Lieutenant John Gregor

Owner of the 2000 acre Gregor Patent in White Creek

John Gregor was born in Balquhidder, Scotland on 14 December 1732i. His parents were Coll (MacGregor) Campbell and Margaret Campbell of Kerletter. The MacGregor Clan had caused the crown so much grief that the use of the MacGregor name was banned in 1603 on penalty of death, a proscription not lifted until 1774. The MacGregors were forced to adopt other names – in this case Campbell. John was the grandson and Coll the son of the famous (or infamous) Rob Roy MacGregorii

John Gregor’s married and family life is somewhat confusing and very difficult to figure out. John seems to have married three times, the first to an unnamed daughter of John MacAlpin(e) of Edinburgh. I believe William was a son from this marriage, though he is not recorded. In 1768 John Gregor is said to have married a Catherine Murray in Balquhidder. Burke’s Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Landed Gentry claims two sons, James and Robert, from this first marriage also, but has nothing about any later marriagesiii. Some people believe his marriage to Catherine never actually took place.

James was commissioned a Major-General in the East India Company’s service, fought at Seringapatem and other battles, married a Catherine Wedderburne in 1801, had three sons and two daughters, and died at Monghyr 7 Dec 1818 (present day Munger, India).

Robert obtained a commission in the 15th Reg’t. Native Infantry, Bengal establishment. He also fought at Seringapatem and in other battles. He was appointed Persian interpreter to the field. He died at the Battle of Delhi 11 September 1803 while leading a charge against enemy artillery. He married Sarah Graham of Perthshire (born 1767) and they had two sons, John Graham MacGregor and Robert-Stuart MacGregor.

Thirdly John Gregor is said to have married “an English lady”iv, but I have as yet found no documentation of this.

No dates are given in Burke for the births of John’s sons, just their deaths, and trying to figure back their mother could have been either MacAlpin(e)’s daughter or Catherine Murray, depending on when the actual birthdate was. The “List of Officers in the Bengal Army” seemed to indicate they were actually sons of John Gregor and Catherine Murray, as while Burke claimed James and Robert were children of John and MacAlpine’s daughter, Hodson gives the fact that eldest son James’ middle name was Murray. This would seem to indicate otherwise. (Robert’s middle name was Guthrie, after cousin Charles Seton Guthrie)v. However the inscription on James’ stone in Munger, India proves he was born in 1759vi, so Burke is right. Robert either was born after 1765 or John’s first wife went to America with him and both boys were born there.

This information also showed up a problem with William being John’s son as John claimed in 1768 though. If John actually was born in 1732 (the date is actually his baptismal date), he either had to get married very young or William enlisted very young, or both. It doesn’t quite fit.

John enlisted in the 42nd Regiment of Foot as Sgt. Major and was sent to America. He fought at Ticonderoga and was promoted to Ensign on 22 July 1758. He was promoted to Lieutenant and appointed adjutant on 27 Aug. 1760.

According to McCullough, he resigned his adjutancy on 22 October 1761 in favor of a kinsman, William (Mac) Gregor – however, William was more than a kinsman, he was his sonvii. He transferred to the 60th Foot (Royal Americans) at this time. He went out on half pay on 24 October 1763.viii

For the next few years, he seems to have lived in Albany, NY. He applied for a land patent on May 8, 1764 along with Captain John Small, Lt. James Bain, Lt. Ann Gordon, and Adj. William Gregorix. He got his return of survey on July 11, 1765x. On Feb. 15, 1771 He, Ann Gordon, and William petitioned the governor to sign their certificate of surveyxi. This seems odd, as he already received the return of survey in 1765, but as the struggle between New York and New Hampshire (Vermont) grantees was heating up at this time, perhaps they wanted the paperwork perfect to protect their land. John Gregor and James Bain’s land patents were in what is now White Creek. The others were in Shaftsbury.

There is also a time problem here. He evidently returned to Scotland during this time. Ian McCullough says he returned in 1763, but this probably isn’t right as he seems to have been in Albany dealing with his land claim in 1764/5. He did supposedly marry in Scotland in 1768, so probably went to Scotland in 1766 or 1767. He seems to have returned to America by 1771, but it is possible he stayed in Scotland up until 1776.

He returned to active duty as a Lieutenant in the 42nd Foot on Aug. 27, 1776, soon after the Declaration of Independence. He is listed on the roster of the 1st Battalion as Lieutenant through 1780. He was promoted to Captain on March 22, 1780, and thereafter disappears from the roster. He probably moved to another division of the 42nd. The 42nd saw much action during the Revolution. He retired on June 20, 1782xii. The 42nd was partially disbanded at St. John in 1783 and many of the soldiers settled on the Nashwaak River in what became New Brunswick in June 1784. The rest of the unit was stationed in Nova Scotia for a time and eventually returned to Scotland. John, having retired earlier, seems to have remained in North America, probably settling in Quebec. His sons were probably in India so he had no real reason to return to Scotland.

