When two lines link

Today I came across a marriage that very nicely rounds out my research into illegitimate William Fraser.

William’s mother, Janet Sangster, married William McWilliam and her illegitimate son seems to have been brought up by her and her husband, along with their own children. William Fraser took on the lease of Mosside Croft, just a few fields away from where his mother lived, and eventually the croft was taken over by his son Alexander and then his grandson William. William the younger married and had children, then tragically his wife died. But, as most men did in that situation, he remarried. His second wife was Helen Ann Morgan, who my mother remembered from her childhood holidays at Mosside Croft.

I’ve often noticed that second wives seem to be linked to the man’s family in some way, and can’t help wondering whether the family looked around for someone suitable to act as housekeeper and, when nature took its course, as wife and mother of more children. So did William and Helen know they were related? For they were – their great-grandmothers were sisters.

William Fraser, great-grandchild of Janet Sangster, married Helen Ann Morgan, great-grandchild of Janet’s sister Isobel Sangster, who had married Peter Morgan.

So it turns out that the step great-grandmother I didn’t think was a blood relation turns out to be a relative after all, albeit distantly.

The Peter Morgan who married Isobel Sangster back in 1815 was, I suspect, the son of George Morgan and Margaret Logan. Janet Sangster’s grandchild Alexander Fraser married Mary Ann Logan. I’ll have to do more research on her and see if she was related to Peter Morgan’s mother!

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6 responses to “When two lines link

  1. Brilliant! They were third cousins, then. (Shared great-great-grandparents)
    I guess in small towns and villages there’ll be a lot of distant relatives marrying each other, as people were far less mobile then than now.

  2. Thanks for working that out. Cousins three times removed they were, then. Yes, in more remote areas it must have been fairly difficult to meet anyone you weren’t distantly related to! That certainly seems to be the case with my Frasers.

  3. An added thought: they were actually a bit more mobile than we might expect, due to the farm servant system. Both men and women moved from farm to farm as resident workers, often changing farms every year or even every six months, until they were high enough up the skill ladder to get a position that came with a cottage, or were able to get a lease on a croft. My lot seem to have only worked within a radius of about ten miles, which would have made walking home in a day possible. But it was still within pairing off with distant relatives range.

    The farm servant system is also the reason for such a high rate of illegitimacy in north-east Scotland. I feel an article coming on!

  4. No, they’re third cousins; not 3 times removed. Removed is the difference in generations. Eg the child of one of them would be third cousin once removed from the other of them. But as they are the same generation, and same number of steps to a shared ancestor, they’re not removed at all, just straight third cousins. At least, that’s the way I understand it.

    An article about the farm servant system would be fascinating – I’ll look forward to that!

  5. Ah, thanks Kath. I admit to not having got to grips with how cousins work – my family tree is so complicated that doing so would probably confuse the daylights out of me.

    Yes, I’d love to write the article. I just have to find the time, as always.

  6. I bought a handy little slide rule thingy at a family history fair which helped me understand it!

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