Monthly Archives: April 2013

On 23 April

Today, a ggg aunt who kept me up late tracking her multiple marriages and liaisons.

23 April 1864
At Leeds Parish Church, Ellen Wild nee Oxley, a widow, married James Howarth. She was my ggg aunt born 14 April 1839. Tracking her proved interesting and not that easy, but find her I finally did. She had a varied life! She was the daughter of my ggg grandparents, Thomas Oxley and Sarah Grist, and was born in Barnsley. Her father died when she was young and in 1851 she’s with her widowed mother in Worsbrough, the family receiving parish relief. In 1858 in Barnsley she married James Wilde, a miner, and had a daughter the following year named Emma Drusilla Wilde. In 1860 her husband James died at the young age of 25. A year later, Ellen Wilde and her daughter Emma can be found in the census in Spotland, near Rochdale, Lancashire, boarding with the Coverdale family, the wife and children being born in Barnsley so they may have been related to Ellen. Ellen is working as a cotton rover, which is someone who loaded the yarn onto bobbins. Three years later, in 1864, Ellen got married in Leeds, Yorkshire to James Howarth, an iron moulder who came from Barnsley. Ellen gave her age as 23, the same as her husband, but she was actually 25. They must have separated, though: in 1871 James is living back with his parents in Barnsley and Ellen Howarth is housekeeper to Joseph Ball, a labourer, in Chesterfield, Derbyshire and has her daughter Emma Wilde with her. Ellen gives her age as 28 (she was 31) and is working as a millhand. In 1881 she is still at Station Road, Chesterfield as Ellen Ball, wife of the Joseph Ball she was with ten years previously, but they weren’t married. In 1889 Joseph Ball died and probate was granted to Ellen Howarth of Station Road, Chesterfield. She stuck with the name Howarth and in 1891 has a boarder Thomas Tart. Ellen gave her age as 48 but she was 51. The relationship with Thomas Tart seems to have been rather more than landlady, as he is still with her in 1901 (Elllen giving her age as 53 instead of 61) and in 1911 (Ellen giving her age as 53 when she was 71). She died in 1917 at Chesterfield. In 1891, 1901 and 1911 she also had Sarah Cox living with her, described as mother in law: I have yet to work out who she was, but she was born in Barnsley.

23 April 1876
Baptism of Joseph Green at St Mary’s, Barnsley, Yorkshire. He was the son of Joseph Green, fruiterer, and sadly died when he was aged 4. Joseph was a very popular name amongst my Green ancestors: this one was my 2nd cousin 3 times removed as he was the great grandson of my gggg grandfather.

On 22 April

Today includes the story of poor Agnes McCrae.

22 April 1820
Burial of Alexander Hutcheon at Longside, Aberdeenshire: the OPR entry says he was the husband of Agnes Bruce of Innervedie and was aged 45. He was my gggg grandfather.

22 April 1854
Birth of Mary Ann Matthew at Cruden, Aberdeenshire, illegitimate daughter of Thomas Matthew of Burnhead and my ggg aunt Janet (aka Jessie) Fraser. In 1861 both mother and daughter are at Mosside Croft with my ggg grandparents William and Christian Fraser. Mary Matthew married Robert Smith, a farm servant, in Hatton in 1873 and they lived in Old Deer, Ellon and Peterhead while bringing up their family of 9 children. Mary died in 1931 age 77, in Aberdeen.

22 April 1862
Agnes McCrae, my great aunt, was born at Low Church Lane, Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, the eldest child of my great grandparents John McCrae and Mary Ann McInerney. In the 1881 census I think Agnes is a domestic servant in the household of a Kilmarnock baker, but has been enumerated as Agnes McCrab. In 1885 she married Robert Douglas, a brass finisher, by which time Agnes was working as a spinner in a mill. It is definitely the right marriage but for whatever reason her mother is down as Janet McCrae ms Wallace, which is odd. Agnes gave birth to a daughter, Mary Ann (her mother’s correct name) two months after the wedding. Something must have gone wrong, though: in 1891 Agnes is with her parents as Agnes McCrae with her daughter Mary Douglas. Husband Robert is in Derby, saying he’s single and lodging with the Blake family. Agnes died in June 1891 of consumption (tuberculosis). In 1894, Robert Douglas married a daughter of the Blake family he’d been lodging with in 1891 and stayed in Derby. Daughter Mary Ann continued to live with her grandparents in Kilmarnock.

