Unknown MCSWAIN Charles MCSWAIN William David MCSWAIN James MCSWAIN Margaret Etta SERGEANT Mother UNKNOWN Mini tree diagram

David MCSWAIN6,1,7,4

about 17005,6,1,7,4 - 17706,1,4

Life History

about 1700

Born in Isle of Skye, Scotland.5,6,1,7,4

about 1723

Birth of son Charles MCSWAIN in Isle of Skye, Scotland.9


Birth of son William David MCSWAIN in On the Open Sea.10,11,12


Married Margaret Etta SERGEANT in Isle of Skye, Scotland.3


Birth of son James MCSWAIN in Rutherford County, North Carolina.2


Arrival in American Colonies.8


Resident in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.1

between 1760 and 1765

Residence2 in Rutherford County, North Carolina.1


Died in Rutherford County, North Carolina.6,1,4


Buried in Old McSwain Cemetery, Tryon County, NC.2,3,4


  • The name of the clan derives from Norse word and name, from the Viking settlement of northern and western Scotland and Ireland centuries ago.  The name and common word "swain" is the same word borrowed into the English language from the related Scots language in eastern Scotland.

    The line of McSwains followed in this genealogy derive from one David McSwain born in the Isle of Skye, who immigrated to the American colonies in 1731.  The clan settled in Carolina Colony, in the area that became Rutherford and Cleveland Counties of present-day North Carolina and the neighboring York and Cherokee in what Counties to the south is now South Carolina.

    The commercial site Crest.com comments on the history of the name and clan, with focus on Ireland, whence the Scots came in their migration across the Hebrides and to the settlement and finally the conquest of Pictland, now known as Scotland after those invading Irish and Irish-Viking tribes.

    The McSWAIN, McSwyne, MacSweeney and McSweeney families are the descendants of the gallowglass warriors who settled in County Donegal, where they had come first as mercenaries.  By the 15th century they had formed three septs named Mac Suichne. The surname is found mainly in Munster, particularly in County Cork, where a branch of the family migrated from Ulster, established itself, multiplied and flourished.  The Irish MacSuibhne denotes 'pleasant'.  Ireland was one of the earliest countries to evolve a system of hereditary surnames.  They came into being fairly generally in the 11th century, and indeed a few were formed before the year 1000.  When the sparse Irish population began to increase it became necessary to broaden the base of personal identification by moving from single names to a more definite nomenclature.  The prefix 'Mac' was given to the father's Christian name, or 'O' to that of a grandfather or even earlier ancestor.
    --  McSwain Coat of Arms/McSwain Family Crest, http://www.4crests.com/mcswain-coat-of-arms.html

    The Scottish Clans and their Tartans, give the source of our name as follows: MacQueen (Gaelic) MacCuine for MacShuibbne, from N.Sweyn. Gaelic MacSwan. In Skye MacQueens.

    The MacQueens are of Norse origin, from Iweyn or Suyne, rendered in Gaelic MacCuine or McShuibhne. A Sween McQueen signed the Clan Chattan Bond of 1609. Although latterly regarded as a sept of the Clan Chattes, they are more likely to be of the Clan Ronald origin. In the thirteenth century a family of MacSweens held lands in Kinteze, especially Castle Sween. In Skye we find the Gaelic name McSwain taking the form of MacSweens, MacSwan and Swan in English.

    Although originally but an offshoot of the Hebridean MacQueens who owed allegiance to the Lord of the Isles, the MacQueens of Corrybrough, who settled in Strathdearn, may be said to have occupied the positions of the "Head of the haill (whole) name."

    The MacQueens were known as Clan Rovan, the circumstance which the MacQueens left the West Coast and settled in Strathdearn are stated to be as follows: Early in the Fifteenth century Malcolm Beg MacKintosh (10th of MacKintosh) married Mora MacDonald of Moidart and with the bride came, as was the custom, several of her kinsmen, who took up their abode near her new home. Among the followers were Revan MacMulmon MacAntus, of whom the Clan Revan are descended, and Dolan MacGillandrisch of whom the Clan Revan is descended.

    Roderick Dee Revan MacQueen is said to have fought under MacKintosh at the battle of Harlaw in 1411.
    --  Electronic Scotland, http://www.electricscotland.com/webclans/minibios/q/queen_family.htm

    The clan or totem name Revan is also found spelled Rovan in some sources and authorities.

    The McSwains are a sub-sept of the McQueens, and have their center in the Isle of Skye.  The McSwain name is registered as a separate name and has a separate crest, coat of arms and tartan in heraldry.  Here is some background information on the Macsuibhne (McSween/McSwain) and Mcuin (McQueen) lineage.

    "Ireland:  My brother once found something that told him David had married a Betty Sergeant that he might have met while they were living in Ireland, waiting on the next ship to America, it could have been all rumor though."
    --  Larry Dean McSwain, Comment on this genealogy on Ancestry.com, 4 Dec 2014

    Passenger records seeming to be for this David McSwain are documented in a book by David Dobson.

    Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s
    David McSwain
    Arrival in America [nio port stated here] in 1731
    Source Publication Code: 1639.20
    Date of emigration with intended destination, date and place of naturalization, or date and place of first mention of residence in the New World.
    Source Bibliography: DOBSON, DAVID. Directory of Scots in the Carolinas, 1680-1830. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1986. 322p.
    Page 227

    Some confusion has been caused by the DAR about the spouse of this David McSwain.  Some genealogies have paired this David with Susannah Hamrick, the wife of his son William David (also called David).  A descendant Douglas details the family and explains this historical anomaly. Douglas has done very good critical work in reconstructing this family.  I am including some of the good commentary from his website, which you should visit for high-quality information on the early American McSwains in the line I detail in this genealogy.
    --  Doug McSwain, http://familytreemaker.genealogy.com/users/m/c/s/Doug-Mcswain/

    Doug comments on the burial place and replacement headstone on David's grave in the McSwain Cemetery in Cleveland County, North Carolina:
    "This stone was erected in the 1930s by the DAR.  It is located at the McSwain Family Cemetery in Cleveland County, NC believed to be the burial site of David McSwain."  Douglas indicates the DAR put the wrong wife's name on here, putting Susannah Hamrick, the wife of David's son, William David.  This error has been picked up by some other genealogies.

    I have also found that some genealogies seem to have confused (mixed) two different McSwain lines.  A family in Baltimore, Maryland, who later also migrated into North Carolina, are inserted in this or the next generation, showing the wrong parents for William McSwain who married Judith A Moore.  My wife's ancestor George was one of William and Judith's sons.  The David shown here is thought to be the correct ancestor of William, husband of Judith Moore and father of George McSwain who married Catherine Weathers, who moved to Arkansas with her sons, after the death of George.

    [David McSwain] and his son, among other family groups (Bridges, Hamricks, McSwains, Ledbetters and on) found property to be expensive and hard to obtain in the more settled areas of VA, PA etc.  They joined groups from Germantown PA, Prince William, VA and came down what was called the great wagon trails or road in to the Charlotte/Mecklanburg area of North Carolina.

    They headed west in to the area known then as Tryon and Rutherford counties, found suitable farmland and water sources and hacked their homeplaces from the wilderness and Indian country.  I could tell you much about this but would be best done over a nice glass of aged whiskey.

    The people we are interested [in] had homeplaces on what is now known as Buck Ford Road (old Buck McSwain house my dad called it) and what I will call the James Bridges homeplace.
    --  David Bridges, Ancestry messaging to Orville Boyd Jenkins, 3 March 2017

    Here is Douglas McSwain's summary statement of the family's progress from Pennsylvania to North Carolina:

    My MCSWAIN branch is found almost exclusively in what is today southern Cleveland County, NC. Cleveland County was formed in 1841 when the N C Legislature created it from Rutherford County. Rutherford County came into existence in 1779 during the American Revolution. Prior to 1779, Rutherford County was part of Anson and Old Tryon Counties. The earliest McSwain moved to this area between 1760 and 1770 when it was still a colony of the Crown and very much a frontier.

    Most researchers claim the Isle of Skye, Scotland as the ancestral home of the McSwains. Many feel the McSwains are a branch of the MacQueen clan. The spelling of McSwain sometimes appears as MacSwain, McSween, McSwaine, or other variations, depending on how the census enumerator heard it pronounced. It is doubtful that many of the early settlers in this area were literate or even able to write their names.

    David McSwain, the patriarch, is thought to have arrived in Philadelphia with his family in 1731 probably as an indentured servant. This was the most common way an immigrant earned his passage to the New World. He would have been required to work seven to ten years before being released from his indenture. During this time he would have been seeking land of his own so that he too could prosper.

    But eastern Pennsylvania was getting crowded and as a result land was becoming expensive. Many immigrants chose to leave for the frontier of western Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Georgia.  It appears that David and some of his family began the trek south between 1750 and 1760. By this time all of his known children were adults. They were the ones most likely to feel the pressure to go. David would follow them because in those times, family was your only support in old age and he would not wish to be left behind.

    The family's route south would take them on the Great Philadelphia Wagon Road from east-central Pennsylvania through western Maryland into the Shenandoah Valley of western Virginia. This would not be a trip with a beginning and a quick end but more of a quest for a better way of life. They would travel and settle in an area for a period of perhaps two to three years.  Some of David's children and grandchildren may have married and stayed as the family group moved on.

