The Aberna (e) thy Family History
.The legendary beginning of the Abernathy or Abernethy name is from the 5th century
AD in Scotland. The name is first mentioned, as a church, in the famous Pictish Chronicles,
which lists the founder of the church at Abernethy as King Nectan (Nathan) about
the year 470 AD. He may have been the Nectan who was converted to Christianity at
Restinoth, the monastery in the parish of Forfar, by Boniface, an Israelite and a
descendant of the Jonah, father of the apostles Peter and Andrew. According to the
Chronicles, Nectan had been banished to Ireland by his brother, but St.
Brigid of Ireland had prophesied that he would return to possess the kingdom
in peace. When he did return as prophesied, he built the church at Abernethy to honor
St. Brigid, who is said to have died there in 518 AD. Later, a second larger church
was built there by King Gartnaith. In the 8th Century AD, the holy man, St. Donald
lived with his nine virgin daughters at Ogilvy in Forfarshire. After he died, his
daughters moved to Abernethy and established a monastery near Banff in Scotland,
though legend says that they first lived in a hollowed out tree. The monastery at
Abernethy, with its famous, still existing tower,
built about 850 AD, is one of the three most famous towers in Britain. This tower
was used as place of refuge by King Malcolm III and his family. The location of this
church, near Perth, is at the confluence of the mouths of the Earn and Tay Rivers.
The Nethy river flows into the Tay
very close to Abernethy Church, which in Gaelic means- by the ford (Aber) of the
River Nethy. Another possible meaning of the name is Ab Earn Ne Tay, meaning by the
ford of the rivers Earn and Tay.
A charter concerning the parish of Abernethy was written near the end of the 11th century AD by Ethelred, son of King Malcolm Canmore (Malcolm III of Scotland). Ethelred was the last Lay Abbot and first secular peer of Abernethy. Ethelred, whose name in Gaelic is Aehd, may have married the granddaughter of Luloch, a King of Scotland who was slain by Malcolm III, and Aehd's sons appear to have continued as secular heads of the Abernethy parish. The charter, written by Ethelred, was the first use of the name Abernethy by anyone. Scottish history relates that Malcolm Ceann Mor (Canmore or Big Head), son of the slain Duncan I, was the man who defeated and slew MacBeth about 1057 AD (See Shakespeare) and that he married St. Margaret about 1070. After facing a battle with William Rufus (William II of England), Malcolm III decided to pledge an oath of allegiance at Abernethy to William I (The Conqueror) in 1072. However, he did not keep his word and continued to launch attacks across the Northern English border. Malcolm was ambushed and slain at Alnwick in England in November, 1093, and his wife Margaret died a few days later, but several of their children became Kings of Scotland, and a Queen of England. St. Margaret was canonized as a Saint of the Roman Catholic Church on June 19, 1250.
The Abernethy family seat was located at Caprow, where remains of a Roman Villa and baths have been unearthed. By the year 1100 AD, the church at Abernethy had expanded to become a large parish, which was first administered by Lay Abbots. For several hundred years the secular power of the parish was inherited by the eldest son of the nobility. The Abernethy family was one of only three families which had the religious privilege of giving Sanctuary (a form of religious protection from punishment by Civil law authorities.)
