Monthly Archives: November 2013

19 and 20 November

Nothing happened on the 19th. But for the 20th there’s a long lived Aberdeenshire gggg grandmother, an equally long lived Aberdeenshire ggg grandfather, and a relatively short lived Strachan from Ayrshire.

20 November 1785
Baptism of my gggg grandmother Helen Alexander at Bourtie, Aberdeenshire, daughter of James Alexander and Helen Burgess. Her father was a farmer, and in November 1805 she married agricultural labourer Peter Watt. Their first 3 children were baptised at Bourtie, then they had children baptised at Udny, Fintry, Chapel of Garioch and from 1818 at Rayne, where they remained. Most likely they were moving from farm to farm, as farm servants, until they took a small croft at Meikle Wartle in the parish of Rayne. The 1841 census has them at Meikle Wartle, with Peter Watt an ag lab and none of their 12 children remaining at home. They are there in 1851, Peter age 72 still an ag lab, and he and Helen have their daughter Jane with them, and Jane’s son illegitimate son George Smart. 1861 still finds them at Meikle Wartle, Peter Watt still an ag lab at 81, Helen having reached 75, daughter Jane, a stocking knitter, now with another illegtimate child, plus a new grandchild, offspring of their daughter Jessie. Both Peter and Helen were long lived as they’re in the 1871 census at Wartle, Peter finally retired at 91 and Helen is 85: with them is daughter Jessie, a knitter, and her daughter. Helen Watt ms Alexander died on 1 January 1872 at Wartle of senile debility, and the informant for her death certificate was a neighbour of School House, Rayne. Helen is commemorated on the memorial in Rayne kirkyard erected by her son William.

20 November 1793
Baptism of my ggg grandfather George Hay at Tarves, son of Alexander Hay and Margaret Daniel. In 1833 he married Mary Taylor at Old Deer, and in 1841 was farming East Shethin Farm, Tarves and employing 2 boys and a young woman. By 1851 George and Mary had 3 children surviving with a 10 year gap between the first and second, plus 2 male farm servants and a female: East Shethin was a 65 acre farm. 1861 sees them still with 3 children, the eldest now a ploughman, and they have a cattleman and a domestic servant in their employ, plus a grandson, the illegitimate son of their daughter. George Hay is 78 in the 1871 census, and his daughter and eldest son are still living with their parents, along with the grandson, and there is a male farm servant and a domestic. George Hay died at Tarves in 1879 age 85 and his son George took over the farm.

20 November 1818
Birth of Elizabeth Strachan in Riccarton, daughter of my gggg uncle Peter Strachan and Mary Monroe. She married Andrew Muir in Kilmarnock in March 1836, who would have been a coal miner, given the places where they lived. I can’t find them in the 1841 census, but their first 2 children were born in Kilmaurs, then they had 3 children born in New Monkland, Lanarkshire before moving back to Ayrshire in about 1848, where their youngest child was born in Kilwinning. Andrew Muir then seems to have died either just before or just after the move to Ayrshire, as in 1851 Elizabeth Strachan is a widow at 5 Hagsthorn, Kilburnie, with 6 Muir children and a 1 month old baby named Robert Clark – plus a lodger also named Robert Clark, who is an ironstone miner and no doubt the father of the baby. There’s no marriage found for Elizabeth and Robert, but she had a son Thomas Clark in 1856 and on his birth certificate she is down as Elizabeth Clarke ms Strachan. Thomas was born on 19 October 1856 at Kilburnie, and Elizabeth died on 1 November 1856 of pthisis pulmanory (tuberculosis). On her death certificate is says she was married, and the informant was Robert Clark husband.

Ancestor not a big fan of Bonnie Prince Charlie

I’ve always wondered whether my Scottish ancestors were Jacobites and on the side of Charles Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) during the 1745 uprising. By no means all Scots were. My Strachan ancestors were lowlanders so were unlikely to have supported the Jacobite cause. My Aberdeenshire ancestors, however, lived close to Peterhead, where Charles Stuart’s ship landed in 1745 after sailing from France – but they were also Protestants, and one of the reasons for not supporting the Jacobites was the fear they’d turn Britain into a Roman Catholic country again.

