Samuel Blair, from south Antrim County, Ireland, was a leader in the Steelboy Insurrection of 1769-1772. The name “The Renegade” was chosen to distinguish him from others of the same name, and because of his daring escape from execution by his British captors. Here is part of his fascinating story, as more fully documented by John A. Blair at: Kinsleuth—
He was captured and condemned to death, but escaped through the cleverness of his twin sister, Mary. The Heart O’Steel Rebellion, it may be said, was an uprising of the Irish tenantry to protest against the unjust taxation imposed upon them in the time of George III, and its spirit was largely the inspiration of the American Revolution, a few years later. These patriots were unsuccessful; many were put to death; and some– as shown herein– escaped to the New World. Many of them also served, Scotch-Irish Patriots, in the land of their adoption.
The story of the escape of Samuel Blair is one of the most charming of all those we have found. Samuel and Mary, as we have said were twins. Mary had just borne her first child when the news was brought to her of the capture and condemnation of her brother. She rose from her bed, dressed, and mounted her horse, riding for her farewell visit with the best-loved brother. She was permitted but a short stay with him, but when she left the prison she was weeping so heart-brokenly that it was with difficulty she could mount her horse and ride away.
The execution was set for some two or three days later. When the victim was led onto the scaffold, and before the noose could be adjusted, he stepped forward and threw open his coat, and, says the fascinating record, “there were fair white breasts dripping with suck,” One soldier, whose quick perception must always thrill us, cried instantly aloud; “We’ve been fooled! We’ve been fooled! Its a woman!”
The brief visit of farewell had, of course, been spent in the exchange of clothing, and Samuel had ridden away– with full speed, as we may imagine, when once out of sight of the prison– and taken passage in a vessel happily ready to sail to the New World. Mary, runs the tale, was taken before the King, and there she told her story. The monarch “bowed his head and the tears ran heavy over his cheeks as he bade her go her way, back to her babe.” And, said he as he watched her going, “Would to God that some one loved me so!”
Samuel, of necessity, left without farewells– other than to Mary. No chance was there even for a farewell to the sweetheart who, we feel, should have joined him later. He arrived in Philadelphia; later settled in Central Pennsylvania on the shores of the Susquehanna. About 1796 he removed to Crawford County, Pennsylvania (in the north-western part of the state), where he died, it is said, in 1820. He married a young widow, Mrs. Ann Young, and left a number of children. His grave is in Mt. Blair cemetery, near Meadville, Pennsylvania. His nephew, Patrick Blair, who came over in 1835, is buried near him.
FAREWELL TO ERIN
by Samuel Blair, “A Hearts of Steel Man”
picture from– Findagrave.com
text from– http://www.bimmy.com/fpBlairSamuel.htm
Samuel Blair “The Renegade”
Loc: Ballyvallough, County Antrim, North Ireland
Died: Aug 07, 1820
Loc: Woodcock Twp. Crawford Co. PA
Bur: Mt. Blair Cemetery, Woodcock Twp.
Crawford Co. PA
Military: Revolutionary War
He was of the Brice Blair line and was a leader in the Hearts–of–Steel rebellion in Ireland ( a group of men from County Antrim that rebelled against the unjust taxation imposed on them. Also a desire for freedom and independence from British rule). He was captured and condemned to death but escaped with the aid of his sister Mary. He came to America, arriving in Philadelphia about 1770, where he met and married Mrs. Ann Young. He served in the Revolutionary War, they moved on to North Cumberland. In about 1797, he, his wife and fully grown children then moved and settled land on French Creek in northwestern PA in what is now Woodcock Twp. Crawford Co. PA. He is buried on his farm at the top of a hill surrounded by his family and friends in what is now Mt. Blair Cemetery.
The year 1797 witnessed the arrival of Saml. Blair and George Long.
Source: Crawford County, Pennsylvania/History & Biography Part 1 Directory/Page 153 Woodcock Twp.
Samuel Blair, of Ireland and George Long came from Susquehanna County to this township in 1797.
Source: Crawford County, Pennsylvania/History/1876 Atlas/Woodcock Township
Samuel ‘The Renegade’ Blair’s Memorial Stone, Mt. Blair, Crawford County
Samuel Blair 1738 – 1820
He served as a Captain in Pennsylvania’s 1st Regt., Continental Line from November 1775 to November 1776. He died Aug. 7, 1820 in Woodcock Twp. Crawford Co., PA and is buried in the cemetery on land he settled in 1794. It bears the name Mt. Blair Cemetery.
From familytreemaker.genealogy.com, his memorial stone* reads–
In memory of Samuel Blair
A native of Ireland
aged 82 years
He died Aug. 7th A.D. 1820
“Cease all from sorrowing and tears
Here I must lie till Christ appears
Then burst the tomb in sweet surprise
And in my Savior’s image rise.”
* Veteran of the Revolutionary War Marker at upper right of stone.