52 Ancestors #15: The conundrum of James Lindsay

Piecing together family history from 18th and 19th century published genealogies is like putting together a puzzle with frayed pieces … nothing fits quite as perfectly as you’d like. It seems, at least, that the Lindsay Clan was established well enough in Scotland to merit some record keeping. There are variety of books and publications from ages passed that shed a little light on our origins in both Scotland and America.

My favorite Lindsay reference books are listed below and are available from Google Books.

  • The Lindsays of America, 1889, by Margaret Isabella Lindsay
  • The Lives of the Lindsays, Volumes 1-3, 1849, by Lord Lindsay (Alexander William Crawford Lindsay

The lack of available records notwithstanding, my issue with this lineage is their innate ability to use Caleb, James, David and John – later William and Joshua – in every family unit in every generation. I’m only slightly exaggerating as these are ancient Christian names and were held in high regard by the Lindsay Clan; it makes the Lindsay puzzle even more difficult to put together!

James Lindsay (1623-1674)

James Lindsay is my 8th great grandfather … and he’s a bit of a conundrum.  I’ve traced my own Lindsay line back to him and beyond, but the records on James himself are contradictory.

By all accounts, James is the second son of Sir Jerome Lindsay (1577-1642). James’ older brother, David, is heralded as the first recorded Lindsay of my particular lineage to set foot on American soil in 1645. 

Who’s Your Mama?

James Lindsay was born in Annatland, Angusshire, Scotland in between 1600 and 1623 to Sir Jerome Lindsay, Lord of Annatland.  That’s a good range of possible birth years, but I’ve seen both listed with 1623 the predominate year.   

Some sources put James and David as full brothers, their mother being Margaret Colville (first wife of Jerome), while others name Margaret only as David’s mother and Agnes Lindsay (second wife of Jerome) as James’ mother.

The DNA chart found on the Clan Lindsay website confirms the former of the theories, but James’ supposed birthdate is after the death of his mother.

Jerome Lindsay DNA 2

Source: ClanLindsay.com

Arrival to America

James arrived in America between 1635 and 1647, the latter being the prominent year found in various sources. Either way, James likely fled Scotland as a result of the political upheaval surrounding Charles I.

He settled in Gloucester County, Virginia where he later had a land grant for 390 acres. James had four sons: Joshua (1650-1720), William (b.1654), Caleb (1664-1717, my line), and Adam (1668-1751). 

What I can’t pin down is who the boys’ mother was. I have one source that says a Mary Torrell (1621-1654), but her death predates the two eldest boy’s birthdates. I’m still digging for some sort of proof. I would even take disproof at this point!

James died in July of 1674 and was returned to Scotland for burial. He was laid to rest in Midlothia, Scotland.

The Search Continues

While I’m sure there is something amiss among all of these puzzle pieces, I’m fairly certain the story is correct, dates notwithstanding. The Lindsay Clan is one I will always be tracing … there are just SO many of them, and I’ve found historical genealogies tend to contradict each other.  

For every question answered, many more are asked.



3 Replies to "52 Ancestors #15: The conundrum of James Lindsay"

  • 52 Ancestors Challenge: Week 16 Recap | No Story Too Small April 23, 2014 (6:29 pm)

    […] – “The Conundrum of James Lindsay” by Niki Davis on Rooted in […]

  • comment-avatar
    Laura Lindsey September 12, 2014 (12:02 am)

    Have you found anything new on the question of James and his mysterious birth date/mother? This is something of a puzzle to me too. I am also one Caleb’s grandchildren – through Marvil and the Jefferson’s

    • comment-avatar
      Niki Davis September 13, 2014 (12:04 pm)

      Hi Laura. I haven’t unearthed anything new yet. James is one of those ancestors who’s always in the back of my mind even when I’m looking for other things … so I’m hopeful this mystery will be solved someday!

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