An American Family History

McLean Family in Leeds County, Ontario


Brockville, Ontario was called Elizabethtown. The area was first settled by English speakers in 1785, when Americans who had remained loyal to the crown fled to Canada after the American Revolution.


The first European settlements in Ontario were after the American Revolution when 5,000 loyalists left the new United States.

Alexander McLean was born in 1731 in Paisley, Scotland. He was a silk weaver.

He married Ann Lang.

Their children probably included:

Helen McLean (1766)
Robert McLean (1768)
Alexander McLean (1771)
Archibald McLean (1773, married Ann Coates)
John Alexander McLean (1775, married Synthia Shipman),
Henry McLean (1778, married Anna McNish),
Anne McLean (1782, married James Breckenridge).

The family emigrated to America in 1774. At first they lived in New York where they robbed and forced to wander from place to place.

After the Revolution, they moved to Canada.

In 1784 Alexander and Robert McLean appeared on the provisioning list for disbanded troops as refugees. They were mustered in Elizabethtown (now Brockville), Leeds County, Ontario.

1797 census of Elizabethtown:

Alexander, Anne, Archibald, Jane, John, Anne, Robert, Rebekah, J. (male), and infant (male).
Anne, Re'b, Archibald, Eliza, Christean, and W. (male)

In 1816 Alexander, Jr. and Sr., Henry, Anna, Nancy and Rebecca McLean signed the document of rules for the governing of the First Presbyterian Church of Brockville.


Robert McLean

In Robert Archibald signed a document promising to provide a stipend for William Smart to start the first Sabbath School in Canada.


Archibald McLean was born 1773 in Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland.

His parents were Alexander McLean and Ann Lang.

He married Ann Coates.

Their children probably included

Sarah McLean (1803, married John Clow),
Archibald McLean, Jr. (1810, married Betsey Pennock), and
John McLean (1820).

1797 Census of Elizabethtown:
Anne, Re'b (female), Archibald, Eliza, Christean, W? (male).

Archibald appeared in the 1805 assessment of Yonge.

The 1810 census of Yonge indicates that there was a bound girl in the house.

In 1812 Archibald signed a document promising to provide a stipend for William Smart to start the first Sabbath School in Canada.

Archibald died in 1866 in Ontario, Canada.


Alexander McLean was born in 1771 in Paisley, Scotland.

He married Jean Gardiner.

Alexander McLean (1797)
John McLean (1803)

He appeared in the 1805 assessment of Yonge Township.


John McLean was born in 1775 in New York.

He married Synthia Shipman.

1812 Sept. 3rd-John McLean and Synthyche Chipman (the latter), license, of Elizabethtown, witnesses James Breakenridge, Robert McLean

Alexander McLean (1814),
William McLean (1816, married Jane McNish),
James McLean (1818),
Catherine McLean (1820),
Emaline McLean (1822, married James Parr),
Samuel Shipman McLean (1824),
Philena McLean (1827),
Ann Amelia Breckenridge McLean,
Synthia Cecelia McLean (1829),
John McLean (1831),
Sarah Ann McLean (1834),
and George McLean (1836).

During the War of 1812, John McLean was in the Leeds County Militia.




from History of Leeds and Grenville, Ontario

John McLean
The subject of this sketch was born at Harpersfield, New York, October 9th, 1775. His father was a silk weaver, who emigrated from Paisley, Scotland, in 1774, following the Rev. John Witherspoon, D. D., to America. During the first years of the Revolution, they were robbed and plundered, and compelled to wander from house to house. In 1778, they cultivated a farm at Baleston Springs, but were again driven forth, and compelled to make nine removals in one year.

After the close of the war, they came to Canada, passing the spot where Brockville [was Elizabethtown] stands at that time an unbroken forest. Finding that their boats were leaking badly, they landed, put up a log cabin, and made a small clearing, where the old homestead now stands. One of the sons constructed a very good theodolite [a precision instrument for measuring angles in the horizontal and vertical planes], though he had had never seen one.

In the absence of a minister, the consolations of religion were sought by assembling the neighbors, and reading a sermon weekly from a book.

In 1812, Mr. McLean was appointed a lieutenant in the 1st Regiment of Leeds, and was under fire at the battle of Crysler's Farm [November 11, 1813], and at the capture of Ogdensburg.

In compensation for his services, the Government awarded him a large tract of land, promoting him also to a captaincy. In 1838, Sir George Arthur assigned him a major's commission. Mr. McLean died at his residence, near Brockville, July I7th, 1861, in the 87th year of his age.

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©Roberta Tuller 2023
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