Another two for one download

Another two for the price of one download from ScotlandsPeople came up today. I hadn’t looked at the 1873 marriage certificate for Mary Ann Matthew (featured in today’s “on this day” post) so decided to download it. You get the image of the whole page, which means two certificates. The other one was for George Hutchison and Catherine Morgan – with those surnames I felt sure they must belong on my tree.

The certificate says Catherine Morgan was the daughter of Arthur Morgan and Catherine Adams, and her father is surely Arthur Morgan born in 1841, son of Arthur Morgan born 1815 who was the son of the sister of my ggggg grandmother. He was also related to my great grandfather’s second wife. The George Hutchison who married Catherine Morgan was the son of George Hutchison and Jane Adams, and I’ve got a feeling they are both related to people already on my family tree, so there’s another bit of genealogical sleuthing to do. The same surnames keep cropping up when my Aberdeenshire ancestors get married and they do weave a tangled web.

On 21 April

Amazing. Nothing happened on my family tree on this date. I’m sure they were all busy doing something, but whatever it was it didn’t involve being born, getting married or dying. Which is probably just as well as I’ve been busy finally being able to do some gardening. Spring has arrived at last!

On 20 April

Not much today, but two events involved early 20th century migration to Canada and USA.

20 April 1800
Baptism of Betty Green at Worsbrough, Yorkshire. She was the daughter of my ggggg uncle John Green, a bleacher, who married Mary Addey.

20 April 1859
Marriage at Greenock of Elizabeth Strachan and Robert Liddell, a joiner. Elizabeth became the grandmother of Eric Liddell (see blog post)

20 April 1921
Margaret Milne sailed from Glasgow to Canada and settled in Vancouver. She was the granddaughter of my ggg aunt Janet (also Jessie) Fraser, and had been born in Cruden, Aberdeenshire. She married George Birnie in Vancouver in 1922.

20 April 1931
Jessie Lydia Michael married Robert Moore at Manhattan, USA. She was born in Cruden, Aberdeenshire, the daughter of my gg aunt Mary Ann Fraser and husband David Ewan Michael and had migrated in 1929. In 1930 she was working as a servant for a banker and his family, as was her older brother.

On 19 April

A popular day for being born in Scotland. Plus several interesting comments to be made about some of today’s featured ancestors, and another sad mining accident death.

19 April 1815
Birth of Elizabeth Milne at Longside, Aberdeenshire, daughter of John Milne and Jean Smith and an ancestor of my great grandfather’s second wife. She married her cousin William Aitken on the same day their son William was baptised. Her husband was a farm servant and then crofter, and they eventually settled in Cruden parish where she died age 79. Her husband William Aitken died when he was 90.

19 April 1827
Birth of Janet Ross Gilmour at Muirkirk, Ayrshire. She married Robert Strachan, who was the son of my gggg uncle Peter Strachan and his wife Mary Monroe (and is one of the 24 people named Robert Strachan on my family tree). Robert and Janet had 13 children, lots of them with the middle name Gilmour. I suspect Janet was related to the Allan Gilmour who became a coal mine owner in Ayrshire, and was the boss of many a coal mining Strachan. One of Robert and Janet’s sons, Peter Strachan, died in 1860 at the age of 13 when he fell from a cage in a mine shaft at Ford Colliery, Riccarton. The mine was owned by Allan Gilmour and Peter’s father Robert Strachan was the coal pit manager

19 April 1834
Birth of Elizabeth Ballantine at Kilmarnock, Ayrshire daughter of Thomas Ballantine and Susanna Strachan and granddaughter of my gggg uncle Robert Strachan and his wife Jean Kelly. Elizabeth made it to 1841 but I suspect she died in around 1847 as her parents named a daughter born in 1849 Elizabeth. Re-using names given to children who didn’t survive may seem macabre today, but it can be handy for family historians.

19 April 1840
Birth of James Ewan McWilliam at Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, son of my half gggg uncle David McWilliam and his wife Elizabeth Ewan. James is in the 1841 and 1851 census with his parents in Peterhead, but then disappears from the records, so he may have died after 1851 but before 1855.

