Clugston One Name Study

There are about 2000 people in the world with the surname “Clugston”. Another 600 have the surname “Clogston”, and 300 have the surname “Cluxton”, and 100 have other spelling variants. Of these 3000 people, more than half live in the USA. There are 300 in Australia, and 200 in each of England, Canada, and Northern Ireland.

This website aims to prove that all of these 3000 people have a common ancestor. It appears that all Clugstons alive today are descendants of Patrick Clugstoun, born around 1480, the son of John Clugstoun, owner of the Barony of Clugstoun in Galloway, in the southwest of Scotland. Thanks to the extreme rarity of the surname, and some remarkable luck in the preservation of records, almost all Clugstons, Cluxtons, and Clogstons can be approximately traced back to this man. (In a traditional family history sense. Due to cases of adoption and undeclared paternity, in some cases there is no shared DNA).
They seem to have been a strongly religious family. Many of the sons became monks (and this is why the surname is so rare). The DNA and written evidence suggests that they originally came to Scotland from Ireland in support of the monasteries founded by St Columba, arriving in AD 600 to 1000.

Family trees to 1910

If you have Clugston ancestry, you are probably most interested in your personal ancestry. Working backwards from the 1910 census records, it is possible to reduce the 3000 living family members into about twenty family trees. Most of these trees extend to 1800; a few extend to 1700.
I’ve listed the main regions where descendants from each branch were living in 1900. Please note that this is an exhaustive list. This includes almost everyone mentioned in the censuses and birth, death and marriage records of the UK, Ireland, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the British colonies. For privacy reasons, in most cases it only includes people born over 100 years ago.

Branches with “Clogstoun”, “Clougston”, or “Clogston” spelling

The family heirs have the “Clogstoun” spelling.
Clogstoun Antigua, Sri Lanka, Hampshire(England).

Clogstons of New Hampshire Most Clogstons in the USA

Branches with “Clugston” or “Clugsten” spelling

From Ireland to Pennsylvania Most Clugstons in the USA are from this branch. The “Clugsten” spelling is unique to this branch.

County Antrim, Ireland Indiana, some Glasgow and Canada

County Down, Ireland Queenland, Australia.
A sub-branch is Isle of Man Also Liverpool, England, and Cheshire

County Armagh, Ireland Robert Clugston born ~1760. NSW, Australia. Ontario, Canada.

Wigtownshire Glasgow

From Kirkcudbright to Glasgow Scotland.
A sub-branch is Glasgow to Victoria Most Clugstons in Victoria, Australia.

Hunterdon, New Jersey Whiteley, Indiana.

Minigaff, Kirkcudbright Descendants of Andrew Clugston born Ireland 1799. Remained in Kirkcudbrightshire.

Ireland to Lexington, Kentucky, 1815 Descendants of George Clugston born 1785 Ireland.

Ireland to Lehigh, Pennsylvania, 1850

Other Clugstons in the USA. This is a work-in-progress.

Branches using the “Cluxton” or “Claxton” spelling

Cluxtons of Kildare Most Cluxtons in Ireland and Canada
Claxtons of Queen’s County All Claxtons from Ireland. Many went to Ontario or New Jersey.

Cluxton USA – Connecticut Earliest Cluxtons in the USA (before 1700).

Cluxton USA – Adam’s County, Ohio

Lines believed to be extinct

Dr William Clugston, Stranraer, Scotland This line died out in 1830.

Rev Josias Clugston, Larne, Ireland This line died out around 1800.

From Ireland to Orange County, New York The last Clugston from this branch died in 1861.

Poor Clugstons in Belfast

The Barony Of Clugston

But we can do a little better than this. The surname can be traced deep into the Middle Ages, and our knowledge of the history goes even further back. The most tangible relic from our ancient ancestors is this unnatural hill, in the Barony of Clugston.

Motte of Clugston

(Credit: Andy Farrington License)

This hill is all that remains of a primitive wooden castle next to the Bladnoch River, at Bordland of Clugistoun. In 1846 it was described as “a beautiful circular moat from 20 to 30 feet high”. It seems far too small to have been a proper Motte-and-Bailey castle, but it had a motte with a ditch around it 6 metres wide and at least two metres deep. There was a wooden tower or house at the top. Depressions from the house were still visible in 1930, possibly also today. The “Moit of Clugston” was mentioned in 1580, where it was used as a meeting place (Moot Hill). There are about 30 such mottes in Galloway, almost all near the coast or at the furthermost navigable point of rivers. The men who built them evidently expected attackers to come from the sea. The historian R. Reid believed they were built around 1200, as Galloway adopted the feudal system.

Next to the Motte is a hill named “Doon Hill” on the brow of which was “The remains of an ancient fort…The inhabitants speak of it as being of some strength at some very remote period.” (Ordnance Survey, 1846). The hill provides an excellent view of the region. The fort may be very much older than the Motte.

There are stone circles and many bronze age monuments in this region, built by the early Britons, but the Clugston male line is not descended from them.

Clugston males have Y-DNA believed to be the same as Niall of the Nine Hostages. Although we cannot (yet) reliably claim Niall in our ancestry, it is clear that the Clugston progenitor came to Scotland from the north of Ireland, probably sometimes between AD 600 and AD 1000, likely in support of the monasteries founded by St Columba (521-597), who was a patrilineal great-great-grandson of Niall. The early Clugstons had very strong connections to the monasteries.

The Barony of Clugston or Clugiston was an area of about ten square kilometres. 98 adults were living there in 1684 (1% of the population of Wigtownshire). The centre of the barony is a small lake called “Clugston Loch”. The barony was bounded on the eastern side by the River Bladnoch, which flows into the bay at Wigtown, about five kilometres away, and on the north by Tarf Water, a tributary of the Bladnoch. The soil is rocky and not very fertile, so the greatest asset of the barony was its location on a trade route. By the mid 1500’s the Clugstons were a merchant family, but they had probably been trading for centuries earlier.
As the region became more civilised, the fort was abandoned. By 1500 the Clugstons owned a “mansione”; I believe this was Castle Mindork, on the western side of the Barony of Clugston.

Barony of Clugston
(The Barony of Clugston. From John Thompson’s Atlas of Scotland, 1832. Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland.)

Very close to the Motte (“Moat Hill” on the map) is the remains of a farm called “Spittal”. This is a sure sign that in the early Middle Ages, the Knights Hospitaler operated an “Inn of Hospitality” or “Spital” at this place, where the ancient road from Wigtown to the port of Stranraer crossed the river Bladnoch. This was the main route from Ireland to Scotland and England. Most importantly, many pilgrims came from Ireland to visit the shrine of St Ninian, who brought Christianity to Scotland in the 4th or 5th century. The sacred sites were in and around Whithorn, a few miles to the south. There was a mill near Spittal, called “the Myln of Glougston” (Clugston) in 1684.

When the Motte was built, Scotland as a united nation did not yet exist. Galloway had been an independent kingdom since Roman times. Too small to survive alone, it sometimes allied with Scotland, sometimes with England. It wasn’t annexed until Alexander III of Scotland invaded around 1240. The earliest Clugston references date from this time.

Origin of the Clugston name

The “ton” or “toun” part of the name is likely to be of Norse origin, and definitely means “town”, “farm”, or “enclosure”. The “Clugs”, “Clougs” or “Cloges” part is less clear. Even the original pronunciation is unclear. It originated in a Gaelic environment, which does not have a letter K or X, so the G may just be an approximation of the sound.
There are a few plausible theories for the name. It could be the same name as “Clouston” which comes from the Orkney Islands, indicating a Viking origin. “Wigtown” is probably Norse “Vik-town” (“Vik” means “bay”). But then where did the “g” come from? In 1880, P. McKerlie thought it was from “Klungr”, Norse for “bramble”. There are a few silly theories relating the name to clog manufacture, or to the German name “Klugman” (how on earth would Germans be in Galloway?). DNA testing shows no Scandinavian origins. The Clugstons were not Vikings, and definitely not German. DNA testing also shows it is unrelated to the surnames Clucas, Claxton (in most cases; Irish Claxtons are in fact Clugstons), and Clough.
More likely is that like several other Scottish surnames beginning with C, the leading “C” could be a vestigial “Mac”. Just as “Johnston” means “John’s town” or “John’s farm”, so “McLugston” would mean “McLucas’s town” or “McLucas’s farm”. The “Clucas” surname on the Isle of Man is a variant of McLucas. A problem with this theory is that there’s no trace of a “Mclugston”, and “Clogeston” pre-dates the earliest McLucas reference by 200 years. But as we will see, the early Clugstons had a strong connection to the early monastaries. “Lucas”, named after the gospel writer, is therefore quite plausible, even though it was practically non-existent as a first name in Medieval Scotland.

