The Jacob Milligan Story

            Irish or Scottish?             


Were the Milligan's Irish or Scottish?

Definitely Celtic, some were Irish, some Scottish and a few English, too!

If you are related to our family, please contact us.  We would like to hear from you and if you wish, add your family info.
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 Captain Jacob Milligan - American Patriot - 1747 - 1796

Recently a writer posed the question, "Was Jacob Milligan Scottish or Irish?" Here is my response...

Greetings Bill.  I am honored that you have been following the new website (and the old one- which was down for some time).  I have only been working on the new one for a week or so.
Your question is a really good one.  To answer, we  have to piece together the evidence and make an educated guess, since we do not have conclusive evidence  yet.  One record we have seen indicates Jacob was “from” New York, and we know his father, Dr. John Milligan, lived and practiced there, and had a shop, and was a member of the First Presbyterian church and one of the founding members of the St. Andrews society there.  The St. Andrews society was a Presbyterian group of community leaders, businessmen, etc. and of course many Scots, if not most, were Presbyterian at that time.
The best evidence perhaps comes from a DNA test done by a male Milligan cousin (Sean Milligan of Myrtle Beach) which indicated our line is descended (including Jacob) from Rev. Peter Milligan of Colvend Scotland.  However, in the 1600’s many folks moved between Scotland and Ireland easily and often.
Alan Milliken has done a great deal of research (on the other side of the pond as they say) and has a website called The Regarde` Bien.  
Alan notes In Article 18, “I wonder if Jacob Milligan a veteran of the American Revolution came from near Dumfries. Perhaps, other Milligan and Millican families also settled in South Carolina from the same area in Scotland. For those interested in Scottish-American history, the American Revolutionary War hero, John Paul Jones, was born near Kirkbean on July 6, 1747.

The pedigree of Charles Milligan, Esq. of Caldwell Hall, Derby, England, preserves a clue as to the lineage of Robert Lindsay Milligan and Margaret Milligan, which is traced to the Rev. Peter Amuligane. According to this pedigree, their grandfather, James Milligan of Kirkbean, was the son of John Milligan of Kirkbean, son of Peter Milligan of Dalbeattie, son of Peter Milligan, son of Herbert Milligan, son of the Rev. Peter Milligan, otherwise Amuligane, minister of Colvend Church. The writer of this article would very much welcome correspondence with any person directly descended from the Milligans of Colvend, Dalbeattie and Kirkbean.”
Further, in issue #15, he indicates...
The Milligans of Caldwell Hall

The Milligans of Caldwell Hall in Derbyshire, England, like the Millikens of Milliken in Renfrewshire, Scotland, descend from the ancient family of Amuligane in Nithsdale and made their fortune in the 1700s, through trade with the West Indies. I hope in later issues to re-examine parts of the early history relating to this family and in particular the elusive Rev. Peter Milligan, Minister of Colvend in Kirkcudbrightshire. {Colvend, Kirkcudbrightshire is in the southwest area of Scotland, just across the water from Belfast and Dublin}.
As already observed Rev. Peter Milligan's son, Charles Milligan, was beheaded at Carlisle, England, in 1609 and according to this pedigree he was the ancestor of John Milligan of New York, USA. I have transcribed the pedigree as it appears in Burke’s Peerage.
This John Milligan of New York, shown  above, is the father of our Captain Jacob Milligan.  Jacob lived, along with a number of other Milligans, in Charleston SC. (James, William, Robert, John Pheonix). 

There are some Milligans of Irish descent who also descend from this same family.  There is a tradition of  five brothers who went to Ireland around 1640. Alan thinks this group came from the Dumfrieshire/ Kirkcudbright area of SW Scotland.

In either case, my best guess is that Jacob was born in either New York or the Dumfries area.  He is of Scottish descent.   If you are interested in more DNA information, you can find it here 
I just checked and it seems that page is no longer available. I do have a copy if you are interested.  You can also see Alan’s home page at
I hope this will be helpful.  

Scott Gabrielson


Here is a bit more on the Irish Milligans... again from Regarde' Bien by way of Bryce Milligan


Early Traditions related to County Down

Two of the oldest "M" traditions related to Ireland find their origins in Co. Down and for the purposes of this article, are known as the Banbridge and Ballyskeagh traditions. In the first, the ancestor of the Mulligans of Banbridge are said to have "descended from two brothers of the name of Millikin who during the inter-racial broils of Scotland emigrated to Ireland and landed at Bangor in Co. Down, one brother moved into the Ards peninsula and the other directed his course towards Belfast and settled in that neighbourhood and after sometime married the sister of [John] Stewart of Ballydrain House" in the parish of Drumbeg. It goes on to narrate that at the outbreak of the Irish Rebellion in 1641, this man came to the defence of Ballydrain House. By his marriage to the sister of John Stewart of Ballydrain, Milliken is said to have had a son called James who after sometime made his way to the neighbourhood of Banbridge and settled in the townland of Ballievy.

In my own family tradition, my ancestry is traced to five brothers, said "to have removed from Scotland to Ireland during the wars between the Scotch and English, three of whom settled on the river Bann and two at Ballyskeagh" near Newtownards. This tradition echoes the Banbridge tradition, for in both the ancestors in question emigrated during the civil war between Scotland and England, or to be more precise, the Covenanters and Supporters of King Charles I. In another tradition, it is said of James Milliken of Ballyskeagh, better known as Gentleman James, that sometime during the 19th century he made a visit to meet James Milliken of Ravara and both by comparing notes, concluded that they represented the descendants of the two brothers who were believed to be called Robert and James Milliken. In the Ballyskeagh tradition, the father of the five sons is said to have been knighted, an allusion to a much older tradition.


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