McGloin, James (1799–1856)

By: Rachel Bluntzer Hébert

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: May 11, 2017

James McGloin, empresario, immigrated from the townland of Castlegal, County Sligo, Ireland, where five generations of McGloins had tilled the soil and lived in the whitewashed thatched cottage that was his birthplace in 1799. McGloin was operating a store as a partner to John McMullen in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, in the 1820s. The two applied for and received a grant from Mexico in 1828 to colonize 200 Irish families on the Nueces, the boundary between Tamaulipas and Texas. Their grant was for an area that includes five present counties. Only eighty-four colonists had received land grants from the Irishmen by December 1835; all activities were interrupted by the onset of the Texas Revolution. McGloin wrote an eyewitness account of the Matamoros expeditions, which ended in the surprise attack on San Patricio on February 27, 1836, and the ambush of Dr. James Grant and his men at the battle of Agua Dulce Creek. From 1828 to 1836 McGloin was under contract to the Mexican government to bring colonists to San Patricio. After the war, when conditions in San Patricio became intolerable, he took his family to San Antonio. All the colonists had fled to various places. McGloin came back to San Patricio about 1845. Since he was still an empresario at heart, he cared for and advised the people who came to the former colony. Some of the rancheros did not return but sold their ranches and went south of the Rio Grande.

McGloin had married a widow, Eliza Cummings Watson, in 1825. They had five children. Eliza died on October 13, 1844, in San Antonio. In that year McMullen sold most of his property in the San Patricio area to McGloin for $5,000 and severed all ties with San Patricio. McGloin married Mary Murphy in San Patricio in 1850. He built a frame house in 1855 1½ miles west of San Patricio at Round Lake. They had lived in it only one year when he died, on June 19, 1856. He was buried in the Old Cemetery on the Hill. In 1936 the state erected several markers in San Patricio, one of which is in front of James McGloin's house on Round Lake. The house, now restored, was given to the Corpus Christi Area Heritage Society by Hubert McGloin, James's grandnephew. Every year a festival is held to preserve the heritage of San Patricio's leading citizen.

Charles Adams Gulick, Jr., Harriet Smither, et al., eds., The Papers of Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar (6 vols., Austin: Texas State Library, 1920–27; rpt., Austin: Pemberton Press, 1968). Rachel Bluntzer Hébert, The Forgotten Colony: San Patricio de Hibernia (Burnet, Texas: Eakin Press, 1981). William H. Oberste, Texas Irish Empresarios and Their Colonies (Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1953; 2d ed. 1973).

  • Peoples
  • Irish
  • Business

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Rachel Bluntzer Hébert, “McGloin, James,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 15, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 11, 2017