Samuel Irwin was reputedly born in Antrim, Ireland about 1780 and died in Abbeville, South Carolina about 1859. In 1850 he was living in Saluda Regiment, Abbeville with his wife Elizabeth, his granddaughter Ellen F Spellors and his sister Isabella Cowan.
His Will dated Sept. 1852 acknowledged only two children, Jane Irwin Purdy and James Irwin. Samuel Irwin also made provision for his wife Elizabeth, grandaughters Ellen/Eleanor Spellors, Elizabeth A, Margaret A and Sarah G Purdy, grandsons Samuel and Robert Irvin, James H Purdy, Samuel A Purdy, William A Purdy and Samuel's sister Isabella Cowan.
As he directed what was to become of the people he enslaved, Samuel Irwin named the following family groups:
Kiza & her children Tilda & Mary Elizabeth
Little Bet & her children , Charlotte, Emma, Laura, Jane, Anna, Henry, Margaret
Polly & her daughters Allsy, Louisa, Froney also known as Dos, & her son Israel
He also named Newman, his 'manservant'.
In spite of acknowledging the enslaved childrens' mothers, Samuel Irwin intended each enslaved child to be given to each of his grandchildren upon their coming of age. In this way, he compounded further the break up of the families he enslaved.
In the 1870 Census for Abbeville County, there are 14 Black Americans with the surname Irwin or variants. Although we cannot know what names the families chose after Emancipation it is interesting to note that there are two Betties enumerated, one of whom was born about 1838.
1830 US Federal Census
1840 US Federal Census
1850 US Federal Census
1850 Slave Schedule
Bettie Irving b.1838 in the 1870 US Federal Census
South Carolina, U.S., Wills and Probate Records, 1670-1980, ancestry.com (accessed 14 Feb. 2023)
South Carolina Naturalizations 1783-1850, compiled by Brent H Holcomb, Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., Baltimore Maryland 1985
Abbeville Banner 24 Nov. 1859
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Martine Brennan (Curator)
Enslavement to citizenship: African Americans in Irish Slaveholder records by Martine Brennan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.