Samuel and Elizabeth McCully of Onslow, Nova Scotia, and their Descendants

Sanford R. Wilbur

November 2018

 Three family lines of McCullys have been identified in early Nova Scotia, Canada. There are still many questions to be answered about their relationship to one another. A number of attempts have been made to link them [1]; so far, the results are unsatisfactory.

   In a previous publication [2] [and see the link, above, to "The McCullys of Early Nova Scotia"], I described each of the three McCully groups by the name of their earliest patriarch in North America: Samuel of Onslow, William of Masstown, and Samuel of Londonderry. A detailed genealogy of "Samuel of Londonderry" has been completed [2]. This paper addresses "Samuel of Onslow.”

PLEASE NOTE: This is a “work in progress,” not a final report. Therefore, I welcome any comments, questions, corrections, new information, that will make it a better product. I’ll post additional generations as I finish drafting them.




 1. Samuel McCully.  I could not find any primary sources of information on Samuel McCully. In fact, his name is known for certain only on the basis of one 1788 land deed, wherein his sons Joseph and Samuel identify themselves as “the heirs of Samuel McCully Senr. (Senior) Deceased” [3]. From what can be gathered from the few family records, land deeds, township books, and cemetery records, a good guess might be that he was born in Londonderry, Northern Ireland [4]. I could not identify his parents [5]. If, as seems likely, he married Elizabeth ____ [6] shortly before leaving Northern Ireland, then Samuel might have been born ca 1735-1740, and Elizabeth possibly as late as the early 1740s [7].

   Samuel and Elizabeth McCully almost certainly came to Nova Scotia from Northern Ireland in 1761 on one of Alexander McNutt’s ships, probably Hopewell [8]. The Hopewell didn't arrive at Halifax until early October 1761, too late in the year for the immigrants to settle on their lands. They spent the winter in government housing in Halifax, and were there the following spring when their first child, Joseph, was born [9][10].

   Samuel's land grant was in Londonderry Township, Colchester County, but there seems to be no record of how long the family lived at Halifax or if they actually began settlement at Londonderry. Samuel died ca 1764 [11], Elizabeth married 2nd Hugh Tackels ca 1767 [12], and the family lived on the Tackels land grant in Onslow Township.

   Hugh Tackels [13] was born ca 1725, possibly at Worcester, Worcester County, Massachusetts, the son of Alexander Tackels [14]. His mother's name seems to be unrecorded. By tradition, the Tackels were Scottish Covenanters, whose forebears left Scotland for Northern Ireland in the 1600s to avoid religious persecution for their adherence to the Presbyterian faith. The presumption is that they remained in Northern Ireland until some time between 1714 and 1720, then Alexander joined a major exodus of Scotch-Irish to New England. He settled for awhile at Worcester, but by ca 1727 had moved west to Palmer, Hampstead County [15].

   At Palmer, Hugh operated as a blacksmith [16]. Little else is known about his young life. During the last of the French and Indian Wars in 1755 and 1756, he served with the militia in the taking of Crown Point from the French, and the subsequent dismantling of the fort. He stayed with the militia for some time after the conclusion of the Crown Point expedition, in 1758 joining in the campaign to take the French fort at Louisbourg [17].

   After the French settlers were driven from Nova Scotia, the British Governor offered their lands to settlers from Europe and the American colonies. Hugh Tackels was named as a grantee at Onslow, as were his brother William, and William's sons, James Tackels and Hugh Acton Tackels [18]. By 1769, they were settled in Nova Scotia.

   Hugh died at Onslow ca 1795 [19]. Elizabeth and Samuel's son, Samuel McCully, had married and moved his family to Hopewell, Albert (then, Westmorland) County, New Brunswick, by 1797.  By 1799, Elizabeth and several of her Tackels children had also moved to Hopewell. In 1803, she was living there in the household of her son, William Tackels [20]. She undoubtedly died in either Albert or Kings county, New Brunswick, but no death date or burial site has been determined, so far.


Children of Samuel McCully and Elizabeth ______:

2. Joseph McCully (1762 - 17 March 1810)

3. Samuel McCully (6 February 1764 - 16 October 1853)

4. Elizabeth McCully (ca 1765 - 


Children of Hugh Tackels and Elizabeth (____) McCully:

5. Isabel Tackels (8 May 1768 -

6. Mary Ann Tackels (5 October 1769 -

7. William Tackels (2 April 1771 -

8. Alexander Tackels (15 September 1773 -

9. Robert Tackels (2 September 1775 -

           10. James Tackels (3 June 1777 -




 1. The most recent attempt to link the McCully families: Campbell, C., and J. F. Smith. 2011. Planters and grantees of Cobequid, Nova Scotia, 1761-1780. Truro, Nova Scotia: Colchester Historical Society. Volume 2, Pages 630-636.

