Edward Erwin, Sr. — his origins

The following e-mail messages were received from a fellow researcher, David T. Irvine, who had visited our IDL pages:
Date: 21 Nov 2010
Subject: IDL_book

Dear Mr. Carey,

Thanks for the wonderful site assembled by you and your relatives. I found it yesterday after Googling "Edward Erwin Sr" while searching for Elson Irwin's reference source he identified only as "IDL-1916" regarding Edward Erwin Sr of Fermanagh/Augusta.

My cousin Cathy Thompson has traced our line of Irvines back to Edward Erwin Sr via his son John Erwin, grandson Benjamin, ggrandson John Erwin/Irvine, gggrandson William Herron Irvine, and ggggrandson David Grove Irvine (my grandfather).

I am a member of Clan Irvine Association (CIA), and some months ago participated in the CIA DNA Study. My results (67 marker) indicate that I am most likely descended from an unknown Irving in the Dumfriesshire area around 1400. However, comparisons with the results of others in the study do not support a close relationship with either the Bonshaw Irvings or with the "Castle Irvines".

So far I've not been able to learn who the parents of Edward Erwin Sr were; I've seen much speculation on other sites but nothing verifiable. Elson Irwin commented that Edward Sr was given a large land grant in Augusta County probably by King George II in payment for military service, and he cites "IDL-1916" as his reference ( http://genforum.genealogy.com/irwin/messages/1114.html ).

Your site also mentions royal land grants but the wording on the second and third pages (on my printed copy) is a bit ambiguous distinguishing between Edward Sr and Jr. I gather there may have been more than one royal land grant to the Erwins, and King Charles II is mentioned.

Hence my inquiry: Is there credible evidence that Edward Erwin Sr of Fermanagh Ireland and later of Long Glade, Augusta County, Virginia, was indeed given a royal land grant as payment for his military services? If this is indeed credible, do you have any sources that can suggest what the nature of this military service was, and when and where? I'm guessing it must have been pretty significant to warrant a royal land grant as a thank-you present. I'm interested in this line of inquiry as I am hoping that there may be a paper trail surviving in some Scots-Irish or English military archive that may give a clue as to Edward Sr's parentage and ideally his earlier pedigree. It appears to me that Edward Sr and family must have enjoyed a degree of social stature and financial means to be able to come to the colonies and to be able to soon settle on what appears to be a sizable royal land grant in Virginia; those Erwins do not appear to be a family of destitute refugees from Ulster Plantation, hence my surprise that nothing seems to be known about Edward Sr's background and activities etc in County Fermanagh. Any comments or references will be most welcome, thanks.

Date: Tue, 23 Nov 2010
Subject: IDL_book

Dear Chuck,

Thanks for your response! I am flattered that you think my inquiry is worth posting on your IDL site but yes, please do feel free to post it together with my contact information. I'd prefer email communication for its convenience, but snail-mail is okay too. My own family tree seems to be reliably defined back to Edward Erwin Senior of Long Glade, Augusta County, Virginia; formerly of County Fermanagh, Ireland. But I've run into a stone wall regarding documentation on who his parents were, and on back. I've seen much speculation on other sites, but so far nothing verifiable. However, here is a very informative site which you and your Erwin/Irvine/etc kin may find of interest: http://barbjscott.freeservers.com/Erwin/index.htm . The information on this site forms the basis of my speculations about Edward Sr in the last paragraph of my first email to you.

Incidentally for whatever it's worth to IDL readers, I cannot recommend and praise participation in a DNA group study too highly in order to get one's family research aimed in the right direction. Based on my own family tradition I thought I was descended from the Drum Irvines of Aberdeenshire but baffled that none of our family could find a linkage or even a plausible speculation to support that tradition. Imagine my surprise to learn that my DNA results indicate my Irvine line actually originated from an unknown Irving in the Dumfriesshire area some time in the 1400's. As my late Uncle Norman Irvine once observed, if you are going to dabble in family genealogy you'd better be ready for surprises; he was so correct!
Since, like David, I am a 6th great-grandson of Edward Ervin (or Erwin), senior, I believe this makes us sixth cousins.

I welcome your comments on the questions David has raised and will be glad to make them available to other researchers via this page.
This page was last updated 25 Nov 2010.