Thomas McClurken

1756 - 1845

By: Roger Kemps © 2008


Thomas McClurken was born in 1756 in Balleymoney, Antrim, Ireland (see Alternate Birth Year). He died on March 22, 1845 in Oakdale, Illinois.


It is believed that his father was John McClurkin who was born about 1724 in Ballymena, County Antrim, Ireland. Thomas’ siblings included:


·      Robert (1746 – 1786)

·      John (1757 – 1819)

·      Archibald (1758 – 1/14/1780)

·      Mathew (1761 - 5/1/1847)

·      Isabelle Kirkpatrick (about 1766 – about 1841)

·      Mary Hood (about 1769 – 1831)

·      Elizabeth McQuiston ( 1770 – 1844)

·      Nancy McClure (1772 – 1848)

·      Possibly three more


Thomas arrived on a voyage from County Antrim, Ireland to Charleston, South Carolina in 1772. For an explanation, see Covenanters. Thomas was on the ship, Lord Dunluce. For a list of all the surnames, see:  Surname Summary of those who came with Rev Martin  and Names of Passengers from Ireland.


A Thomas appears in “Scotch-Irish Migration to South Carolina, 1772” on the following pages:


·      Page 35, signed letter about the virtues of the captain of the ship, Lord Dunlace.

·      Page 42, a Thomas is listed as the son of James McClurken in his will dated December 9, 1794. However, it has been concluded that James was the uncle of the Thomas of this biography and his cousin was also named Thomas.

·      Page 47, a Thomas is listed as a property owner bordering that of Samuel McLurkam on plat folder 1109, dated January 6, 1773, and surveyed March 20, 1773 in Laurens County, South Carolina. This my have been his cousin.


Thomas, and three of his brothers, served in the Revolutionary War. Thomas served at various times from 1776 through 1782. He was a private in Turner’s Company of Winn’s South Carolina Regiment. See Thomas McClurken Revolutionary War Service for the details about his service.


Thomas McClurken married Elizabeth Smith on September 4, 1790 in Chester, South Carolina. Thomas and Elizabeth were Covenanters. They had six children while living in South Carolina:


·      John (May 4, 1792 – July 12, 1874)

·      Archibald (November 11, 1794 – April 7, 1853)

·      Nancy (December 25, 1797 – November 9, 1857)

·      James (January 5, 1801 – October 8, 1875)

·      Thomas (March 31, 1805 – January 10, 1867)

·      David (June 22, 1811 – March 18, 1880)


Thomas and Elizabeth show up in the 1790 Census of Chester County, South Carolina, along with three males under 16 years of age, three females, and one slave. It is presumed that the others were not their children, but may have been related.


Thomas and Elizabeth show up in the 1800 Census of Chester County, South Carolina. Living with them were John, Archibald and another male child (under 10), another male (15 – 25), Nancy (under 10) and 4 slaves.


Thomas and Elizabeth show up in the 1810 Census of Chester County, South Carolina. Living with them were John (16 – 25), Archibald (10 – 15), James and Thomas (0 – 9), Nancy (10 – 15), and two other free persons.


Thomas and Elizabeth show up in the 1820 Census of Chester Township of Chester County, South Carolina. Living with them were James (16 – 25), Thomas (10 – 15), David (0 – 9), and Nancy (16 – 25).


Thomas and Elizabeth show up in the 1830 Census of Chester County, South Carolina. Living with them were Thomas (20 – 29), David (15 – 19),  Nancy and one other female (20 – 29).


Pages 55 & 56 of the Narratives of Randolph County are a transcript of a letter written in 1896 by Rev. J. J. McClurkin, a grandson of Thomas. In it, he describes these experiences of his grandfather:


·      An encounter, as a teenager, with the chief officer of an English camp.

·      Joining of the Covenanter church with the assistance and encouragement of his wife.

·      The four slaves that were set free by Thomas (between 1800 and 1810).

·      The persecution by his neighbors related to his religious conversion.

·      The trip from South Carolina that commenced in December 1833. This was a six-week trip, on which Thomas, Elizabeth and daughter, Nancy, traveled in a one-horse carriage. Other family members were in a wagon with four horses.


In 1827, Thomas applied for a military pension. Thomas received the pension from the South Carolina Office through 1833. In 1832, Congress passed a new pension act. In 1833, Thomas applied for a pension under this new act and it was granted. His pension payment was $55 per year. The pension file for Thomas, and his widow, contains 94 pages and provides additional details of his life. See the complete file at this link.


About 1830, some of Thomas’ children (James and Thomas, Jr.) moved with their families to Washington County, Illinois. For an explanation of the circumstances associated with the move, see Covenanters. On September 7, 1833, Thomas sold his 250 acre plantation on Rocky Creek in South Carolina. In December, he and the balance of his family members, left for Washington County Illinois. Thomas and Elizabeth purchased 80 acres in Section 15 in 1834 and 40 acres in 1836.


Thomas and Elizabeth were Charter Members of the Oakdale Reformed Presbyterian Church that was formed in 1834. Thomas was an elder in his church in South Carolina and was chosen to be one of the elders of this church. It is likely that they participated in the Underground Railroad, along with other members of the congregation, because of their disdain for slavery.


