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.

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.

On 27 May

My ggg grandfather, his wife and his brother-in-law were all baptised on 27 May, though different years, which is a remarkable coincidence. Plus yet another coal miner migrated to Illinois.

27 May 1804
Baptism of my ggg grandmother Christian Hutcheon at Longside, birth date not recorded, daughter of Alexander Hutcheon tailor and Agnes Bruce, who lived at Innervedie. In 1823 Christian gave birth to an illegitimate son, John Bisset: the OPR for Longside has “11 April 1823, baptized John Bisset n. son of John Bisset & Christian Hutchison, Innervedie” (n. son = natural son). On 17 January 1828 Christian married William Fraser (who was born almost exactly a year later – see below) at Longside and not long after moved to Mosside Croft, near Hatton, parish of Cruden. Christian had 10 children with William Fraser, and remained at Mosside croft for the rest of her life. She died on 31 August 1874 at Mosside age 70, of enteritis. The informant was her brother Keith Hutcheon who lived in Hatton, and was also baptised on 27 May (see below).

27 May 1805
Baptism of my ggg grandfather William Fraser at Cruden, Aberdeenshire. His baptism entry reads: “27 May 1805 John Sangster in Burnthill presented a child to baptism begot in fornication by William Fraser (as the mother Janet Sangster affirms). The child was baptised and named William. Witnesses John Davidson and William Sangster.” I eventually worked out that the most likely candidate for his father was the William Fraser who was in the 92nd Highland Regiment, and who may well have enlisted at about the time Janet Sangster gave birth to William. If this is correct, then after being shot during the Napoleonic Wars, William Fraser senior lived south of Peterhead, close to Cruden. There seem to be a few connections between the families so William junior seems to have known who his father was. William’s mother Janet Sangster married William McWilliam of Longside in May 1812, when William was almost 7 years old so William may have lived with them at Nether Kinmundy, which is very close to the Longside/Cruden border, or he may have lived with his Sangster grandparents, but William probably worked as a farm servant from as young as 12 years old. He married Christian Hutcheon in January 1828 in the parish of Longside. Apart from the eldest who was baptised in Longside, the children of William and Christian were baptised in Cruden parish and their baptism records indicate William and Christian had taken the lease of Mosside croft, which is between Nether Kinmundy and the village of Hatton, not long after they were married. The croft is now in ruins (or at least was when I last saw it). William remained at Mosside for the rest of his life and can be tracked through the census. In 1841 he is described as a farmer, in 1851 a shoemaker, in 1861 he is a farmer of 2 acres and in 1871 farms 2 acres arable. He and Christian had 10 children, and from at least 1851 until sometime after 1871 they had living with them, listed as a lodger or boarder, John Black, a death and dumb pauper born in Cruden. I’ve yet to work out exactly who he was. In the 1864 Valuation Roll, Mosside Croft is one of five tenants under £4 of small crofts at Yonderton, owner Alexander Philop of Mansion House, Yonderton. William’s wife Christian died in 1874 and William Fraser died 17 June 1877 at Mosside at the age of 72 of cardiac dropsy (heart failure).

27 May 1811
Baptism of my gggg uncle Keith Hutcheon at Longside, son of Alexander Hutcheon tailor and Agnes Bruce, who lived at Innervedie. In 1839, Keith married Barbara King, a widow with 5 children: Keith was 27 years old but Barbara was considerably older. She gave birth to their daughter Barbara 4 months later. In 1841 they are at Tuechan, Cruden, and Keith is a tailor, as was his father. Living with them are Barbara’s youngest son George with her first husband William Craighead, and daughter Barbara. They are still there in 1851, still with 1 child. Barbara died some time between 1851 and 1855. Keith can’t be found in the 1861 census, but he married again in June 1861 to Anne McPherson in Aberdeen, and Keith gave his address as Hatton. In 1871 they are at The Cottage, Hatton, Keith a tailer and letter carrier, with 5 children, and they are there in 1881, Keith still a tailor, and again in 1891 when Keith is a retired tailor. He died in June 1891 at Hatton, at the age 80, from cerebral apoplexy (likely to be a stroke).

27 May 1854
Birth of Samuel Miller at Kilmaurs, Ayrshire. In 1874 at Dreghorn he married Jean Strachan, daughter of John Strachan and Margaret Lambie and granddaughter of my gggg uncle Robert Strachan and Jean Kelly. In 1881 Samuel, his wife and infant daughter Catherine migrated to USA and went to Illinois. Samuel was a coal miner and they lived in Coal City, Braceville where Samuel died in 1894 age 40.

On 26 May

Some frustrating ancestors today, who haven’t left much trace of themselves in the records.

26 May 1773
Baptism of Timothy Fisher at Royston, Yorkshire, son of Thomas Fisher and Lydia Hudson. He was my ggggg uncle as his sister Hannah married Joseph Firth, and their daughter Sarah married William Green of Worsbrough. Timothy married Mary Kaye, from Tankersley, in 1794 and they lived in Tankersley, where they had 9 children. Unfortunately that’s all I’ve been able to find out about him.