However, many people possibly weren’t too bothered about politics and simply did their best to get on with their day to day life. Ian Macdonald’s lovely book about the Alexanders from Bourtie gives this wonderful insight. In the section about William Alexander, born 1714 and my gggggg grandfather, Ian writes:

‘He (William) gets a mention in a book by Dr William Alexander, which says that in 1745, during the second Jacobite uprising, there was a skirmish called the battle of Inverurie, during which “the tenant of Westerhouses, having in pursuit of his lawful business, got sufficiently near the scene of conflict to hear the balls fired off whizzing past in uncomfortable proximity to him, deemed it wise to make his way across the burgh muir homeward without needless delay”. Otherwise the Kirk Session simply complained about the inconvenience of the unsettled conditions.’

So life went on as best it could for many Scots!

18 November

My great aunt Susan McCrae was born on this day: she married but then separated, and the birth certificate for one of her daughters is unusually detailed. There’s also an Aberdeenshire Alexander who died of typhoid fever.

18 November 1827
Baptism of Janet Alexander at Rayne, Aberdeenshire, daughter of my ggggg uncle John Alexander and Janet Morrison. Janet , sadly, didn’t have the most exciting life: she is with her parents on their small farm at Meikle Wartle in 1841 and 1851, earned her keep as a dressmaker, didn’t get married, and died in 1859 age 31 of typhoid fever.

18 November 1866
Birth of my great aunt Susan Bell McCrae in Kilmarnock, daughter of coal miner John McCrae and Mary Ann McInairney (or McInerney, though Mary Ann’s name is written as Marian McInally on Susan’s birth certificate). She was named for the Susan Bell who lived with John McCrae and his mother, and was possibly John’s half sister. In 1871 Susan is with her parents, siblings, her mother’s half sister and a lodger at 6 Dean Lane, Kilmarnock, and at 40 Mill Lane, Kilmarnock in 1881. By then she is 14 and working at the tobacco factory. She was a witness at her sister Agnes’s marriage in 1885, and then in 1889 Susan married John Boyle, a pit headman, at what was probably her parents’ home at John Dickie Street, Kilmarnock. Unfortunately they can’t be found in the 1891 census, but their son Andrew was born in 1892 at 7 High Church Lane, which was Susan’s parents’ home. Their daughter, who was given the wonderful name of Janet Sneddon Dunlevy Boyle, was born at 19 Low Glencairn Street, Kilmarnock in 1898, by which time John Boyle was working as a cab driver. Susan and John Boyle then separated, and in 1901 Susan is at 14 High Street, Kilmarnock with her children Andrew and Janet. Not long afterwards she moved to Glasgow where she lived with John Devine: in 1903 they had a daughter Ellen Devine and on her birth certificate it says her parents are “John Devine dyer and Susan McCrae, wife of John Boyle carter who she declares is not the father of the child and further that she had no personal communication with him since they agreed to reside separately 4 years ago.” I’ve not seen such detail on a birth certificate before, but it’s useful for a family historian! In 1911 they are at Levern Banks, Neilston, John Devine a dyer’s labourer, with 3 children plus Janet Boyle, Susan’s daughter. Susan died in 1942 at Duke Street, Glasgow, but with usual residence Abercromby Street. She was 75 and died of cardiac failure and pneumonia, and her death certificate describes her as Susan Devine formerly Boyle, widow of John Boyle cab driver.

17 November

Just one today – a Strachan who made an unusual occupation change, for when he retired from coal mining he ran a sweet shop.

17 November 1839
Birth of John Strachan at Shewalton Colliery, Ayrshire, son of my ggg uncle Peter Strachan and Margaret Boyle. He’s with his parents and siblings at Shewalton in 1841, his father a coal miner. His father then died in 1846 and his mother must have died at about the same time, as in 1851 John and his younger sister Ann are living in Dreghorn with their uncle and aunt, Henry and Ann Strachan and 11 year old John is already a coal miner. He is still with his uncle and aunt in 1861, then in 1862 he married Christina Houston McGill. They are in Kilmarnock in 1871 with 4 daughters, and then in Kilmaurs in 1881 with another daughter. In 1891 they are still in Kilmaurs with a grandson, illegitimate son of their daughter Mary. After his wife died, John can be found in 1901 in Low Road, Willets, St Quivox, working as a confectioner – which probably means he kept a small sweet shop. His daughter Mary, now married, is living next door and no doubt her 5 children were delighted to have a sweet shop owning grandfather! John Strachan died at Low Road, Willetts in 1907 at age 70 of stomach cancer, which I do hope wasn’t a result of eating too many sweets.