The first appearance of the name

One remarkable feature of this family is evident even from the earliest records: they were highly mobile. All throughout history, they never stayed in the same place for long. This was true even in the Middle Ages. They were not peasants who never left the farm where they were born, but they were also not landed gentry who held an estate for centuries.

There are a few records of Knights “of Clogestoun” but they were near Dundee, not near the Barony of Clugston. This leaves a huge mystery. Why were they so far from their land? It seems to be because they were a family of monks — specifically, members of the Cistercian order. Clugstons were involved with Glenluce Abbey, (founded in 1190), which was next to the Barony of Clugston, and Coupar Angus Abbey (founded in 1164) in Perthshire. Both were Cisterian monasteries.

An additonal clue comes from the powerful Vaus/Vans family, who were also in both places, with similar occupations, and who had many documented early interactions (and at least two marriages) with the Clugstons.

Sometime between 1215 and 1259, Conan, son of Henry, Earl of Atholl, granted the use of timber and firewood from his forest of Tulyhen for the use of the monks at the Abbey of Lindores, in Perthshire. Most of the witnesses are relatives of the Earls of Atholl. One of the witnesses was Johanne de Klogestoun. Another witness was Michaele de Galewath (Michael of Galloway). Henry, Earl of Atholl was the great-grandson of Duncan I, King of Scots, who was killed by Macbeth. Clugstons have a Y-DNA which is very similar to his descendants, suggesting that they are related. Alternatively, John Clugestoun may have been a legal expert; as we’ll see later, it seems to have become a family profession.

In another charter(a grant of land in Cairncross, Aberdeen), dating from 1235-1240, Johanne de Clugestoun appears eleventh on the list of twelve witnesses. Nine of the others are Lords or bishops; the list included the current and the future Earl of Atholl.


King Alexander III of Scotland died without leaving an heir. Scotland invited their friendly southern neighbor, King Edward I of England, to decide which of the leading nobles had the most convincing claim on the throne. He chose John Balliol of Galloway, but first insisted that all Scottish nobles should declare their fealty to him. Soon it became clear that Edward’s real intentions were hostile, and he planned to annex Scotland. The first “War of Scottish Independence” began.

Edward first conquered Berwick-on-Tweed, on the border, then approached Dunbar Castle. Scottish cavalry rushed to the defence, but suffered a humuliating defeat at the Battle of Dunbar, where 130 knights were captured. A list of the Scottish prisoners taken in Dunbar castle 1296.5.16 includes “Malcolm de Droman (Drummond), John de Cloggestone, knights, Thomas de Alyght, Nigel de Kilpatrick, Reginald son of Reginald le Chen, Reginald de St Clair, esquires” who were committed to Kenilworth castle, Eoxburgh.
Scotland was essentially conquered. King John fled, but surrendered on 2 July. Edward took the Stone of Scone and other symbols of nationhood. He forced the Scottish nobles who were not already prisoners of war to pledge loyalty. The “Ragman Rolls” of 1296 lists all 2000 nobles who paid homage. The list includes “Adam de Cloggeston, del counte de Edeneburgh” (i.e. “of the county of Edinburgh”). There were 124 nobles in Edinburgh. There were 13 in Wigtonshire, but no Clugstons are listed. Perhaps John was Baron of Clugston and Adam was in Edinburgh?

In early 1297, William Wallace (“Braveheart”) began a successful revolt against England. In 1297.9.4 John de Cloggestone was released and his lands in Scotland were returned to him. Scotland regained independence. Note that the Braveheart movie hid the fact that Scotland had done its own bit of conquest (of Galloway) just a generation earlier!

We don’t have any Clugston records for the next hundred years, but based on their prominent roles in the 1400s, they were likely to have been significant in Glenluce Abbey. Unfortunately no records from the abbey have survived.

The Black Death, which reached Scotland in 1350, wiped out a third of the population, but at least some Clugstons survived. Scotland retained its independence, largely through its alliance with France against England in the Hundred Years war, which began in 1337.

The first reference to the “Barony of Clogstoune in the sheriffdom of Wigtown” is in 1406. At this time, the Lord of the Barony was Sir Alexander Frazer of Philorth, sheriff of Aberdeen, and he gave the northeast-corner of the barony to his cousin, Joneta Makgillumquha. (Did you know that women could own property in the Middle Ages?)

In 1423, John Clugestoun witnessed an agreement between King James I of Scotland and James Stewart, Earl of Buchan, who was the commander-in-chief of the French army during the Hundred Years War. Why did such an unimportant baron witness a document with some of the big names from one of the most significant wars of the Middle Ages? Almost all of the other signatories were Archbishops and Lords. My theory is that John Clugestoun was acting a lawyer or notary.

In 1451, Robert Vans was granted a charter of the Lands of Barnbarroch. This made him the southern neighbour of the Barony of Clugston. His son Thomas was Dean of Glasgow, secretary to the king, and keeper of the Privy Seal. Lord John Vaus of Edinburgh had been in the Ragman Rolls in 1291 and 1296.

Clogstons near Dundee

The known Clugstons during the late Middle Ages seem to be related to one another, since two were nobles. Presumably they are related to the Clugston nobles from the Braveheart era. Sir Alexander Clugston was described as a priest of Galloway which indicates he was born in the Barony of Clugston.

From 1443 to 1452, Sir Robert of Clogston rented the Church of Mathy. He is the first ancestor we know much about. He was a Cistercian monk at the Abbey of Cupar Angus. In 1456, he was admitted as Doctor of Canon Law at the University of St Andrews. This is the third oldest English-speaking university (founded 1413), after Oxford and Cambridge. This indicates that he was one of the most learned men in the country.

From 1443 to 1452, Sir Robert of Clogston rented the Church of Mathy. He is the first ancestor we know much about. He was a monk at the Abbey of Cupar Angus. In 1456, the Vatican acknowledged him as Doctor of Canon Law at the University of St Andrews. This is the third oldest English-speaking university (founded 1413), after Oxford and Cambridge. This indicates that he was one of the most learned men in the country.

On the 16th August 1456 was another letter from the Vatican: “The pope has been informed by Robert Clogstown, a Cistercian monk of Cupar in the diocese of St. Andrews, doctor of canon law,..” that the rector of Berwick was acting corruptly, together with a Trinitarian friar. The pope ruled that “the said Robert (who has made his open profession of the said Cistercian order, and in times past was of great service to the said monastery [of Cupar], and has a singular affection for the said Trinitarian order)” should replace him as friar of the rectory of Berwick, “the place thereof, situate in the realm of Scotland and on the borders of the enemies of the country, being unlawfully in the possession of the said enemies”.

This is fascinating: the pope appears to be anti-England. The town of Berwick-on-Tweed was a hotly contested border town. It is the northernmost town on the English side of the Scottish border. Just five years later, in 1461, England gave it to Scotland. In 1480, King Edward IV changed his mind, and the English army invaded. They laid seige to Berwick Castle and captured it in 1482. Berwick-on-Tweed has been part of England ever since.

In 1448 to 1462, Thomas de Clogstoun rented part of the Grange of Aberbothrie.
In 1473 Robert Clogstoun leased part of Morton.
In 1480 Walter of Clogstone had land near Dundee.

