Note: this is chapter 4 from my book The Uncommonly Common about the arrival of James and Jean Wilson of Maine.

Ships laden with the Scotch Irish started arriving in 1718 and continued up to 1722. One particular one is of interest. Bolton teased out what details were available about them and lists three ships arriving in 1718 and 1719 from Ireland and Londonderry and bound for the Kennebec (river) and Casco Bay.[1]

These were among the ships arranged by Robert Temple. Bolton states, “Temple could not persuade [Captain] Law and his company to continue their voyage to Connecticut, and on the eighth of September the “Maccallum” sailed out of Boston harbor, for the territory owned by the Gentlemen Proprietors of Eastern Lands, at the mouth of the Kennebec River”.[2]

Settlers from the Maccallum and the succeeding ships spread towards Nutfield, New Hampshire, and into the Merrymeeting Bay cities of Brunswick (established as Township May 1717) and Topsham (subsequently laid out in 1717).[3] (Anyone with an interest in the particulars of the early history and founding of Topsham and Brunswick will find details in the Wheelers’ History of Topsham, Brunswick and Harpswell.) Much of this land was purchased from the Indians in the later 1600s after King James granted a charter in 1620. Many of the Indians had vacated the area by 1713 after the Treaty of Portsmouth ended most of the regional strife.

But by 1721, war with the Indians once again reigned. Then, in 1722, war was declared that lasted 3 years. Named Father Rales, Lovewell’s or Dummer’s war, the root cause was disputed territory east of the Kennebec, the agreed upon boundary in the treaty. Settlers started moving into the area and Indians of the Wabanaki Confederacy eventually started pushing back[4].

In June of 1722, Indians seized (and released) nine entire families in Merrymeeting Bay, not very far north of the Brunswick area where early settlers were living – bringing home the war to my ancestors.[5] The next month on the twelfth Brunswick was “reduced to ashes”.[6]

Bolton describes life then in Maine: “During these days of Indian warfare, pillage and reprisal, men were impressed for sentinel duty, and distributed in small groups at garrison houses throughout the frontier towns in Maine, which was then under the jurisdiction of Massachusetts. One of the unpleasant experiences of young Scotch Irishmen was to be met in the street by an officer and his attendants, and forced into military service. Many fell sick under the strain of such a life in the Maine woods, and through rough usage at the hands of officers. This ill-treatment fell heaviest upon the ‘Irish’, and particularly at the outset of the Indian troubles.”[7]

At this point some of the more affluent (I assume) settlers fled permanently south towards Boston and to Pennsylania. The ones left behind would be those who owned land and those who had no where to go. Some of hardy Scotch Irish would be included in that population who had no where to go.

A number tried to sail to Boston but were “warned off”. Included in those lists on “July 28, 1722 from the Eastward viz.1 [the following who from their names, notably that of McFarland, evidently came from about Merrymeeting Bay .][8] is a Jean Wilson with 4 Children. Bolton also lists Jean and a James Wilson as settlers of Merrymeeting Bay Scotch Irish Settlers, 1718-1722.[9] So Jean was fleeing Brunswick within weeks of the incursion on July 12.

In a 1914 volume about the Alexanders of Topsham, we find William Alexander “married Jennet, daughter of James Wilson, who came from Ulster, Ireland, to Topsham, Maine, in 1719”[10]. The Wheelers describe the Wilsons in Topsham, “Among the early settlers of Topsham were Hugh, Samuel, Robert, William, and Thomas Wilson ; and an Alexander Wilson settled at Harpswell. Hugh, Samuel, Robert, William, and Alexander were probably brothers. Thomas, according to family tradition, was of no relation to the others of the name. A James Wilson is called the father of Hugh, and so was probably father of Robert, Samuel, William, Alexander, and Jane, who m. William Alexander of Topsham, afterwards of Harpswell.”[11]

The Wheelers go on to describe the sons in more detail, thus laying the foundation for the known information of James Wilson (my sixth great grandfather), his sons, Hugh, Robert, William, Samuel and daughter, Jane or Jennett.

So starts my genealogy – which quickly ballooned into more.

  1. Charles Knowles Bolton, Scotch Irish Pioneers in Ulster and America (Boston: Bacon and Brown, 1910), 133-153.
  2. Bolton, 142.
  3. George Augustus Wheeler, M.D. and Henry Warren Wheeler, History of Topsham, Brunswick and Harpswell including the ancient territory known as Pejebscot (Boston: Alfred Mudge and Sons, Printers, 1878), 29.
  4. Rale’s War,, accessed online 4/12/2014.
  5. William Durkee Williamson, The History of the State of Maine: from its First Discovery, AD 1602, to the Separation, AD 1820, Inclusive, Vol. II (Hallowell: Glazier, Masters & Co., 1832), 114.
  6. Williamson, 114.
  7. Bolton, 227.
  8. Bolton, 231-232.
  9. Bolton, 238.
  10. William M. Clemens, Alexander Family Records. An Account of the First American Settlers and Colonial Families of the Name of Alexander, and Other Genealogical and Historical Data, Mostly New and Original Material Including Early Wills and Marriages Heretofore Unpublished (New York: the author, 1914), 15.
  11. Wheeler, 860.

The Uncommonly Common is still a work in process. If anyone finds any errors, I beg you to inform me!