James Adair biography

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Working site for accurate biography for James Adair, author of "History of the American Indians." Most of this appears to be copied from other sites and is undocumented.


Google doc

spreadsheet with documented dates for James Adair, author and James Adair of North Carolina at compare


All pictures found on the Internet supposedly of James Adair, author

NCPedia article: [1]

Find-A-Grave: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/65263142

Newspaper articles: see attached images

William Curry Harllee Kinfolks : a genealogical and biographical record of Thomas and ELizabeth (Stuart) Harllee, Andrew and Agnes (Cade) Fulmore, digitized on Ancestry.


Below is the text from the original bio for the combined man, sorted by person. It appears to be mostly a copy-and-paste of the NCPedia article, which was based on the newspaper article attached as an image.


In Charleston, S.C., five years later, he became a partner to Indian trader George Galphin. In the first decade of his perilous career, he traded with the Catawbas and Cherokees. In 1744 he first traded with the Chickasaws; in 1747, at the behest of Governor James Glenn of South Carolina, he went on an expedition to open trade with the Choctaws. Although Adair escaped from many types of imprisonment, his most difficult escape came when he was taken by the French who had controlled Choctaw trade until Adair interfered. He was scheduled to be hanged, but managed an escape, the details of which are not known. Governor Glenn, meantime, sent out an expedition to gain control of Adair's Chickasaw trade and then refused to pay the £2,200 Adair had spent on his expedition to the Choctaw country. Adair never forgave Glenn.

Adair resumed his travels and in the 1750s was trading among the Indians of the Carolinas. In the Cherokee war of 1760, Adair received a captain's commission and led the Chickasaws against the Cherokees.

Throughout his years among the Indians, Adair kept notes. There is no record of his education, but he practiced medicine among the Indians. He wrote that he was "well acquainted with near 2,000 miles of the American continent," mostly in what is now the southern and southeastern United States. For two or three years after 1765 Adair was in America trading with the Chickasaws and Choctaws out of Mobile. Late in 1768, he was in New York trying unsuccessfully to find a publisher for his book, History of American Indians, in which he tried to prove his theory that the Indians were the lost tribes of Israel; the book was published in London in 1775. In 1770 An Irishman, he was in South Carolina by 1735, later serving as an Indian agent under George III. Adair was a trader to the Chickasaws and lived among them and the Cherokees. In 1775, his book, The History of the American Indians, was published in London, England. He left descendants among the Cherokees and Chickasaws. [1]

Lived Among Cherokees And Chickasaws For Forty Years

ADAIR, James (c1709-1783), pioneer Indian trader, author, is said to have been born in County Antrim, Ireland. The dates given above are merely conjectural. The known facts of his life are few, gathered in the main from the personal incidents narrated in his book, The History of the American Indians (1775) and occasional references in South Carolina chronicles. A recent book, Adair History and Genealogy (1924), by J.B. Adair, gives many biographical details purporting to be based on family tradition, but few of them are verifiable by any available records. It is certain that Adair was highly educated. By 1735 he had come to America, probably entering at the port of Charleston, SC. In that year he engaged in trade with the Catawbas and Cherokees, continuing with them until 1744. He then established himself among the Chickasaws, whose villages were on the headwaters of the Yazoo, in Mississippi, where he remained for about six years. During the latter part of this period he frequently visited the Choctaws, in an effort to counteract the influence of the French and to win them to an alliance with the English. The effort was successful, but it involved him in difficulties with other traders and with James Glen, royal governor of South Carolina from 1743 to 1756, which resulted, he asserts, in his financial ruin. In 1751 he moved to District Ninety-six (the present Laurens County), SC, and resumed trade with the Cherokees, remaining there until about the end of 1759. His activities during these years covered a wide range. He was several times called in council by Gov. Glen, with whom he could never agree and whom he heartily detested. Among the Indians he was a diplomat and a peace maker, but he was also a fighter--"a valiant warrior," says Logan; and when he could not compose their quarrels he not infrequently took sides in their wars. At various times he was engaged in conflicts with the French. In the Indian war of 1760-61 he commanded a band of Chickasaws, receiving his supplies by way of Mobile. In 1769 he visited New York City. Either then or a few years later he probably voyaged to London. Of his later life nothing authentic is recorded. He was, as the conclusion of his book amply shows, a vigorous defender of the rights of the colonies, but there appears to be no mention of him in Revolutionary annals. He is said to have been married and to have has several children and also to have died in North Carolina shortly after the close of the Revolution.

