall and continue to do research there, however, we would like to get the “Nicholas’s” in their proper place. Thank you for any information or corrections to our information you may have…Emily Lyle Reynolds Klich

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