William Agnew
  b: 1734 - Ireland
  d: 13/Oct/1805 - Hamilton Co., OH

Spouse: Anne Allen - b: ~1735 - Ireland
  m: 1751 - Ireland

Child: Samuel

Biographical Details:

The origin of the surname "Agnew" is uncertain, although it is generally believed to be ultimately Norman in origin, derived from the Barony d'Agneaux.  At present, Agneaux is a commune (roughly equivalent to a township or municpality in the United States) in the Manche department in the Basse-Normandie region of northwestern France.  Therefore, it may be supposed that the first progenitor of the French name subsequently anglicized as "Agnew" was established as a noble retainer of William the Conqueror after his conquest of England in 1066.  Accordingly, the Agnew family evidently settled first in England, but then appeared toward the end of the twelfth century, at Liddesdale in Roxburghshire in the southeast border region of Scotland.  Alternatively, a Gaelic origin of the surname has also been suggested deriving from the Celtic natives of Ulster, the O'Gnimh, who were hereditary poets or bards of the O'Neills of Clanaboye, and who, thus, acquired the anglicized surname of "Agnew".  In English the name was first written as "O'Gnyw" and "O'Gnew".  This would imply a common origin of the Clan Agnew with the Clan Donald through the chieftain, Somerled mac Gillebride, who was styled "King of Mann and the Isles, Lord of Argyll, Cinn Tìre (Kintyre) and Lorne" and was killed campaigning against Malcolm IV of Scotland at the Battle of Renfrew in 1164.  In any case, neither of these etymologies is certain, although the Norman origin seems more readily accepted.1  Subsequently, Andrew Agnew was granted the lands and constableship of Lochnaw Castle in 1426, which became the seat of the chief of Clan Agnew.  Moreover, in 1451 he was appointed Sheriff of Wigtown.  His descendent, evidently also Andrew Agnew of Lochnaw, was killed at the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh on September 10, 1547, fighting against the English.  In the seventeenth century, Sir Patrick Agnew was member of Parliament for Wigtownshire from 1628 to 1633, and, again, from 1643 to 1647.  Moreover, on July 28, 1629, he was made a baronet of Nova Scotia.  He married Anne Stewart, daughter of the first Earl of Galloway and when he died in 1661, he was succeeded by his eldest son, Andrew, who would also be returned as member of Parliament for Wigtownshire.  Concomitantly, he had been created Sheriff of both Kirkcudbright and Wigtown in the 1650's, at which time Scotland was part of the Protectorate.  Andrew Agnew, the fifth Baronet, married a kinswoman, Eleanor Agnew of Lochryan, with whom he had twenty-one children.  He was a distinguished soldier during the War of the Austrian Succession commanding the 21st Foot (which later became the Royal Scots Fusiliers) against the French at the Battle of Dettingen on June 16, 1743 O. S.  King George II, the last British monarch to lead soldiers in battle, remarked that French cavalry had penetrated his regiment, but Sir Andrew replied, "Yes, please your Majesty, but they didna win back again".  Furthermore, during the Jacobite rising of 1745 the Clan Agnew remained loyal to the King and British Government.  Sir Andrew held Blair Castle, seat of the Duke of Atholl, against Jacobite forces, but his men were near starvation when Charles Edward Stuart called the Jacobite army to retreat to Inverness to meet the advance of Prince William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland.  Clearly, the Clan Agnew has an illustrious history as minor nobility within Scotland and England.  However, it is a serious misconception to regard every person bearing a particular clan name as a descendant of clan chiefs.  Indeed, many (if not most) clansmen are not related to the chief, but took the clan surname as their own, either to show loyalty and obtain protection or to receive sustenance.

William Agnew of Hamilton County, Ohio, was evidently an immigrant from Northern Ireland.  Undoubtedly, he descends from Scottish settlers of the Plantation of Ulster.  Organised colonisation of Ulster, one of the historic provinces of Ireland, by settlers from Great Britain began during the reign of King James I.  Most of the colonists came from Scotland and England.  An estimated half a million acres encompassing the counties of Tyrconnell, Tyrone, Fermanagh, Cavan, Coleraine, and Armagh were confiscated from Gaelic Irish chiefs, most of whom had fled Ireland on September 14, 1607, in the "Flight of the Earls".  Colonizaton of Ulster with loyal settlers was a deliberate strategy to prevent further rebellion as Ulster had been the region most resistant to English rule during the sixteenth century.  King James wanted the Plantation to be "a civilising enterprise" that would settle Protestants in Ulster, a land that remained Gaelic-speaking and Catholic.  Accordingly the British colonists were required to be English-speaking and Protestant.  As might be expected, the Scottish colonists were primarily Presbyterian and the English adherents of the Church of England.  Of course, colonization was ultimately unsuccessful in pacifying or anglicizing Ireland, but instead resulted in strife and bloodshed even down to the present.  In addition, a series of droughts and unfavorable policies of the British Government and absentee landlords.  Consequently, from 1710 to 1775, more than 200,000 persons emigrated from Ulster to the American colonies.  The largest number settled in Pennsylvania and from there some went south into Virginia and Carolina, with a large concentration settling in the Appalachia.  Following the American Revolution, 100,000 more "Scotch-Irish" immigrants arrived in the United States between 1783 and 1812.  Many of these settled in western Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and the more distant Midwest.  Subsequently, more than a million more immigrated between 1815 to 1899.  However, from 1900 to 1930 average immigration from Northern Ireland was about 5,000 to 10,000 a year with relatively few immigrating after 1930.  A separate migration brought many Scotch-Irish to Canada, primarily settling in rural Ontario and Nova Scotia.  It is believed that William Agnew married Anne Allen in Ireland.  It is further reported that he died in Hamilton County on October 13, 1805.

Source Notes and Citations:
1. Patrick Hanks (ed.), Oxford Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, periodically updated.  (Available electronically at www.oxford-americanfamilynames.com)
     "1. Scottish (of Norman origin): habitational name from Agneaux in Manche, France.
     2. Irish and Scottish: Anglicized form of Gaelic Ó Gnímh 'descendant of Gníomh', a byname meaning 'action' or 'activity'.  The Ó Gnímhs were hereditary poets to a branch of the O'Neills; in this family the traditional pronunciation is with the stress on the second syllable."
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Additional Citations:

2. George Way and Romily Squire, Scottish Clan & Family Encyclopedia (Foreword by The Rt. Hon. The Earl of Elgin KT, Convenor, The Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs), HarperCollins Publishers, 1994: pgs. 64-5.

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