Adair is chiefly known through his history of the Indians. Primarily it is an argument that the Indians are the descendants of the ancient Jews. The theory was accepted by Elias Boudinot, on-time president of the Continental Congress, who gave it hearty support in his book, A Star in the West (1816) Adair's work has outlived its thesis. Its' account of the various tribes, their manners, customs, their manners, and vocabularies, its depiction of scenes and its narration of incidents in his own eventful career, give it a permanent value. It is a record of close and intelligent observation, and its' fidelity of fact has been generally acknowledged. The book must have required many years of toil. In his preface he says that it was written "among our old friendly Chickasaws" (doubtless during his second period of residence with them) and that the labor was attended by the greatest difficulties. Though some passages may subsequently have been added, it was probably finished by the end of 1768. In the Georgia Gazette, of Savannah, October 11, 1769, appeared an item dated February 27th of that year, apparently copied from a New York newspaper, announcing the arrival of Adair in New York and saying that "he intends to print the Essays". The care with which the book is printed indicates that he gave it personal supervision through the press. From the dedication it is evident that he had the friendship of the noted Indian traders, Col. George Galphin and Col. George Croghan (with the former of whom he may for a time have been in partnership) and Sir William Johnson; and from various references it is certain that he was highly respected by those who knew him. Logan credits him with the quick penetration of the Indian audacity, cool self-possession, and great powers of endurance, and Volwiler says that he was one of the few men of ability who personally embarked in the Indian trade. [J. H. Logan, A Hist. of the Upper Country of SC (1859); John Thos. Lee, letter in the Nation Aug 27, 1914; manuscript notes supplied by Robt. L. Meriwether; brief references in A.T. Volwriter, Geo. Croghan and the Westward Movement, 1741-1782 (1926) and Edward McCrady, Hist. of SC Under the Royal Government (1899).]


James Robert Adair, planter,eldest son of Thomas Adair, was born in County Antrim, Ireland. With his father and three brothers he came to the colonies in 1730, settling first in Pennsylvania near the present town of Chester.

Adair removed his family from Dobbs to Bladen (now Robeson) County, where he purchased a large plantation that he named Patcherly. Tradition has it that he served as physician with Francis Marion during the American Revolution; he lived in a Whig area where Marion often conducted military operations.

The most notable Whig of south Robeson, Archibald McKissack, witnessed Adair's will. Although by some reports Adair was buried in England in 1790, his will was probated in Bladen County in 1787. In it he left an inheritance to Robert Adair of County Antrim. The North Carolina Society of Colonial Dames was responsible for a granite shaft erected to honor him in August 1934 near Ashpole Presbyterian Church (Robeson County).

After Adair broke with Glenn in 1750, he moved to Johnston (later Dobbs, now Greene) County in North Carolina at the invitation of Governor Dobbs, his personal friend. He settled at Fairfields, a plantation home on Great Contentnea Creek named for Fairfield, Connecticut, the birthplace of his first wife, Ann McCarty, whom he had married on 18 Oct. 1744. They had three daughters, Saranna (m. William McTyer), Elizabeth (m. John Cade), and Agnes (m. John Gibson). References:

WILL OF JAMES ADAIR In the name of God, "Amen." I, James Adair in Bladen County in North Carolina, being weak but praises be to the Almighty God, in perfect sense and memory, I do humbly make and ordain this my last Will and Testament in manner and form following: I do recommend my soul to God who gave it hoping through the merits of my Lord and Blessed Savior Jesus Christ to obtain pardon of all my sins. My body I commit to the grave to be buried.

My Temporal Estate my just debts being paid I do humbly appoint my loving daughter Saranna McTyre my whole and sole Executor of this my last Will and Testament.

I give unto Robert Adair or his heirs near the town of Billymansborough and Nutrann a short mile of Gilgoram in the county of Antrim in Ireland ten pounds.

