John Preston 1699-1747
Smithfield Prestons

John Preston, son of Archibald Preston, the first of the Smithfield Prestons, came to America in 1738. John was born in Lima-Vady, a small town in Northern Ireland near Londonderry. John was employed by Henry Patton, ship builder and owner. John married Henry Patton's daughter, Elizabeth Patton (1700-1779) in about 1723. Henry's son, James Patton held office in the Royal Navy and was held in high esteem by the King. As a result of this, the King gave James Patton a grant of 120,000 acres in the Colony of Virginia, to be anywhere he so desired west of the Blue Mountains. (Different sources report varying numbers of acres, but the fact is they were granted land, probably several grants.) They were to establish settlements for British subjects. Hence, John Preston, his wife Elizabeth Patton Preston, his four children, his sister Mary and his brother-in-law, Col. James Patton (all born in Ireland) came to America. It is believed they sailed on the ship "Walpole" owned by James Patton. Not confirmed but believe the ship sailed from Whitehaven on 16 March 1737/38. (Another source indicates they arrived at Belhaven, near Alexandria on the Potomac on August 26, 1738. Passage isn't that long so this may have been two different voyages.) The "Walpole" made this journey as many as 20 times. His first residence was at Spring Hill, Augusta Co. After John's death, his wife Elizabeth moved to Greenfield where she remained until her death.

We know nothing about Archibald Preston, but some theorize that he was possibly from the family of "Valley Field" Prestons, a branch of the Prestons of Preston-Richard in the north of England.

There are many references in the literature indicating that the Walnut Grove Prestons were cousins of the Smithfield Prestons but I do not have information on the connection. The Walnut Grove line came to America about 30 years after the Smithfield line, and there were several inter marriages. Virginia Tech's original name was Preston and Olin Institute; the Preston was William Preston of the Smithfield Prestons.

John Preston and Elizabeth Patton Preston had five children, four girls and one boy. They were:

  1. Letitia Preston (1728-1798) who married Col. Robert Breckenridge. They had five children, four sons and one daughter. They moved to Kentucky to live. Col. Breckenridge had been married before and had two sons, Robert and Alexander. Col. Breckenridge and his second wife, Letitia, had 4 sons and 2 daughters.
  2. Margaret Preston (1730-1802) who married Rev. John Brown, a Presbyterian Minister. They also moved to Kentucky and had six children who reached maturity.
    1. Elizabeth Brown married Rev. Thomas B. Craighead, a well-known Presbyterian minister of Tennessee and they had seven children. The children were:
      • Alexander Craighead died unmarried.
      • William Craighead died unmarried.
      • James B. Craighead married his relative, Miss Jane Preston of Walnut Grove, VA. He was a lawyer and afterwards a planter of Marengo County, Alabama. They left six children:
        • Daniel Craighead.
        • John Craighead.
        • Jennie Craighead.
        • James Craighead.
        • Preston Craighead.
        • Thomas Craighead.
      • Thomas Craighead, lawyer, died unmarried.
    2. John Brown was born in Rockbridge Co., Va, was a lawyer and statesman, represented Kentucky as a district of Virginia in the Virginia legislature, and in Congress, the old Congress, 1787-88. He was the first senator in Congress from Kentucky, and was twice elected United States Senator. He was a warm personal friend of Thomas Jefferson. He married Miss Margaretta Mason, dau. of the Rev. John Mason and sister of the Rev. John Mason, illustrious Presbyterian minister of New York. They had two sons:
      • Mason Brown was a judge and secretary of state of Kentucky. He married first Miss Judith A. Bledsoe, dau. of Hon. Jesse Bledsoe; and second, Miss Mary Yorder (Yoder), dau. of Capt. Jacob Yorder (Yoder) of Spencer Co., Ky.
        • Benjamin Gratz Brown, son of Mason Brown, went to Missouri. Great great grandson of John Preston, was a senator from Missouri and Democratic candidate for Vice-President on the ticket with Horace Greely, another Irish American.
        • John Mason Brown, son of Mason Brown, a prominent lawyer of Lexington, married Mary Owen, dau. of Major William Preston of Louisville.
        • Mary Y. Brown, dau. of Mason Brown, married W. T. Scott of Lexington, a Col. of Kentucky Volunteers in the United States Army.
      • Orlando Brown was a lawyer and journalist. He married first his cousin, Mary W. Brown, and second Mary C. Broadhead (formerly Miss. Price). He had three children by Mary Brown.
        • Mason P. Brown was for sometime treasurer of Kentucky.
        • Orlando Brown Jr., was a lieutenant colonel in the Kentucky Volunteers and a farmer near Frankfort, KY.
    3. William Brown.
    4. Mary Brown married Dr. Alexander Humphrey (Humphreys ?) of Staunton, Va. After her husband's death Mary removed to Kentucky with her family of seven children. Her son, John B. Humphreys married Miss Kenner of Louisiana and left six children.
    5. James Brown married Ann Hart, daughter of Col. Thomas Hart and sister of Mrs. Henry Clay of Kentucky. He was a lawyer and first Secretary of State of Kentucky, went to Louisiana, and was for many years senator of the United States from that state, and was United States minister to the Court of France. He died in Philadelphia and unlike most of his kindred, left no issue.
    6. Samuel Brown was a distinguished practitioner and professor of medicine. He married Miss Perey of Alabama. His issue:
      • James P. Brown a lawyer and planter in Mississippi, married Miss Campbell of Nashville, Tenn. His son George Campbell Brown married Miss Susan Polk, dau. of Gen. Lucius Polk of Tennessee.
      • Susan P. Brown married Charles Ingersoll of Philadelphia. His daughters:
        • Adela Ingersoll m. John M. Thomas a Philadelphia lawyer.
        • Ann W. Ingersoll m. James H. Hutchinson of Philly.
        • Betsy Ingersoll m. Arthur Amory of Boston and New York.
        • Kate M. P. Ingersoll m. Dr. Francis Maury formerly from KY later Philly.
  3. William Preston (12/25/1730)(1783) married Susanna Smith (1739-1823) of Hanover Co. Virginia. She was the daughter of Francis Smith and Elizabeth Waddy. They had twelve children.
  4. Mary Preston (1732-1814) married John Howard of Virginia. They had five children.
    1. Elizabeth Howard married Edward Payne, of Fayette Co., Ky. Among their children were:
      • Edward G. Payne, lawyer and farmer in Kentucky.
      • Daniel McCarty Payne, lawyer in Lexington, Ky who had eleven children. Some of whom:
        • John Brackenridge Payne was also a lawyer in Lexington.
        • Mary Payne married J. H. Neville, professor of Greek at Univ. of Kentucky.
    2. Mary Howard married Alexander Parker of Lexington, Ky. One of their children:
      • Mary W. Parker married Thomas Turpin Crittenden 1788-1832, circuit Judge and Secretary of State of Kentucky. Thomas was the son of Major John Crittenden. They had 6 children, of whom:
        • Mary Judith Crittenden 1814-1883 married Tod Robinson, a judge of the Supreme Court of California and of their children:
          • Mary Howard Robinson married in 1867 Felix Mercado, of San Francisco.
          • Cornelius Robinson was a lawyer in San Francisco.
        • Alexander Parker Crittenden, second child of Mary Parker and Thomas Crittenden, was a lawyer in San Francisco. Of their children:
          • Laura Crittenden married Mr. Sanchez of San Francisco.
          • James L. Crittenden was a lawyer in New York City.
        • Thomas S. Crittenden Jr. was a brigadier general and a lawyer in Washington and a member of Congress from Missouri.
    3. Benjamin Howard, third child of Mary Preston and John Howard, married a Miss Mason in Virginia. He was a member of Congress from Kentucky, 1807-1810, Governor of the Territory of Indiana, 1810, and brigadier general in the war of 1812. He was also Governor of Missouri Territory.
    4. Margaret Howard married Robert Wycliffe, lawyer and statesman of Kentucky. They had 7 children of whom:
      • Sally Howard Wycliffe, married Aaron K. Wooley, a circuit judge and member of the Kentucky legislature. They had 8 children, of whom the eldest, Robert W. Wooley, a lawyer in Louisville, was secretary of the U. S. legation to Spain and Col in the Confederate Army.
      • Mary H. Wycliffe married John PRESTON, formerly of Arkansas, afterward of Trimble County.
      • Margaret H. Wycliffe married her cousin William PRESTON of Louisville, member of Congress and United States Minister to Spain. His daughter Mary Owen Preston married her relative, John Mason Brown, lawyer of Louisville.
    5. Sarah Howard never married.
  5. Ann Preston or (Elizabeth Ann Preston) (1739-1813). Apparently the only child born in this country (although there are conflicting birth dates in various sources). She married Col. Francis Smith of Virginia. Col. Francis Smith was the brother of Susanna Smith. They too moved to Kentucky and had two sons and four daughters.