Monthly Archives: May 2013

On 31 May

Two births in the 1700s today, which means not much is known about them as records are very thin on the ground when you get back that far.

31 May 1767
Birth or baptism of Jane Wilson in Stevenston, Ayrshire, daughter of James Wilson and Agnes Smith. She is my ggg grandmother and married Duncan Murphie (origins unknown) in Stevenston in 1787. Jane and Duncan had at least 6 children, including my gg grandmother Amelia Murphy. She is also the source of the name Wilson used as a first name for one of Amelia’s daughters. Nothing else is known as she lived too early for there to be records. The 1822 minister’s census for Stevenston lists Widow Murphy residing at Harbour Street with 8 children, but I don’t think this is Jane as nearly all her children would have grown up and left home by then. There are no families called Murphy in the 1819 minister’s census of Stevenston, but there are 23 families with the surname Wilson so Jane was likely to have been related to some if not all of them.

31 May 1778
Birth of Margaret Sangster at Cruden, daughter of John Sangster and Elizabeth Matthew, which makes Margaret my ggggg aunt. She is possibly the one who married Patrick Duguid at Cruden on 15 May 1796, but after that there’s no trace.

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The usefulness of family reconstruction

One of the reasons my family tree is so enormous is I’ve researched the siblings of my direct ancestors, and their descendants. Researching 2nd, 3rd. etc. cousins can help solve identification problems, as well as unearthing interesting stuff.

Just how useful it can be is being brought home to me at the moment, as I’m researching my Logan line in Aberdeenshire. My gg grandmother Mary Logan was born in 1838, the daughter of John Logan and Isobel Booth, so I’m heavily reliant on the Old Parish Registers to go further back. But given her birth date she’d have had relatives in the census and who hopefully managed to wait until after 1855 to depart life and so have a death certificate. Looking them up has helped me piece the Logan family together: if I’d focussed only on Mary’s parents, grandparents and great grandparents I wouldn’t have been able to reliably prove a connection and would have missed out on interesting detail.

Also of enormous help was looking up baptism records in the OPR via ScotlandsPeople and not just relying on FamilySearch. Mary’s baptism told me that her father John Logan was from Auchtilair in the parish of Old Deer. Looking up Auchtilair on an old map showed it to be south of the village of Stuartfield and next to Creichie. John Logan died before official registration but he and his family are in the 1841 census at Auchticlair, and accessing this on ScotlandsPeople showed a Jane Logan living next door. The census also showed that John had children born well before he married Isobel Booth: researching William Logan, one of the older children, produced a death certificate from 1858 with his parents named as John Logan farmer deceased and Ann Logan ms Simpson deceased. There was an Old Deer marriage for John Logan and Ann Simpson in 1829. So John Logan was married twice, Mary’s mother being his second wife.

I then went looking for the birth of a John Logan who was old enough to have married in 1829, and found a baptism in 1796 in Old Deer for John Logan, son of James Logan and Catherine Smith, plus a marriage for James and Catherine in 1789. I then looked for their other children and researched them: the second child Jean (or Jane) Logan turned out to be the one living next door to John at Auchtilair in 1841. From 1851 onwards she lived in Stuartfield, the nearest village, and died there in 1878. Her death certificate gives her parents as James Logan crofter and Catherine Logan ms Smith. Jean/Jane also had living with her a niece Jane Logan, who was the daughter of John Logan and his first wife Ann Simpson. So that all nicely proved that my ggg grandfather John Logan had two wives and was the son of James Logan and Catherine Smith.

There’s more to research for my Logan of Aberdeenshire line, of course, but including siblings into the research has really helped.

On 30 May

The mystery of my gggg aunt Susannah Strachan, and a couple of Strachan related births.

30 May 1786
Birth of Susannah Strachan, daughter of Thomas Strachan coal hewer and Susanna Alexander, baptised on 4 June 1786 at Irvine, Ayrshire. She is my gggg aunt. Between 1790 and 1793 the family moved to Gorbals, south of the Clyde and now part of Glasgow, where Susannah’s father and older brothers most probably worked at the Girvan coal mines. There are entries in the Gorbals and Cathcart OPRs for the banns of John Robertson of Gorbals and Susan Strachan of Cathcart in April 1813. On the same page of the Cathcart OPR is an entry for the marriage of Agnes Strachan, and Susannah had a sister named Agnes. On 2 October 1813, John Alexander Robertson was baptised at Gorbals, son of John Robertson and Susan Strachan. Unfortunately, they then disappear from view – no other children’s baptism records exist, unfortunately John Robertson is a very common name, and there’s nothing for Susannah or Susan Robertson.

