Tuesday’s Tip: Who was “General Proctor”?

Officers by the name of Proctor listed in, "The Battles of Trenton and Princeton" by William S. Stryker, 1898.
Officers by the name of Proctor listed in, “The Battles of Trenton and Princeton” by William S. Stryker, 1898.

McMurray Family (Click for Family Tree)

Tuesday’s Tip:

Do the math.

Review the timeline.

The family story that has been passed down is that “General Proctor” and his daughter Mary Proctor came to America from England at “the close of the war.” (See “Mystery Monday- The McMurrays in America“) For years we had thought that they were speaking of the Revolutionary War, so these index listings, found when researching Henry Horn, another McMurray ancestor, were intriguing. Could General Proctor have fought in the American Revolution? If so, which side was he on?

And what was his first name?? Since these officers are from Pennsylvania, and Mary Proctor and her husband settled in Pennsylvania, could one of them be her father, ‘our’ General Proctor?

Looking at this mystery again, though, makes a few lightbulbs go on- sometimes a bit more information or even time will help data make sense. We do know that Mary Proctor and her husband William McMurray were living in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, by 22 May 1819 when their son and our direct ancestor, Henderson McMurray, was born. Mary was 26 years old, and William 30.

Oops- we need to do the math. Since Mary was born in 1793 and William in 1789, “the close of the war” would have to be the War of 1812 if the letter from Aunt Ibe Raugh was speaking of an American war. Mary and William were not even born when the American Revolution was happening.

Doing the math and then looking at the timeline makes us realize that these officers are most likely not ‘our’ General Proctor.

The rambling mind of a genealogist, of course, wonders if any of these officers could be the brothers or cousins of Mary’s father, who induced them to immigrate…

The 1850 US Federal Census for Allegheny Twp., Blair County, Pennsylvania, states that William was born in Ireland, and Mary in Pennsylvania- NOT England, as in the family letter. The 1860 census for the same place states again that William was born in Ireland. Unfortunately Mary passed away in 1851, so we have no other census to note her birthplace. Was she born in England or Pennsylvania? Or in Ireland, as some unsourced Ancestry.com trees and her Find A Grave memorial state? This will need more research, though we have already looked for many years.

Keeping the math in mind and a timeline in view, it makes us realize that possibly we need to be looking at the War of 1812 records just in case General Proctor served in it, at the very end. If so, which side would he have been on? As an Englishman, did he come over to fight for the king and then decide to stay and become an American? Or did he fight in the war for the Brits and then, returning home, decide to bring his daughter back to America with him and start a new life? And was he really a General??

If we could find a marriage record for Mary and William, or names of any of her siblings, that might help us find out just who ‘General Proctor’ was, and we can go from there. Any other ideas?


Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. Mystery Monday- The McMurrays in America at http://heritageramblings.net/2014/04/07/mystery-monday-the-mcmurrays-in-america/
  2. The Battles of Trenton and Princeton by William S. Stryker, Houghton, Mifflin, and Company, The Riverside Press, Cambridge, 1898.
  3. 1850 US Federal Census for William and Mary (Proctor) McMurray- Year: 1850; Census Place: Allegheny, Blair, Pennsylvania; Roll: M432_755; Page: 259; Image: 520. http://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=1850usfedcenancestry&h=645319&ti=0&indiv=try&gss=pt
  4. 1850 US Federal Census for William McMurray- Year: 1860; Census Place: Allegheny, Blair, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1078; Page: 14; Image: 18; Family History Library Film: 805078. Ancestry.com.                                                                  5. Find A Grave memorial #128118060 for Mary J. Proctor McMurray- http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=128118060&ref=acom


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