Common assumptions regarding the McClendon surname often result in statements like, “Oh, so you’re Irish.” However, a perusal of the McClendon surname, its history, and current usage reveal some rather interesting wrinkles to the story that, for me, were unexpected, turning the usual assumptions on their head.
The surname, McClendon, appears to be Irish, but is technically American. The distinction is made between “American” and “U.S.A.” to show that it originated in America prior to the existence of the U.S.A.
Origin: Myth Versus Reality
Although the name McClendon appears Irish by virtue of the “Mc” prefix (an Irish variation meaning “clan of”), a search for McClendons in Ireland and Scotland yield nothing before John McClendon, the father of Dennis McClendon (MackLandens, MackLendon) the immigrant who landed on the shore of Colonial America in the late 1600s. In my research, it appears that this John McClendon (McLennen, McLellan), is more legend than fact. It is a legend that neatly connects the name to venerable clans of the Old World.
There is ongoing debate, but the best research I have seen indicates that the original holder of the surname, McClendon, is a second- or third-generation descendant of the immigrant ancestor Dennis Macklendon, my 8th great-grandfather, who was born around 1650. Dennis, immigrated to North America around 1685, from Barbados where he and his father, Bryan MacLandins were planters and owners of some land. It is possible that Bryan arrived in Barbados as an indentured servant. Dennis appears on public records selling Bryan’s land in Barbados in 1690 after Bryan’s death in 1688, and shows up on the public record of Perquimans County in the Carolina Province in 1697. He was married to Elizabeth Dunn, in the 1676. His first-generation offspring continued to use the spelling Macklendon in land transactions and wills as late as 1726.
Though MacLandins appears to be a Scottish name, the name Dennis is distinctly Irish. There is also a concentration of McAlindins living in county Armaugh, Ulster, Ireland. Recent DNA testing and research has also revealed decent from the older McAlinden clan of Armaugh and ancient descent from Mac Giolla-Fhionnáin, whose history has written about by the esteemed Irish historian, Dr. Edward MacLysaght.
Dennis Macklendon was eventually appointed King’s Justice in the North Carolina Colony, indicating a close connection with the English. At the time, most of the Scottish were distrusted by the English. Irish heritage may have helped him secure this appointment.
A. ORIGIN OF THE McLENDON-McCLENDON FAMILY: THE MYTH AND THE REALITY
(1994) by RODERICK A. McLENDON, 27527 Cunningham Dr, Valencia, CA 91354-1912.
The generally accepted story of the origin of the McLendon-McClendon family as stated by various authors, is that Dennis Macklendon, the immigrant, came to the Colony of North Carolina, some time prior to the second Monday in January, 1696/7, where he proved eleven rights for which he received 550 acres of land. Dennis was supposed to have been born in Scotland, the son of a John MacLennan. There, he married an Elizabeth and sired four sons, Francis, Dennis, Bryan and Thomas. The family came directly from Scotland arriving shortly before Dennis proved the rights. The authors recording this story provide no documentation to support it.
Roderick A. McLendon of Valencia, California, a descendant researcher believes that Dennis Macklendon came to North America earlier than the date he first appeared on the record in North Carolina, and he proposes an alternative theory of the family’s origin:
His origin was not Scotland but the Island of Barbados. Dennis first went to the Colony of Virginia, possibly Nansemond County, which is located on the North Carolina border not far from Perquimans Precinct. His date of arrival in Virginia is not known and only one possible reference to him there has been located. In a land transaction in Nansemond County, 29 October 1696, one of the boundary properties was identified as “Maccladland’s”.
- Dennis left Barbados prior to the publishing of his father’s will 29 December 1687(a), which placed him in Virginia at least ten years, or more, prior to his appearance in North Carolina. This ten years would have provided him ample time to marry and have children. Dennis was a farmer as evidenced by his title, “Planter”, in the 1690 deed of sale in Barbados.(b) The first record of Dennis Macklendon in North Carolina was his appearance in Perquimans Precinct Court, 11 January 1696/7. Dennis proved eleven rights which identified his family as himself, Elizabeth, Francis, Dennis, Bryan and Thomas Macklendon.
- Interestingly, Dennis returned to Perquimans Court 30 October 1700, and proved thirteen rights, again naming his family as above but identifing the two Dennises as “junior” and “senior”.
