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Charles Magill Research Notes

The Problems  Was there one Charles Magill or two?  If two, were both of their wives named Jane?  Was their son Arthur the husband of Elizabeth Arters?

All of the events mentioned below occurred in Pennsylvania.  During the time period involved, there were a number of changes in county lines:

Lancaster County was created from Chester County in 1728.
Cumberland County was created from Lancaster County in 1750.
Bedford County was created from Cumberland County in 1771.
Franklin County was created from Cumberland County in 1784.
Fulton County was created from Bedford County in 1850.

Arthur Magill  According to the butler Family Tree (, Arthur was born in 1764 in Cumberland Co., Pennsylvania, son of Charles Magill and Jane Buchanan.  According to the Murray-Magill Tree (, he was born in 1771 in Belfast, Antrim, Ireland, son of John Magill.

According to the D.A.R. database, he was born at Burnt Cabins, Pennsylvania.  See Wikipedia, which puts Burnt Cabins now in Dublin Township, Fulton Co., Pennsylvania.

According to Find-A-Grave, he was born in 1764 in Belfast, Ireland, son of Charles Magill and Jane Buchanan.

The 1764 date is a better fit with his census records and with his service in the Revolutionary War.

One clue that strengthens the argument for Charles and Jane as his parents is based on naming patterns.  Jane Buchanan was the daughter of Arthur Buchanan and Dorcas Armstrong.  Jane named her son Arthur Magill and Arthur named his daughter Dorcas Magill.  Arthur and Dorcas are both names that are less frequently used than most given names.  On this basis, I have made the assumption that Charles and Jane are the parents of Arthur.  Since Jane was born in the United States, her marriage and Arthur's birth would have occurred in the United States.

This fits with the tradition that he was Irish, since the parents of Jane Buchanan were both born in Ireland.

One Charles or Two?  American Revolutionary soldiers of Franklin County p.130 makes several statements about "Charles M'Gill":

  • obtained land through a Blunston license in 1737: "300 ac., where he is already settled at the round meadow, On the Old Waggon road to Potomac, about three miles Beyond Falling Spring";
  • served as Lieut, under his brother-in-law, Capt. Benjamin Chambers
  • letters of Administration were issued to his widow Jane in 1779

The author is apparently attributing all of these facts to one person.  Would Charles have needed to be at least age 21 to own land?  If so, he was born before 1716.

Most Family Trees on Ancestry, Wiki Tree and Family Search Family Tree show two generations of Charles Magill (there is also a third generation, son of Charles Jr., but he is easily separated from the other two):

  1. Charles Sr. born about 1710, died about 1768, married Jane Chambers.
  2. Charles Jr. born 1735, died 1779, married Jane Buchanan.

None of the trees that I have found show sources to support any of these events.

Searches for Charles Magill  Online searches:

  • Pennsylvania Archives Series 3 Volume I Minutes of Board of Property, p.435: 1784 survey dispute between Arthur Buchanan [father of Jane] and Charles Magill [brother of Arthur], son and heir of Charles Magill, who is dead
  • Pennsylvania Archives Series 3 Volume II Caveat Book-No. 5, p.639: 1783 entry relating to above dispute
  • Pennsylvania Archives Series 3 Volume XXII Transcript of Taxables in the County of Bedford, for the Year 1773, p.10, Dublin Township
  • Pennsylvania Archives Series 3 Volume XXII Transcript of Taxables in the County of Bedford, for the Year 1774, p.72, Dublin Township.
  • Pennsylvania Archives Series 3 Volume XXII Transcript of Taxables in the County of Bedford, for the Year 1775, p.102, Dublin Township
  • Pennsylvania Archives Series 3 Volume XXII Transcript of Taxables in the County of Bedford, for the Year 1776, p.142, Dublin Township. Historical Records
  • American Revolutionary soldiers of Franklin County p.130 (see earlier discussion)
  • Wing, Conway P., History of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, p.41 (15 Jul 1754 Petition, signed by 75 of the "principal residents" of Cumberland County, including Benjamin, James and Robert Chambers, Joseph and John Armstrong, Charles Magill, Wm. Buchanan)
  • The history and topography of Dauphin, Cumberland, Franklin, Bedford, Adams, Perry, Somerset, Cambria & Indiana counties (another copy of the 1754 petition)
  • Index to wills, Bedford County, Pennsylvania Vol. 1, page 2 Charles Magill, page 29
  • Pennsylvania, Land Warrants and Applications, 1733-1952
        Charles and James Magill 1766 Land Warrant
        Hugh Magill 1766 Land Warrant
  • Pennsylvania, Land Warrants, 1733-1952 (no images)
        Name: Charles Magill Cumberland, Warrant Date: 4 Nov 1766, Warrant Place: Cumberland
        Name: Charles Magill, Acreage: 300, Warrant Date: 4 Nov 1766; Warrant Location: Ws-1792
        Name: Charles Jr and James Magill Magill, Acreage: 100, Warrant Date: 4 Nov 1766, Warrant Location: Ws-1809
  • Pennsylvania, Tax and Exoneration, 1768-1801 1773 Dublin Twp Tax Record
Family Search Historical Records and Collections
  • Nothing in Historical Records Search
  • Pennsylvania, Probate Records, 1683-1994 Cumberland County, no Magill in indexes (if Charles [Sr] died about 1668, his probate would have been in Cumberland County; Lancaster Letter of administration index 1730-1830, no Magill thru 1785
  • Pennsylvania, Probate Records, 1683-1994 Pennsylvania Probate Records, Bedford Co. Will Book 1, page 29
Other Sources
  • 1768 Mifflin Tax (Woodrow Family Tree - Theresa_Woodrow originally shared this to Ancestry 13 Sep 2008