I give unto James Box or his heirs in the Island of Bennet the sum of nine pounds.

I give unto Alexander Johnston or his heirs in Ireland or his heirs in the county of Chester, Pennsylvania, the sum of seventeen pounds all proclamation money.

I give unto my daughter Saraanna McTyre, all my lands or improvements in Wilkinsons Swamp together with all my negroes and their increase to wit: Four negroes Pomp, Babby, Sam and Jack, two negro women named Hannah and Nelly, one negro girl named Lucy, my personal and real Estate both within and without doors, crop and stock together with all money, bonds, judgments, notes of hand, book accounts and debts whatsoever and whomsoever during her natural life and when my daughter Saraanna McTyre receives and collects in my money due on judgments, notes of hand and book debts, I desire it may be put out immediately on good security mortgages on improved lands and negroes until there is a fair and open trade from Guinea to this country for negro slaves, then to call in all the money into her hands immediately lay the money out in purchasing and buying negro slaves, boys and girls, and when bought then I give a part of the negroes so purchased and bought as has cost my executrix four hundred pounds proclamation money with their increase unto my daughter Elizabeth Hobson Cade during her life and at her death I give the said negroes with all their increase unto my three grandsons Stephen, James, and Washington Cade, and their heirs lawfully begotten forever, and the residue and remainder of the said purchase and bought negroes, after my daughter Cade has received her part and property as above mentioned then I give unto my daughter Susanna (sic) McTyer with all their increase during her life.

I give unto my grandson Adair McTyre the plantation whereon I now live one hundred acres more or less named Pached or Patcherly place on Wilkinson Swamp, together with all the improvements to him and his heirs lawfully begotten forever.

After my daughter Saranna McTyer's life I give unto my Grandson one plow horse and one cow and calf two sow pigs and all the working tools within and without doors, suitable for carrying on a crop and corn and provision both without and within doors, should anything happen after my daughter's life. I give all my other lands more or less unto my grandson William McTyer and his heirs lawfully begotten forever when he comes of age. I give unto my five grandchildren Adair, Elizabeth, Clark, Katrain, and William McTyer, all my negroes and their increase and my personal estate to be equally divided amongst them, to them and their heirs lawfully begotten forever after Saranna McTyre life.

I do give the free use of my means to my daughter Cades family as long as my daughter Saranna McTyre and Elizabeth Hobson Cade live convient one to another. I give unto my daughter Agnes Gibson and to John Gibson one Shilling sterling.

I do desire my daughter Saranna McTyer take my daughter Agnes Gibson into her family should it so happen she is a widow and only one child and no good home, and maintain she and her child during widowhood and until her child comes of age, in meat drink lodging washing.

I do desire none of my estate may be sold by order of Court, when goods come as cheap as they have in the year 1774. Then I do desire my Executrix will buy each of my daughters, Elizabeth Hobson Cade and Agnes Gibson a gown of Black Crepe and mourning ring.

In testimony of this my last Will and Testament I hereunto set my hand and seal, this twenty first day of September one thousand seven hundred and seventy eight.

James Adair (seal) Signed sealed and Witnessed Archd McKissack Benilla Bullard



Date: 1709
Place: Antrim, Antrim, Northern Ireland[3][4][5][6]


Death: Bladen or Robeson, North Carolina, USA
Date: 1783
Place: Bladen, North Carolina, USA[7][8][9]
Date: 1783
Place: Georgia, USA[10]
Date: 1783
Place: Georgia, USA[11]

Found multiple copies of DEAT DATE. Using 1783Array


Type: Arrival
Date: 1730
Place: Chester, Pennsylvania, USA[12]
Event: Brought father and 2 brothers to his land grant in this area.
Type: Arrival
Date: BET 1750 AND 1755
Place: Duncans Creek, Laurens, South Carolina, USA[13]