15 and 16 November

A nothing happened day on the 15th but three on the 16th, all with quite a bit to say about them. A very early Strachan may, or may not, be in the records after her birth but another Strachan had a rather complicated life and makes quite a lot of appearances in the records. And from Aberdeenshire there’s someone I’m connected to twice, thanks to a marriage of two distantly related people.

16 November 1776
Birth of my gggg aunt Christian Strachan at Irvine, Ayrshire, daughter of Thomas Strachan and Susannah Alexander. The family moved to Gorbals, just south of the Clyde, in the early 1790s, and if Christian went with them she would have about 15 years old. There is nothing further in the records that can be said definitely to be her. However, there is a birth recorded in the Gorbals OPR in July 1805 for Susannah Dick, daughter of James Dick mason and Christian Strachan, but no marriage found and no other births of children for the same couple, and nothing further to be found for Susannah Dick, unfortunately. Given that Christian’s mother was called Susannah there’s a good possibility this is “my” Christian. But there’s also a burial recorded in the Gorbals Parish Register for February 1814 for Christian Strachan age 40 who could be her is she didn’t marry, or if her husband died before her and she reverted to her maiden name as a widow, which was common practice in Scotland.

16 November 1883 (born about 1835)
Birth of my gg aunt Mary Strachan at Shewalton Colliery, Ayrshire, daughter of Robert Strachan and Margaret Haggerty. Mary had an interesting life which is well documented in the records. She is with her parents at Shewalton Colliery in 1841: the family then moved to Kilwinning where Mary’s mother died in 1846 and her father remarried in 1850. In 1851 Mary is with her father, stepmother and siblings, earning her keep as a hand sewer. She then gave birth to an illegitimate son Robert Strachan in 1855, father not named, at Springside Row, Dreghorn: Mary’s sister Margaret gave her address as Springside, Dreghorn when she married in 1857 so it looks as if the sisters were living there during the 1850s, although their father and stepmother remained in Kilwinning. In 1857 Mary married Archibald Russell, a seaman, at Saltcoats and gave her address as Harbour Buildings, Ardrossen and her occupation as domestic servant. In 1858 her son Robert died at Ardrossen. Mary gave birth to a daughter named Margaret Strachan in 1861 at Corsehill, Kilwinning: on the birth certificate Mary gave her name as Mary Strachan and did not name the father,so Archibald Russell can’t have been around. He could well have been at sea but it looks as though Mary’s child was fathered by someone else. In the 1861 census Mary, named as Mary Russell, is with her father and stepmother at Kenneth’s Row, Kilwinning, along with her 3 month old daughter Margaret Strachan. Mary then seems to have lived as the wife of Alexander McEwan, as they had two illegitimate children born in 1867 and 1869 at Kenneth’s Row, Kilwinning, Alexander signing the birth registration for both children. They are in the 1871 census at Kenneth’s Row, just a few doors down from Mary’s father and stepmother, and with them is Mary’s daughter Margaret described as wife’s daughter. Mary is listed as Mary McEwan but she and Alexander, a coal miner, were not married, and had had 2 more children. In 1881 Mary McEwan is a visitor in the household of Susan Strachan, her stepmother, along with her 4 youngest children. No sign of Alexander McEwan but he may be the person of that name who was lodger in Old Monkland – perhaps he’d gone there to work. He was back in Kilwinning by 1883, however, as in November that year he and Mary Strachan were married. The question is, why did they wait until 1883? A possible answer is that that’s when Archibald Russell died, or at least when Mary found out he had died, but no death record for Archibald can be found – as he was a seaman he could have died anywhere. In 1891 Mary and Alexander McEwan and their 2 youngest children are at Brick Row, Kilwinning. Then in 1901 Mary is in Kilwinning with her married daughter Marion and family, which may be because Marion has a 1 week old baby. Alexander McEwan is in Kilwinning with their son Andrew and Andrew’s wife and children, and is working as a labourer. Mary McEwan ms Strachan died in 1909 at Kilwinning at age 69.

