Another immigrant family to USA that might not be a Scottish noble?

+10 votes

There are many online biographies of Matthew Campbell Rhea that state that he was a Campbell of Skipnish (or Skipness) who was involved in the Monmouth rebellion was arrested and imprisoned but escaped to Ireland, changing his name to Rhea (or variations) whose sons/grandsons eventually immigrated to the Carolinas or Virginia.

Some of the biographies indicate that this has never been proven, but others just accept it as fact and that seems to be what is currently on WikiTree where he is the son of Walter Campbell of Skipnish and his first or second wife, Jean Campbell.

Part of the problem of trying to work out what, of any, of the above might be correct is finding some reliable sources for the Campbells of Skipnish.  The only one I've been able to find is The Heraldry of the Campbells which doesn't cite any sources.

However if this is correct, the Matthew Campbell, son of Walter Campbell of Skipnish (no. 487 on page 19) is the son of the second wife Anne Stewart, and as their marriage contract was dated 17 Jan 1681, Matthew would be far too young to have participated in a rebellion in 1685.

I'm not sure where to go next to research this, and not being able to confirm any details about the Rhea's in Ireland including a marriage between Matthew Rhea and Jenot Baxter on 27 Apr 1687 in Derry Cathedral is a problem.

I do think though that the planned merge between Rhea-46 and Campbell-26062 shouldn't go ahead, and that Campbell-26062 should be altered to reflect the information in the source I've linked to above.

Any other ideas?


WikiTree profile: Matthew Campbell Rhea
asked in Genealogy Help by John Atkinson G2G6 Pilot (291k points)

It looks like a similar conversation began on a message board in 2006, seen here: It says its but I can view it without a subscription. This person starts things off citing information from the Midlothian Parish and Probate Records for Captain Mathew Campbell of Skipness being a different person than Matthew "The Rebel" Rhea.

3 Answers

+5 votes
John, I'm only going to address the last part of your question.

It does look like the profiles would eventually have to be merged : they have the same name and similar dates and they are both married to a Jenot/Janet Baxter and both have a son Matthew born about the same time (and duplicate granddaughters, great-grandchildren...) That leaves little chance of the profiles being meant to represent two different men. Unless Walter and Jean Campbell really had a son Matthew who married Magdalene Kinloch - and even in this case, I'm not sure it would be worth preserving Rhea-46 (and disconnecting most of the profiles currently attached and the wife).

So - and this is the point of view of an arborist, not of a genealogist - my suggestion would be to merge the two profiles, of course after having made sure of the LNAB and disconnected the parents from Rhea-46. The merge was proposed three days ago so there is still more that three weeks to sort this out. Once a merge is completed it does not mean the research is over.

(and speaking of research it might be worth investigating the descendants too... there's no trace of a source there for several generations).

I'm curious to see how this will turn out. The case of two clear duplicates with one attached to highly dubious parents is quite often met with. (And I'm sorry, because I'm well aware this does not answer your question at all).
answered by Isabelle Rassinot G2G6 Pilot (194k points)

I've since discovered that there is proof that a Captain Mathew Campbell, merchant in Glasgow married Magdalene Kinloch, sister to Sir Francis Kinloch of Gilmerton on 25 December 1710 at Edinburgh.

It's in the Edinburgh Marriage Register on page 91 and it can also be found in the ScotlandsPeople website.  The ScotlandsPeople website also has baptisms for at least 4 children; a son John, baptised 19 Feb 1712 and three daughters; Mary, baptised 16 June 1713, Jean, baptised 10 Feb 1715 and Elizabeth, baptised 8 Oct 1716.

Captain Matthew Campbell, must have died before 20 April 1729 because that's the date his widow married Francis Dunlop or Dunlap of that Ilk according to page 166 of Edinburgh Marriage Register.

