Are You Related to John Paul Jones?

Are You Related to John Paul Jones?

One of our most frequent enquiries comes from people who think they are related to the family of John Paul Jones and are looking for proof. Here for the first time is a compilation of what we know.

1. A little about the name, Paul

From “The Surnames of Scotland, Their Origins, Meaning and History” by George F Black, 1946,

PAUL, PAULL This surname is one of considerable antiquity in the parish of Daviot, Inverness-shire, and occurs in the parish of Fintry, Stirlingshire, in 1654. It is also found in the Lothians and in Fife, where it is considered ‘by family tradition a Flemish name’ (Sc. Ant. IV, p114), but is not necessarily so. Robert Paul was member of council of the burgh of Stirling in 1528 (SBR, p276), Patrick Paule, witness at Tuliboill, 1546 (Rollok, 6), and Janet Paule is recorded in Edinburgh in 1659 (Edinb. Marr). Alexander Paull, mercator in Elgine, 1696 (Inquis., 8769). The Gaelic forms are Pòl (classical) and Pàl (common speech), whence Polson and Macphail. The name is Latin Paulus, from paulus, little, pawll 1688.

2. John Paul Senior - Father of John Paul Jones

He was born in Leith on 27th January 1700, the son of John Paul and Elizabeth Wright. He married Jean Duff on 29th November 1733 at New Abbey. He was gardener at Arbigland. He died at Arbigland on 24th October 1767.

From a letter from Helen, Countess of Selkirk to William Craik of Arbigland, St Mary’s Isle April 25th 1778:

They told me they were on the Ranger Frigate, belonging to the States of America, commanded by Captain Paul Johnes Esquire, whom I understand you knew better than me, being John Paul whom they say was born in your ground, and is a gardener’s son of yours. Afterwards he had the command of a trading vessel in this place, and is understood to have deserved the gallows oftener than once. It seems it is known this is the name he takes, and he was seen in the Isle, tho’ the tenderness of his heart, they said would not allow him to come to the house

In Kirkbean churchyard there is a table gravestone to the right as you enter the gates. On it is inscribed,

In Memory of JOHN PAUL Senior who died at
Arbigland 24th October 1767
Universally Esteemed
Erected by John Paul Junior

Grave of John Paul senior:

3. Jean Duff - Mother of John Paul Jones

She is likely to be connected to the Duff families that were living in the Kirkbean or New Abbey area at that time. Her baptism is not recorded in the New Abbey Old Parish Registers and the Kirkbean Registers do not start until 1714. She would have been born about 1710 and there are three possible candidates for her father.

  1. John Duff, wife unknown, who had a son Daniel in 1722, a son John in 1724 and a son James in 1735. All three sons were baptised in Kirkbean, whilst the family was living at Torrorie.
  2. Thomas Duff, wife Margaret Anderson, who had a son Homer in 1715 and a son Benjamin in 1717. Both sons were baptised in Kirkbean, whilst the family was living at Preston.
  3. John Duff, wife unknown, who had a son Joseph in 1720. This son was baptised in New Abbey, but recorded in the New Abbey Registers as ‘at present in Kirkbean.

It is not known when John Paul Jones’ mother died but it is known he wrote to her on the 24 Sept 1772. She is not mentioned in his will in 1792 and so was probably dead by that time. Her grave has not been located but it is not unreasonable to think that she occupies the same burial place in Kirkbean as her husband.

4. Brothers and sisters of John Paul Jones

Biographers record that there were seven children in the family, William, Janet, Mary Ann, John (John Paul Jones), Elizabeth and two others, (one a Jean?) dying in infancy.

From the Kirkcudbrightshire Old Parish Register,

John Paul m. (married) Jean Duff
29 Nov 1733 New Abbey
Jannet chr (christened) 22 Apr 1739 Kirkbean
Mary Ann chr 8 Mar 1741 Kirkbean
Jean chr 28 Apr 1749 Kirkbean

5. William Paul - Brother of John Paul Jones

He worked as a tailor in Fredericksburg, Virginia. He died without issue.