In 1489 Sir Alexander Clugston was the Notary Public of the Abbey of Paisley, Glasgow. This seems to have been a very senior position. In 1490 “Sir Alexander Clukistone” was made a member of the University of Glasgow (the university was founded in 1451, and at that time, universities were primarily for clergy). In 1491, acting under authority, Sir Alexander Clugston pronounced sentence of excommunication against the Bishop of Lismore in the cathedral of Glasgow. King James IV of Scotland was a regular visitor to the Abbey (probably because he felt guilty about his role in his father’s death), and Sir Alexander Clugston was the only person at the abbey with a knighthood. They would have spoken together frequently. King James also made regular pilgrimages to Whithorn. He likely visited the Vaus estate en route. Sir Alexander is described as a priest of Galloway, so he may have owned the Barony.
I think that Sir Alexander died shortly afterwards; the last reference to him is from 1493.

It is possible that some of the descendants of the Dundee/Edinburgh Clogstons moved back to the Wigtownshire. There are several generations of Clugston attorneys. They could also conceivably have gone to Kirkcudbright (see below), but they appear to have left no descendants around Dundee. Perhaps they simply died out. I only found two later references.
In 1579, Thomas Clogston had a family in Monifieth, Angus, close to Dundee.
In 1620, Walter Clogistoune of Claverhouss, parish of Mains died (His testament exists).

Clan Dunbar and Faux Nostalgia

At this point I think it is important to distinguish history from romantic fiction. Clan Societies make the absurd claim that Clugston was a “Sept” of Clan Dunbar, along with a bizarre collection of other families that never even met Clugstons! The Clugstons had direct access to the King, and would hardly need an intermediary. The Clugstons were most closely associated with the Vauss/Vans family, who do not have a clan. The Dunbars originally came from Berwick, the northernmost town of England, and took advantage of their position on the border, having no allegiance to either side. In 1314, when Robert the Bruce had regained Scottish independence, the Dunbars helped the King Edward II of England to escape the Scottish army, ranking them among the greatest traitors in Scottish history. The Dunbars did not own any land in Scotland until 1368, when they were given land near Glasgow, some land in Ayrshire, and the estate of Mochrum, south-west of the Barony of Clugston.
The Frazers, who owned Clugston in 1406, were originally from Anjou in France, and were therefore not Scottish at all.

The Clugstons did not fit the modern romantic Scottish stereotype – no kilts, no tartans, no clans. Yet in some sense they were forerunners of that stereotype. They were among the first speakers of the Scottish Gaelic language (which developed from Irish Gaelic, and spread through Scotland from Galloway and Ayrshire). By the time the stereotype developed, the Clugstons had already moved on. They had very little in common with the Catholic highlanders, and may not have felt any kinship with them. In 1740, Clugstons hoped the English army would quickly crush the Scottish rebellion. (Scottish clan societies shouldn’t be viewed as historical. For example, most clan tartans are based on an 1842 forgery, chemically treated to look old. By that time, Clugstons had been in North America for 150 years!
The real history is far more interesting).

Clugstons in the Barony of Clugston, Wigtownshire

Our first chance to really build a family tree dates from the same time that Sir Alexander Clugston was excommunicating the Bishop of Lismore. In 1471 John Clugston had sasine (ownership, rhymes with “raisin”) of the Barony of Clugston in Kirkcowan. He owned a mansion (probably Mindork Castle) near the farm of Gass, west of Loch Clugston, and an oatmeal mill on the river. He had a son named Patrick.

Just four years earlier is another reference to a Patrick Cloughston (probably John’s brother) which is astonishing: he became a citizen of England. Patrick was a Catholic priest, so would not have had children. The incredible fact is that although this was the Middle Ages, he was living 600 km from the Barony, not far from London!

“1467 May 1 Westminster. Mandate to all bailiffs and others to permit Patrick Cloughston, chaplain, born in Wigton in Galewey in Scotland, dwelling at Shopeland, co. Essex, to inhabit the realm peaceably and enjoy his goods. By p.s.” — Calendar of the Patent Rolls, Great Britain

Similar wording is used for eleven other men born in Scotland, and one man born in the Faroe Islands, from 1467 to 1477, so this citizenship change was a standard procedure but quite rare (Blog post). Four are chaplains. In most of the other cases it states that they swore an oath of fealty to King Edward IV (probably in person).

Patrick moved to England during the War of the Roses (the intrigue-laden wars which inspired “Game of Thrones”), so this was an extraordinary time to be an immigrant. The Norman church at Shopland was very small. Why did Patrick go there???

This record shows some fascinating things about the family. They travelled internationally. They had sufficient wealth, respect and connections to obtain a chaplain’s position in England.

John Clugston was in financial trouble, and was granted debt relief in 1471. Castle Mindork in the Barony was occupied by the McDowells. Perhaps he had mortgaged it (I don’t know of any other “mansion” he could have owned). John must have died young, because in 1493 his son Patrick had sasine. (The last reference of Sir Alexander Clugston was in 1491. Was he still alive?). Patrick was not yet married so he must have been very young. A local overlord took advantage of the teenage baron.
In 1497, Sir John Dunbar of Mochrum paid the king for the “gift of marriage of Patrick Clugston”. This meant Dunbar could chose the bride. He chose his niece, Elizabeth Dunbar. Patrick refused to marry her.
John Dunbar sued Patrick for 100 pounds. In 1499, Patrick sold the Barony to Dunbar. If you think John Dunbar was a nasty piece of work, you’re not alone: John Dunbar was murdered in 1503, killed by Sir Alexander Gordon of Kenmure. His son, Sir Patrick Dunbar, took over the lands of Clugston in 1508. In 1512, Patrick Dunbar sold Crosserne in the western part of the Barony of Clugston to Uchtred McKe. Before his murder, Sir John Dunbar also bought the right to chose a bride for Alexander Stewart of Garleis, who was related to the Royal Family.

Sir Patrick Dunbar married Margaret Vaus, and had a daughter, Margaret Dunbar. He was killed (together with King James IV) in the Battle of Flodden in 1513. Margaret Dunbar married Sir Alexander Stewart. If Margaret had remained childless, the barony would have returned to the Dunbars. Alexander had a document in which Margaret assigned the barony to the Stewarts in that case, but Margaret was a feisty lady who knew her rights. She publically denounced her husband’s document as a forgery. But she produced an heir, so the Stewarts retained the barony.

Patrick Clugston immediately moved to “Derrevrame”, where he is recorded in October 1500. This seems to be the farm of Dervaird, on the road 8km west of the Barony of Clugston and 1km from the town of Glenluce. Earlier, Dervaird had been owned by Glenluce Abbey, a Cistercian monastery. It seems almost certain that the earlier Clugston monks had lived at the Abbey (Sir Robert Clugston was a Cistercian monk). Young Patrick may have lived there because of Sir Alexander Clugston. The abbey was abandoned from 1560 when the 15 remaining monks all became Presbyterians. The abbey now hosts a museum.

(Dervaird farm, with Dervaird Loch and the Wood of Dervaird. Note Glenluce Abbey to the west. Ordnance Survey, 1924. Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland.)

Patrick seems to have had a son Gilbert, because in 1561, Gilbert Cluggistoun and his sons Gilbert and Alexander lived in the farm of Dirvaird. Thomas Cluggistone lived nearby. At that time Dirvaird was owned by Sir Patrick Vans of Barnbarroch, but by 1606 it was owned by Alexander Clugston. Gilbert senior died before 1586.
Patrick was mentioned again in 1527.
Patrick seems to have had a second son, Patrick, who in 1547 was living at a place called Neddir Wig, south of the barony and near the town of Whithorn.
In 1550, Andrew Clugston was a servitor to William Dunbar in Culmazew, east of Neddir Wig. He was probably a younger son of Patrick Junior.
Patrick Junior seems to have had three other sons, John, Patrick (“Petir”) and Fergus. John was on the town council of Whithorn in 1582.

