31 October

An interesting Aberdeenshire ancestor today, who was in the army, worked as a farm labourer, and then worked as a groom for the Aberdeen canal company. I do like researching people who do something a bit different – and who, thankfully, leave some trace of themselves behind so they can be researched. But researching one person always seems to lead to a mysterious person to find out about! Today’s is who was Peter Forsyth?

31 October 1789
Birth of my ggggg uncle George Watt at Bourtie, Aberdeenshire, son of John Watt and Helen Davidson. Thankfully, he survived until 1864 so I’ve been able to see his death certificate and find him in the census. On the other hand, I can’t find a marriage or baptisms of any children in the OPRs. His death certificate says he was married to Margaret Thomson, died in Aberdeen and had been a farm labourer – the informant was his daughter Naomi Mann, which is an unusual name and therefore good to research. In 1841 I found his wife Margaret at Port Elphinstone, Inverurie, described as wife of farm servant, with Naomi age 19 and Peter Forsyth age 6, but George Watt is not with them. He was possibly working on a farm somewhere, or he could have been the George Watt ag lab age 47 who is an inpatient at Old Machar. By 1851 he is in Dyce working as a groom to a canal company and is a Chelsea Pensioner, so must have served in the army at some stage. The canal would be the now defunct Aberdeenshire Canal, and his job was looking after the horses that towed the barges – but the canal was closed in 1854, when much of it was converted into railway track. I searched the war service records for the period but couldn’t find him. In 1851, George and his wife Margaret have with them two grandsons, one of whom, and perhaps both, are the illegitimate children of their daughter Naomi, plus Peter Forsyth age 15, described as a servant and working as a groom. As he’d been with them in 1841 he would appear to be rather more than a servant, but I don’t know whether he was relative. By 1861 wife Margaret has died, and George, age 74 and a labourer, is in Aberdeen, at Collie’s Court, Shiprow, living with one of the grandsons who was with him in 1851. His daughter Naomi has married shipwright Charles Mann and is living close by. George Watt died age 77 in 1864 at Collie’s Court of old age debility and his daughter was the informant.

31 October 1935
Birth of my cousin Dorothy Campbell Strachan at Bellshill, Larnarkshire, daughter of Henry Strachan and his bigamous marriage to Mary Campbell. Dorothy was partly brought up by my grandmother, Helen Strachan nee McCrae. She married and had three children, and died in 2004 on Tyneside.

31 October 1948
Birth of my cousin here in Leeds.

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