Grave of William Paul

6. Janet Paul - Sister of John Paul Jones

From Dumfriesshire Old Parish Register,

Janet Paul m. (married) William Taylor
21 Oct 1770 Dumfries

There is a gravestone in St Michael’s Churchyard, Dumfries inscribed,

In memory of Jean Taylor daughter of Will Taylor watchmaker
In Dumfries who died 20 Feb 1774 aged 10 months
Also John Taylor who died 24 Feb 1774 aged 2 years
Also Eliz. Paul Taylor who died 31 Jan 1780 aged 10 months
Also Janet Paul wife of William Taylor who died 5 Sept 1817
Aged 78 years

From “Memorials of St Michael’s” by William McDowall, 1876, p. 323,

Near it rises a table in memory of Janet Paul, wife of William Taylor, watchmaker, and several of their children; and though his name does not appear in the inscription, we may fairly assume that his dust mingles in the same spot with theirs. As mentioned in a preceding chapter, a niece of Admiral Paul Jones, Mrs Williamson, occupies a grave further south; and the Janet Paul here specified was a sister of the renowned adventurer, whose real name was John Paul. Mrs Taylor died 5th September, 1817, aged 78. Her progeny, as inscribed, were Jean, John, and Elizabeth Paul, all of whom died in childhood.

From Dumfries Weekly Journal, 24th December 1793, page 3, column C,

A few valuable, at least curious, Articles of different kinds, the property of the late Mr Paul Jones are to be sold by public roup within the Coffee house of Dumfries, on Saturday 28 December inst at twelve o clock noon. Particulars may be known by applying to John Aitken jnr, writer in Dumfries.

Grave of Jane Paul

7. Janette Taylor - Daughter of Janet Paul

The three children of Janet Paul (Taylor) recorded on the family grave stone (above) must be the infant deaths only. Her daughter, Janette, died without issue in the USA (possibly in New York) about 1843. Janette Taylor published a biography of her uncle, John Paul Jones, in 1830. In this she says she had a brother, William, who was in contact with John Paul Jones and who was ‘the only son of his eldest and favourite sister’. William Taylor died in the USA about 1817, also apparently without issue. In the biography Janette Taylor exhibits considerable literary skills, even on a par with John Paul Jones himself.

A letter from Janette Taylor to the author, James Fenimore Cooper, was published in an article, “New Light upon the Career of John Paul Jones” in the United States Naval Institute Proceedings, Vol XXXIII, Part I, 1907.

There is more information on the Taylor branch of the family in the document, “Power of Attorney from Jones’s heirs”, Janet Taylor & All’s to Robert Hyslop, 1797. (From The Life and Letters of John Paul Jones. Volume: 2. Anna (Mrs Reginald) De Koven, 1913.) It lists the Taylor heirs as Janet Paul (Taylor); William Taylor her son, a minor at the time; and Janet (Janette) Taylor her daughter.

There is an Affidavit of John Gregan, produced in 1847 by the Dumfries Solicitors, Primrose and Gordon, presumably because they had some claim against the estate of Janette Taylor, John Paul Jones’s niece. In this Gregan states that Janet (Janette) and William Taylor, the children of Janet Paul (Taylor), were dead without issue by that date.

8. Mary Ann Paul - Sister of John Paul Jones

From Kirkcudbrightshire Old Parish Register,

Mary Ann chr (christened)

8 Mar 1741 Kirkbean

Mary Ann Paul married twice. Firstly she married Robert Young, a mariner from Whitehaven. They had two daughters, Jane (born 1770, died in October 1853, wife of David Williamson. She is buried in St Michael’s churchyard) and Elizabeth.

From the Affidavit of John Gregan, written in 1847,

of the marriage between her and the said Robert Young, her first husband, there was procreated two and only two children – vizt – Jane Young afterwards Williamson of Dumfries aforesaid who is still alive and who is widow of David Williamson of Dumfries aforesaid merchant, – and Elizabeth Young afterwards McKinnell of Thornhill in Co. Dumfries, now deceased, who was spouse and afterwards widow of Thomas McKinnell of Minnyhive, in the parish of Glencairn, Co. Dumfries aforesaid, gentleman. That the said Elizabeth Young afterwards McKinnell died at Thornhill aforesaid on or about the [ ] May in this present year, leaving her surviving the following children procreated of the marriage between her and the said Thomas McKinnell – vizt – Robert McKinnell of Thornhill aforesaid, farmer, – Mary Ann McKinnell – Jane McKinnell – and Janet McKinnell all of Thornhill aforesaid, spinsters – Samuel McKinnell also of Thornhill aforesaid, Postmaster, and David McKinnell of Allantoun in Co. Dumfries, joiner.