The first famous Secular peer of the Culdee monastery at Abernethy was Hugh De Abernethy, possibly the grandson of Ethelred (Aedh). The Culdees were primitive Christian priests of Pictish or Scottish origin, discovered in Britain in the 6th Century AD by St. Augustine. Hugh's son was named Ormly or Orm, and he received royal grants of land from King William the Lion. Orm's son was Lawrence, the first to use Abernethy as a surname. He was born about 1167 AD. Lawrence's son was named Hugh, born about 1197. Hugh was involved in a minor insurrection against King Alexander III, when he abducted the young King briefly, but was later pardoned by the King. However, later Sir Hugh was involved with his sons Patrick and William, and Sir William Percy in the assassination of the regent, the Earl of Fife. When the plotters were arrested, Percy was executed, Sir Hugh and son William died in prison, but the actual assassin, Patrick, escaped to France and lived there until his death. Hugh's remaining son was Alexander, whose mother was known as Mary, Queen of Man. Alexander became involved in Scotland's struggle to preserve its independence, originally siding with Sir. William Wallace. But later, he changed sides and supported Edward I of England. In 1303, Edward appointed him as Warden of the area between the Firth of Forth and the Highlands. In 1312 he was sent by Edward II on an unsuccessful mission to Rome to intercede with the Pope against the Scots. After the defeat of Edward II at Bannockburn, the new Scottish King Robert the Bruce declared all of Alexander's holdings forfeit because of disloyalty. Because there was no other male heir in the Abernethy line, King Robert consented that all of the Abernethy estates could go to the daughters of Alexander. Margaret was married to the Sir Alexander Fraser of Philorth, Earl of Angus, Helen was married to the Earl of Crawford, and Mary married Sir Andrew, 6th Baron of Leslie, who along with William de Abernethy, signed the 1320 Declaration of Arbroath. When their marriage lasted more than six months, by English feudal law, all the Abernethy lands and titles reverted to Baron Leslie, and the Abernethys became a sept of the Leslie Clan. The third son of Baron Leslie, John, was the progenitor of the Earls of Rothes, who continued to quarter the Abernethy arms with those of Leslie. Sir Andrew died about 1324 and Lady Mary Abernethy married Sir David Lindsay in 1325. Their third son, Sir William of Lindsay of the Byres, married Catherine Muir and their descendants acquired the Leslie castle at Pitcaple. The Abernethy baronial title was later revived for William, a descendant of Patrick Abernethy. It continued with Sir Lawrence Abernethy, who in 1445 became the first Lord Saltoun. There is a tenuous connection with the house of Bruce to the Abernethy line, in that William de Abernethy (1365-1420) married Maria, daughter of the Duke of Albany, the third son of King Robert II, the grandson of Robert the Bruce. The death of the 9th Lord Saltoun in 1668, without children, ended the ancient line of the Abernethy nobility. However, the name continued on with the Duke of Hamilton, a descendant of the 1st Marquess of Douglas, who was also created Lord Abernethy in 1633, and many other commoner descendants maintained the Abernethy name throughout Scotland, and in England and Ireland. In Italy, it is is called Abernetti and in Sweden it is Ebbernet. The Abernethy's of Barrie, Angus, Scotland, could have been the ancestors of Robert and probably William Abernethy, who were the first Abernethys to emigrate to America in the 1650's. However there is no definite proof that the Abernethys of Barrie were descended from the Lord of Saltoun.
Another early Abernathy emigrant to the colonies was William Abernathy, a Scots-Irish, who married Sarah Samuels. William was born about 1700, probably in Ulster, Northern Ireland, William emigrated to Western Pennsylvania in the early 1700's, but later lived in Winchester, Virginia with his wife and family until his death about 1780. The Scots-Irish were Protestants who had moved from Scotland to Northern Ireland in the early 1600's, at the encouragement of the new King of Great Britian, James I, who had been King James VI of Scotland. The Scots-Irish sided with the Protestants agains King James I, and supported William of Orange (William III), but later felt betrayed by him, and many of them emigrated to America. William Abernathy had a least two sons, John and James, and James Abernaty, born about 1747, married Anne Clarke, and lived in what is now West Virginia. James had a son named John, born about 1772. John had several children by a Mary Lucy while in Virginia, and after 1800 he moved his second wife, Elizabeth and his family to the Northwest territory of Ohio, living in Ross County, Ohio for many years. He worked as a tanner in 1850. He moved to Darlington, Mongomery County, Indiana before he died there in 1855. His oldest son was named John A. Abernathy.
