Fahan Presbyterian Church

Jesus is Lord - Romans 10: 9

Rhea Family Tree

The following history of Rhea ancestry was obtained from Anne Rhea Bruce. She gave me permission to present it and I am sure if someone has different information both she and I would be glad to hear about it.

Matthew Campbell b. c1660, according to family legend took the oath of the Protestant faith, and he, among others, assisted the Earl of Argyll (Archibald Campbell Argyll) in raising an army to aid the cause of the Duke of Monmouth (Illegitimate son of Charles II by Lucy Waters) in the uprising against King James II. King James II was Catholic with little tolerance for Protestants. Thus the reason both Rhea's and Preston's came to America was Religious Freedom. This struggle continues today in Northern Ireland.

The Duke of Monmouth was captured and executed. The Duke of Argyll was under royal Parole and when he was captured, he was executed under the original sentence, on 30 June 1685 without trial. His kinsman, Matthew Campbell, was tried and condemned to life imprisonment in Castle Peel on the Isle of Man, where he escaped by bribing his jailer. (This has been questioned as the records show that rebels were either executed or sent to the colonies, not to the Isle of Man.) He made his way across the straits to the shores of Northern Ireland, near Londonderry, Ireland. To complete his disguise, he changed his name to Reagh, Reah or as we know it, Rhea.

Matthew was not destined for a quiet exile, for several sources claim that he participated in the siege of Londonderry, which was from April 19th to July 30th, 1689, in which the town successfully withstood a siege by King James II, although 2300 townspeople were slain or starved to death.

Matthew was believed by some historians to be a near kinsman of the Earl of Argyll. Burke's Peerage doesn't shed any light or give any hint of a man who was a near kinsman, named Matthew Campbell. Winston Churchill's "A History of the English-Speaking Peoples", 1956, refers to the Earl of Argyll (not in the text, but in the Index) as Archibald Campbell Argyll. Some people contend that Mathew Campbell Rhea, the Rebel, is the son of Walter Campbell and his second wife, Jean Campbell, of Skipness Castle in Scotland, and therefore was born in Skipness, Kintyre, Argyll, Scotland, but this is yet to be proven. He was a merchant and Shipmaster. He died in Londonderry.

The story, according to the Clan Campbell Society, states that "Archibald of Skipness was killed in 1537, and appears to have been the father of John Campbell of Skipness, who died in 1563-66, leaving a daughter and heiress, Jane. She is said to have married a younger son of the Campbells or Ardkinglas, so founding the families of Skipness, Shawfield, and Ardpatrick. In 1576, and 1588, Matthew Campbell, Captain of Skipness, was granted Charter and his descendant, Walter Campbell, appears on record as Captain (Keeper) in 1670-1685. Walter died in 1702-04. Following the Earl of Argyll's invasion in 1685, a royal warrant was issued for razing down the castle but it was saved by Walter, who successfully petitioned (the Crown) against the order. This Walter Campbell and his wife, Jean Campbell, are said to be the parents of Matthew Campbell. He changed his name to Matthew Raudh, pronounced in Gaelic as Rooah, now Rhea.(the Rebel) In Gaelic, Raudh means 'red-haired'.

Matthew married on April 27, 1687, to Janet (Jenot) Baxter, dau. of William Baxter and Bridget O'Brillighan. They had 3 known sons:

  1. William Reagh 1687-1777
  2. Matthew Campbell Reagh II b.1689 d.xxxx
  3. Archibald Reagh, dates unknown.

Matthew Reagh II was married twice, although the name of the first wife is unknown. The children of that marriage are shown as:

  1. Samuel Rhea, who settled at Port Pin, near New Castle, Delaware.
  2. William Rhea, who settled in Chester County, Penn.
  3. Isaac Rhea, who also settled in Penn.
  4. Matthew Rhea III c.1725 remained on the farm at Kennecalley. He married and had a son William Rhea. Matthew quarreled with a neighbor, Matthew Cockran, and was wounded and died. His son William married Elizabeth Lockhart. William later emigrated to America with 7 children and his cousin John Rhea. They landed in New Castle, Delaware, then to Lancaster, Pa. where Josiah Lockhart lived. They later moved to Washington Co., Virginia. Of the 7 children:
    • William Rhea married and had issue:
      • Major Robert Rhea who married Elizabeth Rhea first and secondly Jane Scott. Elizabeth was the daughter of Rev. Joseph and Elizabeth McIlwaine, a cousin of Robert.

    By his second wife, Elizabeth McClain c.1685, Matthew II had these children:

    1. Abraham Rhea. No record.
    2. James Rhea. No record.
    3. Margaret Rhea (1722- ) m. Robert Looney Jr. (1721- ).
    4. Agnes Rhea. Married William Latta, settled near Brandywine, Pa.
    5. JOSEPH RHEA. Our progenitor.

    Joseph Rhea was the emigrant to America in our direct lineage. He was born in Parish Longhorn (Laughlin), Ireland in 1715. He attended the University of Glasgow, where the only records extant there simply say, "Joseph Rhea, fils Mathew." or son of Mathew. He was graduated in 1742, and ordained to preach. In about 1752 Joseph married Elizabeth McIlwaine (McLLwain),b. 1732 Liffonon, L, Ireland and died 1793. As the youngest of a large family, he had to more or less make his own way. He did as a Minister, as an emigrant to America, and perhaps Elizabeth had some degree of wealth, for his father-in-law, John McIlwaine left a will in 1773, which showed John possessed property in money, lands and leases.

    In the decade after Joseph graduated, he must have endeavored to establish himself in his career as well as financially. His first church parish, if other than at Fahan, near Londonderry, is unknown. His pulpit must have been there, as Elizabeth was from Tifannan, Ireland, near Londonderry, too.