Her second husband was Mark Louden (1751 -1837), a farmer of the Stank, Ruthwell, Dumfriesshire. They had two sons, John (1777-1850, married Ann Leckie in the USA) and Samuel (born 1782) and two daughters, Nancy (born 1780) and Mary Ann (born 1784).

From Kirkcudbrightshire Old Parish Register,

Mary Paul m. (married) Mark Louden

3 Mar 1777 Kirkbean

The Parish Register also records a son born to them in 1775, that is, before their marriage. The lower edge of the page where this information is recorded has been so damaged as to render the remainder of the entry illegible. Oddly enough, the rest of the book is in good condition. It is also records that Mark and Mary Ann had a son, John, born on 22nd November 1777 who was baptised on 23rd November,1777. John is designated as their ‘lawful son’.

Ronald D. Lowden Junior, of Narberth, Pennsylvania, (who died on July 18, 1997) was a Lowden family historian. He gives the birth dates of four younger children of Mary Ann and Mark Louden as, Nancy 1780, Samuel 1782, Mary Ann 1784 and John 1786. Kirkcudbrightshire Parish Register John son law[ful] to Mark Louden and Mary Ann Paul born Saturday 22nd July 1786 at half past five O’Clock mor[ning]& baptized the 24th same monthTherefore if he is correct there were two Johns, one the second eldest (that is, the “lawful son” above), the other the youngest of the family. Although this would mean that there were two children in the family with the same name, this was not uncommon although usually it signified that the older child with the same name had died.

In his biography, “I Have Not Yet begun To Fight, A Life Of John Paul Jones”, published in 1998, James Mackay records that, after their marriage in 1777, Mary Ann and Mark Louden emigrated to Charleston, South Carolina. Their son John was born in Kirkbean Parish in 1786 and they are described as being in Kirkbean in John Paul Jones’s will in 1792 so it is likely that they returned to Scotland, or possibly they maintained households on both sides of the Atlantic.

John Louden (born 1786) swore an Oath of Allegiance to the United States in Charleston on the 20th January 1819. In the document he says he was born in the Parish of Kirkbean in the Shire of Galloway and he has a wife named Nancy Louden, formerly Leckie, who was born in Lancaster (England) and he has three children, the eldest is named George Leckie Louden and is about eleven years of age, the second child is called Mary Ann Louden and is about seven and the third child is called William Henry Louden and he is about four and they were all born at Liverpool.

He is recorded in the Southern Patriot as dying in Charleston on 17th August 1837 aged 52 years and 17 days. The newspaper also records that his wife died five months before.

From the Affidavit of John Gregan, written in 1847,

of the marriage between the aforesaid Mary Paul and Mark Louden her second husband there were procreated four and only four children who survived their said mother – vizt – Nancy, Samuel, Mary Ann and John Louden. That the said Nancy Louden and Samuel Louden both died many years ago, unmarried and without leaving lawful issue. That the said Mary Ann Louden is still alive and is resident at Glencaple Quay in the parish of Carlaverock aforesaid.

That the said John Louden a good many years ago left this country and went to the said United States of America where, as the deponent understands and verily believes he was married to a lady of the name of Ann Leckie now deceased. That the said John Louden as this deponent understands and verily believes, died in the said United States of America about 10 years ago, leaving two and only two children him surviving – vizt – George Leckie Louden and Mary Ann Louden afterwards Arnott.

That the said George Leckie Louden died at Philadelphia in the said United States of America, leaving surviving him, as this depondent understands and verily believes, one only child – Marion Stewart Louden – procreated of the marriage between him and Frances Elizabeth Stewart. That the said last named Mary Ann Louden, daughter of the said John Louden, who is now widow of Archibald Arnott, surgeon in the service of the Hon. East India Company, is still alive and is presently resident at the Glencaple Quay in Co. Dumfries aforesaid.

Marian Stewart Lowden, daughter of George Leckie and Frances Elizabeth Lowden is recorded as born October 10th, 1841 and baptized Nov 14, 1841 in St Michael’s Church, South Carolina. (From thePrivate Register of the Rev Paul Trapier – South Carolina Historical Magazine. There are gravestones in Caerlaverock Churchyard near Dumfries inscribed,

In memory of William Henry Lowden son of John Lowden, merchant in Charlestown, Carolina who died at Dumfries 26th March 1821 aged 7 years.