One or two Charles?  Research to date has not answered the question.  Cumberland County Tax Lists 1762-1770 [FHL Film 21087] may be of assistance.  And there is still the question of Jane Chambers.

Jane Chambers  As mentioned previously, American Revolutionary soldiers of Franklin County p.130 states that Charles Magill was the brother-in-law of Capt. Benjamin Chambers, and names Charles' widow in 1779 as Jane.  Most family trees have therefore assumed that the wife of Charles Sr. was Jane Chambers.  However, the 1779 widow Magill was Jane Buchanan.

Family Search Family Tree: Jane Chambers (9X98-68J), born 1713 County Antrim, Ireland, Deceased; married abt 1733; daughter of James Chambers (M1X3-X8C) 1660-1720 and Sarah Castle (LCPF-LWL) 1660-Deceased; married 1680 Peebles, Scotland.

Among the children of James and Sarah is Benjamin Chambers, born 1708 [1709/1713 Lough Neogh] County Antrim, Ireland [or Stirling, Scotland], died 17 Feb 1788 Chambersburg, Franklin Co., Pennsylvania; buried Falling Spring Cemetery, Chambersburg, Franklin Co., Pennsylvania.  Lough Neogh is the largest lake on the island of Ireland, so he was probably born on its shores or on an island in the lake.  There are several towns in County Antrim that are on or very near the lake, including Antrim town and parish, Crumlin, Randalstown, and Toomebridge.

Benjamin emigrated to Philadelphia in 1726 with brothers Robert and Joseph (Source Publication Code: 1137.50; U.S. and Canada, Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc, 2010. Original data: Filby, P. William, ed. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s. Farmington Hills, MI, USA: Gale Research, 2012.)

This tree has many problems, including 16 children of James Chambers and Sarah Castle.  Some of them are obvious duplicates.  If Sarah Castle's birthdate of 1660 is correct, she was 50 years old in 1710.  7 of the children, including Jane, have birthdates after 1710.  There is one other daughter, Ester (KXX8-8VY and MSHB-B26), born in 1705 in Scotland and died in 1762.  She married William Nugent sbt 1729 in Coletrain, Fermanagh, Ireland. trees paint a different picture for Benjamin:

  • he was the son of John Benjamin Chambers (born 1660 Stirling, Stirlingshire, Scotland, died 1730 Antrim, Ulster, Northern Ireland) and Hannah Smith (born 1660) or
  • he was the son of James Chambers (born 1650 Peebles, Scotland, died 1720 Northern Ireland) and Sarah Rosse (born 1680 Antrim, Ulster, Northern Ireland).

Another possibility, not shown in any of the trees, is that there is only one Charles, and Jane or some other Chambers was his first wife.  In that case, she would not be an ancestor of Jane Buchanan's children.

Summary  While a lot of searching has occurred, no solutions yet for either Charles Magill or Jane Chambers.  Too much speculation is based on family trees, which have no sources, include unlikely or impossible relationships, and are inconsistent in events and relationships.

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© 2014 Shirley York Anderson