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Argyll Colony

Argyll Colony was the first colony of Highland Scots to settle in the Upper Cape Fear. Settled in 1739, the colony was named for the shire in western Scotland from which its members came. They were the vanguard of what began as a trickle and grew into a flood of Highland immigrants to Bladen County (later divided into Cumberland, Moore, Robeson, Harnett, and Hoke Counties). By the 1770s Highland Scots comprised one-third of the population of that region, earning for it the sobriquet "Valley of the Scots."

The Argyll Colony sailed from Scotland in June 1739, arriving in North Carolina during September. They probably spent most of their first winter in or near Newton (soon to be renamed Wilmington) because they had not yet decided on a specific location for settlement. On 10 Nov. 1739 James Murray, a local merchant, wrote Henry McCulloh that four of the party had traveled upriver to inspect vacant land near his (McCulloh's) land, presumably a 100,000-acre tract in present-day Guilford and Alamance Counties. The Murray letter also implies that the Argyll colonists had previously negotiated with McCulloh, a London merchant and large-scale land speculator in North Carolina, about purchasing some of his land.

By February 1740 the colony's five leaders-Duncan Campbell, Daniel McNeill, Dugald McNeill, Neill McNeill, and Coll McAlister-had petitioned the colonial Assembly for an exemption from all taxes for ten years and a grant of £1,000 to be distributed among them. This indicates that by that date they probably had decided on which land to settle and had made entries for the property that was granted them the following June. In return for the favors requested, they had pledged to encourage their friends and neighbors to immigrate to the province. Exemption from taxes was granted but the award of £1,000 was not.

There is a persistent tradition that Governor Gabriel Johnston, himself a Lowland Scot, played a leading role in bringing the Argyll Colony to Cape Fear, but there is no evidence of this. Another popularly held but untenable tradition claims that other Highland Scots had preceded the Argyll Colony and that the colony on its arrival was greeted by kinsmen and former neighbors. Without doubt, the first Argyll colonists could not have envisioned the number of Scots who would follow them, although they certainly encouraged their peers to emigrate. The place they chose to settle became a Mecca for succeeding generations of Scottish immigrants; indeed, the Valley of the Scots became home to the largest aggregation of that nationality in the continental United States.


Duane Meyer, The Highland Scots of North Carolina, 1752-1776 (1957).

Jennie M. Patten, The Argyle Patent and Accompanying Documents (1979).

Additional Resources:

The Journal of the North Carolina Scottish Heritage Society, The Argyll Colony Plus:

Campbelton, NC Historical Marker I-54, North Carolina Office of Archives & History.

The story of Fayetteville and the upper Cape Fear by John Alexander Oates.

Wrightsville Beach Magazine, Historically Speaking: First Presbyterian Church Celebrates its 250th Anniversary by Dr. Walter H. Conser Jr. January 2010:

Image Credit:

The Argyll Colonist were the first to bring the Presbyterian religion to the Cape Fear Region. First Presbyterian Church, Wilmington, NC, 1902. Image courtesy of UNC Libraries. Available from (accessed August 15, 2012).



I am the 7th great-granddaughter of Angus & Isabell Galbraith. Angus was born is Isley in 1720 and Isabell was born in 1724. Their son Neil Galbraith is my 6th great-grandfather. He was born in 1740 and married Martha Autry whose family migrated to Edgecombe county from Ireland. I enjoy researching my family. I believe the Galbraiths migrated to NC from Gigha, Scotland in late 1730's to early 1740's. I would appreciate any information that you can share. The Galbraiths changed their name to Culbret h before or around the Revolutionary war. They settled around the Black River in Sampson County NC. Neil Culbret h was a patriot in the Revolutionary War#ancestor A 028450. Sincerely, Lynn Frances Williams, Autryville, NC


Dear Lynn,
If both our ancestry research is correct we are distant cousins. It appears that Neil & Martha had 9 children. The 7th, Cornelius was my 5th Great Grandfather. We have spent many hours tracing the name and travels of the Culbreth's/Galbraith's including a trip to the Culbreth Cemetery in Sampson county and the Isle of Gigha where the trip began. In Gigha we discovered a large cemetery full of Galbraith's. Most of our detail info has came from and the courthouse in Cumberland Co. We have many gaps and continue to research. I am currently tracing Angus, with very little luck. It appears he traveled to Wilmington with Neil. The only birth info I show is "Scotland", but assume he traveled to Gigha from elsewhere in Scotland.