 2. Wilbur, S. R., and S. H. Wilbur. 2014. The descendants of Samuel McCully of early Nova Scotia, Canada. Gresham, Oregon: Symbios Books. E-book format.

 3. Public Archives of Nova Scotia - Colchester County deeds, Book 2, page 333: 27 December 1788, Joseph and Samuel McCully  sold 500 acres in Mass House Village, Londonderry (their mother Elizabeth McCully's original land grant), to Robert McElhenny.

 4. The Northern Ireland origins of most of the approximately 250 people in Alexander McNutt’s ships to Nova Scotia are unknown, but of sixteen families whose geographic origins have been identified, ten were from County Donegal and four were from County Derry. One speculation based on this is that “at least four-fifths of McNutt’s settlers were from the Foyle and Swilly districts and that most of the remainder were from the valley of the lower Bann.” [Page 83 in: Murphy, J. M. 1976. The Londonderry Heirs. Middleton, Nova Scotia: privately published.]. The limited records that have survived from Northern Ireland in the 1700s show McCullys in those same geographical areas, with names that are the same as the Nova Scotia settlers: there were Samuels in  Lisnvavaghorg and Banagher, Londonderry; and Dernaflau, Londonderry, had William, Joseph, John, and Andrew. Somewhat removed from the above locations, Ballywitticcock and Drumgooland, County Down, also had Samuels [Public Records Office of Northern Ireland (Belfast): Irish Freeholders' Lists, 1727-1793; Dissenters' Petitions, 1775; Irish Religious Census, 1766].

 5. Because both Samuel and Elizabeth McCully were Irish, it is possible that they named their children by Scots-Irish tradition. If so, Samuel's parents could have been Joseph and Elizabeth McCully, and Elizabeth's father could have been a Samuel.

 6. Elizabeth McCully's family name is unknown. Her granddaughter, a child of Joseph McCully, was named Elizabeth Brown McCully (Public Archives of Nova Scotia. 1761-1841. Book of records for births, deaths, and marriages for the Town on Onslow begun in the year 1761. Halifax, Nova Scotia). Because of this, Campbell and Smith (Note 1, p. 631) suggested that, since "the McCulley/McCully family followed the traditional Scots/Irish custom of naming their eldest children after grandparents... Descendants, therefore, might reasonably speculate that grantee Elizabeth McCulley's birth surname was 'Brown'." Actually, Joseph and Mary (Upham) McCully did not follow Scots-Irish tradition, which is not surprising in that the Upham side of the family were English. Joseph McCully's first son was named Richard; by Scots-Irish tradition, he should have been Samuel, after his paternal grandfather. The second son, William, should have been Richard, after his maternal grandfather, Richard Upham. Their daughter was named Elizabeth, the same as her paternal grandmother, but it was also an extremely common name among both the Irish and English of that period. "Brown" was a common surname in Northern Ireland in the 1700s (Kernohan, J. W. 1918. A list of all the names of the Protestant house-keepers in the several baronies of Dunluce Walke. Belfast, Ireland: Presbyterian Historical Society of Ireland.). There were several Brown families in the Onslow area when Elizabeth Brown McCully was born, so a local familial or friendship connection can't be ruled out.

 7. I couldn't find any record for either Samuel or Elizabeth McCully from which to estimate their ages at any point in their lives. My guesses at their birth years are merely what one might have expected of a "typical" Irish couple whose first child was born in 1762.

 8. Eaton, A. W. H. 1912. The settling of Colchester County, Nova Scotia, by New England Puritans and Ulster Scotsmen. Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada, Third Series, Volume 6, pages 221-265.

 9. Eaton, A. W. H. 1913. The settling of Colchester County, Nova Scotia, by New England Puritans and Ulster Scotsmen. Proceedings and transactions of the Royal Society of Canada. Third Series 6(2):221-265.

   Page 255: “On the 9th of October (1761) the ship (Hopewell) reached Cornwallis Island, in Halifax harbour, and there the passengers disembarked. In his memorial to the Lords of Trade of August 1766, Lieutenant Governor Francklin (described the arrivals as) ‘indigent people, without means of subsistence,' who 'chiefly remained at Halifax the ensuing winter and were supported by the Government, the charitable contributions of the inhabitants, and some provisions borrowed by Colonel McNutt from the Government'."

