David Dinsmore, Ulster-Scots Loyalist in South Carolina and Nova Scotia Exile: Every Life Worth a Novel (3)

Belfast Newsletter, 4 Sept 1767 Earl Announcement
Belfast Newsletter, 4 Sept. 1767

2. From Immigration to the Revolution

David Dinsmore and his wife Margaret left Ireland from Belfast on 7 October 1767.[1]  After their arrival in Charleston on 10 December 1767, they received their bounty land grant on the same day (22 December) on which, as noted previously, the South Carolina Council Journal documented the names and ages of the settlers arriving aboard the Earl of Donegal.  The grant of 150 acres—100 for David and 50 for Margaret—is recorded in the Council Journal immediately after the list of new settlers was entered into the Journal.[2]

The Council Journal’s listing of land grants for the Earl of Donegal settlers states in each case that the immigrants received land grants in either Long Cane or Craven County, without providing more specific information about the location of the land grants.  All Ulster immigrants arriving together on a single ship under the terms of the 1761 bounty act were not usually given grants in the same location, probably because the colony’s government feared what might happen if new citizens with close ties and a strong history of pulling together to resist oppressive government were congregated in the same locations.

The precise location of Dinsmore’s 150-acre land grant does appear in the South Carolina colonial plat records’ recording of the grant, which shows that per a precept dated 22 December 1767, 150 acres south of the Tyger River in Craven County had been surveyed for David Dinsmore.[3]  The plat shows that the tract was bordered by the Tyger on the north and vacant land on all other sides, with a creek running through it north to south and a spring branch feeding Jamey’s Creek originating in the south part of the tract.  The land was certified to David Dinsmore on 27 February 1768, with William Wofford issuing the certificate.

S213184001400510Colonial Plat Series 8 Bit Gray 300dpi Scanned By: Tom Legge
Plat, 1768 Bounty Land Grant to David Dinsmore, South Carolina Colonial Plats 14, #510.

Several months later on 13 May, a South Carolina royal grant for 100 acres was also recorded for Dinsmore in Craven County on the south side of Tyger.[4]  Since the royal grants were an attempt to create an alternate list of the colonial land grants, it seems very likely that this is simply a re-recording of the original bounty grant, though why the grant would have been reduced to 100 acres in this entry when every other reference to the tract shows it as 150 acres is murky.  (It should be noted that if Dinsmore’s age as recorded in the initial South Carolina Council Journal entry of the Earl of Donegal settlers is correct, he was actually under the age of 20 specified by the 1761 bounty act for land grants of 100 acres.)

Dinsmore, David, SC Royal Grants 17, p. 257
South Carolina Royal Grants 17, #257.

At some point soon after he obtained his land grant, Dinsmore appears to have sold the tract to John Langston, or Langston later acquired it from someone else, since when he sold 150 acres in Ninety-Six District (later Spartanburg County) to James Beard on 27 January 1789, the deed notes that the land was on the south side of the Tyger and had been granted to David Dunaman on 13 May 1768 (Spartanburg DB B, pp. 233-4).  (Deeds for David and his family appear in Spartanburg County deed books with the surname spelled Densmore, Dunaman, Dunamore, and Dunsmore.)  This deed also notes that Langston had lived on the land previously.  As will be seen later, when Dinsmore filed his Loyalist land claim in Nova Scotia in 1786, he noted that his family’s residence was on a tract of 250 acres he had purchased from John Kissler in 1774.

Dinsmore was still evidently the owner of his original grant of 150 acres on 6 January 1773, however, since a land grant bearing that date to James Sloan, a member of the Rev. William Martin party of settlers, states that Sloan’s tract of 250 acres was on a small branch of the waters of the Tyger bounded south by John McCrory, west by John Raynard, David Dinsmore, and Jacob Earnest, and east by John White and William Dunlap.[5]  It’s tempting to think that Dunlap is the man of that name who is listed among the Earl of Donegal immigrants in December 1767.

On 10 December 1774, Dinsmore bought 250 acres on Jamey’s Creek of the Tyger from John and Hannah Kissler (Spartanburg DB B, pp. 452-5).  Kissler (or Keighler, Kighler, or even Meighler: these spellings are found in other documents)[6] was in this region by 5 December 1769, when a land grant to Richard Chesney shows that the 150 acres granted to Chesney on Jamey’s Creek bordered John Keighler on the south.[7]  This deed is interesting, too, because it’s a land grant to someone who appears to be closely related to a Chesney family that, as will be discussed later, came to South Carolina from the vicinity of Ballymena in Co. Antrim, Ireland, some of whose members came along with the party of Rev. William Martin in 1772.

And so by the end of 1774, David and Margaret Dinsmore had settled on a farm of 250 acres in what would become Spartanburg Co., South Carolina.  Various documents that will be discussed later suggest that by this date the couple had at least two and possibly three children: Mary (b. abt. 1770), John (b. 15 September 1774), and perhaps James, whose birth appears to fall somewhere in the decade 1770-1780.  Dinsmore had cleared a portion of the land and had begun a working farm that, if his Loyalist land claim in Canada is to be credited, had begun to prove bountiful and valuable.

And then the revolution arrived.

This is the third posting in a nine-part series about this topic. The previous posting in this series is here, and the next posting in the series is here. That posting will end with a link taking you to the next in the series, if you’re interested in following this series to the end.

[1] The sailing date, which is several weeks later than the date for departure advertised in the Belfast Newsletter on 14 August and 4 September, appears in an announcement the Newsletter (#3178) printed on 2 February 1768 (p. 1, col. 1).  This states that the Earl of Donegal, which had sailed from Belfast on 7 October, had arrived in Charleston after a passage of eight weeks.

[2] South Carolina Council Journal 8 (1767), p. 323.

[3] South Carolina Colonial Plats 14, #510.

[4] South Carolina Royal Grant Book 17, #257; South Carolina Council Journal 9, p. 137, 13 May 1768; and South Carolina Memorial Grant Book 8, p. 191.

[5] South Carolina Colonial Plats 19, #517; South Carolina Memorial Book 2, p. 370.

[6] A 10 July 1792 deed of James Woodruff to Nathaniel Woodruff for land on Jamey’s Creek spells the name as Keighler (Spartanburg DB G, pp. 42-44).  In the 5 October 1797 deed of John Jackson to Zachariah Leatherwood for land on Jamey’s Creek, the name is given as Kighler (ibid., pp. 135-6). David Dinsmore’s 1786 Loyalist claim in Nova Scotia, cited below, will render the name as Meighler.

[7] South Carolina Colonial Plats 14, #71.

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