In memory Agness [sic] Lowden daughter of Mark Lowden in Stank who died 29th October 1817 in the 37th year of her age. Also Mary Ann Paul spouse to said Mark Lowden who died 4th July 1825 aged 83 years. Also said Mark Lowden who died Glencaple Quay 27th May 1837 aged 87 years.

Location in Caerlaverock Churchyard of the graves of Mary Ann Paul, sister of JPJ, and her grandson William. These two fallen stones are located ‘behind’ the church. Enter the gate and continue along the path towards the church. Before reaching it turn right and pass the Kirkpatrick (Conheath) enclosure a rectangular enclosure built on the corner of the church. Beyond this enclosure there are signs in the grass indicating a number of fallen stones between the rows of standing stones.

As the family of John Paul Jones’s sister Janet Paul (Taylor) died without issue, unless John Paul Jones had children himself, all the present day descendants of the Paul family come from the line of John Paul Jones’s other sister Mary Ann Paul (Young then Louden).

John Paul Jones’s two sisters, Janet and Mary Ann did not get along with each other. All documents referring to their disagreements in John Paul Jones’s correspondence were destroyed by them after his death.

This family tree of the descendants of Mary Ann Paul (Young then Louden) is based on research undertaken in the 1970s by James Urquhart and Ronald D. Lowden Junior (above).

Graves of Mary Ann Paul and William Lowden

9. Jane Louden - Daughter of Mary Ann Paul

There is a gravestone in St Michael’s Churchyard, Dumfries inscribed,
Sacred to the memory of David Williamson merchant in
Dumfries who died 11 July 1824 aged 58 years.
Also his children who died Agnes 30 May 1794 aged 6 weeks
James 6 May 1797 aged 2 years.
Agnes 26 May 1797 aged 9 months
Robina 2 Feb 1803 aged 9 months.
Jane 22 Sept 1810 aged 11 years.
Helen 11 Aug 1812 aged 7 years.
Margaret Shaw 12 June 1819 aged 16 years.
And John 29 Dec 1826 aged 16 years.
Also Jane wife of the above David Williamson who died in
Oct 1853 aged 82 years.
And Robina their daughter died in April 1854 aged 46 years.
Also James, David and Samuel their sons who died in India
Also Elizabeth Williamson their daughter who died on the 3 of July 1873 aged 68 years.


From Memorials of St Michael’s by William McDowall, 1876, p221,

Another table-stone marks the resting place of David Williamson, draper, who, though he died 11th July, 1824, at the age of 58, was in business when Burns was yet alive, and supplied the bard with his uniform as a volunteer. His spouse, Jane Louden, died so recently as 11th October 1853, aged 82. She was the niece of the celebrated adventurer Paul Jones, who aided the Americans in their War of Independence, and afterwards entered the Russian service, in which he rose to the rank of Rear-Admiral. He was born at Arbigland, Kirkbean, 6th July 1747, and died in Paris, 18th July 1792. Many years afterwards his sister’s daughter, Mrs Williamson, succeeded through the influence of the American Government in obtaining the residue of her uncle’s effects, amounting to about £700, after proving to the satisfaction of the Paris officials that she was next of kin to Admiral Paul Jones. Mrs Williamson will be remembered by many of our older readers as tenant of the Commercial Hotel, Dumfries. She bore a large family to Mr Williamson, the whole of them, we believe, being mentioned in the inscription; four infants, Helen died at 7, Jane at 11, Margaret at 12, John at 16; three, ‘James, David and Samuel, who died in India, ‘Robina died at 46, and Elizabeth at 68. John Williamson, named above, was a remarkable boy. Somewhat wayward when in health, he, during his last illness, manifested such spirituality of mind and ecstatic faith and hope while about to pass away from earth, that a memoir of him, written jointly by Mr John M’Diarmid and the Rev William Symington of Stranraer, was published soon after his death, 29th December, 1826, which made a great impression in local circles at the time.

With her share of John Paul Jones’s considerable estate, possibly the largest family fortune ever held in Dumfries, Jane Williamson bought the Commercial Hotel, Dumfries which later became the County Hotel. From the title deeds of the County Hotel we learn that in 1829, residing at or near Bilbow, Dumfries, (near the Observatory) she was unable to discharge a debt of £95 owed to a company of wine and spirit merchants in Leith and was ‘put to the horn’, declared bankrupt and imprisoned for a period in Dumfries jail.