    HISTORIC SULLIVAN, by Taylor, provides us with a letter that family provided him stating that Joseph was "pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Fahn for twenty years and then sent the following resignation, 'as I have received the congregation of Fahn from the Presbytery of Londonderry, I have labored in the work of the ministry above twenty years in that place and as the congregation has fallen into very long arrears, and has been very deficient in the original promise to me which was 24 pounds yearly, I am unable to subsist any longer among them and I do hereby demit my charge of them and deliver them into the hand of them from whom I received them.' subscribed the 16th August 1769. Jos.Rhea.

    'PS. I have only this further to request of the Presbytery that they will see justice done me in that congregation in my absence'

    Joseph Reagh and his wife Elizabeth McIlwaine and six of their children came to America on the ship 'George', captained by Capt. Richard Paul. There were 63 passengers. They departed Ireland from Quigly Bay, according to the diary, which begins Sept. 27, 1769 and ended on Dec. 1, 1769. They landed at Reed Island at the mouth of the Delaware River. Some of Joseph's half brothers had preceded him and it is possible that Joseph stayed for a time with relatives. His first church of record was in Piney Creek, Maryland in Carroll Co. Maryland. Joseph requested leave to travel to Virginia and papers have been found (Draper Manuscripts) on William Preston, that Rev. John Brown, the brother-in-law of William Preston, wrote Preston to ask him to show Rev. Rhea land for settling upon. A later document from Preston to Rev. Brown indicated he had done this. The Rhea children and grandchildren intermarried with the Prestons.

    Rev. Joseph Rhea went with the Col. Christian Expedition against the Cherokees.

    Children of Rev. Joseph and Elizabeth McIlwaine Rhea:

    1. John Rhea, 1753-1832. Congressman from Tennessee.
    2. Mathew Rhea IV, 1755-1826. Revolutionary Soldier, Va.
    3. Margaret Rhea, 1757-1822. Died in Virginia.
    4. William Rhea, 1761-1836. Died in Tennessee.
    5. Joseph Rhea II, 1762-1825, m. Frances Breden 1764-1850, in 1789.Born in Ireland died in Tennessee. Their son, Robert Rhea 1803-1881, married Sarah J. Preston.
    6. Elizabeth Rhea, 1767-1821.
    7. Samuel Rhea, 1769-1843, first born in America, married Nancy Breden.
    8. James Rhea, 1774-1885, died in Tennessee.


    RHEA pages are:

    Rev. Joseph Rhea (1715)(9/20/1777) married in 1752 Elizabeth McIlwaine (1732)(12/19/1793) they came to America in 1769.

      Matthew Rhea IV (1755-1816) m. Jane Preston (1758-1800 )

      Margaret Rhea (1757-1822) m. Robert Preston (1750-1833)

      William Rhea (1760-1836) married Elizabeth Breden.

      Joseph McIlwaine Rhea (1779-1860) m. Catherine Myers

        Joseph Rhea Wolford1834-1896 married Sarah Ann Carrigan Walker.

      Robert Preston Rhea (1791-1872) and Nancy Davidson

      Margaret Rhea (1783- ) m. Abram Fickle

        Robert Preston Fickle 1822-1895 (cont.) m. Mary Chamberlain.

      Matthew Rhea V (2/22/1794) (4/10/1870) and Mary Looney

      See also Story of Matthew Rhea V.

        Harriet Rhea 1876-1960, dau. of Wm Abram Rhea and granddaughter of John Rhea, married Arthur Winfrey.

        Matthew Robert Rhea 1846-1902 son of John Rhea, married Addie Tucker.

        James Samuel Rhea 1849-1898 son of John Rhea, married Fannie Bell Trotter.

        Sarah Frances Rhea 1853-1924, dau. of John Rhea, married Henry Harrison Lewis.

        John Rufus Wells Rhea 1855-1917 (son of John Rhea) m. Rebecca Lockett.

        John William Rhea and Abraham Looney Rhea m. respectively, Italia Porter and Emma Cross.

        Walter Preston Rhea 1841-1880 and Ellen Preston Rhea 1844-xxxx married respectively, Jane Edmondson and Hundsden Cary.

        James Taylor Rhea 1847-1914 m. Frances Bell Rhea.

          James Dysart Rhea 1887-1931 and Howard Matthew Rhea 1889-1958 m. respectively Jesse Hearn and Wilhelmina Litterer.

    PICTURES:(Supplied by David McClain)

    • Elizabeth McIlwaine Rhea 1807-xxxx, Mrs. Joseph Anderson.
    • Samuel and Robert Rhea
    • Matthew Rhea 1796-1870 and Mary "Polly" Looney.
    • John Angus Rhea 1753-1832
    • Robert Preston Rhea 1802-1881.

    List of Individual Rheas

    Other pages:

    Jane Rhea (1813-1876) dau. of Samuel Rhea (son of Rev. Joseph Rhea) m. John Fairman Preston (1811-1875)

    Col. James Dysart1744-1818 married Agnes Nancy Beattie.

    John Nichol ca.1750 - xxxx married Margaret Dysart (sister of James)


    Data for the above pages has come from "The Family Tree", by Mary Preston Gray and from several contributors, namely, Anne Rhea Bruce,   Ed Foley, and Robert E. Rhea.  Patrick Meehan supplied data on James Dysart.   Brom Nichol supplied all of the John Nichol data.   Most of the Fickle data was supplied by Kim Smalley.   Comments or additional information is welcome, especially on Samuel Rhea and Nancy Breden, my great great grandparents-- Frederick Leigh Preston.

    Ed Foley, author of a book on RHEA genealogy, has a page called Descendants of Rev. Joseph Rhea, of whom I am one, guess he is one, as is Robert Rhea and Annie Bruce.