Husband: James Robert Adair
Wife: Ester Ann Anna McBride Hobson
Child: Isabel Matilda Adair
Relationship to Father: Natural
Relationship to Mother: Natural
Child: Sarah Ann Adair
Relationship to Father: Natural
Relationship to Mother: Natural
Child: Nancy Adair
Relationship to Father: Natural
Relationship to Mother: Natural
Child: Edward Adair
Relationship to Father: Natural
Relationship to Mother: Natural
Child: John Adair
Relationship to Father: Natural
Relationship to Mother: Natural
Date: 11 JUN 1734
Place: North Carolina, USA[14][15]
Date: 1753[16]
Husband: James Robert Adair
Wife: Isabella Lowery Hamilton
Child: Samuel Adair
Relationship to Father: Natural
Relationship to Mother: Natural
Date: 1754
Place: Virginia, USA[17]

Date: 1703
Place: Portpatrick, Wigtownshire, Scotland[18][19]
Date: 1709
Place: Antrim, Antrim, Northern Ireland[20]
Date: 1703
Place: Antrim, Antrim, Northern Ireland[21]


He was Dr. James Adair but, informally, "Robert" or "Robin."

In 1763 he went back to England. Legend has it that through his gallantry he became acquainted with a wealthy lady in whose London home he met Lady Caroline Keppel, daughter of the Earl of Albemarle. They fell in love, and her family, although objecting to the marriage, permitted the wedding in 1759 after a separation proved to affect Lady Caroline's health. During this separation from him she wrote the ballad, "Robin Adair." Three children were born to the couple (one son named Robert became a member of Parliament), and George III gave Adair an appointment in the field of medicine. Although Adair returned to America, he supposedly made trips back to England. Lady Caroline died in 1769 at the age of thirty-two.


  1. Trail of Tears by John Ehle, p198
  2. Source: Elizabethtown, Bladen Co., North Carolina, Record of Wills No. 1, p. 476, reprinted in "Kinfolks" by Wm. Harllee, pp. 1245-1247) Will of James Adair, 1778. "North Carolina Probate Records, 1735-1970," images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:939L-JG94-9Z?cc=1867501&wc=32LV-SPN%3A169763101%2C169827801 : 21 May 2014), Bladen > Wills, 1766-1883, Vol. 1 > image 273 of 337; county courthouses, North Carolina.
  3. Source: #S1 Page: Database online. Data: Text: Record for Margaret Henart
  4. Source: #S1 Page: Database online. Data: Text: Record for Margaret Henart
  5. Source: #S1 Page: Database online. Data: Text: Record for James Robert Adair
  6. Source: #S1 Page: Database online. Data: Text: Record for James Robert Adair
  7. Source: #S1 Page: Database online. Data: Text: Record for James Robert Adair
  8. Source: #S1 Page: Database online. Data: Text: Record for Margaret Henart
  9. Source: #S1 Page: Database online. Data: Text: Record for James Robert Adair
  10. Source: #S1 Page: Database online. Data: Text: Record for Margaret Henart
  11. Source: #S1 Page: Database online. Data: Text: Record for James Robert Adair
  12. Source: #S48 Page: page 146
  13. Source: #S48 Page: page147
  14. Source: #S1 Page: Database online. Data: Text: Record for James Robert Adair
  15. Source: #S1 Page: Database online. Data: Text: Record for James Robert Adair
  16. Source: #S1 Page: Database online. Data: Text: Record for James Robert Adair
  17. Source: #S1 Page: Database online. Data: Text: Record for James Robert Adair
  18. Source: #S1 Page: Database online. Data: Text: Record for Thomas Adair
  19. Source: #S1 Page: Database online. Data: Text: Record for Margaret Henart
  20. Source: #S1 Page: Database online. Data: Text: Record for Thomas Adair
  21. Source: #S1 Page: Database online. Data: Text: Record for Margaret Henart

  • WikiTree profile Adair-372 created through the import of Bowden-Riley Family.ged on Apr 16, 2012 by Sam Bowden. See the Changes page for the details of edits by Sam and others.
  • Source: S1 Author: Ancestry.com Title: Public Member Trees Publication: Name: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc.; Location: Provo, UT, USA; Date: 2006; Repository: #R1
  • Repository: R1 Name: www.ancestry.com Address: E-Mail Address: Phone Number:
  • Source: S48 Title: Adairs: History and Genealogy by James Barnett Adair

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