26 May 1775
Baptism of Daniel Fraser at Cruden, son of Donald Fraser and Margaret Sharp. If I’m correct in my theory that Donald Fraser’s son William was the father of my illegimate gggg grandfather, then Daniel is my ggggg uncle. Unfortunately, I can’t find anything else for him: he may have died in infancy or childhood.

26 May 1865
Birth of Ann Stewart Strachan at Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, daughter of John Strachan and Christina Houston McGill and granddaughter of my ggg uncle Peter Strachan and Margaret Boyle. Her father was a coal miner, and she was with her parents in 1871 in Kilmarnock and in 1881 at Kilmaurs, when she was working as a dressmaker. In 1891 she’s a domestic servant for a farming family in Dalry. Ann died in Kilmarnock in 1893 at age 28.

26 May 1860
Death of my gg grandmother Mary McCrae nee Henderson at Kilmarnock. There’s no record of her birth or baptism, but her death certificate – for which her son John McCrae was informant – states her parents were John Henderson labourer and Jean Henderson ms McCrae and she was 57 when she died. This puts her birth date at around 1803. Unfortunately, she’s a mystery. There’s a Mary McCrae in Kilmarnock in the 1841 census, a widow with children age 15 and 10 plus a John McCrae age 6 months, which is the right age for my great grandfather John, but as I can’t find any of them in the 1851 census or find birth records, it’s difficult to say with certainty that it’s the right family. The 1841 family were all involved with hand loom weaving, which doesn’t sound quite right if their father was a labourer and one of the sons became a coal miner. Mary McCrae died in 1860 at 2 Low Church Lane, Kilmarnock at age 57 of consumption (tuberculosis). That her mother was a McCrae and then Mary married a McCrae is confusing, and I can’t help wondering if her son John got some information wrong when he registered his mother’s death. And I suspect the Hendersons came from Ireland.

On 25 May

Today: twins, a London connection and a death in the Poorhouse.

25 May 1857
Birth at Dreghorn, Ayrshire of Catherine Strachan, twin of Susan and daughter of gg uncle Samuel Strachan and Margaret Sampson Reid Johnson. In 1861 and 1871 Catherine is with her parents and siblings in Dreghorn, but in 1881 she’s in Elm Bank, Edinburgh as a maid to Ella Cowan and her sister Mary. As Mary Cowan was born in Haddington, there may be a connection to the husband of Catherine’s elder sister Jeanie, who married David Gillam from Haddington. I haven’t researched Catherine fully, but it looks as if she married James Campbell, who was born in England, in 1885 at Dreghorn. Can’t find them in 1891 but in 1901 they’re at Cambusnethan, Lanarkshire where James Campbell is manager of a fire clay works, and they have a daughter Kate.

25 May 1857
Birth at Dreghorn, Ayrshire of Susan Strachan, twin of Catherine and daughter of gg uncle Samuel Strachan and Margaret Sampson Reid Johnson. She died on 6 March 1858 in Dreghorn.

25 May 1883
Birth of Elsie Maude Green at Chelsea, London, daughter of George Edwin Green and Sarah Maria Sampson, and granddaughter of my gggg uncle Samuel Green. Her father was a gold lace salesman and in 1891 the family, with Elsie age 7, are at 48 Albert Street, Chelsea. Her mother died in 1891 and in 1894 her father remarried. In 1901 they are still at 48 Albert Street but it is now in Paddington, and Elsie, age 17, is an upholsterer’s trimmer’s apprentice. In 1911 she is still with her father and stepmother but they have moved to 63 St George’s Avenue, Tufnell Park and Elsie is a shop assistant for a dyer and cleaners. She died in 1919 age 36.

25 May 1905
Death of my gg aunt Agnes Strachan: there isn’t a birth or baptism record for her but she was born about 1828 at Shewalton Colliery, daughter of Robert Strachan and Margaret Haggerty. Her mother died in Kilwinning in about 1846, and being the second eldest Agnes no doubt then helped at home and with her many younger siblings. In 1850 she married William Kean at Kilwinning. In 1851 Agnes and William are at 8 Crescent Row, Eglinton Iron Works, Kilwinning and William is a coal miner. By 1861, where their surname is written Cain, they’re at 53 Single Row, Kilwinning and have 4 children. They moved to 42 Byrehill Row, Kilwinning by 1871 and had another 3 children, and were still there in 1881, along with a grandson Robert Cain, the illegitimate son of their daughter Rebecca. William Kean died in 1887, and in 1891 Agnes is still at 42 Byrehill Row, Kilwinning but the head of the household is her son John Cain, a coal miner with his wife Mary and 7 children; Agnes age 62 is an outdoor worker. Can’t find her in the 1901 census, though it’s possible she’s the Annie Strachan age 72, living and working as a servant with Elizabeth Dyet age 77 at the Eglinton Arms Hotel, near Abbey Gate, Kilwinning as at the moment I can’t work out who else it could be and the names Aggie and Annie are perhaps easy for a census enumerator to mix up. Agnes died in 1905 at Cunningham Combination Poorhouse, Irvine, of senile debility, which these days we would refer to as dementia.