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|Bryan Murphy||RE: William Murphy's parents|
I have no "documented" information regarding the parents of William Murphy [1742-1830]. Like you, I have seen lots of stuff in various public family trees posted to Ancestry.com, much of it in conflict with one another.
The problem seems to be that nobody wrote things down until 3 or 4 generations later, probably around 1880 to 1900 (50 to 70 years after the death of William Murphy). People may have been retelling stories they heard as a child while sitting in their grandparents' laps, so stories handed down by oral tradition get mixed, with the stories of one family line sometimes getting "crossed over" to another family line. Some stories have William born in Ireland (or sometimes England) and immigrating to America as a young adult; some have him immigrating as a young child; and others have him born in America just a few years after his parents immigrated.
My own family tree posted at Ancestry.com (tree #380488) has him born in Gloucester County, New Jersey. Due to the uncertainty, I have chosen not to list parents, though many others list his father as either John Murphrey or Robert Murphy and his mother as Rachel Knapp.
Evidence does suggest that the early Murphys in America were probably either Irish Protestants or English. The names William, John and Samuel are used a lot with no usage of Patrick, Ian, or Seamus; and the daughters are named Elizabeth much more than Margaret. The Murphys who remained in New Jersey are buried in a Presbyterian churchyard in Pittsgrove, and the Bath Springs Cemetery where William, Phebe and several of their children are buried was also originally the yard of a Presbyterian church.
All remaining text in this message is copied from something I found on the internet (therefore "undocumented"), that provides a brief summary of the various opinions about the origins of William Murphy:
John, Samuel, Recompense, Sherry, Rachel and Mary Murphy, were the children of William Murphy and Phoebe Sherry and grandchildren of Robert Murphy and Rachel Ann Knapp, and of Samuel Sherry and Mary Scull and great grandchildren of John and Mary Scull. John Scull was the captain of a whaling fleet, they had a son John Recompense Scull who lived to a great age.
Robert Murphy and his wife Rachel Ann Knapp were the original emigrees and came to America a number of years before the Revolution, and there are these traditions in regard to their early history. The first being that they met on the sea, and were married before they landed. This very romantic story probably belongs to some other genealogical line, possible the Scull line, this version being given by Mrs. Ella Murphy Evans of Friendship, Ohio.
The second version is that they (Robert and Rachel) had three children in Ireland, William, Rufus and Robert. When they came to buy their tickets and make other arrangements for their passage, they found they did not have sufficient money, a gentleman who had taken a fancy to Rufus agreed to furnish the necessary cash and supplies if they would allow him to keep Rufus until he was twenty one, saying he would then send him to America with money for a good start. They never saw Rufus again, this version is given by Mrs. Phoebe Elwell, daughter of Samuel Murphy.
The third version is that they were in fairly good circumstances in Ireland, and lived in County Louth on the north bank of the Boyne River near the sea. William was about grown when they came to America but Robert was a little boy. They first went to Connecticut. When William was grown, he went first to Philadelphia and then to Gloucester Co., N.J. Robert went first to New York and then into New Jersey. William and Robert never lived as neighbors. They both fought in the Revolution. Robert became a slave owner. During an uprising of the slaves, he was wounded and left for dead by one of his slaves. He used his own blood to write the name of the slave who had wounded him, he never fully recovered. The slave women were to kill their mistresses and children and the men to kill their masters. The children were to be killed during church time and their parents upon their return. A nurse in her efforts to save her little charges gave the scheme away and all were warned in time but Robert Murphy.