Thomas Sr., is mentioned in “History of Oakdale Township” (see references):


·      Page 29; Elder of RP Church in Spring 1834

·      Page 33; RP Church Charter Members

·      Page 34; Revolutionary War Service RP Church member

·      Page 45; Revolutionary War grave decoration

·      Page 121; Section 15 1834-11-19 & 1836-9-7


Thomas is mentioned on page 69 of “History of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in America” as follows: “The Covenanters went heartily into the bloody conflict, and the battles of Fridus Fort and Eutaw Springs were so fierce and hotly contested, that their guns came to a blue heat in the conflict. Such bravery in battle as was displayed by William Anderson, John Smith, John Faris, Thomas McClurkin, Thomas Neil, and other Covenanters, deserves record. Wherever Covenanters and staunch Presbyterians were settled, there were the strongholds of the cause of American independence.” Thomas is also mentioned on page 345, in association with the founding of the church in Elkhorn, Illinois, as follows: “Soon they were joined by others, and the congregation was organized in July 1834 at the house of Archibald Hood, with nineteen members. John and Thomas McClurkin and John Donnelly were chosen ruling elders.”


Thomas is mentioned of page 22 of  "Soldiers of the Church" as follows: "Thomas McClurkin, grandfather of the preachers of that name, fought through the war. Archibald McClurkin was taken by the Tories from a sick bed and hung."


Thomas’ Revolutionary War service is also mentioned on page 56 of “The Reformed Presbyterian and Covenanter, Volume 14.” His refusal of Jury Duty, for religious reasons, is recounted at the top of page 57. See Pages 56 & 57. (These pages were republished in “Our Banner, Volume 2” pages 391 through 393). His defaulting jury absence is also documented in the Chester County Common Pleas Court Minute Book Vol. A-C 1800-1822 p212 in 1805 and Chester County Common Pleas Court Minute Book Vol. A-C 1800-1822 p312 in 1806.


Thomas, along with his brothers John and Matthew, is also included on the Catholic Presbyterian Church Revolutionary War Marker (see image) at the historic church in Chester County, South Carolina (see additional images). In 1920, Thomas' great great grandson, Rev. Walter Clyde McClurkin, visited the South Carolina homestead and church. The description of his trip was published in the "Christian Nation," Volume 73, pages 87-89.


Thomas and Elizabeth show up in the 1840 Census of Washington County, Illinois. Living with them were David, Nancy and one other male (20 – 29).


Thomas died on March 22, 1845. He is buried in Oakdale Cemetery (Old Section, Row 5, Grave 32), near Oakdale, Illinois. For an image of his two headstones, see this link. His obituary provides a unique reflection of his life and his faith.


Reference sources and files:



Thomas McClurken Birth Year



Surname Summary of those who came with Rev Martin

Names of Passengers from Ireland

Scotch-Irish Migration to South Carolina, 1772

James McClurken Will

“Perry County, Illinois” page 207

McClurkin-Smith Record, Washington County, Illinois 

Thomas McClurken Revolutionary War Service

Thomas_McClurken_Pension.jpg see line 25


Genealogical Abstracts of Revolutionary War Pension Files Volume II: F - M

Head of Families at the First Census - South Carolina  see page 16, lower right

1790_Thos_McClurkin_Chester_SC.jpg  see right column, third from bottom

1800_Thomas_McKlirkin.pdf  see line 2

1810_Thos_McKlirkin_Chester_SC.jpg  see line 19

1820_Thos_McKlirkin_Chester_SC.jpg  see line 22

1830_Thomas_McClurken.jpg  see line 9

History of Oakdale Township and references

Oakdale Reformed Presbyterian Church

Thomas_22_12_1835_WHSWQ_S15_T3SR4W.jpg (purchased 11/19/1834)

Thomas_1_8_1838_SWQNWQ_S15_T3SR4W.jpg (purchased 8/11/1836)

1840_Thomas_McClurken_Sr.jpg  see line 2

A Census of Pensioners for Revolutionary or Military Services  see page 188

Thomas McClurken Obituary.pdf

Oakdale Cemetery Website

Genealogy Trails Washington County, Illinois Website

Narratives of Randolph County.pdf

History of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in America  see pages 69 & 345

Soldiers of the Church ex.pdf  see page 22

The Reformed Presbyterian and Covenanter, Volume 14  see page 56 & 57

Chester County Common Pleas Court Minute Book Vol. A-C 1800-1822 p212 for 1805

Chester County Common Pleas Court Minute Book Vol. A-C 1800-1822 p312 for 1806

Catholic Presbyterian Church, Chester County, South Carolina

"Christian Nation," Volume 73, pages 87 - 89

“Roster of South Carolina Patriots in the American Revolution”  page 605 OneWorldTree

Charlene Gillespie Deutsch Research

John Mize Research

“The Revolutionary Soldiers of the Catholic Presbyterian Church, Chester, S.C.” pages 91 & 92


Outline Descendant Report of Thomas McClurken

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Last updated  4/6/2019