David Williamson supplied the poet Robert Burns with his Royal Dumfries Volunteer uniform, the non-payment for which caused the poet needless concern and anguish on his death-bed. Burns described him as a ‘rascally haberdasher’.

10. John Paul (Jones)

John Paul Jones’s birth is not recorded in the Kirkbean parish register. This has led to speculation about the circumstances of his birth.

From “The Life and Letters of John Paul Jones,” Volume: 1. by Anna (Mrs Reginald) De Koven, 1913,

Extracts from Dr. Filkins’s note-book: The following extract from a letter from Reverend Thomas Grierson A. M. dated Kirkbean Manse, Oct. 17th, 1842.

John Paul, alias Paul Jones was born in this Parrish at Arbigland. His father was gardener to Mr. Craik, grandfather of the present excellent proprietor, Douglas Hamilton Craik. He was born, according to a printed life of him in Mr. Craik’s possession, the 6th of July, 1747.

Mr. Craik told me to-day that he believed he was born several years earlier. He used to carry about the present Laird upon his back when he was a child.

Another statement from the Naval and Military Gazette of January 14, 1843, also found in Doctor Filkins’s note-books, affirms that Jones was born in the year 1742. Jones’s last secretary, André, who published his journal of the American war in 1708, gives it as his belief that Jones was older than the age ordinarily assigned to him.

11. Was John Paul Jones the son of William Craik?

William Craik of Arbigland and his wife Elizabeth Stewart of Shambellie

William Craik

Elizabeth Stewart

Grave of William Craik, Kirkbean

John Paul Jones’s parents, John Paul, senior and Jean Duff were married on 29th September 1733, only 3 days after William Craik of Arbigland married Eliza Stewart, daughter of William Stewart of Shambellie. (William Craik married Eliza Stewart in New Abbey Parish 26th September 1733).

Helen Craik, the daughter of William Craik wrote about her father’s life in two letters published in The Farmer’s Magazine, 1811. She mention the marriage of William Craik and Elizabeth (Eliza) Stewart, the only daughter of William Stewart of Shambellie in September 1733. She says they had two sons and four daughters.

From The Farmer’s Magazine, 1811 by Helen Craik,

it may not, perhaps, be altogether improper to add that one illegitimate son of my father’s survived him. He was about six years old at the time of my mother’s marriage and always treated by her as if he had been her own child. He was educated in the medical line, and settled in America, where he married a very accomplished and amiable woman of French extraction, by whom he had a large family. On his first going to that country, he was for some years in the regiment commanded by Washington, then a Colonel in the British service, and with whom he formed a friendship that continued uninterrupted through life. In both Marshall’s and Ramsey’s history of that great man, honourable mention is made of Dr [James] Craik, as was also done by General Washington in his will.

If John Paul Jones had been in any way related to William Craik, his daughter would have surely mentioned it as she does mention her father’s illegitimate son, Dr James Craik.

12. Was John Paul Jones the son of the Earl of Selkirk?

There appears to be no evidence for this, although Anna De Coven (above) reports,

the narrative of Thomas Chase, wherein it is stated with categorical emphasis that Paul Jones, during his conversations with Chase, had expressed his belief that he was the son of Lord Selkirk and stated that his earliest recollections were of Saint Mary’s Isle. He admitted also, according to the Chase narrative, that he was continually taunted with his illegitimate birth, and asserted this to have been the principal cause of his early departure from Scotland.

Colonel Wharton Green repeats these facts as reported by Major Knox, who was a guest at “The Grove.” Major Knox was also authority for Jones’s statement that he had assumed the name of Jones because he had none of his own. Rumors orally transmitted by those in intimate association with Jones during his sojourn at “The Grove,” in North Carolina, in the year 1774, repeat these statements, and, as far as such traditions can be accepted as historical evidence, tend to confirm the truth of Thomas Chase’s narrative.

From a letter from Helen, Countess of Selkirk to the Earl of Selkirk,

St. Mary’s Isle, April 24th, 1778

At going off they said they belonged to the Ranger frigate, captain Paul Johns, Esquire, Commander’It was immediately known that this Paul Johns is one John Paul, born at Arbigland, who once commanded a Kirkcudbright vessel belonging to Mr. Muir and others, a great villain as ever was born, guilty of many crimes and several murders by ill usage, was tried and condemned for one, escaped, and followed a piratical life, till he engaged with the Americans, he seems to delight in that still, as robbing a house was below the dignity of the States of America.