- The paternal-sibling relationship is enhanced by a deed and a will. The deed was made 23 July 1717, by and between Francis Macklendon, eldest son of Dennis Macklendon late of Albemarle Co deceased, … [and] Dennis Macklendon, second son of aforesaid Dennis, deceased,…
- The will, dated 19 January 1725/6, wherein Dennis Macklendon, Jr., named as two of his Executors, brothers Francis and Thomas Macklendon
- The relationships of Elizabeth Macklendon and Bryan Macklendon to Dennis are not clear. Elizabeth was not identified as Dennis’ wife in the initial entry; she may have been. No other records for Elizabeth are evident. If she was Dennis’ wife, she died after October 1700 as Dennis Macklendon married Deborah Whedbee, a widow, in 1702.
- Bryan was probably a son of Dennis and brother to Francis, Dennis and Thomas Macklendon; probably being named after his grandfather, Bryan, of Barbados. A Bryan Macklendon does appear in the record beginning in 1739 in Newburn County, North Carolina.
- Beginning in April 1704, the quarterly sessions of the Perquimans Court were held at the house of Dennis Macklendon. On 10 April 1705, Dennis Macklendon became one of the Justices of the Court. The 6 January 1705/6 session was the last when Dennis Macklendon served as a Justice. There was no court session in April 1706. The 9 July 1706 session was held at the house of Mrs. Deborah Macklendon. Dennis Macklendon appeared in the record as deceased.
- On 28 August 1706, at General Court, the will of Dennis Macklendon was presented by John Bird, one of the Executors. Appraisers were appointed to inventory the estates in Chowan and Perquimans Precincts. The contents of the will were not recorded and there was no evidence of a return.
- A more probable version of the origin of the McLendons/McClendons is that Dennis Macklendon was born on the Island of Barbados, probably in the 1660s. He was the son of Bryan Maclandins, of Barbados, Planter, and his wife Margery Hunt, daughter of Henry Hunt, of Barbados.(c,d,& e) Bryan Maclandins probably arrived in Barbados as an indentured servant sometime prior to 1660. Economic opportunity was poor on the island and Dennis left sometime prior to 29 December 1687, going to the Colony of Virginia, where he probably married and started a family. Bryan Maclandins died in February 1688 and was buried in St. Philip Parish, Barbados. In 1690, Dennis returned to Barbados and disposed of his inheritance. By January 1696/7, Dennis moved his family and a small group of friends into Perquimans Precinct, Albermarle County, North Carolina.
The story of Dennis Macklendon is not complete. The Barbadian records are over three hundred years old. The tropical climate has deteriorated the documents to the point that some are now non-existant and others are so fragile that they may not be used. Virginia records, if they exist, which would add to the story of Dennis Macklendon, have not been located.
THE WILL OF BRYAN MACLANDINS OF BARBADOS
Entered the 20th day of February 1688 [RB6/41, p.118]
In the Name of God, Amen I, Bryan Maclandins in the Parish of st Philip and island aforesaid, Planter, being very sick and weak but of sound and perfect memory (praise be God for the same) Do make, order and appoint this to be my last will and testament Revoking and hereby making Void all former Will or wills whatsoever heretofore by me made.
IMPRIMIS. I give and bequeath my soul into the hands of Almighty God that gave it me Hoping only through the merits of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to receive full pardon for my sins and Salvation and my body to the Earth to be decently Buried at the direction of my Executors hereafter named and for my worldly Estate My just debts funeral Expenses and legacies being first paid and satisfied I dispose of the same as followith.
SECONDLY. I give & bequeath unto my loving son, Dennis Mclandens and his heirs of his body for Ever all my Estate both Real and Personall whatsoever provided he be heard of or any way make demands of the same within two years after my decease. But if he be not heard of within the time aforesaid, then that part of my Estate hereby given to him I give to my Executor hereafter named.
THIRDLY. I give unto my loving kinsman Mr Dennis McMarro & his wife the just sum of 20 pounds sterling to be paid to him at two equal payments within three years after my decease.
FOURTHLY. I give unto my friends Mr. Thomas Wakely my red young heifer which is now in my possession as a token of my love for him & his wife’s kindness to me.
LASTLY. I do hereby make & appoint my worthy & trusty good friend Mr Thomas Dubois, Merchant, to be sole Executor of this my will not doubting but out of the Kindness he hath shown me that he will forebear for some time from [liquidating] my estate for what I am indebted to him for the benefit of my son’s Interest and the payment of my legacies. In witness hereof I have here unto set my hand & seal this twenty ninth day of December & in the fourth year of our Sovereigh Lord King James the second’s reign. 