Petir Clugston (died 1596) owned land in Lochcraigoch (which seems to have been the earlier name of Loch Clugston) in 1594. He was married to Jaenne McKe. I think she was the granddaughter of Uchtred McKe. In this way the family regained part of the ancestral land. Or perhaps that part of the land had been mortgaged but not sold.
Fergus was the first Clugston to get in trouble with the law.


In 1565, the notorious pirate Andrew White stole three English merchant ships, and sold their cargo at Whithorn, Galloway. England was furious, and demanded that Scotland take action. Fergus Clugstone in Whithorn bought a puncheon of fine wine (about 320 litres!) and £5 worth of cloth, and was charged with receiving stolen goods. He wasn’t alone. It seems that half of Galloway was in on the caper. The mayor of Whithorn had bought a massive 19 puncheons of wine and a huge quantity of plums. The Scottish Reformation had happened only 5 years before, and the men of the cloth were setting a fine example: the vicar of Craggelton bought £5 of stolen cloth. The vicar of Kirkinner bought two puncheons of wine. Uncle Fergus, the mayor, the two wicked ministers and a dozen others were locked up in the Castle of Threave, until they had repaid the stolen goods. When Sir John Dunbar of Mochrum died in 1578, Fergus Clugstoun in Whithorn owed him one puncheon of wine, price £15. Sir John Dunbar was also owed 20 bolls of oats by the tenants of Clugstoun. I don’t think Fergus had any sons, because the name “Fergus Clugston” never occurs again.

Petir Clugstoun was a merchant of Lochcraigoche (at the edge of Loch Clugston), married to Jaene McKie. His will, probated on 1596.7.28, still exists. His eldest son was William Clugston, married to Helene Vaus, daughter of Sir Patrick Vaus, matchmaker of King James (of KJV Bible fame). The will also mentions Jonce Clugston, and Robert Clugston in Dirvirds (the farm that was owned by Gilbert in 1561). In 1606 Alexander Clugston had sasine of the farm “Dirvirds” .

In 1586, Gilbert Clugistoun was a merchant who owned land in the town of Wigtown. In 1635 Gilbert transferred this land to William Clugistoun, merchant, son of Michaell Clugistoun of Lochcraigoche. William had a daughter Janet who married John Stewart, merchant, in 1661, and a son William, who was also a merchant.
William Clugston, born 1645, was Provost (Lord Mayor) of Wigtown in 1684. One source claims that he died in 1734.

The important thing to learn from these early references is that the Clugstons in Glenluce, Kirkcowan, and Wigtown were all from a single family of merchants. The name “Patrick Clugston” is associated with all those places, and they all have a connection to the house at Dirvaids. This means that there was only a single Clugston family. We can be confident of this because there was a religious survey of Wigtownshire and Minigaff from 1684, which has survived. It gives the name of everyone 12 years or older. It shows that there were only 24 Clugstons remaining in Wigtownshire, mostly around Loch Clugston and Wigtown. This includes women who had married and whose children would no longer bear the Clugston name. It also includes grandparents. There may also have been a few Clugstons in Kirkudbrightshire, east of Wigtown; the survey from that area has unfortunately not survived, but by 1720 there seem to have been only a couple of Clugston families there – possibly only a single family.

For more detail on the records I have mentioned, see this collection ofearly Clugston references.

There were so few Clugstons in Scotland in 1684 because about half of the Clugstons had emigrated to Ireland. This doesn’t mean that the families were immediately split apart; in the 1600’s. Belfast is not actually very far from Wigtownshire. Some pious settlers in Ireland were known to row back to Galloway for Holy Communion, and return the same evening.

The Migration to Ireland

We cannot be certain when Clugstons first moved to Northern Ireland but it definitely happened at a very early date. The first Scottish plantation in Ireland began in 1606, when Sir James Hamilton and Hugh Montgomery settled in the Great Ards in the north-east corner of County Down. They brought many Scots from Galloway with them. Clugstons are mentioned in the Hamilton Manuscripts, and also in the Montgomery Manuscripts. Montgomery had gained these lands by helping the owner, the Irish chieftain Con O’Neill, escape from the dungeon of Carrick castle by smuggling him a rope ladder hidden in a wheel of cheese.

Irish genealogy is traditionally regarded as nearly impossible because of the 1922 fire in the Irish Public Records Office. Almost all of the pre-1900 wills and probate records were lost, as well as the early census records and Church of Ireland parish registers and thousands of irreplaceable early documents. But we are extraordinarily lucky. The early genealogist Dr Francis Crosslé and his son Philip Crosslé had spent years in the Public Records Office, filling notebooks with information about families they were interested in. Philip devoted 20 pages to the Clugston family, recording the important details of every early Clugston record he could find. Special thanks to B. Kinane for obtaining a copy for me, and for the research he has done on the Kildare branch of the Clugston/Cluxton family. Combining Crosslé’s records with a potpourri of eclectic sources, we can get a remarkably good picture.

The earliest records of Clugstons in Ireland are from Belfast. There are surprisingly many references to the Clugston merchants in Belfast in the 17th century. It is complicated because at several family branches were intertwined. The “William” line, descended from the heir of Petir Clugston, has frequent occurences of the names “William” and “Michael”.
There is another set of families dominated by the name “Robert”, another by “James”, and another by “Hugh”.

William Clugston, merchant in Belfast

On 1637.2.8, William Cluggeston, merchant, was one of the first 20 members of the Corporation of Belfast. In May 1639 he was falsely accused of conspiracy, with two other merchants. They were imprisoned for a month, and their lands and goods (worth a whopping £2500) were seized. They returned to Scotland and appealed to the King for restitution. This was probably related to the “Black Oath” of 1839, in which all Presbyterians were required to pledge loyalty to the king, and to renounce the Scottish Covenant.

William Clugston was last mentioned in Belfast in 1645, when he made an assessment for the Scottish (Covenanter) army. He was definitely gone by 1659. Before he left, Robert Clugston (see below) had started working as a merchant in Belfast.
William inherited land in Wigtown. I believe that William Clugston, Provost of Wigtown, born in 1645, was his son.

There was a William Clugston in Antrim town in 1666 who is probably related. He seems to be the ancestor of about one quarter of all Clugstons alive today.

Clugstons Charged With High Treason

Many (almost all?) of the early Clugstons were Covenanters. Their beliefs got them into a lot of trouble in the late 1600’s. They refused to accept the king as head of the church. The “Killing Times” was one of the darkest points in Scottish History, in which Presbyterians were presecuted by Charles II, and many died for their faith. Incredibly, about half of the Clugstons in the world are on record as having openly defied the government. Three Clugston families were charged with High Treason, another faced charges, and another was a ‘recusant’, who refused to submit.

The situation must have been extremely delicate, because William Clugston was Provost of Wigtown at the time, and was one of those responsible for carrying out the government orders. He was out of town when a teenage girl and an elderly widow were sentenced to death for failing to renounce the covenant. The “Wigtown Matyrs” had won an appeal in Edinburgh, but the reprieve was ignored. They were tied to posts in Wigtown Bay and drowned by the rising tide. Did William participate in this cowardly act? One reason for thinking he might not have, was that a close family member, Patrick Clugston – likely his brother – was also facing the death penalty.

Patrick Clugstoun, merchant in Borland of Clugston, was a Covenanter. He was a fugitive in 1679, and was charged with high treason for habouring rebels. He may have been one of the 200 men, armed with pitchforks and muskets, who defeated the English army at the Battle of Drumclog; but he was certainly involved in the guerrilla war they waged from the hills of Galloway. John Clugstoun (probably Patrick’s brother) also faced charges; he owned a mill at Barhoise, a few km up the river. I believe that both were sons of William the Belfast merchant, who had assisted the Covenanter army in 1645.

Two Clugstons in Ireland, Robert and Thomas, were also “attainted” and charged with High Treason. This seems to be the reason they left Belfast and moved towards Dublin. I think it also made the New World more appealing. It probably also contributed to their support for American independence.