From a letter from Helen, Countess of Selkirk to William Craik of Arbigland,

St Mary’s Isle April 25th 1778:

They told me they were on the Ranger Frigate, belonging to the States of America, commanded by Captain Paul Johnes Esquire, whom I understand you knew better than me, being John Paul whom they say was born in your ground, and is a gardener’s son of yours.

These two letters suggest that there is no family link between John Paul Jones and the Earl of Selkirk.

13. Was John Paul Jones the son of the Duke of Queensberry?

There appears to be no evidence for this.

From “I Have Not Yet Begun To Fight, A Life Of John Paul Jones”, by James Mackay, 1998,

“Apart from the fact that ‘Old Q’ (as the Third Duke was commonly known) never married but sired many a bastard, there is nothing whatsoever to connect him with the subject of this biography. In any event, the Duke would only have been seventeen at the time John Paul was born.”

14. Did John Paul Jones have children?

There is a suggestion that he may have had a child with Therese Townsend whilst in Paris.

(Also see entry for William Paul, Annan which follows.)

John Paul Jones wrote to the Countess of Selkirk on 8th May 1778, ‘Nor am I in pursuit of riches. My fortune is liberal enough having no wife nor family.’

From the Will of John Paul Jones, 1792,

In the name of God, Amen. I John Paul Jones Citizen of the United States of America, now resident in the City of Paris, being in a very low and weak state of health but of sound mind and understanding, do make this my last will and Testament in manner following, viz:

I do give and bequeath my whole Estate real and personal unto my two sisters Janette the wife of William Taylor of Dumfries, and Mary wife of Mr Lowden in the parish of Kirkbean both of Scotland in the Island of Great Britain and unto their Children all to share equally, the whole being to be divided into as many shares as there are persons, and the mothers respectively to take care of the shares of such of her children as are not of age, and to employ the Interest and Profit thereof in their nurture and education, and in case any one should die before attaining the age of twenty-one years, the share of such one to be divided among the remainder, and in like manner if more than one should die.

I do make the Honorable Robert Morris, Esqr. of Philadelphia my sole Executor. In witness whereof I have subscribed my name and affixed my seal to this which I hereby publish and declare as my last will and Testament.


Signed sealed published and declared by the above named Testator who has subscribed the same in our presence and we have subscribed as witnesses in the presence of the said Testator and in the presence of each other, the words One half of my said, being run thro’ with a pen on the first page and the word of Philadelphia interlined on the second page previous to the execution.




In John Paul Jones’s will he left everything to his two sisters Janet and Mary Ann and their children. There were ten shares in all. This would suggest he had no children and his mother was dead. The sharing of the estate in this way was complicated and was the source of disputes in the family.

15. Pauls in Kirkcudbright

There was a John Paul working as a joiner in Kirkcudbright about the same time as John Paul Jones was there. The father of this John Paul, according to James McKay (above), was probably George Paul, born in Edinburgh on 16th August 1690, the son of William Paul and Joannett Reid.

According to Anna De Koven (above), George Paul was the gardener at St Mary’s Isle until 1750 when he removed with all his family to Kirkcudbright, where, until his death in 1753, he kept a nursery. In a footnote Anna De Koven refers to a document concerning this death.

From “The Life and Letters of John Paul Jones”. Volume: 1. by Anna (Mrs Reginald) De Koven, 1913,

Narrative of Thomas Chase, Chapter II.

2. Notes made by W. C. McCleod, of Kirkcudbright, bundle II, no. 31:

Summons at the instance of William Millar seedman in Abbey of Holy Rood House, against George John Elizabeth and Margaret Paul and Andrew White Boatman husband of the said Margaret Paul for his interest as heirs and executors of the deceased George Paul gardiner in Kircudbright for £14. 2 5. sterling to be paid to the said William Millar with execution thereof and Bill therein narrated dated Oct 22 1750. October 30 1753.

According to the International Genealogical Individual Record Family Search’ Index v 5.0 a John Paul married Mary Ker, Feb 1771 in Kirkcudbright. (M118712 1743 – 1805 1068032 Film 6901425)

A John Paul was hauled up before Kirkcudbright Kirk session in 1771 for ‘ante-nuptial fornication’. In other records, ante-nuptial fornication seems to imply that the couple did marry – just that the woman was pregnant. Otherwise, the sin was “fornication”.