16 November 1840
Birth of Jane Aitken at Longside, Aberdeenshire, daughter of William Aitken and Elizabeth Milne. Jane married a grandson of my ggggg aunt Isobel Sangster and Peter Morgan, and was
the mother of Helen Ann Morgan who became the second wife of my great grandfather William Fraser. Jean Aitken, as she was called as a child, is with her parents at Savoch, Longside in 1841, her father an ag lab. The family are missing from the 1851 census, but in 1861 Jean Aitken is with her Milne grandparents at croft of Savoch or Faichfield, Longside. She married, in 1865 at Longside and as Jane Aitken, to William Souter Morgan but she’d already had two children with him. William, a farm servant, Jane and 4 children are at Lochside, Cruden in 1871, and have William’s younger half brother as a lodger. They had 10 children and in 1881 are at Collie Hill, Cruden and at Little Tillymaud in 1891, William still a farm servant. In 1901 they are living at Kennedy’s Buildings, Cruden and Willliam is a ploughman: with them are 4 children, 3 grandchildren and a boarder. Then in 1911 Jane Morgan is at B Street, Boddam, with a dauhhter and 3 grandchildren, and the census says she was a widow, but she wasn’t – William Morgan was an inmate at the Royal Asylum Aberdeen, where he remained until his death in 1917. Jane Morgan ms Aitken died later the same year, at Leadside Road, Aberdeen, age 76 of senile decay and chronic valvular disease.

14 November

A Yorkshire ancestor for whom records are rather thin on the ground, an Aberdeenshire Logan who died of cancer at age 34, and a Strachan who spent 12 years in the army, so thanks to the availability online of digitised army records he has left a detailed record easily discoverable.

14 November 1793
Baptism of my gggg uncle William Oxley at Barnsley, son of William and Elizabeth Oxley of Pogmoor (now a suburb of Barnsley). He seems to have married an Elizabeth, though I can’t find a marriage, and there are children baptised at Barnsley to parents William and Elizabeth Oxley. That William is initially described as a bleacher, then as a collier. There is a William Oxley age 58 born Pogmoor – which is the right age and place – in the 1851 census with wife Elizabeth, in receipt of parish relief, so that looks like my man. William Oxley of Barnsley age 67 was buried at Barnsley St Mary in December 1859, so if it’s the same one he was buried at the same church as he was baptised.

14 November 1859
Birth of Elizabeth Logan at Belhelvie, Aberdeenshire, daughter of my ggg uncle James Logan and Jane Norrie. Her father was a farm servant ploughman and in 1861 Elizabeth is with her family in Foveran, but she isn’t with her family in the 1871 and I can’t find her elsewhere. She was 11 year old at the time so it’s possible she was out being a domestic servant but it’s also possible she was just missed off. She is working as a domestic servant by 1881, though, at Methlick for a farmer and his family. She married John Kynoch in 1887 at Savoch, and they are in Methlick on 1891, although shephard John was listed as absent from home. They had 3 children but also had 3 older children with different surnames with them, and I’m not sure who they were. Elizabeth Kynoch ms Logan died in July 1895 of cancer of the uterus at age 34. Her children went to live with their Kynoch grandmother in Methlick.

14 November 1872
Birth of William Young Strachan at Dreghorn, Ayrshire, son of John Strachan and Agnes Scott and grandson of my ggg uncle Munro Strachan and Janet Jamieson. He’s with his parents in 1881 and 1891 at Corsehll Square, Dreghorn, and became a coal miner. Then in 1893 he enlisted, on 23 May at Camp Irvine in Ayrshire, with the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders for 7 years: his enlistment papers are online and say he was 5ft 4.5ins with grey eyes and brown hair, with a scar on his forehead and a large scare on his left thigh and right knee – which sounds as if he might have had a mining injury. He went to Glasgow the next day for his medical and was declared it. In October 1893 he was posted as a private, but for an unknown reason he deserted in May 1894. He was caught, however, and was convicted for desertion and loss of kit in September 1894 and spent nearly 2 months in prison before returning to duty. In December 1895 he was posted to India where he completed his 7 years, and received a bounty in order to extend his service by another 5 years. So he must have decided the army wasn’t too bad, after his early dislike! He returned to Scotland in 1905 and completed his service there. After his discharge, he married Jeanie Hamilton at Dalry, Ayrshire in 1907, and their son John was on in Dalry. They then moved to Stirlingshire and daughter Jeanie was born at St Ninians in 1911. By 1914 they were in Bannockburn, Stirlingshire, where William was a miner at the Cowie Colliery: he was registered to war service but put into the reserve due to his occupation – mining was a “reserved” occupation. He must have some kind of accident, though, as in 1917 an injury to his right leg made his unfit for war service. His wife Jeanie died in 1923 at Rutherglen but I’m not sure which of the deaths in the index might be William.

