William Montfort Boylan Sr.was born in Pluckemin, Somerset County, N.J. Sept 1. 1777. He was the grandson of Aaron Boylan and the fourth son of fifteen children of John Boylan and Elizabeth Hodge-Boylan. Elizabeth came from a very literate family and this must have carried over to William, who, we suspect, was also what used to be known as a southern orator.


At age 22, his mothers brother Mr. Hodge enticed John to move to North Carolina to enter the publishing business. NC Pedia has more. Following the death of his first wife, Elizabeth Stokes McCulloch, Boylan married Jane Elliott. He had a total of eleven children including William Montfort Boylan Jr. 

Sources Somerset County Historical Journal 1917 Page 107 and NC Pedia

William Boylan prospered as an journalist, planter, politician and advocate of internal improvements - the term used at that time for infrastructure projects. He surveyed the Tar, Neuse, and Yadkin rivers and also Cape Fear. He was president of the Raleigh and Gaston Railroad and was very active in drumming up investments in infrastructure projects. Boylan also was a well connected politician, serving a term as councilor of state (1806) and four terms as a Federalist representative to the General Assembly from Wake County (1813–16). He even was a banker, succeeding William Polk as the president of the State Bank of North Carolina.

Boylan, was a very public-spirited citizen, a charter supporter of the Raleigh Academy in 1801. He was responsible for building the first county poorhouse in Wake. During the "big snow of '57" he sent loads of firewood from his estate to the Raleigh poor. When the state capitol was burned in 1831, he served on the commission to erect a new capitol.

Knowing his business acumin, political and banking connections, and wide ranging interests, including agriculture, it is hardly surprising that William Boylan acquired three plantations in Wake County; making him perhaps the first cotton grower in Wake County. He was the treasurer of the Agricultural society in 1818.

And now after that grand introduction, we come to the tragic bit:

Those three plantations were only profitable by exploiting enslaved labour.

Being a slave of William Montfort Boylan Sr. cannot have been a pleasurable experience as proven by the following newspaper ads that he had printed:

That was long ago, but still it remains completely inexcusable.

However, William Montfort Boylan Sr, did help the Anti-Slavery Leader Lunsford Lane to escape from Raleigh, together with his family:

Lunsford Lane had learned the secret of making superior tabacco from his father. This knowledge generated so much  private income that Lane Jr. was able to hire himself from his owner - a Mr. Haywood for 120$ per year. Soon thereafter Lunsford fell in love and married a slave who happened to belong to William Montford Boylan. Shortly after the marriage, Mr Boylan wanted to sell Lunsfords wife for some reason, but he gave her the privilege of selecting her own new master. Anti-Slavery Leaders of North Carolina Page 63. Lunsfords wife chose Mr. Benjamin Smith from her Methodist church. Her new owner let Lunsford pay for his wifes food and clothing, probably more for the novelty of being paid by a black man than for greed, but as we will see, the Christian Mr. Smith did indeed help the Lanes significantly later on.

Lunsfords owner died and widow Haywood permitted Lunsford to purchase his freedom, however, Lunsford needed a trusted white man to buy him and set him free for legal reasons. In 1839 his wifes owner, Mr. Smith took Lunsford with him to New York City to have emancipation papers made out. He later sold Lunsfords wife and children to Lunsford for 2500 $.

Perhaps not so different from today, poor whites were riled by Lunsfords success and had him evicted from his economic tobacco base in Raleigh in 1840, while forcing him to leave his family there. However Lunsford returned in 1842 to pick up his family. He was caught and tried for telling his true-life story in Massachusetts: (Abolition lectures they called that in Raleigh) and he was almost lynched. He voluntarily spent the night in jail for safety, and was advised the next morning to seek protection from William Montfort Boylan. However, on the way to Boylans house, Lunsford narrowly avoided being lynched again, and wound up being tarred and feathered by a mob of misguided individuals.

This was too much (for the excellent political connections of Mr. Boylan?) so the Governer had to send soldiers to guard Lunsfords house that night. On the next day the Widow Haywood sold Lunsford his own mother for 200$ and then it was time for the Lane family to skip town permanently. A great crowd had collected at the station including many friends, but the mob elements from the day before were also present, so the situation was tense.

Finally:Mr. Boylan had arranged with the conductor of the train to stop on the edge of town and take up (Lunsford) Lane, who was to wait there, while his wife and children got on at the station.       Source: Anti-Slavery Leaders of North Carolina Page 71 and 72.

Perhaps William Montfort Boylan Sr. finally saw the light in 1842 and started to redeem himself?

Membership of Clan Boylan is not determined by DNA: 50% of Clan members are married-in (or otherwise given our name) from many different backgrounds. Bearing the clan surname is therefor a sufficient reason to claim to be of Clan Boylan with all the rights and privileges that attend. In clear text: The descendants of formerly enslaved persons bearing the name Boylan are officially Clan members imbued with the same rights as any other member. Clan Boylan encourages you to feel very welcome to exercise your rights as Clan members. You have a Irish Clan hat that you can put on and take off as you please. Wear it all the time or never. We hope that you feel comfortable with this arrangement and apologize if you do not.

PS Your DNA-history is important to us. Please take a BIG Y DNA test and share the results with us.