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Supreme Court Justice James Iredell and the Mccullochs of Antrim

James Iredell (1751-1799) was a lawyer, prolific writer on English Common law, a leading Federalist in North Carolina who advocated for North Carolina to ratify the United States Constitution, and one of the original justices of the U.S. Supreme Court appointed by President George Washington. His son James Iredell, Jr. was the governor of North Carolina (1827-1828) as well as a U.S. Senator from North Carolina (1828-1831).

While Iredell didn’t carry the McCulloch surname, he was the son of Margaret McCulloch. His keen interest in McCulloch origins can be seen in his oft-cited genealogy of the Antrim line of the McCullochs. According to the tradition purveyed by Iredell in his papers, Margaret McCulloch was a descendant of Sir Cullo O’Neill, a supporter of King Robert the Bruce, who was awarded lands in Galloway for his service to the new king. As a result, Cullo O’ Neill became the first Laird of Myrton, Scotland. As this tradition goes, Godfrey’s son and descendants honored O’Neill by adopting the surname mac Cullo. (More on this origin tradition here).

Some scholars of American constitutional jurisprudence have suggested Iredell should be remembered as a founding father. Learn more about the legal career of Supreme Court Justice Iredell here: