Thomas Irvine

An enchantingly intriguing story, but subject to speculative doubt. We have Angelina’s notation that Thomas landed in America 16th may, 1797 – and the date of his marriage just 11 months later. By historical record – until 1799 or 1800 Robert Emmett was completing his education by traveling in Europe. He was not in trouble with established officialdom in Ireland until after 1800, was not apprehended until 1803, and was tried and executed in 1804.

The subsequent story of Thomas’ life in America would prove the tale a pure fabrication (maybe his own – to squelch what he may have regarded as an intrusion) – for Angelina continues with listing his marriage to Tabitha Meridith Clark as of 21st April, 1798, in Stone Valley, Huntington Co. Penn., the ceremony being performed by the Rev. Robert Riddle. And if, as a young hothead, he had been inclined to dabble in and upset or reform the established order of affairs in his home land such endeavors would most likely have been expected to continue in whatever land offered harbor. Happily nothing of this nature has revealed itself.

Instead, after acquiring a wife, the next 13 years of wandering in this new land had brought him four children by the 15th march, 1811 date of settlement to farming 4 miles south-east of Mt. Vernon. In rather rapid succession five more little mouths to feed and provide for – plus the promotional zeal to be related.

But first some recounting from a letter from cousins in 1904 (a 2x grand niece, Elizabeth Thompson Rowe, to Mathew Thompson, a 2x grand nephew). This epistle is the sole recording that purports to divulge the character of our emigrant great great grandparents – Thomas and Tabitha. If these statements could be believed surely they better suit a man of Aunt Matt’s description than the husbandman depicted in the above paragraph. Excerpts from the letter: -

"You perhaps don’t know but the Thompsons and Dunlaps always were ashamed of the Irvines, and all my life Martha has always taken great pains before people to tell that away back in Ireland we were related. Uncle Robert Irvine and Martha’s father were brothers. Grand-father brought or sent old Thomas Irvine, uncle Robert’s father, to America for the good of Ireland, and grand-father always said that for so doing the Devil owed him a grudge and paid him back in Irvines, as his daughter Magdalena married an Irvine -–and his daughter-in-law married an Irvine who was Martha’s mother, Jim Irvine’s wife. Now this Henry Irvine, that Aunt Anne married was no relation to Martha as I understand it, at least not near. But her son John married Tabitha Cannon and her mother was an Irvine as this Tabitha and Martha is a own cousin.

"Old Tom Irvine, Uncle Robert’s father, was a bad bad man, and Grandmother Thompson was always ashamed of his family.

"He drank, kept a low hotel, would steal, lie, and whipped his wife regularly. There is a story that a man died in his hotel, and Old tom made his will after his death but put a fly in his mouth and swore there was life in the man when he made his will, and Old tom got all he had. Old Tom’s wife, name of Tabitha Clark – she and Grandmother Thompson were quite intimate, being ladies of Ireland this woman was refined and cultured, and when Old Tom would whip her she would stand before the glass and say to herself "Is it possible ? Is this Tabitha Clark ?"

"Ida and Mathew were always fighting about the Irvines. Mathew always said their respectability came from the Thompsons, and when Ida names her boy Irvine Mathew was disgusted and said to me when I was there with Bartie that it was a pity to curse her boy with the name Irvine. Aunt Nettie always cut the Irvines, it seems in Ireland they disgraced the Thompsons."

A verbatim copy of this entire letter, as revealing of the character of Irvine Thompson in the Thompson Section, under Elizabeth nee Thompson Rowe, pages 5-6-7 – with explanatory attempts to unscramble some of its implications. Further comment on the letter hardly seems appropriate – at this late date. For surely the Thompsons were related back in Ireland – Old Tom’s sister married Mathew Thompson - a grand-daughter married Old Tom’s 5th child – a daughter married a Henry Irvine – this daughter’s son married Old Tom’s grand-daughter – and the so disparaged Irvine Thompson Holloway gave me no inklings there were any such denigrating sentiments between the families.

The "brought or sent Old Tom to American" seems to reveal the ‘Lizzie’ Rowe, at 60-2 years of age, had little factual information to impart. For we must assume that Thommas and Jane were married shortly following the 1755 Article of marriage, and following a natural course of events Martha was born in 1756-7. The positive date of her marriage to Mathew Thompson in 1780, according to Irvine Thompson, was corroborated by the records found in the Genealogical Office, Dublin Castle registry date of 16 Feb., 1780. Such causes as an infant born who died early or a miscarriage accounts for the 1785 birth date of a first child Irvine Thompson. But knowing Old Tom was 75 during the 1850 Knox Co. Census indicates that he was born in 1775, and came to America in 1797. Under such circumstances it seems too fantastic that a 12-year-old son of an Irish farmer would be so circumstance as to do other than bid good bye to his Uncle Tom.