Bryan [his mark] McLandins
Published & signed before us to be his last ?will & testament Geo. Bushell; James Fauntleroy; Susanna Gillett St.Philip Parish Burial Register, p.19:[1st name not entered] MaceLandon; 11 Feb 
By the Rt Honable, the Lt. Governor The Honorable Geo. Bushell, Esq., one of the witnesses to this will personally appeared before me & made oath on the Holy Evanglist of Almighty God that he did see Bryan McLandin herein mentioned & now deceased to seal, publish & declare the same to be his last will & testament & that he was at the doing thereof, of a sound & disposing mind & memory to the best of his knowledge. Given under my hand the 20th day of Feb. 1688.?Edwyn Stede
The issue of Bryan Maclandins country of origin is further clouded by the fact that the given name “Dennis” is distinctly Irish rather than Scottish, and a rather large community of Mackalindens living in county Armaugh, Ulster (Northern Ireland) in the present time, may suggest that place as Bryan’s area of birth and origin. [See recent DNA findings at http://www.worldfamilies.net/surnames/mcclendon/results. KP]
Melba Goff Allen in her book “The McLendons of America” states regarding Dennis becoming a Justice of the county court, “to be appointed one of the King’s Justices in North Carolina, he had to be closely connected to the English, when most Scotchmen were distrusted by England.” Perhaps he was able to be appointed to the office because he was Irish rather than Scotch, and therefore more closely aligned with the British ruling powers.
REFERENCES:Barbadian records, which support this version of the origin of Dennis McLendon, are located at the Department of Archives, Black Rock, St. Michael, Barbados. There are ten references; five are cited. RB#/ refers to series and volume numbers of ledgers.
(a) RB6/41, p.118, Will of Bryan MacLandins.
(b) RB3/4, p.s 592-4, Deed of Sale, Dennis Maclandon to Thomas Duboys.
(c) RB3/7, P. 71, Deed of Sale, Nicholas Rice to Bryan [McLendon] & wife Margery.?(d) RB3/7, p. 79, Deed of Sale, Bryan [McLendon] & wife Margery to Nicholas Rice.?(e) RB6/13, p. 253, Will of Henry Hunt.
Virginia and North Carolina references:
(1) Cavaliers & Pioneers, Abs. of VA Land Patents & Grants, V.3, p.10.
(2) Colonial Records of N. Carolina, 1st Ser., V.1, p.479.
(3) Colonial Records of N. Carolina, 2nd Ser., V.3, p.405.
(4) Deed Book B#l, Chowan Co N.C., #1058, p.524.
(5) Abs. of No. Carolina Wills, Grimes, Sec. of State, p.228.
(6) From loose papers among the Records of Albemarle Co Edenton, NC
(7) Colonial Records of N. Carolina, 1st Ser., V.4.
(8) Colonial Records of N. Carolina, 1st Ser., V.1, p.652.
(9) Colonial Records of N. Carolina, 2nd Ser., V.4, p.242.
(10) The McLendons of America, p.2, Melba Goff Allen, Metairie, La., 1983.
Genforum: The first Dennis Mecklenden (McClendon) b 1645 came into NC with his 4 sons in early 1700s, his sons: Francis, Dennis II, Thomas, Bryant.
Also: Colonial Records of N.C., Vol.1, 2nd Serie, by Cain: Jan. Court Term – 1698 ~ Denis Mcclendon proved headrights for the following; himself, Charles Cafin, Mary, his wife, Margaret Dun, Dennes Dun, Rebecka Carpender, Elizabeth Mackclenden, Dennis Macklenden, Francis Macklenden and Thomas Macklenden.
Genforum: Chowan County, North Carolina Cross Index to Deeds – Grantees 1696-1878 Vol B, 1717, Book B, page 452, 1st Grantee Last Name: Macklondon, 1st Grantee First Name: Denis, Grantor First Name: Wm, Grantor Last Name: Bush
Available at HeritageQuest, UMI: Redfearn, Rosalind McLendon, The McLendons of Anson County, Wadesboro, NC: unknown, 1958, 110 pgs.
# _UID: ABBF94878CB94F9FB2D2D52D601D2B947AF2
# Change Date: 27 JAN 2009