Dear Cousin Don, Thanks for your information. Cornelius Neil and Isabelle Brown were parents to Angus. They too came to N.C. and died and n Cumberland county even though I do not know where. I have always heard they all came here from Gigha. The other birth places I have found are Islay for Angus 1725 and Kilcalmonell & Kilberry Argyll for his wife Isabelle Thomson. Where they married. I am great great granddaughter to Daniel Maxwell Culbreth great grandson to Angus and grandson to his son Neil. Danny Mac was married to Jennett Maxwell whose family owned lots of land in Cumberland and Sampson Counties. Their house is still in the woods in the Clement area. He was a very interesting character. Look up Cumberland ploughboys and read about him. His daughter Rebekah was my great grandmother. She also married Blackman Williams who was also a ploughboy. I have just started my and am waiting for results. Any information I can share I am happy to do so. Sincerely, Lynn Frances


I have traced two of my ancestors to the original 1739 landing from Scotland. They were "landed" gentlemen in the group, although not named in your record as one of the leaders. They were named William Stewart (b 1707) & his older brother Patrick Stewart (5th Laird of Ledcreich & Stronslany, in Perthshire Scotland, b 1697). I'd like to find a record of the names of the ~350 people who came on this 1st landing from Scotland. Is there some document or record you would recommend to read?


Hi Mike... I know its been a couple of years, but did you ever hear about about a list of the highlanders? I am a 6th great granddaughter of William Stewart, brother of Patrick. I have since stumbled on to the Stewarts (via TN, MS) that ended up in Louisiana. It says that there was possibly a William Stewart White or White family among the passengers. The LA Stewarts claim these White's as cousins. There is also account that William Stewart White was named for our ancestor. I'd be grateful to any information you may have and since you are related too, hello long lost cousin.

Char Waughtel


Hi Char! I am researching the Stewart line of Louisiana and saw your entry. My 6th gg was Dougald Stewart 1734-1805 born in Argyll ,Scotland died in Sampson County ,NC. He arrived in Wilmington NC in 1775. He is the son of John Henry Herbert Stewart - according to my tree on it appears that my 13th gg was King James V. I am just trying to clarify that info and was interested in the list of immigrants you had mentioned in your post.



I am a descendant of a Dougald Stewart of Sampson County, NC. I wonder if we are researching the same line?


Hi Sallie and Robert, I am interested in Dugald Stewart 1734-1805. His son James Daniel Stewart married Lilly Stewart I think. Lilly was the natural daughter of Lt Col Allan Stewart of Invernahyle, and all four of the people mentioned above were of course on the Jupiter of Larne. I would like to know the origins of Dugald (ie the line he descends from). Why?

I am investigating a Stewart line (sitting here in Scotland) and have YDNA tested this line recently. It is of Appin and possibly of Fasnacloich but final bits of testing underway. The link to Dugald??? Four of my Stewart descendants have Lilly Stewart in their autosomal DNA but it’s entirely possible that they have James Daniel Stewart’s line rather than her as all her descendants will have his genetics as they were married.

I note, Robert, that you are a Stewart male. Have you DNA tested at all? Sallie, likewise as your autosomal might yield some clues. Happy to exchange emails if that is allowed on this group…

Off to Appin in a fortnight. Happy to take photos of any areas of interest.

I note also others in this group have an interest in Ledcreich Stewarts and link to those on board Thistle. Recommend Stewarts of Balquhidder Research Group on Facebook that I am part of. Ledcreich Stewarts descend from the Balquhidder area. I live about 30 minutes east of there and happy to photo anything of interest.


Hello Shuna,

I am also unsure how to private message via this website.

I have not yet had my DNA tested but am interested in doing so.

Family lore is that they are descended from the Appin Stewarts but I have not yet been able to definitively prove that this Dugal (Dougal, Dougald) Stewart is from that line.

Have been to Appin once before. It is beautiful country. Is current DNA testing precise enough to distinguish between the sub branches of the Appin Stewart family (Fasnacloich, Ardsheal, Invernahyle, Achnacone, etc.)?

Have tried to contact Sallie Duncan above but have thusfar been unsuccessful.

Best regards,



do you know if there is a list of names?

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