The History of Parliament article for Daniel Campbell, 3rd son of Walter Campbell, Captain of Skipness, mentions he was often in partnership with his brother Matthew (in the first paragraph) and Matthew must have been younger than Daniel, because the article for their brother John indicates he is the second son, and presumably Angus who succeeded to Skipness as in The Heraldry of the Campbells I've referred to in my original question, is the eldest son.

So Matthew Campbell, son of Walter Campbell of Skipness, has to have been born after 1672 (and can't be Matthew Campbell Rhea, who is fighting in a rebellion in 1685).

It seems likely that The Heraldry of the Campbells is correct and this Matthew Campbell married Magdalene Kinloch in 1710, had from other sources had 4 children and died before 1729.  Something else I saw suggested that Matthew Campbell wasn't just a merchant, but Captain of a merchant ship.

So if we merge the Campbell and Rhea profiles, do we then create a new profile for the real Matthew Campbell?  And disconnect Magdalene Kinloch from Campbell Rhea and connect up to that profile?

I think so - especially as none of the children currently attached to the Rhea-46 profile match Capt. Matthew Campbell's known children. And recycling Rhea-46 would mean changing the LNAB to Campbell and creating an indirection anyway.

Also I think that having a clearly defined profile for the real Matthew son of Walter Campbell might marginally help prevent confusion with Matthew Rhea?

It's odd that none of the siblings of Rhea-46 match any of Matthew Campbell's known brothers. The duplicate for his father, Walter Campbell, has all three correct sons attached though.

EDIT - and since that makes Rhea-46 a conflated profile, it should not be merged until the conflation is fixed.

Isabelle, I think it is interesting how you say the merge should have gone ahead (at first) "as an arborist". Is that not affected by evidence such as the impossible conflict between birth and rebellion years which John found?

To put it another way, would it be best if John had accompanied his discoveries with some date changing on the profiles to match what he discovered? Problem fixed then?

I did say the merge should eventually go ahead. The profiles looked like they were intended to represent the same person. But the conflict should be resolved first.

Walter Campbell's son Matthew and the man who allegedly escaped to Ireland after the Monmouth rebellion cannot be the same person. The conflict is resolved by determining which of these two the Rhea-46 profile is really supposed to be.

... If the profile is determined to represent the Monmouth rebel (which was my initial supposition) then yes, I believe it is fine to disconnect it from parents and second wife. The profiles should not be merged as long as one of them is connected to Walter Campbell and his wife, and once it's disconnected, the birth date of their real son no longer applies.

And I don't think it would be best if John had accompanied his discoveries with some date changing. It is best to bring the discoveries to be discussed, which is what John did.
I also think it's quite normal to take several days to fix a situation like this... lather, rinse, repeat...

OK I did find the marriage of Mathew Reagh and Jenot Baxter on 27 April 1687 at Derry Cathedral in Ireland Marriages database in FamilySearch.

I never quite trust some of these FamilySearch databases particularly when it is an index but it is a source that indicates that Mathew Reagh or Rhea actually existed.

I agree that it seems best to detach Matthew Rhea from his Campbell parents (should we change his LNAB to Reagh?) and then merge the Campbell-26062 into that one.

Thanks for that explanation Isabelle! I do think showing people such rationales has a wider impact. I hope so anyway. I see it a bit like the setting of precedents in some legal systems.
It looks like Reagh would be a more suitable LNAB for Mathew, I agree, though it's really not my province. I wish another person well used to working on Irish profiles could chime in on this. There doesn't seem to be any evidence that Matthew Rhea/Reagh was from Scotland.
+2 votes
This is oddly coincidental to me, as these names are coming up as side notes in my own research. Who knows what will mean something to someone so I'll throw my coincidence in.