John and Robert Clugston, merchants in Belfast

John and Robert Clugston, brothers, were merchants who were admitted to the Corporation of Belfast in 1643 and 1645, but they arrived earlier. Robert was present with William in 1642. It’s likely that William was their older brother; Michael Clugston (see below) was related to all of them.

In 1641, the Catholic Irish started a rebellion against the English which went horribly wrong. Casualties on both sides were high. Over ten thousand settlers died in the aftermath. “Clugston and Hanna” were lieutenants in a private army at Lisburn, south of Belfast; this was probably John Clugston, who in 1645 owed £40 to the merchant who had raised the army. “Hanna” may be the Hannay family who occupied the Mill of Clugston in the late 1600’s; but it’s a common surname so it is hard to be sure.

The Clugston merchants and their descendants appear prominently in the “The Town Book of the Corporation of Belfast 1613-1816”. (Read it! It’s fascinating and very entertaining, as the settlement stumbles from one near-disaster to another. Who’d have thought that wooden chimneys could be such a fire hazard? Or that dragging heavy cannons across the bridge would make it collapse?). There was a shortage of low-value cash, so like other Belfast merchants, John Clugston made his own coins (“Merchant Tokens”):

Token of John Clugston

The alley next to his house was known as “Clugston’s Entry”. Belfast was tiny (population about 600), so the Clugstons were quite significant.
The family tree can be deduced from Crosslé’s notes. Robert died in 1658, apparently without children, because his brother John inherited his estate. He appears in the 1666 and 1669 Hearth tax rolls for Belfast as “Mr John Clugston Sen”; he had 2 hearths. “John Clugston Jun” had 3 hearths in 1666, 5 hearths in 1669. In 1669 there was a third John Clugston with one hearth, and William Clugston with two. John died in 1671, leaving 6 children under 21. He left £10 to the poor of Belfast.

Robert Clugston d.1658 Merchant.
   (apparently died childless)
John Clugston Senior d. 1671.8.6 Merchant
  = Grissel Shaw
    (In 1674 Grissel remarried William Smith, another merchant. She made a will on 1700.5.30 and died by 1705)
    (All these children born from 1650 to 1671)
    Robert Clugston. Merchant (d before 1711)
      = Margaret ____ d 1727.9.11
        (Owned tenements in Castle St and North St, Belfast)
        (Owned 34 acres in Lower Malone)
        (These are his only children)
        Grissel Clugston = ____ Proctor
        John Clugston bur. 1736.1.24, bachelor. Sovereign of Belfast
        Elinor Clugston d.1758 spinster
        Catherine Clugston = Arthur Gower
            (Catherine was alive in 1727 but died by 1735)
            (Hannah was only daughter)
            Hannah Gower (born after 1722, before 1735)
        Jane Clugston d. 1727.11.6
        Margaret Clugston d. 1710
         = Richard Dobbs 1660-1711 High Sheriff of Antrim
            Margaret Dobbs
             = George Spaight. Surveyor of Customs m1729.7.7
                Richard Dobbs Spaight 1730-1763
                    Richard Dobb Spaight Jr 1758-1802 Governor
            Mary Dobbs = Andrew Boyd Esq of Ballymoney
            Ann-Helena Dobbs = William Ker of Ballymena
    Ellenor Clugston
    Margaret Clugston = Alex Delap m 1681.9.13 Lisburn
    Grizell Clugston = John Stoates of Armagh m 1686.11.23
    Jennet Clugston bur.1729.12.13 
       = William Crawford bur.1716.7.14 merchant, MP for Belfast
        Ann Crawford = William Arbuckle
            (William son of James Arbuckle and Priscilla Black)
    Elizabeth Clugston = Francis Henderson m 1691.4.1 Drirachy

Interestingly, in Scotland in 1684, no Clugstons were named Robert or Thomas. But Robert Clugston of Dirvaids was mentioned in the 1596 will of Petir Clugston, along with Petir’s son John. The merchants are almost certainly grandsons of Petir.

Their business in Belfast was potentially lucrative but involved high risk. In 1661, John Clugston owned a ship. In 1670, he was leader of a group of Belfast merchants whose ship, the “James”, was illegally siezed in the Carribean. The ship and goods were worth £5000. (For comparison, the total taxes for the barony of Clugston were £25 per annum). The grandson, John Clugston Esq, was Sovereign (Lord Mayor) of Belfast 1726-1733, and his granddaughter Margaret married Richard Dobbs of Castle Dobbs, the High Sheriff of Antrim. Margaret’s great grandson, Richard Dobbs Spaight Jr (1758-1802), Governor of North Carolina, signed the US Constitution, and was killed in a duel with another senator. North Carolina made duelling illegal a few days later, taking all of the fun out of democracy.

John Clughston Junior seems to be another son; he had to evaluate John’s estate. He was admitted to the Corporation in 1661 with the note “served his apprenticeship in this town”, which must mean he served his apprenticeship with John Senior (Robert had died by then), and was born around 1640. Apprenticeship typically started at the age of 14, and lasted 7 years. John Senior’s known children were minors when he died, meaning they were all born after 1650, a rather large age gap. So it is also possible that John is his nephew. Robert Junior was not admitted to the Corporation until 1678. He may have been a child when his father died (boys are always listed before girls, regardless of age).

John Clugston Jr = Alice Lawrensons m 1672/3.1.31 Lisburn
    (Had 5 young children in 1675.12)  
    Thomas Clugston 1679.7.3 Lisburn.

Note that in that family tree, John Junior was the only one who had Clugston descendants. 3 years into his marriage, John Junior already had 5 young children – twins? Thomas was born 2 years later.
John Junior’s firstborn son would have been named John. There may also have been a Robert. It is likely that John Clugston who married ___ Lowry of Lisnaward, County Down, was his heir (see below).

In 1675, John Junior was in a desperate financial situation. He had borrowed heavily, and lost almost everything. It may have been his ship which was seized in Jamaica. In 1675, Lewis Thompson, merchant of Belfast, wrote to Jacob David, merchant of London, warning him that John Clugston “hath be on his defens from his creditors this gret while and wher he is at present I know not but he hath a wife and five small children in this plase who are verey poor”.

There was a Robert Clugston in Belfast in 1737, who had a house on the north side of Castle Street (Deed v90 p96 #63094).

The name “Lawrensons” is not Scottish; Alice may have been the daughter of an English merchant. The mtDNA of Robert’s wife Margaret is known; it does not seem Scottish either. “Dobbs”, “Gower”, “Procter”, and “Speight” are very English surnames, mostly originating from Yorkshire. Some very English names (Henry, Edward) appear in the next generation.
However, “Delap” (a variant of “Dunlop”) and “Henderson” are Lowland Scots names. Thus we see that Robert’s family married into the English aristocracy but may have been the only Clugstons who did. It is surprising because Robert was definitely Presbyterian (in 1645 he signed a letter to Edinburgh requesting more clergy).

The first Clugstons in America

A dozen years after William left Ireland, his sons may have returned to Belfast.
William Clugston, smith, was made a freeman of Belfast in 1671. William paid tax for 2 hearths in Belfast in 1669.

Michael may have been another son.

Michael Clugston, merchant, was admitted to the Corporation in 1672, so was probably born around 1650. It was noted that Michael “served with Mr Clugston”. This is probably John Clugston senior, who died in 1671. The only other Clugston merchant in Belfast, John Junior, was only admitted in 1661 and I doubt he would take an apprentice only 3 years after his own apprenticeship ended.
Michael is very interesting because he has connections to both Belfast and Wigtownshire.

Michael is almost certainly the son or grandson of Michael Clugston of Lochcraigoch in the Barony of Clugston in 1635. Michael was still operating as a merchant in 1682, when he registered a bond with William Clugston, Provost of Wigtown (either his brother or cousin). Michael seems to have moved to America not long afterwards, because Michael Clugston (d. 1697) was operating as a merchant in Maryland in 1690. Michael had many descendants, most of whom adopted the “Cluxton” spelling. Most American Cluxtons are descended from him.
Captain Benjamin Cluxton captured a French Privateer (a government-approved pirate ship) in the Carribean in 1702. He died in Virginia in 1708. The documents for the capture still exist, and would probably be interesting to read.

Clugstons in County Antrim, Ireland

In 1669, William Clugston was on the hearth money rolls for Culquemonny/Billy, Dunluce Lower, Antrim. This is at the northernmost tip of Ireland. It seems that he did not stay there for long.

There seem to have been at least two distinct Clugston families in southern Antrim. Some of them moved back and forth between Belfast and Glasgow. Some descendants of Hugh Clugston from Ballyclare moved to Indiana via Pennsylvania, and have many living descendants.

There were some relatively poor Clugstons near the coast around Carrickfergus.
There was a wealthy, highly educated and devout family of Clugstons in Ballyclare, Antrim, most notably Dr William Alexander Clugston, who may be descendants of Josias’ brother. They were Covenanters and were involved in establishing the Reformed Presbyterian denomination. This branch seems to have died out around 1930.

Robert Cluxton and his wife Mary Rice 1744-1825 emmigrated from Ireland in 1798, with a son John Cluxton 1791-1854.2.21 who married the daughter of a Methodist pastor, then settled in Adam’s County, Ohio. Most of the Cluxtons in the USA are his descendants. They left three children in Ireland. DNA testing shows an exact match with Hugh Clugston 1788-1865 of Ballyclare, County Antrim.

Dr William Clugston, who returned to Scotland

One of William’s grandsons was Dr. William Clugston, who moved from Belfast back to Scotland. He married his third cousin, Barbara Vans, and settled near Stranraer. He appears to have been the heir to the family fortune. His family included Dr Alexander Grant Clugston, Surgeon General for the British Army in Bombay. The last known member of this branch died in 1909, but a family of Clugstons born in Stranraer are likely to be his descendants. They moved to Glasgow in the early 1800’s.

Thomas Clugston of Carlingford, County Louth

On 1718.6.18, Thomas Clugston bought an estate called “Menidees Park” on Carlingford Lough, on the border between County Down and County Louth. His will, dated 1731/2.1.24, was probated on 1764.9.23. It was preserved by Crosslé. Thomas owned a “white house” and a “malt house” in Carlingford, County Lough. He was already a grandfather in 1731.
Interestingly, the surname spelling changed for most Clugstons that went south. Many records are spelt “Cluxton”, “Claxton” or even “Cluckstone”. Some records include both spellings. He totally abandoned Scottish naming conventions; I suspect his wife was English.
The third son James graduated from university in 1710, so must have been born before 1690. So, Thomas must have been born well before 1670, so he could not be the son of the Belfast merchant John Clugston Junior (whose son Thomas was born in 1679). He was probably much older, born around 1660.
He was probably related to Thomas Clugston who paid hearth tax in 1669 in Dunrod, Tullyrusk (south of Belfast, west of Lisburn).

Thomas Clugston 
  = Jean ______ d. Nov 1740
    Henry Clugston (died by 1731) Innkeeper
      = Elizabeth George
       (Eliz remarried __ Daveyson by 1731)
       Jean Clugston
          = (1) Robert Corry
          = (2) Robert Manly
            Miss Manly
       George Clugston. Deaf and dumb.
       Elizabeth Clugston. Deaf and dumb.
    James Clugston
        (1712: MA from Glasgow University)
        (Went to America before 1764, died without issue)
    Christopher Clugston. 3rd son d. 1778 Ballyfin, Leighlin, Carlow        
    Rev Josias Clugston -1775 minister at Larne 1717-1775.
        (1710: MA from Glasgow University)
        (allegedly only had one son, James)
        Rev James Clugston -1780 = Elizabeth -1784
           (Pastor of Bandon, County Cork 1745-1780
           ("ordained young" (born about 1725?))
            Mary Clugston 1755.1.14 - 1826.10.12 b. Bandon
              = George Allman 1750-1827
               James Clugston Allman 1780-1845 b&d Bandon = Sarah Lane
                   (Owned a whiskey distillery)
                   James Clugston Allman 1822.3.24 b Bandon
            Thomas Clugston bap 1756.12.1  b. Bandon
                (1787: Merchant and Tanner, Bandon)
                (Paid a large debt to George Wheeler 1812)
                (Apparently died childless)
    Jean Clugston. Never married.
    Alexander Clugston. Never married.

Henry Clugston was the innkeeper of “The Jolly Sailor” in Newry in 1728. Presumably he served beer produced at his father’s malt house.
It seems he had twins, for both George and Elizabeth were mute.

Thomas’s sons Josias and James Clugston graduated with an MA from the University of Glasgow in 1710 and 1712 respectively. One of James Clugston’s classmates was the philosopher Francis Hutcheson, one of the founders of the Scottish Enlightenment. Most of his other classmates became Presbyterian ministers in America. Thomas left him only 1 shilling because he was in America. The other children died childless.

Clugstons in County Down and County Armagh, Ireland, and in the Isle of Man

As mentioned earlier, John Clugston Junior’s son Thomas had at least five older siblings. There are three likely candidates.

John Clugston of Drumballyroney, County Down, died in 1733. This is near the border between County Down and County Armagh. His only child was a daughter Mary, who married Samuel Crum and had one child in 1721.

John Clugston married ____ Lowry, daughter of ____Lowry (died by 1713) and Margaret Cameron (alive in 1726). John and his mother-in-law converted the Lowry farm into a freehold. Lisnaward is just a few km east of Lisburn, where the merchant John Clugston Jr had lived. This John must have been born before 1790.
By 1755 the Lisnaward farm was owned by Robert Clugston, almost certainly John’s son. By 1787 it had passed to John Clugston, who sold it. By 1769, this youngest John seems to have also owned land in Lisnafiffy near Banbridge, a few km south-west of Lisnaward.
John of Lisnafiffy had four sons, John, Aaron, Archibald, and Robert, all born around 1780. A large fraction of the Clugstons alive today are his descendants.

Around 1800 there were probably more Clugstons near Banbridge, County Down than anywhere else in the world, all apparently descended from John. One of John’s sons, Archibald, moved to the Isle of Man. Archibald’s descendants include almost all Clugstons in the Isle of Man, Liverpool and Cheshire in the UK censuses from 1840-1910. Archibald’s brother Aaron had two grandsons who emigrated from Banbridge to Brisbane, Australia.

The freeholders list for the 1753 election in County Armagh shows 6 Clugston men in “Ross” (actually “Rawes”, which is about 6km east of Monaghan): Thomas; Robert, John, Robert Jr, Joseph, William. George and John Willson were the only two other freeholders in Ross.
The “Jr” is very significant. It shows not only that Robert Jr is the son of Robert, but also that they were also trying to maintain the family name. Under Scottish traditional naming, the first sons are named after their grandfathers, and the next son is named after the father. This suggests that John, Robert, Joseph and William are sons of Robert Senior, and that Robert Senior’s father was another John. Thomas is likely the son of John Clugston Junior of Belfast. Robert is very likely to be his brother.

The history of Robert’s other sons (Robert Jr, William, and Joseph) is less clear.
There were three families of Clugstons in Armagh, Robert, Thomas, and James, all born 1780-1790. They seem to be sons of Robert Clugston of Ballintemple, Armagh. Their children emmigrated to NSW and Ontario. Another Cluxton moved to England.

These next two men would be a perfect match for two of the sons, but they had been in America for a decade before the Armagh election was made.
Joseph Clugston was living in Adam’s County, Pennsylvania in 1742. Robert Clugston (possibly his brother) also emmigrated there from Belfast around 1750. They have many living descendants in Pennsylvania and Kansas. The “Clegston” spelling comes from one of his grandchildren. About one quarter of all Clugstons today are from this branch.