19 April 1848
Birth of Adam Aitken Haggerty at Dundonald, Ayrshire son of my ggg uncle Hugh Haggerty and his wife Janet Muir. Adam Haggerty age 30 is on an 1870 passenger list going to USA, and he is in the US 1880 census at Judsonville, Costa Contra, California with his brother Hugh and his mother Janet (Jennet in the census) who was keeping house for them. He then disappears from the records that I’ve been able to search.

19 April 1907
My great grandfather William Fraser finally got round to marrying his second wife, Helen Ann Morgan, a year after she’d given birth to their first child together. They were married at their home at Hatton Lodge, in the village of Hatton in Cruden, Aberdeenshire.

19 April 1940
Birth of my mother’s cousin in Aberdeen, who I knew and who sadly passed away some years ago at too young an age. Family story has it that he was conceived in Leeds when his parents, William Dow and Barbara Fraser, were visiting my grandparents here.

Top Scottish first names and surnames 1900 and 2000

Interesting piece at ScotlandsPeople about popular names in Scotland. Link is but here are some salient snippets.

The top 10 in 2000 (from 1 to 10) were:
Boys: Jack, Lewis, Ryan, Cameron, James, Andrew, Matthew, Liam, Callum, Jamie
Girls: Chloe, Amy, Lauren, Emma, Rebecca, Megan, Caitlin, Rachel, Erin, Hannah

The top 10 names in 1900 (from 1 to 10) were:
Boys: John, James, William, Robert, Alexander, George, Thomas, David, Andrew, Charles
Girls: Mary, Margaret, Elizabeth, Annie, Jane, Agnes, Isabella, Catherine, Janet, Helen

In 1900, the top five names were given to 50% of boys and 38% of girls. 13.2% of boys were called John and 11.7% of girls were called Mary.

If you have Scottish ancestors I bet you have all the top 10 names from 1900 on your tree. I do, although not many George, David, Andrew and Charles for boys.

Interestingly, James and Andrew are the only names to stay the course, although Jack is a form of John and of course Jamie is a form of James.

Another interesting article at ScotlandsPeople is about Scottish surnames and is at

The top three surnames in Scotland are Smith, Brown and Wilson, and 1 in 8 surnames begin with Mc or Mac.

Surnames developed slowly and had regional differences. Therefore “similar, or in some cases identical, surnames have been derived from entirely different sources and different areas of Scotland. Thus the modern ‘consistency’ in naming conventions has been based on a possibly ‘inconsistent’ starting point. In other words, to rely on surnames as a guide to family history becomes less reliable the further back in time the researcher goes.” I have long suspected that my Strachan ancestors have nothing to do with the Strachans of Kincardineshire and although the names now share the same spelling, the original derivation is quite probably very different.

Nobles and landowners were the first to acquire surnames and were frequently named after the land they owned. The name was then taken up by others who came from that place. As there were many places sharing the same name, this resulted in the same surname developing in different locations but with no relationship to each other. If people moved, they may well have changed their surname.

The article gives details of frequency of Scottish surnames, plus links to tables which show frequency of surnames in particular regions in 1901. In 1901, Fraser was the 10th most frequent surname in Aberdeenshire: the only other areas it appears in are 1st in Nairn, 2nd in Elgin and Inverness and 10th in Ross & Cromarty. This sort of proves my feeling that my Frasers originated from further north than Cruden. Strachan doesn’t appear on any of the lists, so it’s not that widely a used surname.

On 18 April

18 April 1779
Baptism of my gggg grandfather Joseph Green at Worsbrough, son of Joseph Green. The PR does not name his mother but she was Alice Rock. Joseph had proved easy to trace as his life is well documented. He married Ann Cox in 1797 at Worsbrough, and they had 8 children baptised in Worsbrough from 1798 to 1814. His wife died in 1817 and there is a MI at St Mary’s Worsbrough for Ann Green died 1817 age 39, wife of Joseph Green of King Well. Joseph then married Hannah Colbeck at St Mary’s Barnsley in 1825. In the 1841 census Joseph Green publican and wife Hannah Green are at Worsbrough Common. Hannah died in 1847 and her MI says Hannah Green died 1847 age 63, wifeof Joseph Green of King Well. In the 1848 Electoral Roll Joseph Green is listed with freehold house and land at Worsbrough Common. In the 1851 census he at the Rose & Crown, Worsbrough Common, age 70 and an innkeeper living with his son William, daughter-in-law Sarah and their children. Joseph Green died in Worsbrough in 1853 age 71.

