Research Notes

Thomas(?) Adair, Immigrant was born before 1680 in County Antrim, Ireland and died circa 1740 in Pennsylvania, United States of unspecified causes. He married Margaret Henart (c1680-c1740) circa 1708 in County Antrim, Ireland.

NOTICE: Frankly, there is not to be found any supporting documentation that this person was named Thomas or that he and his wife (Margaret Henart?) did ever immigrate to America. However, we will use this page in the meantime as a place holder for his three sons that did in fact come to Pennsylvania in the early 1730s. By the 1760s all three had settled in the Ninety-Six District of South Carolina.

Legend of the Adair Colonists

How much of this story is real and how much is fiction?

Surely 50 year-old Thomas Adair offered a prayer in his heart when he was finally able to glimpse land after weeks at sea. Crossing the Atlantic in the 1730’s was never a pleasure cruise, and many passengers died as a result of small pox, scurvy, or other ailments. Thomas had married Margaret Henart in County Antrim, Ireland, and they had been blessed with three sons there, who were also aboard this ship bound for England’s American colonies. They were 21 year-old James Robert Adair, 19 year-old Joseph Alexander Adair, and 11 year-old William Adair. From these three would come many of the American Adair families, although other Adairs certainly immigrated, as well.

Like many of their Scotch-Irish friends and neighbors who left the Ulster Plantation of Northern Ireland for America, the Adairs made the colony of Pennsylvania their destination. The Quaker founder of the colony, William Penn, had passed away twelve years prior, and his son, John Penn, was the governor at the time of the Adairs arrival. The Penn family viewed Pennsylvania as a “holy experiment,” and since their settling in 1681 had encouraged the colony to be a refuge for people of all nationalities and religious beliefs. In addition to Quakers and Presbyterian Scotch-Irish, Lutherans, Reformed Germans, Mennonites, Moravians, and Amish all flocked to Pennsylvania. The Adair family was part of a huge wave of immigrants that swelled Pennsylvania’s population from 18,000 in 1700 to 120,000 in 1750.

The Adair family settled along the Delaware River in Chester County, fifteen miles southwest of Philadelphia, and twenty miles upriver from New Castle, Delaware. This area, which had been where Penn first set foot on Pennsylvanian soil, was named Chester by a fellow Quaker after his hometown in England.

Joseph traveled down river to the Holy Trinity Church in Wilmington, Delaware to marry Sarah Laferty. After returning to Chester, Pennsylvania they gave birth to a son on May 12, 1733, which they named Joseph Adair, Jr.

Most of the Scotch-Irish of this region of Pennsylvania were farmers, and it was likely that the Adairs were too. They planted corn, wheat, rye, potatoes, and peas for food. They planted flax, which yielded fibers to make cloth. The men hunted deer, elk, bears, and wild turkeys. Frontier mothers sometimes shot wild animals that wandered near their log cabins. Because water was often impure, milk was popular, as was whiskey for all ages.

Marriage and Family

James Adair, in his book "History of the American Indians" declares that he and his brothers did originate in County Antrim, Ireland and were Scotch-Irish Immigrants. During the French-Indian Wars of 1760-61, James convinced his remaining family to leave the hostile region of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and move to Laurens County, South Carolina where they settled near the Duncan Creek Presbyterian Church.

  1. James Adair (1714-1796) - famously lived and traded forty years (1735-1775) with the native tribes of the South Eastern United States, marrying a maiden of the Chickasaw Nation. Eldest brother, born circa 1708.
  2. Joseph Adair (1711-1788) - he received 250 acres in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania in August of 1750. At the time it was the second most populous town in Pennsylvania with a population of about 2,000.
  3. William Adair (c1718-1812) - youngest brother, received 150 acres in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania in 1750.


Offspring of Thomas(?) Adair, Immigrant and Margaret Henart (c1680-c1740)
Name Birth Death Joined with
James Adair (1714-1796) 1714 County Antrim, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom (Ulster) 1788 Laurens County, South Carolina, United States Eleanor Adair (1726-1803)

Joseph Adair (1711-1788) 1711 County Antrim, Ireland 1788 Laurens County, South Carolina, United States Sarah Laferty (1715-1767)
Susanna Murdough (1723-1800)

William Adair (c1718-1812) 1718 County Antrim, Ireland 1812 Laurens County, South Carolina, United States Mary Moore (1729-1797)



See Also

Footnotes (including sources)



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