On December 31, 1788 eleven men, (George Searles, John Soule, John Powers, Abraham Briggs, John McCool, Abraham Wright, John Perry, Archibald McVicar, William Saxton, Benjamin Tripp, and James Hunt), filed a claim on John Gregor’s Land Patent in White Creekxiii. In December of the following year, affidavits were filed that these men were friendly to the American cause and were settled on the landxiv. In October 1789 the lands had been surveyed and the returns were inxv John must have heard about this in 1789, because on December 10 he filed a caveat on behalf of himself and his son William (deceased) against the eleven men. It seems evident that these eleven had either been leasing from him, or he had sold to them and held the mortgages on their land. They appear to have believed they could get title to the land without paying him (probably correctly), because he had served on the other side in the Revolution. It is more likely they were leasing land as it would have been surveyed for a mortgage and wouldn’t have had to be resurveyed in 1789. In any case, the matter was settled by February 3, 1790 when John Gregor withdrew the caveatxvi. Either they reached a private settlement or John gave up, realizing he probably wouldn’t win.

Little else is known of John Gregor. He probably died around 1800 in North America, but there is no record.

Endnotes:

iMcCullough, Ian Macpherson: Sons of the Mountains; The Highland Regiments in the French and Indian War, 1756 – 1767, Vol. 2. P. 36. Fleischmanns, NY: Purple Mountain Press. 2006. P. 36.

iii Burke, John and Burke, John Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain and Ireland Vol. 3. London, Henry Colburne. 1849. p. 216. Available at: https://books.google.com/books?id=JVI4AQAAMAAJ&pg=PA216&lpg=PA216&dq=Robert+MacGregor+Battle+of+Delhi+1803&source=bl&ots=bIeHjhpUy0&sig=sGgRoNgzDkZ3fxTv-hkCKQubt7A&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiwzsuagdPOAhUGxWMKHXLLCacQ6AEINDAE#v=onepage&q=Robert%20MacGregor%20B

iv McCullough, p. 36.

vHodson, Vernon Charles Pagel. List of the Officers of the Bengal Army, 1758-1834: L-R India: Constable, 1946. p. 139. https://books.google.com/books?id=euA5AQAAIAAJ&dq=James+Gregor+Monghyr+1818&focus=searchwithinvolume&q=Charles+Seton+Guthrie

viHolmes and Co, Calcutta. The Bengal Obituary. London, W. Thacker and Co. 1851. p. 368. https://books.googleusercontent.com/books/content?req=AKW5QaeHVpP7RE6Wn7yC3ViOJsS17H-zrggRJaNipSqIVv3NVuQjyiyGv8VOOIWTldatBjQEmzqFWphH48zUW3jgrtTLMNdZ0G5xiJHo__CkXz4EFwOsRAVlOGNrR4zgAQYJ6cPPnYpHdX9aYzFpQS_e1fjGoPGyEVuFIBJuI4Qn5yL5MG4QjBZemp_lXSf2Sq8SGWgY9

Beneath this stone are deposited the earthly remains of Major General James Murray Macgregor, of the Honorable East India Co.’s Service, who departed this life on the 7th of Dec. A. D. 1818, in the 59th year of his age, oppressed and broken by a series of unmerited misfortunes, his spirit, it is hoped, has found repose on the bosom of a merciful Redeemer. The remembrance of what he was and of those qualities which rendered him dear, while living, to all who really knew him, will remain written in indelible character, on the mournful hearts of his disconsolate survivors.

 

vii Calendar of N. Y. colonial manuscripts-indorsed land papers; in the office of the Secretary of State of New York. 1643 -1803. Albany: Weed, Parsons & Co. 1864. Vol. 48, p. 804. Available online at: https://archive.org/details/calendarofnycolo00alba

 

viii McCullough, p. 36.

ix Calendar of N. Y. colonial manuscripts-indorsed land papers; in the office of the Secretary of State of New York. 1643 -1803. Albany: Weed, Parsons & Co. 1864. Vol. 17, p. 338. Available online at: https://archive.org/details/calendarofnycolo00alba

 

x Calendar of N. Y. colonial manuscripts-indorsed land papers; in the office of the Secretary of State of New York. 1643 -1803. Albany: Weed, Parsons & Co. 1864. Vol. 19, p. 372. Available online at: https://archive.org/details/calendarofnycolo00alba

xi Calendar of N. Y. colonial manuscripts-indorsed land papers; in the office of the Secretary of State of New York. 1643 -1803. Albany: Weed, Parsons & Co. 1864. Vol. 28, p. 519. Available online at: https://archive.org/details/calendarofnycolo00alba

xiiMcCullough, p. 36.

xiiiCalendar of N. Y. colonial manuscripts-indorsed land papers; in the office of the Secretary of State of New York. 1643 -1803. Albany: Weed, Parsons & Co. 1864. Vol. 47, p. 789. Available online at: https://archive.org/details/calendarofnycolo00alba

xivCalendar of N. Y. colonial manuscripts-indorsed land papers; in the office of the Secretary of State of New York. 1643 -1803. Albany: Weed, Parsons & Co. 1864. Vol. 48, p. 802. Available online at: https://archive.org/details/calendarofnycolo00alba

xv Calendar of N. Y. colonial manuscripts-indorsed land papers; in the office of the Secretary of State of New York. 1643 -1803. Albany: Weed, Parsons & Co. 1864. Vol. 48, p. 804. Available online at: https://archive.org/details/calendarofnycolo00alba

xvi Ibid.