Buying a Husband

Was thinking about birthday presents for my mother, who’s into geneaology, and got caught up once again in the story of an ancestor of mine whose husband was bought and paid for by  100 pounds of tobacco. (No joke!)

The husband’s name was Peter McIntosh (my maiden name) and he was born between 1754 and 1758 (depending on the source) in Scotland, Aberdeen or maybe Inverness. He came to America on a ship called the Monima in 1775 (what a time to arrive, right before the Declaration of Independence was signed), landing in Virginia.

The price of his passage was supposedly the 100 pounds of tobacco, and supposedly paid for by William Turner, whose daughter Margaret Turner eventually married Peter in Wilkesboro, NC, but not until 1783. (You can see one of the listings of the Family Tree Here)

Peter would have been about twenty years old when he arrived in America, although another source puts him as old as 28, and Margaret was only 15, and they waited eight years after that to marry.

Which makes me wonder, did her father actually buy her a husband? And how did he choose? Could they have been from Scotland themselves, and her father wanted a good Scottish man for her? So he imported one?

And why did they wait so long to marry? Fifteen may have been young to marry, even then, but surely 16 or 17 wasn’t and 23 sounds like a spinster in that time period, particularly if Peter was brought to America specificaly to marry Margaret.

I suppose Peter could have gone off to fight the Revolutionary War. It ended in 1783, the year they married. So maybe that accounts for the long wait. There was a Peter McIntosh from Virginia who fought in the war, although I’m not sure it was the same Peter.

Or maybe Margaret didn’t like the idea of her father picking and then purchasing a husband for her. Maybe she pitched a little fit and refused to marry Peter at first. Maybe she wanted him to love her or to love him. Maybe that took a while, and then maybe the Revolutionary War got in the way.

Just makes me wonder and wish one of them had kept a diary or told the story to someone else who told the story to their children, and it had survived through the generations. That would have made the writer in me very happy, although what bits we have are intriguing and could lead to all sorts of good, made-up stories, if someone wanted to write about a woman whose husband was paid for with 100 pounds of tobacco.

Whatever the reason, the two did eventually marry and have seven children, eventually ending up in what became the coal fields of Eastern Kentucky, where Peter died in 1820 and my father was eventually born in 1940 to one of Peter and Margaret’s descendants.

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Comments: 5
  • #1

    justin huff (Sunday, 01 March 2015 00:41)

    I really like this, im researching for my father, he's "Lonnie Huff". were directly related to Peter McIntosh, through the Gay family. Its really hard to find any info on peter's father and mother. just info on the area of Scotland he was from at that time they weren't permitted to wear their kilts. I've never been a big reader unless its factual or historical things intrigue me. i''ll check out your books though, cuz

  • #2

    Randy Floyd (Tuesday, 08 March 2016 09:10)

    I'm also descended from Peter, but through his son William. The story about William Turner buying Peter for Margaret is colorful and I hope for the sake of family lore it is true. I propose that William Turner bought a servant because he needed one. Peter worked out his indenture and bonded with his employer's family. At some point he married William Turner's daughter Margaret. Later, perhaps, the family made light of the fact that the older Mr. Turner essentially "bought" his daughter a husband.

  • #3

    Teresa Hill (Tuesday, 08 March 2016 20:25)


    Nice to meet you. I love this story about our ancestors, and I think it makes perfect sense that she'd fall for him as he worked her father's farm. Wonder if her father was outraged when he found out?

  • #4

    Teresa Hill (Tuesday, 08 March 2016 20:30)

    Hi Justin,

    I somehow missed this comment earlier. Sorry. I've never been able to find out anything about Peter's family, either. My mother found out the name of the ship that carried him to America -- the Monima. (I think.) But that's it. Hope to go to Scotland one day and see if I can find anything there myself.

  • #5

    Janice Miller (Thursday, 05 May 2016 01:13)

    We have the same ancestor. Peter McIntosh is my 6th great grandfather. I have many questions. My research has put his birth at 1746 the same year of the Jacobite Culloden War. Did his parents flee the Highlands to the lowlands to give birth? Did they flee to America because their culture and way of life was nearly wiped out? Did he in fact fight in the Revolutionary war? Hoping to find answers and am part of a group of my relations with McIntosh on FB at

    Did the name Mackintosh change to McIntosh because of the fear of being mistreated as a result of Culloden?
    Going to Scotland next year and I am hoping to find out.