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McPherran-Sterling family


John McPherran was born about 1697. It is believed that he and his brothers immigrated from Scotland about 1732. McPherran is seen spelled many different ways in period documents, including MacPherran, McFerran, McFerrin, and even McPherson and McFarson.

John McPherran and his brother, William, were among the first settlers who "setled and made improvements in the Manor of Maske" before the 18th of June 1741. William Penn had purchased the land from the local Indians in the late 1730s, and called for his surveyors to run off any inhabitants so that he could move in. Our ancestors came to note when they (along with many other settlers) refused to leave, claiming prior ownership. John had at least one other brother, Samuel, as mentioned in his will.

I am still working on the identity of John's wife. I have three conflicting sources to sort out, all from a collection of genealogical research done by my great-aunt, now deceased.

The first source is a series of statements from the children of Andrew McPherran, John's grandchildren. Robert Patton McPherran lists his grandfather as our John, and goes on to say he remembers his grandmother was the daughter of Saunders Sterling of Scotland. Robert's brother, Samuel, goes on to say that their grandmother was John's second wife, the mother of their father, Andrew. He lists John (Jr.) as the oldest of Andrew's full brothers, and lists William as a half-brother by the first wife, along with two more sons and one or two daughters. Samuel did not know if John's first family came from Scotland with him or not.

The second source is John McPherran's will. In it, he leaves his personal estate to his "loving wife Martha McFarran". If the information in the will is compatible with the information above, Martha McFarran was the second wife, who outlived her husband and therefore would be the grandmother Samuel and Robert remember as a Sterling, making her Martha Sterling.

I would be content to list our ancestor as Martha Sterling if it weren't for the third source, which is an entry on a hand-written family tree. It reads as follows: "Andrew McPherran was son of John born 1696 or 7 who came to US about 1732 and his (John's) wife (second) Rebecca Sterling, daughter of Saunders Sterling of Scotland". As this tree was created by the same person who collected copies of all of the above sources, I wonder at the discrepancy in the names.

In any case, John's will lists eleven children. Aside from the three sons mentioned above, I am uncertain which children belong to which wife. Samuel, Andrew, and John are named in John's will in that order, separate from the other children, though the reason for the separation could be interpreted several ways.

John McPherran
+ [Unknown] (first wife)
________1. William McPherran


John McPherran
+ _?_ Sterling (second wife)
________1. John McPherran
________2. Andrew McPherran (1755-1829)


John McPherran
+ UNCERTAIN (first or second wife)
________1. Samuel McPherran
________2. Elizabeth McPherran
________3. Mary McPherran
________4. Jane McPherran
________5. Agnes McPherran
________6. Susanna McPherran
________7. Martha McPherran
________8. Ann McPherran


John died in 1874 in York County, Pennsylvania. His will was ordered to be carried out September 17, 1784.

As always, questions or comments can be added here.
Tags: immigrant, mcpherran, pennsylvania, scotland, sterling
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