Armstrong descendants are of Scotch-Irish origin

Published 1:22 am Saturday, November 12, 2011

As a result of a contact following the column reviewing the Jeter family, significant research on a related family, the Armstrongs, has been made available. Mrs. Betty LeMarchand, a resident of Baker, Florida, shared her records, which include a book compiled by Demoval “Bobbie” Biggs of Eight-Mile, Ala..

To introduce the Armstrong family, a quotation is lifted from Biggs’s book.

“The Armstrong family is a very ancient one, and Scottish history and romance are full of the chronicles and wild exploits on the Scottish Border. Springing from this parent stock, several branches of the family located in the northern counties of England and the debatable lands. One branch, established in Lincolnshire, had continued there for seven generations, and another, in Northumberland for nine generations, at the period of the Visitation in 1623.

“Tradition affirms that the origin of the surname of this family was Fairbairn, corresponding with the Norman ‘Fortenbras,’ and that it was changed to Armstrong on the following occasion. An ancient King of Scotland was about to be destroyed in battle, when his horse was killed from under him. Fairbairn, who was his armor bearer, lifted the King from the saddle by the thigh and sat him upon his own horse; thereby saving the King’s life. For this timely assistance the King promptly rewarded Fairbairn with lands on the Border. To perpetuate the memory of so important a service, as well as the manner in which it was performed, his King gave him the appellation of Armestrange (the man with the strong arm) and assigned him a Coat of Arms.

“The hero of this exploit was Siward, the Armstrong, Earl of Northumberland, first of the name and ancestry of the Border family. He fought under Macbeth and restored the son of Malcolm to the throne, and for his loyalty to his king was granted additional lands. He died in battle in full armor. Siward’s son by his first wife, called ‘Young Siward,’ was killed at the Battle of Dunsianane, according to Shakespeare in ‘Macbeth.’ His daughter married David I, King of Scotland.”

There are many references to a Thomas Armstrong, 7th Lord of Mangerton, in Roxburgshire, Scotland, in the Lordship of Liddesdale. A number of these related to property acquisitions and dispositions. The names of four sons for Thomas were also revealed, and two of these included Alexander, who succeeded Thomas as Lord of Mangerton, and John “Johnnie” of Gilnockie.

The lineage of current interest descends from Johnnie’s son, Christopher Armstrong, of Langholm. Christopher’s son, William Armstrong, moved to Brookboro, Ireland, and was married to Margaret Elliott. Their son, Edward Armstrong, moved circa 1650 to Terwinney, also in Fermanagh, where he married into the great House of Maguire.

All American Armstrongs of Scotch-Irish origin are said to be descendants of Johnnie Armstrong of Gilnockie.  During Johnnie’s generation, the Armstrongs were very brave in numerous battles, where they have been noted for their super courage and daring service.

The earliest record of an Armstrong in America is a death account of John Armstrange, called Jockey who died circa 1623 in Elizabeth City. Another is Henry Armstrong, 22 years of age, embarking on the “Transport of London” in 1635. Edward Walker was Captain of the ship for Virginia. It appears Henry was unmarried. In 1677, the Sheriff of Accomack County ordered “to take custody of the estate of Henry Armstrong, deceased, where it may be found in this county to sell same at outcry.”

Most immigrants bearing the Armstrong name arrived and landed in the Chesapeake region of Virginia and Maryland. Several heads of families have been identified who resided in this area during the 1600s. About 100 years later in 1837, Joseph Armstrong was living on Armstrong Run in the State of Penn. He was born in 1711 in Ireland and came to Penn. in 1731 where he resided until his death in 1761.

Joseph and other members of his family were prominent in the Colonial and Revolutionary Wars. He ranked as a captain, and three of his five sons rendered Colonial service. A few years later, three of his sons moved into N.C. where they were officers in the Revolutionary War: John Armstrong was a Lt. Colonel; James Armstrong. was Colonel of the 8th N.C. Regiment and was killed in action; and William Armstrong was Captain in the N.C. Line.

The family of today’s review appears to be the descendants of the above son, William Armstrong, and through his son, James Armstrong. Available records indicate James was purchasing considerable land acreage in the area of Virginia that would soon become Augusta County. Within a short time, he and his wife sold this land and bought 485 acres in Beverly Manor. In early 1753, James moved his family to Anson County, North Carolina, where he died in 1763.

James Armstrong and his wife, Jane, reared the following children: Elizabeth, m. Thomas Rutledge; William; John A.; Mary, b. 1741; James; Joseph, b. 1745; (twins) Benjamin, b. 1747, and Matthew, b. 1747, d. 1838, m. Margaret Shipley; and Martin, b. 1748, d. 1810, m. Mary Kuykendall.

This line is continued through the descendants of the son, Martin Armstrong. The government granted him 200 acres in Tryon County in 1768. In 1785, Governor Moultrie of Georgia granted him additional land of 377 acres in the 96th District, Spartanburg, S.C.

He had rendered service from S.C. in the Revolutionary War. Following the war, he moved his family in 1790 to Hancock County, Ga., where they joined the Long Creek Baptist Church. There he served as a member of the Grand Jury in 1796-1798 and in 1807. By 1802, he owned 252 acres and several slaves in Hancock County.

Martin and his wife, Mary Kuykendall, reared the following children: Peggy, m. John Donaghy; Mary Ann, b. 1777, d. 1827, m. Green Berry Pinkston; John C.; Maximillian Sr., b. 1780, m. 1806 Elizabeth Veasey; James W., b. 1781, d. 1835, m. 1813 Dorothy “Dollie” Tucker; and Miriam, b. 1793, m. (1) Thomas Vickers (2) Gains Brock.

The son, John C. Armstrong, moved to Alabama in 1818 along with his brother, Maximillian Armstrong, Sr. He settled near Montgomery and was soon elected as a magistrate for Autauga County. The son, James W. Armstrong, owned land and slaves during the early 1800s in Hancock County, Ga.

He also moved his family to Montgomery County in 1818. Early on, he was elected as one of the two men to represent Montgomery County at the Constitutional Convention to prepare for Alabama becoming a state.

At this point, the Armstrong descendants have made it to Alabama and have settled in and around Montgomery County.

The next column will continue this lineage as a number of the family members will migrate into South Alabama and Covington County.  The source for this writing were the records of Betty LeMarchand, which includes a book on Armstrong family heritage compiled by Demoval “Bobbie” Biggs.

Anyone who might have a correction to the above or additional information on the Armstrong family is requested to contact this writer, Curtis Thomasson, at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; 334-222-6467; or Email: