clan_colquhoun.svg William Colquhoun
1633 - 1675

BORN: 1633
MARRIED: Deliverance
         26 JUN 1662
DIED: 22 JUN 1675
         East Rehoboth, Massachusetts
BURIED: 24 JUN 1675
         Swansea, Massachusetts

William Colquhoun is believed to be the son of Sir John Colquhoun and the Lady Katherine Graham, although there is no known official record of William's birth or parentage. What we do have are William's own claims as to whom his father was and a plausable and compelling explanation why there would be no record kept of his birth or family.

Sir John Colquhoun, Laird of Luss, married the Lady Lilias Graham in 1620 but within 10 years had become infatuated with his wife's younger sister, Katherine. Apparently the feelings between John and Katherine were mutual, because in September of 1632 they eloped and fled to London. Katherine's brother James, the Laird Montrose, then used his influence with the king to have Sir John charged with incest and sorcery. Intimate relations with the sister or brother of your spouse was Incest under Scotish law and the additional charge of sorcery implied that Katherine would never have so mad as to have gone with John unless enchanted to do so, thus saving the honor of the Graham family. Both Incest and Sorcery were capital offenses and either one would have been punishable by death.

Perhaps John and Katherine fled Scotland because they were truly in love, or perhaps they fled because their indescretions had been discovered, or perhaps Katherine was already pregnant with John's child. In short, if William was John and Katherine's son, his existance could have proved at least one of the two charges held against Sir John. John & Katherine would have had every incentive to conceal William from the authorities and their families.

William Colquhoun was probably born in London in 1633, although some sources say he may have been born as late as 1635. The English capitol would have been a good place for Sir John and his new family to disappear - even though England and Scotland shared the same King, they were run as separate countries and a warrant issued in Scotland would have no legal standing with the English.

William Colquhoun officially enters the historical record in 1650.

In 1650 the English Parliamentarian Forces under the command of Oliver Cromwell invaded Scotland citing the Scot's support for the monarchists, most especially Charles II, King of Scotland. General David Leslie, charged with meeting Cromwell, decided to avoid direct contact as his forces were well armed but poorly trained. They stayed mainly behind strong fortifications in and around around Edinburgh, refusing to be drawn out. Finally on September 2nd, thinking the English were retreating, Leslie brought his troops out, only to be outflanked and beaten in what would be called the Battle of Dunbar. William Colquhoun, 17, was a member of Leslie's defeated Army.

The Scottish prisoners, including William, were force-marched south into England in order to prevent any rescue attempt, but the conditions were so harsh that 2,000 out of the 5,000 captured died before reaching Durham Cathedral, where they were imprisoned. Another 1500 died in captivity. The remaining 1400 were transported and sold as slave labor to English colonies in the New World. Scotland was annexed as a permanent part of the United Kingdom.

William Colquhoun was sold as an indentured servant to Bex and Company and brought to the colonies aboard the English ship 'Unity' which left Liverpool on November 11th 1650 and arrived in the port of Boston. William first 'exploited' bog iron in Saugus, Braintree and Taunton, Massachusetts. After several years he assisted in the construction of a shallop - a small 2-masted ship that can be propelled by sails or oars. It is also known that he learned brickmaking from a man named James Leonard.

In April 1661, William was one of the first 16 men to settle Block Island, probably assigned to work his master's land. Ironically enough, the 'free-thinkers' set on moving to the island, chaffed at the strict rules and conduct of the Puritans that dominated Massachusetts at this time, but had no qualms about owning slaves. At Settler's Rock, a plaque commemorating the original settlers was mounted onto stone some 250-years later. It reads:

This stone was placed here September 2nd, A.D. 1911 by the citizens of New Shoreham to commemorate the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the purchase and settlement of Block Island by the following named persons who landed at this point: Thomas Terry, Richard Billingum, John Clarke, Samuel Dearing, William Jud, Nathaniel Winslow, Samuel Dearing, Thormut Rose, Simon Ray, Edward Worce, William Tosh, John Rathbun, Thomas Faxson, William Barker, Richard Allis, Daniel Cumball, Philip Warton, William Cohoone, John Glover, Duncan Mack, James Sands, Edward Worce, Hugh Williams, Trustrum Dodge, Sen John Alcock, Nicholas White, Peter George, William Billings, Simon Ray, John Ackurs.

William Colquhoun probably gained his freedom shortly after arriving on Block Island when King Charles, who had been restored to the throne, decreed that all captured royalists be discharged from their servitude.

On January 13th, 1662, William purchased 40 acres of land on Block Island from Thomas Terry and later that year William married Deliverance. On May 4th 1664, William Cahoon was listed as a Freeman living at New Shoreham, Block Island. There is some debate as to how much longer William Colquhoun remained on Block Island. He is reported to have served on a Newport Grand Jury in 1665, but did not sell his acreage on Block Island until November 13th, 1670 to a Samuel Hagbourne.

The transfer document between Samuel Hagbourne and William Colquhoun provides a clue as to William's past. At the time, about 60% of English landowners could not read or write and signed documents with an 'X'. A hired "recorder" would then place his or her notation next to the 'X', almost the same way a public notary works today. A person who could read and write for himself would not have a notation next to his signature. There is no notation next to William's signature on this transfer document, indicating that William could read and write - and he was the only (former) Scottish prisoner on Block Island capable of doing so. If William had been raised in a peasant or working class family, he would most likely be as illiterate as his colleagues.

On February 7th, 1670, William was listed as a Freeman and permanent resident of Swansea, Massachusetts, but not on any previous list. And on December 24th 1673, William signs an agreement with the township of Swansea to sell bricks at the price of 2 shillings per 1000 in return for 35 acres of land. It was around this time that William permanently changed the spelling of his last name to Cahoon, not only because the new spelling was phonetically correct to the English ear, but because Colquhoun was too long to be stamped onto the bricks he was making.

The lands of the Wampanog tribe stretched throughout much of what is now Rhode Island, Connecticut and eastern Massachusetts, and while there were disputes, the Indians and English co-existed peacefully. Over time, the Indians became increasingly dependant on English firearms to protect them against other tribes. Their chief, whose name was Metacomet but was called King Philip by the English, was frequently summoned to answer charges of Indian misconduct and the colonists often responded by confiscating the weapons they had sold the natives (at highly inflated prices) regardless of who was responsible. Metacomet regarded these acts as theft and began plotting a rebellion to drive the colonists from the land.

The Wampanog gathered near Swansea on June 22nd, 1675, harassing settlers, shooting cattle and plundering horses until one colonist became so enraged he shot and wounded an Indian in an exchange of fire, temporarily driving them off. The Wampanog returned, killing 8 or 9 colonists and seriously wounding several others. Many of the villagers, including William and his family, took refuge in the home of the Rev. John Myles, because it had stone walls. When it became apparent that several of the wounded would die without a physician, William Cahoon volunteered to make the dangerous trek to Rehobeth and bring back a doctor. William's mutilated remains were found the next day near what is now Lake and Wheeler Streets in East Rehobeth.

In Boston, a militia of 100 men was raised to quell the rebellion, but they did not arrive before the Wampanog had burned most of Swansea to the ground. More towns were attacked and the militia charged with defeating them grew to more than a thousand. King Philip's Rebellion lasted for months (years in the Maine frontier) and while only 800 colonists and 3,000 Indians were killed, proportionate to their respective populations this was one of the bloodiest and costliest wars ever fought in North America.

Deliverance and all their children survived the attack on Swansea, returning to live for a time on Block Island. Deliverance married Caleb Laumbard of Barnsdale, Massachusetts in 1681.



    Sir John COLQUHOUN

    Lady Katherine Graham

   1. Samuel CAHOON
   2. Mary CAHOON
   3. Joseph CAHOON
   4. Archibald CAHOON
   5. Agnus CAHOON
   6. William CAHOON
   7. James CAHOON
   8. John CAHOON
   9. Nathanial CAHOON


  Montrose Sisters: an account, by Phinella Henderson
  The Clan Colquhoun Journal, Vol. 2, Nbr. 2
        "Sir John Colquhoun of Luss - Necromancer?", byJames Pearson
  The Clan Colquhoun Journal, Vol. 5, Nbr. 3
        "Who was William Cahoon?", The United Kingdom Society
  Vicissitudes of Families, Third Series,
        "A Tale of Magic on Lochlomond, A.D. 1631", by Sir Bernard Burke
  An Examination into the Parentage of William Cahoon, by Gary D. Calder