18 April 1845
Birth of William Souter Morgan at Cruden, father of Helen Ann Morgan, the second wife of my great grandfather William Fraser.

18 April 1864
David Findlay Strachan born at Riccarton, great great grandson of Thomas Strachan and Susannah Alexander through their son Peter Strachan, his son Peter Strachan and his son Peter Strachan – that a lot of Peter Strachans! I haven’t done much research on him except for discovering that he married Elizabeth Highet, whose parents went by the wonderful names of Durham Highet and Euphemia Morton.

18 April 1986
A relative in Canada was born.

New page added: John Strachan born 1774

At last I’ve finished the rather long page about John Strachan, his wives Agnes Neilson and Jean Wallace and his 15 children. There’s still a lot to find out about some of his children but there were a lot of them to find out about! The new page can be found under the Strachan tab.

On to Robert Strachan and his wives Margaret Haggerty and Susan Cran next – and another ancestor who had 15 children. The Strachans certainly did their very best to populate the world.

Famous ancestor: Eric Liddell aka “The flying Scotsman”

Born 1902 the son of Rev James Dunlop Liddell and Mary Redding, Eric Liddell is one of the athletes the film Chariots of Fire was about. Eric was born in China as his Scottish parents were missionaries, and he was sent to boarding school near London, though he spent time in Scotland when his parents were home on leave. He excelled at sport at school and when he was at Oxford became known as Scotland’s fastest runner. He then went to Edinburgh University to study science and as well as athletics played rugby, being a member of the Scotland team in Five Nations matches. He was chosen to compete as a runner in the 1924 Paris Olympics and broke the world record in the 400 metres.

He spent most of his time from 1925 in China, working as a missionary, and married his wife Florence there. She and their children went to Canada in 1941 due to the Japanese threat but Eric stayed in China. In 1943 he was interned in a Japanese run camp and died there, of a brain tumour, in 1945.

So how am I related to Eric Liddell?

Eric Liddell’s parents were Rev. James Dunlop Liddell and Mary Redding.

James Dunlop Liddell was a devout Congregationalist who started his working life as a clothier but then attended the Congregational College in Glasgow and was ordained. In 1898 he applied to the London Missionary Society and was given a missionary post in Mongolia. He was born in 1870, the son of Robert Liddell and Elizabeth Strachan.

Elizabeth Strachan had married Robert Liddell in 1859 in Greenock. They lived in Greenock, where Robert Liddell worked as a joiner, until Elizabeth’s death in 1874. Robert had been born in Stirlingshire and the death of his wife seems to have prompted him to move back home, as in 1881 he and his children are at Drymen, Stirlingshire, and Robert Liddell is a grocer. Elizabeth Strachan had been born in Kilmarnock in about 1838, the daughter of coal miner John Francis Strachan. In the 1851 census she is with her parents in Dalry, and is described as a knitter and scholar in the evening. By 1854 she had moved, with her parents and siblings, to Greenock.

John Francis Strachan married Jean Johnston Loudon in 1837 in Kilmarnock. They lived in Kilmarnock, Kilmaurs and Dalry, John working as a coal miner and then an ironstone miner, before moving to Greenock East some time before 1854. There John worked as a machinist. He was born in 1818 at Riccarton, the son of Thomas Strachan and Elizabeth Nisbet.

Thomas Strachan married Elizabeth Nisbet in 1816 in Riccarton. He was a coal miner and died in Riccarton in 1821, at the age of 25, leaving a wife and three children. He was born in 1795, son of my ggg grandfather John Strachan and his wife Agnes Neilson.

This makes Eric Liddell my 4th Cousin as his ggg grandparents, John Strachan and Agnes Neilson, were also my ggg grandparents. However, Eric was born almost 50 years before I was born. I remember going to see the film Chariots of Fire when it first came out in 1981, not realising then that it was about a relative.