From Kirkcudbright Kirk Session Records for 12 May 1771,

John Paul compeared and confessed himself guilty of Antenuptial fornication, & that he is willing to subject himself to the discipline of the church for the said offence. Session considering that he is otherwise a discreet well behaved man, & in no ways contumacious agreed that he be dismissed with a sessional rebuke on paying a compliment to the poor to be left to his own discretion, he recd. The rebuke & exhortation accordingly & promised to give the compliment to the Treasurer upon which he was dismissed from censure. Session closed with prayer.

As John Paul married Mary Ker on 2nd February 1771, and their first child Elizabeth was born 3 months later on 10th May 1771, the above Kirk Session Record must surely refer to John Paul the joiner, the son of this Kirkcudbright family, and not John Paul Jones.

John Paul the joiner in Kirkcudbright was the son of George Paul who was the gardener at St Mary’s Isle, the home of the Earl and Countess of Selkirk. In his article, “Some Relations of John Paul Jones”, published in the Transactions of The Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society, Vol 24, 1947 the local historian, R C Reid, quotes a Paul family tradition that George Paul, gardener at St Mary’s Isle and John Paul senior, gardener at Arbigland were brothers, and sons of ‘an unnamed man of Leith who kept a ‘mail-garden'[vegetable or market garden] there, having come from Fife’.

John Paul the joiner in Kirkcudbright had a son, William Paul who died in 1815. (He had another son, John, born in 1785, who served as a Captain in the U.S. Army in 1812; returned to Kirkcudbright in 1828 and had a son William, born in 1835. This grandson of John Paul the joiner died in 1885 in Aberdeen.

Wills on the website show entries for John Paul, joiner in Kirkcudbright and William Paul also in Kirkcudbright both dated 1815. These appear to be testament datives so may not give much help unless the executor is the next of kin but would be worth a look.

From “The Life and Letters of John Paul Jones”. Volume: 2. by Anna (Mrs Reginald) De Koven, 1913,

Letter by William Burnie, 1908, the great grandson of George Paul, gardener of St Mary’s Isle and (supposed ‘ ed.) brother of Paul Jones reputed father, John Paul of Arbigland.

NEW YORK, Mar. 8, 1908.


The other day when I told you that on my mother’s side, I was descended from George Paul, the Earl of Selkirk’s gardener, who according to the school histories when I went to school, was the father of John Paul Jones, you told me to write an account of what I knew or had heard about the connection. Which request is the excuse for the following.

My mother was a daughter of John Paul of Kircudbright, Scotland. What the exact year of his birth was I do not know, but I think from what my uncle writes it was 1785. He came to this country and settled in Charleston S. C. in the very beginning of the last century, going into business, as a wholesale and retail grocer. When the war of 1812 broke out, he organized a company of Scotchmen for the defence of Charleston, and was their captain until the close of the war. In 1828 he retired from business and returned to Kircudbright where in 1829 he married Isabella Mc’Whinnie of the same place. He died June 2, 1846 leaving eight children, four sons and four daughters. His father was John Paul a carpenter and builder of Kircudbright, whose wife was Mary Kerr of the same place. They were the parents of twelve children. He died at the age of 72, I dont know the year, but his wife who survived him died in 1828.

The father of the last mentioned John Paul, was George Paul, the Earl of Salkirk’s gardener. I do not know the year of his birth or death nor his father’s first name. His brother John, also a gardener, is the generally accepted father of Paul Jones to-day. I cannot recall any family tradition about Paul Jones, except that my great grandfather on one occasion ordered him out of his house for being impolite to the ladies. The Kircudbright people considered him a Buccaneer, and never mentioned his name if they could help it.

One day in a talk with Mother, I suggested that Paul Jones was not a Paul, but a Douglass (The earl of Selkirk’s family name.) She said that he was not a Douglass but a Paul, and that at some time she would tell me all that she had heard about him. I have at different times asked my Uncle if they had any information that they could give me, but they said that they knew nothing about him.

When I was a boy of nine we spent the summer of 1870 in Kircudbright with an aunt of Mother’s, Miss Agnes Paul. Her house was on ground that George Paul owned and used as a nursery after he left the Earl’s employ. The house, or rather the back of it, was built by his son, the carpenter, the front being added by my grandfather. Two of my aunts live there to-day.

