2022 American Independence Day Message from the Chief

This July 4th, 2022, I would like to congratulate my fellow American countrymen and women on the 246th Anniversary of our Declaration of Independence.

Our constitutional republic has often been described as an experiment that paved the way for greater personal liberty throughout the world. However, throughout its history, our relatively young nation has faced severe challenges as we seek to perfect the freedoms our people enjoy, while working to improve our unity and cohesiveness as a nation.

Katherine Lee Bates (1859-1929), understood this, but reflected her hope for our country in the refrains to the four stanzas of her famous hymn, “America The Beautiful.”

… America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea! (refrain, verses 1 and 4)
… America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law! (refrain, verse 2)
— America! America!
May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness,
And every gain divine! (refrain, verse 3)

Professor Bates’ interest in American history inspired her to write “America” in 1883 after experiencing our magnificent landscape from New England to Pike’s Peak in the Rocky Mountains. She deeply understood the turmoil, pain, and joy that our Urquhart, Cromartie and Orcutt ancestors have experienced during America’s refinement.

The problem with how history is depicted, is it is often oversimplified to support the objectives of a particular writer or pundit. Just as the many wars in Scotland’s history were not simply between the Scots and the English, but involved factions in Scotland vying for dominance, the American Revolution and subsequent struggles in American have been a struggle to mold America.

During the American War of Independence our American ancestors found themselves of both sides. It wasn’t simply “the Americans versus the British.” Scots who were on opposite sides during the Jacobite uprising of 1745 – 1746, changed their perspectives during the 13 Colonies’ struggle to liberate themselves. Hugh Mercer, Flora Macdonald, and John Murray (later 4th Earl of Dunmore) supported the Jacobites during the ’45, whereas the Reverend John Witherspoon supported British government.

However, by April 1775, when the first shots of American Revolution were fired, all four were in America, with Mercer and Witherspoon championing independence and Macdonald and Dunmore backing loyalty to Britain.

By July 4th 1776, John Witherspoon was one of the signatories of the Declaration of Independence and Hugh Mercer was serving as a General in the Continental Army.

Lord Dunmore had returned to Britain after being defeated in his attempts as Colonial Governor of Virginia to subjugate the revolution.

Flora Macdonald’s Husband, Captain Allan Macdonald, was a prisoner of the American Continental Army after raising a battalion of the North Carolina Loyalist Militia in May 1775, but being defeated at the Battle of Moore’s Bridge in February 1776.

Like Flora Macdonald and her American Patriot neighbors, members of Clan Urquhart in America, found themselves on different sides of the Revolution.

In New England, various Orcutts served in the Continental Army, but various Loyalist Urquhart families escaped to Canada. In Boston, Captain James Edward Urquhart, 104th British Regiment of Foot (and second son of Captain John Urquhart of Craigston), served as Town Major of the Garrison in Boston from July 1776 until March 1776, when Patriot forces re-took the city and the British Garrison evacuated to Halifax, Nova Scotia.

In North Carolina, Norman Urquhart and William Cromartie made it through the war without losing their property, indicating they supported the Patriots.

In Spanish Louisiana, my ancestor George Urquhart, an immigrant Scot who was a loyal British subject, was mortified in 1778, when Continental Navy Captain James Willing lead an expeditionary force down the Mississippi. George penned a letter expressing his alarm at how Willing raided British owned properties to forcefully compelled residents of British West Florida to remain neutral during the Revolution.

However, Katherine Lee Bates’ optimism for the future of America is reflected in how subsequent generations of Clan Urquhart came back together in the arduous, painful, yet inspiring process of building our country.

More Urquharts immigrated to the newly formed Unites States, Children of Urquhart Loyalists who had fled to Canada returned to Maine. Families of Urquharts, Orcutts, and Cromarties who had supported the Revolution continued to grow in their new homeland.

And my ancestor, David Urquhart, born to George and Angela Urquhart during the year of James Willing’s military expedition, joined American Forces at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815, helping ensure the Louisiana Purchase would provide the territory for so many American States.

I pray that our current generation of Clan Urquhart in America will continue to help unify and perfect our country as we work to solve our ongoing challenges.

May God Bless America!

Col. Wilkins Fisk Urquhart, 28th Chief of Urquhart