The Francis Preston Blair Family in Politics - Vol. 1

By William Ernest Smith | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I
SPIRITS OF THE EARLY FRONTIER

All those, as far as we can learn, who proceeded from this school were men of sound orthodoxy, evangelical spirit, glowing zeal and in labors very abundant.--DR. ARCHIBALD ALEXANDER.

IT would be a long story if one were to tell of the ancestors of the Blars or Blairs. They may be traced back to the days of turbulent feudalistic wars between England and Scotland. Among them are the Blairs of Ayrshire, of Balthyock in Perthshire, of Wigton, and of Renfrew. Documentary evidence indicates that one William de Blair lived in 1205 during the reign of William the Lion. One genealogist has traced the Belairs from France to Scotland and believed they originated in France. Those were days of royal fiefs, when nobles and ecclesiastics vied with each other for favors of the crown. The Blairs shared in some of those titles, and still point with pride to Blair Castle in Perthshire. They were of midland Scottish blood and temperament, "bonnie fichters," and rebels. A Bryce Blair was treacherously slain by the English one year before King Edward called his Model Parliament; another Bryce Blair of high lineage escaped with his wife and daughter ( 1625) in a coal sloop to Ireland. There he possessed himself of a farm of four hundred acres near Carrickfergus. The ruins of his old flax mill, one of the first in Ireland, are still discernible. The Blairs led the inhabitants of Derry in their struggle to hold the place against King James II, in 1689, until King William gave them relief. The grateful King freed Abraham Blair from taxation for life. Valiant Colonel Jamie Blair was there, and so was Lieutenant David Blair; the former died in New England in 1733. In the rebellion of 1798, Samuel Blair led the sons of "Hearts O' Steel."

Descendants of the Blairs still live in Ireland, where as Ulster-

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