30 May 1864
Birth of Elizabeth Wallace Brown Findlay at Riccarton, daughter of James Findlay and Mary Findlay – her parents were surely related but I’ve not yet looked into it. Elizabeth was named after her father’s mother but is connected to the Strachan line through her grandmother Susanna Strachan (a different one to above), who was the daughter of my gggg uncle Peter Strachan. Not researched her any further.

30 May 1866
Birth of John Howat at Dreghorn, son of John Howat and Margaret Bain and great grandson of my gggg uncle Robert Strachan and Jean Kelly. He migrated to USA with his family in 1869 and they settled in Braidwood, Illinois. He’s in the 1870 and 1880 census with his parents and siblings, and in 1880 is a miner age 14, but I can’t find him after that.

Coincidence, or did they all know each other?

I’m more and more convinced that my illegitimate ggg grandfather William Fraser’s father was William Fraser who served in the army, was wounded in the Napoleonic Wars, and then lived south of Peterhead. There are so many linkages between the families that surely can’t be just coincidences. Two more have recently emerged.

When looking at the census for Mosside Croft, I’ve long been intrigued by the Robert Fraser who, from 1861, was a very close neighbour of my Fraser ancestors. Then when researching the family of army pensioner William Fraser born 1778, what should I discover? Robert Fraser born 1819 who lived at Mossnook was the grandson of John Fraser born 1765, brother of William Fraser born 1778.

Then there’s Arthur Morgan born in 1841, son of the unfortunate Arthur Morgan who was killed by a large granite stone. Arthur Morgan junior married Margaret Brown in Cruden in 1861, and in 1871 he’s a farm servant in Peterhead but his wife isn’t with him. So I went looking for her and found:
Invernettie Brickwork, Peterhead
Elizabeth Fraser head age 55, crofter of 2.75 acres, born Peterhead
Margaret Morgan daughter age 35, born Peterhead
Arthur Morgan grandson age 9, scholar, born Peterhead
Andrew George Morgan grandson age 7, scholar, born Peterhead
Elizabeth Ellen Morgan granddaughter age 2, born Peterhead

This looked familiar – which it was as I’ve already added the very same census information to someone else! Elizabeth Fraser, age 55 and a crofter in 1871, was the daughter of Andrew Fraser and Jean Walker. In 1841 and 1851 she’s with her parents and her illegitimate daughter, Margaret Brown. Also with that family in 1841 and 1851 is William Fraser, brother of Andrew – who is the William Fraser who’d been in the army during the Napoleonic Wars and who I’m pretty sure is the father of my ggg grandfather William Fraser.

So there are two brothers whose descendants intermarried:
Andrew Fraser b. 1772 had a granddaughter Margaret Brown who married Arthur Morgan.
William Fraser b. 1778 had a great grandchild William Fraser who married Helen Ann Morgan.
Arthur Morgan was Helen Ann Morgan’s uncle.

And just to add to the tangle: the informant for the death of Arthur Morgan born 1841 was William Johnston, cousin. There is a Johnston family in the census living near Mosside croft. And Arthur Morgan’s daughter, Catherine Morgan, married George Hutchison – and Hutcheon/Hutchison is the surname of my ggg grandfather William Fraser’s wife. Yet more things to explore and attempt to untangle!

On 29 May

More coal miners in Ayrshire, farm servants in Aberdeenshire and another pair of twins.

29 May 1764
Baptism of Margaret Smith at New Deer, Aberdeenshire, daughter of John Smith and Margaret Birnie. I think her sister Catherine was my gggg grandmother and grandmother of my gg grandmother Mary Logan, first wife of Alexander Fraser. There are a couple of possible marriages for a Margaret Smith in the right time frame and right place, but no baptism records of children for either couple, and nothing in the 1841 census, so I’ve no idea whether any of the marriages are for the right Margaret.