13 November

Today is a Yorkshire ggg aunt who became the keeper of Stanley Hall near Wakefield, a Strachan who spent nearly all his life in Kilmaurs, and the mother of a Fraser “adoptee” who was a childhood playmate of my mother’s during the summer holidays.

13 November 1831
My ggg aunt Mary Green was baptised at Worsbrough, Yorkshire, daughter of linen bleacher William Green and Sarah Firth. In 1841 she’s with her parents and siblings at Worsbrough Common, two down from her publican father Joseph Green. In 1851 I suspect she’s the Mary Green in Barnsley working as a domestic servant for the Pigott family, the head John Burke Pigott being a “linen manufacturer by power” – i.e. a linen factory owner. Then in 1858 Mary Green was married at Normanton, to gardener Joseph Wilson: the church marriage record says Mary Green was of Altofts with father William Green a bleacher. Altofts is north-east of Wakefield and well north of Barnsley, and I don’t know why Mary Green was living there – perhaps she was a servant, although her marriage record doesn’t give her occupation. In 1861 Mary Wilson is with her in-laws at Stanley Hall Lodge, her father-in-law being the gatekeeper, and with her is her younger sister Sarah Green age 10. Mary’s husband Joseph Wilson is up at Stanley Hall listed as a servant gardener domestic. At the time Stanley Hall was owned and lived in by the Shaw family who had bought it in 1853: Thomas Shaw was a successful canal and railway contractor. It was to be let to tenants in 1862. Joseph and Mary were kept on by the new tenants, as in 1871 they’re at Stanley Hall Cottage with 4 children and Joseph is the gardener. Joseph’s widowed mother is at the Lodge and Stanley Hall is the residence of James Plaister Harris-Gastrell, a landowner and secretary in the diplomatic services. By 1881 Joseph is still gardener but Mary has become hall keeper of Stanley Hall: as well as their youngest child still at home they have a newly married daughter and son-in-law with them. Mary’s husband died in 1890, and in 1891 Mary Wilson is in a house at Haddingley Hill, Sandal Magna earning a living as a monthly nurse: this was someone who looked after a mother and newborn baby for the first few weeks. In 1901 she’s at Elvey Street, Wakefield (in a terraced house that’s still there) as a boarding house keeper, with her unmarried daughter and two boarders. The only death I can find is 1902 in Wakefield, and she’s not in the 1911 census.

13 November 1888 (born 1867)
Andrew Strachan was born in 1867 at Stevenston, Ayrshire, son of James Strachan and Mary Lindsay, and great grandson of my gggg uncle Robert Strachan and Jean Kelly. His father was a coal miner and Andrew also became a miner. He is with his family in Stevenston in 1871 and by the time Andrew was 13 they’d moved to Plann Row, Kilmaurs and he was already at work as an ironstone miner. He married farm coal miner’s daughter Marion Fulton at Kilmaurs in 1888. They are in Hemphill Row, Kilmaurs in 1891 with a daughter, Andrew working as a shale miner. In 1901 they are in Blackwoods Buildings, Kilmaurs, still with 1 daughter and Andrew now working as coal miner. Andrew Strachan died in 1922 at Crosshouse, which is near Kilmaurs, so spent almost all his life in the one place.

13 November 1904
Chrissie Gray Morgan was born at Blackstrath, Keithhall, the illegitimate daughter of Helen Ann Morgan. In 1907 her mother became the second wife of my great grandfather William Fraser, so Chrissie is not a “blood” relation but was closely connected to the Fraser family. In about 1911 Chrissie moved from Hatton village to Mosside croft when William Fraser took over the lease after his father had died. In December 1922 she married John Rennie in Aberdeen at about the same time as she gave birth to their daughter Helen: their marriage certificate is interesting as they were married by declaration in the house of John Rennie’s sister and brother-in-law and had their marriage registered by warrant. The marriage certificate says Chrissie was a laundry worker at the time and John Rennie was a farm servant. Chrissie died in 1924 from pulmonary tuberculosis. Her daughter Helen was brought up by her Fraser grandparents and John Rennie migrated to Australia. When my mother was a child she spent the summer weeks at Mosside and remembered Helen – or young Nell as she was known – as they played together, and Helen always cried when my mother had to go back to Yorkshire.