The Cluxton and Claxton families

In 1663 and 1665, Thomas Clugston was on the hearth money rolls for the town of Monaghan, in County Monaghan. Thomas Clugston, Gent in Monaghan was attainted in 1691 for having joined in the 1689 rebellion in support of William of Orange, along with Robert Clugston of Belfast. He may be Robert’s brother. Being attainted meant they were charged with High Treason and had their lands confiscated, though their heirs were unaffected. I believe they fled to Dublin and County Louth.
Thomas had no sons, but his daughters married extremely prominent men (their Wikipedia pages are linked in the tree). There is a small chance that these are actually Claxtons, an unrelated surname which originated in Norfolk; but Mary Cluxton’s neighbour was “James Claxton also Clugston”, and there is no doubt that Sovereign John Clugston was in the upper class of Belfast society. Mary Cluxton’s most famous descendant was Diana Princess of Wales.
Frances married Richard Parsons,”the wickedest man in the world”, one of the 18th Century’s greatest playboys.

Thomas Claxton = Lucy Pearce
    Mary Cluxton = Thomas Carter ~1690-1763.9.3 MP m. 1719.10.12
        (Master of the Rolls in Ireland 1731-1754)
        Frances Carter = Rev Dr Phillip Twysden 1714-1752
            (Phillip was a bishop who was shot dead in London attempting to rob a stagecoach)
            Frances Twysden = George Villiers Earl of Jersey
              (Frances was a mistress of King George IV)
              (Lady Diana Spencer is a descendant)
    Lucy Claxton = James Johnston bap 1655.9.9 – 3 May 1737.5.3 Secretary of State of Scotland 1692–96 m 1716
    Frances Cluxton ??-1772.5.25 = Richard Parsons, Earl of Rosse d. 1741.6.21 m 1719
      =2 Viscount Robert Jocelyn 1688-1756.12.3 m 1754.11.15 Lord Chancellor of Ireland

The neighbour of Mary Claxton and Thomas Carter was “James Claxton or Clugston”, Gentleman, of Kilcullen Bridge, County Kildare, who had a will probated in 1760. The estate was inherited by James Cluxton of Kilcullen Bridge who was the Tax Commissioner of County Kildare in the early 1800’s. Descendants went to Canada and the US, or remained near Dublin. The name seems to have mutated into
Cluxton; this spelling is exclusive to County Kildare and County Louth. There was however a William Cluckston in Dublin in 1670.
A key battle of the Irish Rebellion of 1798, in which, imitating the American Revolution, Catholics and Protestants united to try to break free of English rule, was fought so close to the Cluxton farm at Kilcullen, that their furniture and books were damaged.

Other Clugstons in County Down

Not all Clugstons in Ireland were descendants of the merchants.

Alexander Clugston, an attorney, was living in Portaferry in the Great Ards in 1644 and 1648, near Hamilton’s settlement. Many of the settlers (including Hamilton himself) fled back to Scotland when Cromwell invaded Ireland in 1649; Alexander may have fled with them.

In 1690, John Clugston owned a house in Killyleagh Town, 6km from Portaferry. This might be John Clugston Junior, the bankrupt merchant. Though the church records for Killyleagh exist, they do not mention any Clugstons, so John must have moved away.

Chas Cluggis was renting in Portaferry 1705-38. It looks as though the family moved south along the coast. In 1694 and 1697, John Clugston and James Clugston were Ruling Elders of the new Presbyterian church at Clough (then called Drumca).

Another family was also recorded.

____ Clugston
    Edward Clugston d 1710.9.13 Kilkenny
     (probate granted to his sister-in-law Hanna)
    Samuel Clugston of Islandmuck, Gent, co Down d1707
       = Hanna _____
       (Children all under 21 in 1707, ie born after 1686)
        Elizabeth Clugston
        Edward Clugston
        Hanna Clugston
          = Robert Macoom m 1710.3.1 Kilbegan, Co Meath
        John Clugston
        Margaret Clugston
    ______ Clugston
       Alexander Clugston of Ballynaughnaugh, co Down

I believe that most descendants of this family used the Claxton spelling.

Samuel’s brother was probably James Clugston who was Ruling Elder in the church at Drumca in 1697. His son Alexander owned an estate in Derrybeg, Armagh. Islandmuck, Drumca, and Derrybeg are all near Newry on the border between County Down and County Armagh. Alexander Clugston, son of James Clugston of Newry, obtained a freehold in Derry Beg, Newry in 1693. Alexander died before 1716.

We also know of Alexander (1655-1720) who was buried near Bangor, County Down. He probably related to the Alexander of Whithorn who refused Anglican communion in 1684. The Prebyterian minister of Wigtown fled to Bangor during the persecution. The most faithful of his flock probably followed him. He could also be the son of James.

In 1767, Joseph Clugston age 18 (born 1749) became an apprentice tailor in Newry. He was listed as a freeholder in Newry in 1787, 1789, and 1790. When he died around 1808, his daughter Mary was the sole heiress.

There are a small number of other Clugstons in County Down at an early date. James Clugston of Magherdrool requested financial assistance of 6 pence from Ballynahinch Presbyterian Church in 1705. He may be son of the bankrupt merchant John Clugston Junior. Mrs Janet Clugston of Magherdrool produced a testimonal from Rev Gilbert Kennedy of Tullylish to the same church in 1715. In 1723, Rachall Clugston of Magheradrool produced a testimony from Rev John Hutchinson of Armagh to introduce her at Ballynahinch Presbyterian Church. The previously-mentioned philosopher Frances Hutcheson was the son of Rev John Hutchison of the city of Armagh.
In 1804, James Clugston, farmer, bought 5 acres of land in Drumanaquoile, which is not far from Magherdrool. By 1824, he and his wife Sarah Clugston (1791-1866) were running a weaving business there. In 1810, Alexander Clugston bought 5 acres in Claragh, which is right next to Drumanaquoile.

The Clogstons of New Hampshire

John Clogston born in 1715, married Miranda Glassford in Massachusetts in 1740 and settled in New Hampshire. Most of the living Clogstons seem to be descendants of this man, though others are descended from Alexander Clogston who arrived in New York by 1790. (This needs further research).

The Heirs: The Clogstouns of Kirkcudbright and the West Indies

John Clogstoun (born around 1730), writer in Kirkcudbright, is the progenitor of the Clogstoun branch. Based on wealth, he seems to be the grandson of William Clogstoun (b 1645, allegedly d. 1734), Provost of Wigtown. Therefore he was the heir of Petir Clugston and ultimately of the Clugston barons. There is a Particular Sasine in Kirkcudbright dated 15 Jan 1678 to Robert Clugstoune son of John Clugstoune, merchant of Belfast. This proves that the Belfast merchants owned land in Kirkcudbrightshire at an early date, though the relationship between the modern Clogstouns and the merchants is not yet clear.

John Clogstoun apparently moved to Kirkcudbrightshire from Carlisle, just across the English border.

John’s son Robert was a senior official in Antigua. Robert’s son Samuel was granted a Coat of Arms which has a some similarity to Provost William’s heraldry (Unscrupulous companies try to sell this as “the Clugston family crest”; there is no such thing). One family member was awarded a Victoria Cross. One family member was a British officer who led Australian troops of Gallipoli. One daughter was adopted by the celebrated painter George Frederic Watts, and lived next to Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

The Clogstons and Clugstons of Glasgow

By 1800 most of the remaining Clugstons in Scotland had moved close to Glasgow. Most had come via Kirkcudbright, which is the next major town on the coast east of Wigtown. It is hard to know how long they had been there, but it was probably not long, because almost all Clugstons in Glasgow in the 1841 census seem to be descendants of either William or Hugh Clogston of Kirkcudbrightshire. Kirkcudbright is only about 40km from Loch Clugston, but it is also possible that they moved there from near Belfast. (An Isobell Congilstoun of Kirkcudbright left a will in 1606, but she was probably a Congleton, not a Clugston).

Two men called James Clugston, both born around 1760, were in Glasgow. One was a weaver, the other a tailor. They are probably sons of James and William Clogston, who were probably brothers. William was still in Kircudbright in 1762.
There were some devout evangelical Christians in this family, who were spectacular philanthropists. They were among the first teachers of working-class children in Scotland; they set up some of the first welfare schemes; they were involved in the abolition of the slave trade.

