Morgan page, the joy of FreeCen and fascinating 1841 demographics

As my step-great-grandmother turned out to be related to my Fraser family from way back, I’ve given the Morgans their own page. I can now say I have 9 great-grandparent lines instead of the usual 8.

There seemed to be a lot of related families living in the Nether Kinmundy area of the parish of Longside in the early 180os, so as the Aberdeenshire 1841 census is on FreeCen, the free to access census transcription site, I went to have a rummage around. FreeCen lets you easily see who the neighbours were, and sure enough, that part of Longside was littered with familiar surnames. There must have been an awful lot of employing distant relatives as farm servants and marrying distant relatives going on!

Kinmundy looks like it was a farming estate in those days – a “farm toun” as they were called in Scotland, which was a sort of hamlet or small village clustered around the “big” farm, often called Mains of —. There was a row of cottages in the 1800s called Long Row, and looking at the residents in 1841 I was struck by how many older women were living there. That included Janet Sangster, who became Janet McWilliam but was called Janet Sangster again when widowed. Did Nether Kinmundy have a particularly benevolent proprietor who ensured the old, retired and widowed were taken care of?

The “big house” at Mains of Nether Kinmundy was occupied by John Hay, farmer, his wife and five children age 10 and under, with 4 female servants including an overseas-born governess. The 1851 census says it was a farm of 160 acres and in 1861 it’s of 200 acres, which is big for that time and place. Also living in Nether Kinmundy were (heads of households only named and with age):
John Sangster 30 wheelwright and his wife
James Watson 28 ag lab, wife and child
Grace Thomson 50, her son a farmer, 3 younger sons, a female servant, a male farm servant and a visitor
Mary Strachan age 75 independent
Ann Morgan 65 independent
James Milne age 25 ag lab, wife and 4 children
Alexander Farquhar 27 ag lab, wife and child
Christian Mackie 50 female ag lab and 2 children
Gilbert Robb 55 ag lab and wife
William Walker 35 ag lab, wife, 2 children and 1 female adult
James Slessor 52 dyker and wife
Janet Ellis 30 ag lab
Mary Taylor 30 ag lab and child
Isabella Davidson 30 independent and 4 children
Janet Sangster 54 ag lab and 2 children (my ancestors)
Jean Leslie 96 independent and 2 children, including son who was a merchant
Isabella Steven 65 independent
James Hutcheon 60 ag lab and wife
Janet Laurence 68 independent, daughter and three grandchildren
William Keith 67 ag lab and wife, daughter and grandchild
George Keith 70 mason, wife and 1 female adult
George Rainnie 45 weaver
Alexander Gillon 30 shoemaker, wife and 5 children
Teresa Strachan 74 independent

That means there were 12 households headed by men and 12 headed by women, with 9 households headed by people of over 60. A very interesting demographic was going on here.

5 responses to “Morgan page, the joy of FreeCen and fascinating 1841 demographics

  1. I hadn’t heard of FreeCen, but it’s clearly closely related to FreeBMD. Good news for all family tree researchers! And the more free stuff there is, the better the paying sites like Ancestry will have to become, to keep people paying the subscriptions. Everyone’s a winner.

  2. FreeCen is great, if a tad slow to load, but it hasn’t done all areas for all census dates, so you need to check whether it has the year and place you want. If it has it’s great, and the transcriptions – done by volunteers – are far better than Ancestry’s.

  3. Lisa Reid Hansen


    Researching my family that lived in the Long Row of cottages for most of their lives. I’m a descendent of the wife of Alexander Farquhar – Isobel Shirras and a previous spouse. Would love to hear what else you might be able to share. My aunt and I are traveling there in September and will go by Nether Kinmundy.

    Take Care,
    Lisa Reid Hansen

  4. Wendy Grainger

    In response to your comments about the demographics of families headed by women etc it may interest you to check out the new statistical accounts for Scotland. The parish of Longside contains Nether Kinmundy. Interestingly financial support was available early in the 1800s….
    ” In 1809, there was instituted, or rather revived, at Nether Kinmundy, of this parish, a society for mutual benefit in case of sickness, and for defraying funeral expenses, remarkable for the simplicity of its plan, and the advantages it continues steadily to afford. No accumulating fund is kept, but 6d. is received from each member and lodged with the treasurer, and, out of this collection, sick and superannuated allowances are paid till the money is expended, when a fresh collection is made. A regular certificate of age must be produced, and no one is admitted a member under eighteen or above forty-five years old. If the age exceeds thirty-five, instead of 6d. on admission, 1s. must be paid. A sick member receives 2s. a-week for the first six weeks of his illness, and 1s. a-week for the next seven, when, if he continue unable to work, he is considered superannuated, and receives 6d. a-week. When a member or his wife dies, each surviving member contributes 1s. towards the payment of the funeral expenses. On admission, various other regulations are agreed to, which tend to maintain the usefulness of the institution. A society of Odd Fellows has lately been set on foot, and, being founded on a surer basis than most of the old societies, bids fair to afford more permanent advantage.”
    Hope you find this of interest.
    PS I live in the small Croft next door to the original public school in Kinmundy. Best wishes.

  5. Hi Judy!!! I hope you will read this and help solve a mystery that may or may not make us now distant, distant relatives 🙂 I believe my SOUTH AFRICAN fiance and you may actually be related via Janet Sangster, married to William McWilliam in 1812!!! Surprise — you may have loved ones in Cape Town!! Putting together extensive census records, parish records, compiled family research, and your INCREDIBLE site, a David McWilliam baptised – likely, fathered – a Nathaniel McWilliam in 1838. He went on to marry another woman, but I believe the wee “Mary Taylor 30 ag lab and child” mentioned above in your census records for Nether Kinmundy is actually the mother of David’s child and the child… even though, as per your site, he winds up with an Elizabeth Ewan in Peterhead and they have their own set of kids. It would be incredible to somehow link your distant McWilliam ancestors with my fiance’s. We are planning our honeymoon next year and it would be the stuff of dreams to come and see his ancestral history for ourselves, one stop at a time. It seems from our research we have to explore everywhere from Longside to Banff to Keith. I hope you are well and that I can help connect our two families – there are a ton of more relatives we can tell you about..

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