John A. Abernathy moved with his family to Ohio, but while there, some of them were captured and tortured by Indians, and bore the scars all their lives. The family lived in Ross County for many years, until moving to Wapello Co., Iowa, where John owned a tavern with his wife Elizabeth (Brouse), in 1850. One of his sons was named George P. Abernathy. George moved with his brother William to Logan Co., Illinois, and later to Parke Co. Indiana, where he was married to Sarah Evans. George's wife Sarah gave birth to a son John, but Sarah and her second son Milton both died in 1849 . George then returned to Parke Co., Indiana, then later moved to Wapello Co., Iowa where his parents lived, in the spring of 1850. From there, George went to Agency City, Iowa, then to LaHarpe, Hancock Co., Illinois, then back to Wapello Co., Iowa. Later he moved to Sullivan Co., Missouri, but in the late 1850's he went with his three brothers to the Oregon Territory and engaged in mining in Oregon and Idaho. He and his three brothers worked together, but two stayed in Idaho, one in Utah, while George returned to Iowa in 1863. He married his second wife, Elizabeth Griggs, and started a large second family.
George's first son John, by his late wife Sarah, lived in Clark Co. Iowa on his own farm, and had four children by his wife, Margaret Gearhart, three girls and one boy. The oldest child was Mary Daisey, born in 1877. The second child was Peter Lemuel, born in September, 1879. It was the local custom to send the boys out to be a farm laborer at the neighboring farms at a young age, and by 1890, Pete was working on a farm, and he did not receive much of an education. He was still working as a farm laborer by the age of 21, in 1900 in Marion County, Iowa. About 1907 he met and married a school teacher from Albia, Iowa, named Anna Castle, a graduate of Darmouth College. Her family was from South Carolina and Pennsylvania. The married couple moved to Bushnell, Nebraska, following other members of the Abernathy and Allen families, and there, in December of 1909. their first son, Glenn Byron Abernathy was born. Later, Roy and Newton were born in Bushnell. Then the family moved to Mountain Grove, in the Ozarks of Missouri where Mary Edith was born. When Byron started picking up the local accent, Anna decided it was time to move, so they went to Ottowa, Kansas and bought an 80 acre farm. Some years later they moved to Baldwin City, Kansas and then to near Sterling, Kansas. When the Depression set in, the Lemuel Abernathy family sold their land at a loss and moved out to Albany, Oregon, at the recommendation of Emmet Castle, a cousin of Anna. Later, Byron married Vera Huffman at her parents homestead in Benton County, and they had four boys, Glenn Donald, Robert Alan, Keith George, and Gary Warren, all good Scottish Abernathy names.
Among the most famous Abernathys and Abernethys in history is George Abernethy, originally from Ohio, though born in New York City in 1807 . He became the first Governor of the Oregon Territory in 1845. In northwestern Oregon, there are many landmarks and structures named after him. In Ireland, John Abernethy (1680-1720) was famous as a Presbyterian minister and theologian who took an early stand against the Test Act of 1673 which barred Roman Catholics from office and was not repealed until 1828. Another John Abernethy (1764-1831) may have been the most popular medical lecturer in the history of British medicine. He was a surgeon and author of pioneering works on the treatment of disease, a celebrity in his practice and an honored lecturer in London. He is credited with the discovery of fulminating mercury, which contributed to the development of modern handguns. Lewis Grover Abernathy, born in 1888, was a well-known Professor of physics and mathematics noted for his work on wave-length of satellites of Green Mercury Line 5461. In Texas around the turn of the 20th century, lived John "Catch Em Alive Jack" Abernathy, a famous lawman and trapper of live wolves, catching them with his bare hands. His legendary life is recounted in "Who's Who of Western America" and "The Ride of The Abernathy Boys". Another well known Abernathy in the 20th century was Jack H. Abernathy who died in l996. He had been named as one of "The Most Influential Oilmen of the Century", a member of the Oklahoma Hall of Fame, and "An Oil Pioneer" (by the University of Oklahoma) with many other honors. John Abernethy , M.D., PhD, is a dermatopathologist with the University of South Alabama in Mobile, an assistant professor of pathology who has researched certain skin cancers and skin problems. Pamela Abernethy is a Circuit Court Judge of the 3rd Judicial District in Salem, Oregon.
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