James Clugston, born Scotland, emmigrated to Hunterdon, New Jersey in 1775. His descendants moved to Whiteley, Indiana. One of his children was also a tailor.

John Clugston and Elizabeth Jaffray were married in Glasgow in 1806 (born around 1775). Their son Alexander is the ancestor of most Clugstons in Victoria, Australia.

Andrew Clugston(1799-1869) and Ann Buchanan moved from Ireland to Glasgow around 1828, and soon afterwards to Minigaff, Kirkcudbright, quite close to Wigtown. A daughter moved to Iowa around 1900.

Apart from the Clugstons in Newry, almost all Clugstons lived in rural areas. In 1840 there was only one family of Clugstons in Belfast: Robert Clugston (1785-1868), and his wife Margaret.

Other Clugstons in the USA

Two brothers, Robert (~1792-1845) and John Clugston(1805-1853), born Ireland, moved to Orange County, New York State, around 1820. The last Clugston from this branch died in 1861. Interestingly, John’s mother-in-law was born in Germany.

George and John Clugston moved from Ireland to Lexington, Fayette, Kentucky, around 1815.
James Clugston (1819-1891) and Elizabeth McHenry moved from Ireland to Lehigh, Pennsylvania, sometime around 1850.

Other Clugstons in the USA are here. (That page is a work-in-progress). This includes descendants of Alexander Clogston 1774-1830 and his wife Margaret Grace McLean 1774-1857; John Clugston born 1801 in Franklin, PA, and his wife Jane Martin; the Clugstons of Plum, Allegheny, PA, and Richard Cluxton 1827-1905 who emmigrated from Ireland to Cincinnati, Hamilton, Ohio. Most of these are likely to be siblings of branches already described above.

Records still to be obtained

Important documents which I am extremely interested in:
* Parish records from Drumbo Presbyterian, Ireland (starts from 1699)
* The sasine register for Dirvirdes.
* The deeds in Edinburgh, especially the 1682 bond between William Clugston of Wigtown and Michael Clugston of Belfast.

Unanswered Questions

Which family did the Belfast merchants come from? Was Alexander of Portaferry their brother? How many Clugstons returned to Scotland?
Are the family of Irish Clugston ministers related to the ministers in Glasgow?
Is the devout family of Dr William Alexander Clugston related to Dr Alexander Grant Clugston son of Dr William?
Were there Clugstons in Kirkcudbright before 1700? Did they come to Kirkcudbright from Wigtown, or from County Londonderry, Ireland? Is Bailie Clugston of Dalry, Kirkcudbright, 1722-1800 related to Bailie Clugston of County Kildare died 1801?


9 thoughts on “Clugston One Name Study

  1. Hello, I’m interested in your theory about the provenance of Helen Vauss, wife of William Clugston. I must admit I can’t see any flaw in your reasoning though it’s a pity that there’s no mention of Patrick or William Clugston in the correspondence of Sir Patrick Vauss – but then, that’s not a complete record by any means. Mckerlie didn’t get far in researching the Clugstons either. Do you have a family tree I can get access to?

    Jamie Vans (of Barnbarroch)


    • Hi Jamie,
      Fantastic to hear from you. My other main doubt with my theory is that the dowry which Sir Patrick received for his other daughters was enormous, and I wouldn’t expect the Clugstons would have been able to raise a dowry of that magnitude.
      I don’t have an actual family tree for the early period, but there are not very many possibilites, and I’m still trying to constrain the possibilities further. I have a lot of 1600’s records which are still not on this site but unfortunately we don’t have a complete line of descent for any of the extant branches. I’m most of the way through constructing the complete global family tree (it’s feasible because we are 30 times rarer than you are).

      BTW I’m awaiting my Y-DNA test results. The thing I’m most interested in, is actually to see how similar they are to the Vans of Barnbarroch. I think there’s a decent chance that both families originally came from the same place.


  2. Wow – you have done a truly impressive amount of research! I am trying to find out when John Spottiswoode and Elizabeth (nee Cluxton) arrived in Ireland.

    The Spottiswoodes (saddlers) are cousins of the Wilsons and Blackhams of Newry, County Down. They all migrated to South Australia with the Ragless family and continued to intermarry.
    I have found a lot of fabulous stories about James Spottiswoode Wilson b.1813, husband and cousin of Elizabeth’s daughter Sarah, (nee Spotswood) . He was quite a remarkable man.

    James is listed as a carpenter on the passenger list but I think his father may have been a merchant since James brother George Wilson owned a ship and sailed back and forth between Fremantle and Adelaide.
    James had ambitions of becoming Surveyor General in South Australia.


  3. On the clugston group on facebook there is an old clugston name book that references some items too. The story I heard was two brothers moved to the states and the clugstons from the states a from either side. Ironically the names of people are the same …I had an uncle galen..who did live long…in my work I ran across a galen from the other side. And I didn’t see the metiom of the vankluges either..that was interesting.


  4. Interesting. For sure the the early Clugstons to the US were closely related to each other, for sure I could believe they could be brothers. I think the odds of the Clugstons being originally German or Austrian are about a million to one. They could be Scottish, or Norse, or English, or could have come from Clugny in France with the Normans. But soon we will actually know…


  5. A Dictionary of Members of the Dublin Book Trade 1550-1800
    By Mary Pollard, Bibliographical Society (Great Britain). I didn’t get all pages as I didn’t pay.

    c1785-1787, John Rice(1783-1803) was a bookseller, printer, music seller and harpsichord maker. Free 1792.
    WDD: music seller, 5 College green (J. Chamberlain’s address), -1784. Philadephia from 1785-87. Bsr and str, 5 College green, 1790-91; 2 College green, 1791-1796; 111 Grafton st, Oct 1796-1805. Baltimore, My, 1803-1805. With Hanna Chamberlaine, 1790.

    1784 Mar, new music from JR, harpsichord and pianoforte maker: 2 new songs by Giordani, Goldsmith’s Hermit set by Hooke (EM,Mar, wrapper p.6)

    c 1785-87-, JR left Dublin in 1784 or 1785 and worked as bsr in Philadelphia, presumably with Henry Rice, bsr, and sometimes with William Spotswood. He had returned to Dublin by 1790 again joining H Chamberlaine in College green. She died Sep 1790.

    It seems that the connecting link between the Wilsons, Spotswoods, Rice and Cluxtons may be the booksellers, printers and merchants of these families. They may have all been ‘New Lights’.

    I think bsr stands for bursor, i.e. the cashier. So I guess you print the books, sell them and distribute?


  6. William Spotswood married his first wife in Newry, Ann Pasley (m. Jan 1772?) of Kildare. Maybe his gave rise to our lines? How do we find out the names of Ann’s progeny?

    His second wife Miss Stewart of Enniskillen (1783?) may connect to the Tasmanian Spotswoods.


  7. This is very interesting as my maiden name is Clogston, but family lore traces ups back to an Alexander Clugston (born around 1750) who came from Scotland and settled in Schenectady, NY. I haven’t read all your research yet to see if he is mentioned, but plan to ASAP. Where are you getting DNA testing done? I have done it on but it only goes back about 4 generations.


    • Yes, the Clogstons are included. I have not put much effort into that since it seems that the Clogstons have already put a lot of effort into tracing their ancestry, so there is not much I can add; the real purpose of the site is to attempt to join the branches together. But every Clugston, Clogston, Clogstoun, Clougston, and Cluxton is included on this site, for everyone born before 1910. Yeah, it’s completely insane.

      My DNA testing is with familytreedna. It is a Y-DNA test which is male only, but gives deep relationships (300+ years ago). This is really the perfect application for it. It would be fantastic if a Clogston male could be persuaded to take a Y-DNA test, since the Clogstons are by far the largest branch and are very well documented. There are only about a dozen Clugston branches, so we don’t need many Y-DNA results to reconstruct the global tree.


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