 10. Piers, H. 1900. Biographical review of the province of Nova Scotia. Boston: Biographical Review Publishing Company. Page 104.

 11. Samuel McCully's name does not appear among the Londonderry, Nova Scotia, grantees. He died prior to the publishing of the original list in October 1765 (transcribed on pages 541-543 in Campbell and Smith, Note 1), and his widow Elizabeth was named. There appear to be no formal records of Samuel McCully's death or burial. He died in 1764 or 1765, after conceiving daughter Elizabeth but possibly before she was born.

 12. I couldn't find a marriage record for Elizabeth McCully and Hugh Tackels, but their first child was born 8 May 1768.

 13. The "Tackels" name is sometimes spelled Tackles or Teakles, sometimes more than one way in the same document. Because "Tackels" seems to be the form used most often in the earliest publications, I've chosen to use that spelling for the earliest generations. Almost all later records for New Brunswick refer to "Teakles," so I have used that form in later chapters.

 14. I didn't find any records of Hugh Tackels' birth, but his military record has his age at 31 in 1756 (so, born ca 1725) [Temple, J. H. and E. B. Gates. 1889. History of the town of Palmer, Massachusetts, early known as the Elbow Tract. Palmer, Massachusetts: Town of Palmer]. Although his birthplace has been identified as Ireland, it seems probable that his father was in Massachusetts before 1821; see Note 15.

 15. Ford, H. J. 1915. The Scotch-Irish in America. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

   Page 192: "There was an active emigration from Ulster to New England, during the period from 1714-1720 inclusive, of which precise details have been obtained by the research of Mr. Charles K. Bolton. The list given by him in his "Scotch-Irish Pioneers in Ulster and America," shows that five ships arrived in New England from Ireland in 1714, two in 1715, three in 1716, six in 1717, fifteen in 1718, ten in 1719 and thirteen in 1720."

   Pp. 221-235: Most of the Scotch-Irish who came to Boston were well off, having paid their own way, and there were few if any indentured people. "The great mass were not adventurers, but were people of settled character, seeking a new field of labor." They were not well received in Boston because food was scarce, and a local population of "only a few thousand" suddenly had hundreds of new arrivals. They had to immediately ration food. The new arrivals were encouraged to move west to Worcester "as a barrier against the Indians." Worcester was settled before 1675, but was twice abandoned because of Indian hostilities. Having a whole new group of people settling there would be a protection for Boston, which proved to be true.

   Religious and racial differences at Worcester developed between the English and the Scotch-Irish after the Indian problems were settled, and by 1738 the immigrants began to establish towns farther to the west. Palmer, Mass., was one of the towns established.

 16. Temple and Gates [Note 14], page 278.

 17. Temple and Gates [Note 14], pages 58-69: The last French-Indian War occurred 1754-1763. One of four campaigns in 1755 was to Crown Point, and Hugh Tackles was listed as a sergeant in Capt. Ebenezer Moulton's Company 11 Sept. - 25 Dec. 1755. The campaign continued in 1756, from February to December. In service in Captain Tristam Davis' Company was "Sergt. Hugh Tackels, b. Ireland, age 31, blacksmith." After the Crown Point expedition, Tackles "continued in the service." From 10 April 1758 to 4 November 1858, he was with Capt. Daniel Burt's Company of Foot, in Col. William Williams' Regiment. They were part of the Reduction of Canada expedition, traveling via Pittsfield and Lake George to help take the French fort at Louisbourg.

 18. The Onslow, Nova Scotia, grant of 21 February 1769 is transcribed in Campbell and Smith 2011 [Note 1], pages 789-790.

   Hugh Acton (sometimes Actor or Easter) Tackels has erroneously been identified as a son of Hugh Tackels by a marriage previous to Hugh's marriage to Elizabeth McCully. The birth records are clear that he was the son of Hugh's brother, William. "Acton" seems to me the most likely of his middle names, as there were Acton families in Palmer, Massachusetts, at the time of his birth, who may have been related.

 19. Hugh Tackels made his will in 1792, when he was "very sick and weak in body." The will, signed with his mark and ascribed to Hugh "Tacles," was  proved 17 April 1795 as recorded by the Halifax Registry of Probate, and is preserved in the collections of the Nova Scotia Archives, Halifax: RG48 T1 (cited in Campbell and Smith [Note 1] page 908).

 20. Sewell, B. 1979. List of inhabitants, Township of Hopewell, 1803. Generations 1(2):20-22.



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