29 May 1851
Birth of Margaret Brown at Kilwinning, daughter of John Brown and Mary Dunlop. Margaret’s father worked as a labourer and latterly watchman at Eglinton Ironworks where the family lived in worker’s housing. In 1873 Margaret married my half gg uncle Robert Strachan, son of Robert Strachan and his second wife Susan Cran. Robert also worked at Eglinton Ironworks, as a labourer, surfaceman and coal miner brusher, and he and Margaret had 6 children. They lived in Kilwinning, at Single Row, Front Row and Fergushill. Margaret died in Kilwinning in 1904 age 52.

29 May 1880
Birth of my half gg aunt Isabella Stuart Fraser at Mosside croft, Hatton, Aberdeenshire, daughter of Alexander Fraser and his second wife Margaret Booth. She’s with her parents at the family croft in 1881and 1891, then in 1901 at Maw, Ellon, as Bella Fraser age 20, cook domestic, along with her younger brother Thomas Fraser age 14 cattleman, at a farm run by Peter Craib. In 1903 she gave birth to an illegitimate son John Sangster, father John Sangster farm servant. Isabella married James Downie in 1908 and they lived in Ellon: in 1911 they are at Crosshill, Ellon where James Downie was a farm grieve, and have with them 2 children from James Downie’s first marriage and their infant daughter Margaret (Meg). Isabella’s son John Sangster is with his widowed grandmother and his aunt Jessie at Mosside croft. Isabella Stuart Downie nee Fraser died age 69 at Ellon.

29 May 1934
Birth of my cousin Helen McCrae Strachan, twin daughter of my uncle Henry Strachan aka Harry and his second wife Mary Campbell – although Mary wasn’t actually his wife as it was a bigamous marriage. (Naughty Uncle Harry!) Helen married and had children, and lived in Australia for a while, before returning to the UK and settling in North Shields. I’m in contact with her great nephew.

29 May 1934
Birth of my cousin Joseph McCrae Stachan, twin of Helen so same parents as above. He lived in South Shields, married and had children, and died in 2006.

1895 Valuation Rolls for Scotland

These have just been released by ScotlandsPeople, so I couldn’t resist. The Valuation Rolls give some lovely detail, and let you find out where your ancestors were between the census.

Great grandfather Joseph Strachan, coal miner, was the tenant of a house in Crookedholm, one of several owned by Elizabeth Dunlop or Lyon, wife of James Lyon of Dykehead Cottage, Hurlford. Joseph’s neighbours were coal miners with a smattering of widows, plus a plasterer, a labourer, an engineman and a grocer’s shop. Joseph was paying £2 12s yearly rent.

I looked for my other great grandfather John McCrae but couldn’t find him: perhaps he wasn’t the main tenant of where he was living in Kilmarnock. I’ll have a more through search when I have time.

Up in Aberdeenshire, great great grandfather Alexander Fraser was paying £5 yearly rent for the croft and house at Hardslacks (aka Mosside Croft). This was part of the Estate of Yonderton owned by John Bruce of Yonderton, Town and County Bank Limited, Oldmeldrum, but the main farm and house was tenanted by Thomas Fiddes Mackie. John Bruce was using the shootings, however, which will have been part of the moss. Mosside Croft was, of course, given its name, next to the moss where the locals dug for peat, their main source of fuel. Interestingly, a near neighbour was John Fraser at Burnthill, also part of the Estate of Yonderton, so I’ll have to have a look and see who John Fraser was.

On 28 May

An elusive Ballantine ancestor and yet another illegitimate Fraser ancestor.

28 May 1829
Birth of Janet Ballantine at Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, daughter of Thomas Ballantine and Susanna Strachan and granddaughter of my gggg uncle Robert Strachan and Jean Kelly. Janet is with her parents in Thirdpart, Kilmarnock in 1841, then in 1851 there’s a Janet Ballantine of the right age, born in Kilmarnock, a house servant in Low Wishaw, Lanarkshire, working for baker William Smith and his wife. No trace of her after that. Quite a few trees on Ancestry have her married and migrating to Australia but that was another Janet Ballantine born around the same time in Auchinleck.

28 May 1903
Birth of John Sangster Fraser at Mosside, Cruden, Aberdeenshire, illegitimate son of my half gg aunt Isabella Stuart Fraser, daughter of my gg Alexander Fraser and and his second wife Margaret Booth. John’s father was farm servant John Sangster. His mother married James Downie in 1908 and lived in Ellon, but it seems John Sangster continued to live with his grandparents, as he with them at Mosside croft in 1911 at age 7, along with an aunt and 3 cousins. Not sure whether he was married, but he died in 1953 at Ellon at age 50.