    The Great Philadelphia Wagon Road south continued from Virginia into the northern piedmont of North Carolina. Their route would have gone past present day Winston-Salem and Salisbury into the Yadkin River Valley. The McSwains would have followed the rise of the Appalachian mountains to the west into what would become Cleveland County, NC. Some of the family found a home in the rolling hills along the Broad River. Others moved on into South Carolina and northern Georgia while David, the patriarch, most likely in his sixties and weary, stays with his son, David.
    --  Douglas McSwain, http://familytreemaker.genealogy.com/users/m/c/s/Doug-Mcswain/

    Gerald K Cunard provides the following references to sources:

    Source: FGS 1236.001
    Harvey GREEN, starts his McSWAIN family with David McSWAIN (b. 1700)
    of "Isle of Skye," Scotland. m. Margaret MOORE (b. 1702) only one child traced, "David" McSWAIN (no dates) ..prs [?] Not Wm. David!

    Source: FGS 1236.002
    Mrs. Ray Mode (Mary), in the Cleveland Hist. Soc, 1980, Pg 402-3
    F.G. 758.
    "Son William McSWAIN and wife Susanna Hamrick, settled near his father David McSWAIN on the East side of the 1st Broad River and is buried in the old McSWAIN graveyard, which is now known as the old Buck McSWAIN graveyard."

    Source: FGS 1236.003
    Mrs. Jean Oates McSWAIN, in the Cleveland Hist. Soc, 1980, Pg 406-7
    F.G. 764
    "There is a controversy in the research of the McSWAIN Family.  S. C. JONES in his book 'Hamrick Generations' states that David 1 & his son David, Jr came to Rutherford County, NC, and David, 1 was the first white man to be buried in this part of the country. He also states that David, 1 son James married Elizabeth MOORE and left no 'heirs.'"

    In Eleanor McSWAIN's book 'Some Descendants of David McSWAIN Isle of Skye,' she reports David 1 as being born in 1700 in the Isle of Skye, Scotland. He came to America aboard the ship 'The Snow Louther' (per Joseph Fisher Master from Rotterdam last from Dover, Oct. 14, 1731)

    "David, 1 his wife, and two sons David, Jr. and Charles left Skye. Son William was born en-route."

    I have been unable to find any documents of the McSWAIN family name in the Old Tryon, Lincoln, or Rutherford Counties prior to the Deed of 13 May 1789, in Rutherfordton, NC.

    John LOAGAN conveys to William McSWAIN, some 500 acres of land lying on "Bowen's Creek" adjoining land of Jacob RANDAL
    Wit: Abednego ADAMS
    Wit: David McSWAIN
    --  Gerald K Cunard, http://gw.geneanet.org/kcunard?lang=en;pz=jonathan+riggins;nz=cunard;ocz=0;p=david;n=mcswain

    David was buried in the Old McSwain Cemetery, or Buck McSwain Cemetery, Tryon (later Rutherford, now Cleveland) County, North Carolina.  It is south of Shelby close to the South Carolina border.
    --  RootsWeb Trees, http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~prsjr/families/sc/mcswain/fgs0731.htm

    David McSwain
    Birth 1700, Scotland
    Death 1770 North Carolina

    1723- Married at [on] the Isle of Skye, Scotland.
    1731- Came to Virginia on the Lowther.
    1765- Moved to North Carolina.
    1770- Died in Cleveland County.
    His wife was Margaret Sargent, born 1702 in Ireland.

    Spouse Margaret Seargent McSwain (1702 - ____)
    Children David McSwain (1734 - 1805)

    Burial McSwain Cemetery, Shelby, Cleveland County, North Carolina

    Created by Elizabeth Olmstead Jun 09, 2009
    --  Find A Grave Memorial #38136539, http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=38136539


  • 1. Genealogy.com Trees
  • 2. RootsWeb ID: I4725 -- William David (II) McSwain
    • Name: Name: http:/worldconnect.rootsweb.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=prsjr&id=I4703;;
  • 3. Cunard Genealogy
  • 4. Find a Grave Memorial Registry
  • 5. McSwain Cemetery Transcription, by W D Floyd
    • Name: Name: http://ftp.rootsweb.com/pub/usgenweb/nc/cleveland/cemeteries/mcswain.txt;;
  • 6. Ancestry Trees
    • Lawson Family Tree http://awtc.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=:2223652&id=I116922982
  • 7. RootsWeb ID: I4695 -- William McSwain
    • Name: Name: http://worldconnect.rootsweb.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=prsjr&id=I4695;;
  • 8. Directory of Scots in the Carolinas, 1680-1830
    • Name: Name: Genealogical Publishing Co, 322p; Location: Baltimore; Date: 1986;;
    • Page 227
  • 9. RootsWeb Trees
  • 10. Ancestry Trees
    • Lawson Family Tree http://awtc.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=:2223652&id=I116922971
  • 11. Ancestry Trees
    • http://awtc.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm-cgi?op=GET&db=*v133t0575&id=I1176&ftm=1
  • 12. RootsWeb ID: I4695 -- William McSwain
    • Name: Name: http://worldconnect.rootsweb.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=prsjr&id=I4695;;
    • references top-level individual

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