During my stay in Kircudbright my uncle took me to St. Mary’s Isle (The Earl’s residence) to see the silver that Paul Jones had “stolen” from the Earl of Selkirk when he made his raid on the. Scotch coast. This silver was afterward returned to Lady Selkirk with the compliments of John Paul Jones. Although the Kircudbright people pretend to despise Paul Jones, they are mighty proud of the silver.

Yours respectfully,

(Signed) WM. BIRNIE.

Although Birnie states that, The father of the last mentioned John Paul, was George Paul, the Earl of Selkirk’s gardener. His brother John, also a gardener, is the generally accepted father of Paul Jones to-day. This cannot be the case as John Paul Senior, gardener at Arbigland’s father was a John Paul, whereas George Paul, gardener at St Mary’s Isle’s father was a William Paul.

16. Pauls in Annan

Did John Paul Jones have a son who lived in Annan?

This death notice appeared in the Dumfries Standard of Wednesday July 17 1844,


At Watch-Hill by Annan, on the 8th inst at an advanced age, William Paul a son of the celebrated Captain Paul Jones.

William Paul occurs in the 1821 Annan Census as William Paul 1m (male) 2fem (female) total 4 (inhabitants)’. This entry is recorded after the town centre entries and just before the landward parish entries start, therefore he lived at the edge of Annan Burgh. This would describe the location of Watchhill.

William Paul also occurs in the 1841 Annan Census as William Paul, Porter. He is 70 years old, living with his wife Betsy and he comes from ‘Scotland’ that is to say he is not a native of Annan or Dumfriesshire.

The date of the 1841 Census is 6th June 1841, so if he recorded his age correctly he would have been conceived sometime between October 1769 and October 1770. John Paul Jones was in Kirkcudbright at this time so there is at least the possibility that this could be his son. We also know that a John Paul was hauled up before Kirkcudbright Kirk session in 1771 for ‘ante-nuptial fornication’ (above).

Ages, however, can be rounded down to the nearest 5 years in the 1841 Census so William Paul of Annan could be up to 74 years old in 1841.

Nevertheless, if John Paul Jones had a son, why was this child not mentioned in his will which left his estate to both his sisters and all their children? There were ten co-heirs in all including seven females.

Also John Paul Jones wrote to the Countess of Selkirk on 8th May 1778 ‘Nor am I in pursuit of riches. My fortune is liberal enough having no wife nor family.’ If he had an illegitimate son in Kirkcudbright in 1771 and was summoned to the Kirk Session about it, that would surely have been known locally, perhaps even to the Countess herself. John Paul Jones would have seen no point in lying to her.

The likelihood is that there was some cachet in claiming to be the son of John Paul Jones in a sea-faring town such as Annan and William Paul would have derived some celebrity from this.

There was another Paul family living in Annan at this time and if William Paul was John Paul Jones’s son and if there is a link between William Paul and this other family then there may even be a direct descendant of John Paul Jones living locally today.

The other Paul is William Paul who was born about 1805 and married Jane Johnston on 24th March 1834. It is noteworthy that in the 1821 Census the William Paul who claimed to be the son of John Paul Jones had one male living with him who is no longer in the house in 1841. This may or may not be the William Paul who married in 1834.

From the 1851 Annan Census,

William Paul, Lady Street, married, 46, Labourer, agricultural, born Lochmaben. Jane, wife, 50, born Cummertrees. John, son, 14, Scholar, born Annan Elizabeth, daughter, 13, Scholar, born Annan. Jane, household of Jannet Moffat, 16.

From records of Annan Old Cemetery,

William Paul died 04/08/1887 aged 82

Wife Jane Johnston died 03/01/1872

Williamina, daughter, aged 2

Finally, there is a will on the website for a Robert Paul in Lochmaben in 1793. Again, this appears to be a testament dative so may not give much help unless the executor is the next of kin but it is worth investigation.

17. Conclusions?

Anyone claiming to be a relative of John Paul Jones must be able to trace their descent from his younger surviving sister, Mary Ann Paul (Young, then Louden) down either the Young-McKinnell or the Louden-Richardson branches of her family to her first and second husbands.

Unless, of course, William Paul of Annan’s claim to be his son is valid or the suggestion that John Paul Jones had a son with Therese Townsend in Paris is correct and you are descended from them…so there you go!

All information and corrections welcomed.