I am trying to collect sources to make a profile for my direct ancestor, Edward Mason. With my shiny new Fold3 membership (Thank you source-a-thon!) I was able to see his revolutionary war pension testimony (given in 1832, when he was almost ninety at his best guess) describing his tours served under Capt Isaac Campbell and Col William Campbell in 1780. He also states he came from England to America when he was fifteen years old and was "sold out to pay his passage and was bought by the widow of Archibald Rhea of Augusta County, Va..." He lived with her for four years. (page 5 of Fold3 collection of Edward Mason S.4181). There is no marriage information in these records, but unsourced FamilySearch trees hint Edward's marriage was in 1770 at Aspenvale, which was the home of William Campbell.

If I run a Google search for Archibald Rhea, looking for anything about Edward Mason, I stumble all over this Campbell Rhea business. I was checking out the Wikitree profile of Archibald Rhea, currently connected as the son of the above Matthew Campbell Rhea and I found this G2G question. It seems Archibald Rhea and Revolutionary War Hero William Campbell lived in the same colonial Virginia area and my ancestor was there as well. One of Edward's granddaughters (Mason-13141) also married a William S Campbell in 1839 Tennessee.

Hopefully this information hints toward something helpful. In any case, I am interested in what you might turn up.
answered by Sarah Mason G2G6 Mach 1 (17.1k points)
Hello.  My 5th GGF was Archibald Baxter Rhea, who you mentioned.  Edward Mason is mentioned in a book by Edward Foley, The Descendents of Matthew “The Rebel” Rhea on page 3 as having worked for the widow Rhea according to The National Archives, Washington D.C.  He also went to Knox County where many of the Rheas relocated.  

According to this book, the names of Archibald’s descendents and the association of his line and that of Matthew Jr, Archibald’s brother lead to the conclusion that Archibald Baxter Rhea was also the son of the rebel, Matthew Campbell Rhea, originally of Argyll, Scotland.  This is also documented in the Rhea Family papers, In Nashville, TN, by senator John Rhea.   I would love to hear from someone from Clan Campbell for some confirmation of all of this history.
Thanks for a new lead, Julie! I can't access the book online because it is too new. Does it happen to mention any more detail about the National Archives bit, like a microfilm roll number? With some luck and focused digging I might be able to find some digitized microcopy on
It says Revolutionary War pension Application S.4.181, National Archives, Washington D.C.  That is the only # provided.  Do you have his DOB or date of death?  I can send you a copy of the page, but I would need your email I think.  Not sure how to do it on this website.  What is a Fold 3 membership?
Fold3 is a site focused on U.S. military records and service. Viewing most things requires a paid subscription but you can see some document images for free if you register and every so often they have promotions where they allow a whole collection to be viewed for free. I don't usually have paid subscriptions so I was pretty excited about winning it in the source-a-thon drawings.

I think the National Archives record referenced in the book is probably the same pension application I viewed on that site, it has the same record number. I'm really hoping there might be some official record of his indenture somewhere or something that tells me the ship he travelled on. He has a profile now, Mason-13583. I'm still working on getting my research notes on it.
Thank you for the information.  Good luck with your research.  Please let me know if you come across anything on Archibald Rhea or his widow and I will let you know if I come across anything else on your ancestor.  I know the settlement in Virginia was Scotch-Irish and the were Protestants mostly Presbyterians.  I think they also received land grants in Tennessee for serving in the military.
0 votes
I'm eating crow. I just rejected a merge between two apparent duplicates , one of them integrated to a very dubious line (

If this issue is not sorted out within a week the merge should at least be postponed.
answered ago by Isabelle Rassinot G2G6 Pilot (194k points)

Related questions

+3 votes
2 answers
+10 votes
2 answers
168 views asked Jun 11, 2015 in Policy and Style by James McDonald G2G4 (4.1k points)
+10 votes
2 answers
211 views asked May 23, 2015 in Genealogy Help by Anne B G2G6 Pilot (956k points)
+8 votes
3 answers
+4 votes
4 answers
243 views asked Jan 19, 2017 in Genealogy Help by Anne Tichborne G2G6 Mach 2 (27k points)

WikiTree  ~  About  ~  Help Help  ~  Search Person Search  ~  Surname:

disclaimer - terms - copyright