Monthly Archives: November 2013

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.

12 November

Three today – an early Green linen bleacher ancestor from Worsbrough, a Green descendent who worked as a domestic nurse, and an Aberdeenshire Fraser who migrated to New York and worked as a cook in Manhattan before retiring to Florida.

12 November 1775
Baptism of my ggggg uncle John Green at Worsbrough, Yorkshire, son of linen bleacher Joseph Green and Alice Rock. He was married at Royston, on the other side of Barnsley, in 1795 to Mary Addey of Cudworth, and this may have been the start of the connection between my Worsbrough ancestors and my Royston ones. John and Mary had 6 children baptised and 1 buried at Worsbrough between 1796 and 1804, and then wife Mary died in 1805. Her burial is in the parish register for Worsbrough, which reads “Mary Green age 31 wife of John Green bleacher of King Well buried 1 September 1805” and she is commemorated on a Memorial in the churchyard at St Mary’s, Worsbrough with “To the memory of Mary the wife of John Green bleacher of King Well died 31 August 1805 age 32 years”. They don’t seem to have been quite sure how old she was, but she was actually 31 and 7 months! John Green then married again, to another Mary, though no record for the marriage has been found, and they had children baptised in Worsbrough. John Green’s death is recorded on the Memorial at St Mary’s – he “departed this life the 14th day of July 1825 in the 50th year of his age”.

12 November 1891
Birth of Florence Edith Wilson at Mirfield, Yorkshire, daughter of Thomas Arthur Wilson and Elizabeth Florence Vickers and granddaughter of my ggg aunt Mary Green and Joseph Wilson. Her father was a gardener and they were living at Bank House, the Knowle, Mirfield when Florence was born, but had moved to Priesthorpe Lodge, Bingley, near Otley by 1901. In 1911 Florence was working as a domestic nurse for the Payne family at Park Hall, Walton, near Chesterfield in Derbyshire. She married Fred Downing at Pontefract in 1918.

12 November 1904
Birth of Jessie Lydia Michael at Little Tillymaud, Cruden, Aberdeenshire, daughter of my gg aunt Mary Ann Fraser and David Ewan Michael. Jessie is with her parents, her father a granite quarryman, in 1911, then in 1929 she migrated to New York – there is a passenger list for a ship sailing from Glasgow on 21 September 1929 with her on it, giving her father’s address as Thistle Cottage, Longhaven and saying she is going to New York City to join her brother Alexander Michael. In the 1930 US census she is at 107 East 73rd Street, Manhattan working as a servant for a private banker along with her brother and sister-in-law. In April 1931 Jessie married Robert Moore in Manhattan, and was naturalised in 1937 giving her address as 536 East 79th Street and occupation domestic. Her papers say she had a distinctive scar on the right side of her neck. In the 1940 census she and husband Robert are at 486 East 74th Street: she is working as a private cook and her is working as an elevator operator, and they don’t appear to have any children. Jessie died in 1975 at Charlotte, Florida and her husband died there in 1978, so like many New Yorkers they must have retired to Florida.

11 November

Today is Armistice day and my poppy is sitting just above my computer. Every well researched family tree must surely record at least one loss during a military conflict – mine has several. A day, therefore, to remember all those who marched away to war and never returned. A lot happened on my family tree on this day, and today’s featured people include the father of the famous athlete Eric Liddell.

11 November 1804
Baptism of William Green at Worsbrough, Yorkshire, son of my ggggg uncle linen bleacher John Green and Mary Addey. William also became a linen bleacher, and in 1828 married Mary Jane Wildsmith at Darfield. They had 7 children and lived in Worsbrough until just before the 1841 census, when they go missing. But in 1851 they are at Ardsley, where today there is a road called Bleachcroft Way, and their 18 year old son is a pupil teacher. In 1861 he can be found in Thorsett, Derbyshire, working as a bleacher of linen yarn, with his wife and a daughter, but he and his wife are in Barnsley in 1871 living on Pit Street with his unmarried sister Sarah. They are still with his sister in 1881. William Green died in Barnsley in 1882 leaving £240, and probate was granted to his married daughter Mary Ellen Goodair.

11 November 1821
Baptism of John Fisher at Tankersley, Yorkshire, son of John Fisher and Mary Stones and grandson of my gggg uncle Timothy Fisher and Mary Kaye. John was born in the hamlet of Pilley and is with his parents in Pilley the 1841 census, his father an iron miner. His mother died in 1846, and in 1849 he married Caroline Fisher – she may well have been a relation but I’m not sure what the connection was. They remained in Pilley, John working as an iron miner, and had 6 children, including twin daughters.

11 November 1828
Baptism of James Fraser at Cruden, Aberdeenshire, son of John Fraser and Ann Reid. He was the grandson of my ggggg uncle John Fraser and Christian Sangster, who may well be related to other Sangsters on my tree. I can’t find him in the 1841 or 1851 census, but there was a James Fraser who married Margaret Lowe at Ellon in 1854, and in the subsequent census he is of the right age and was born in Cruden. Unfortunately he married just weeks before official registration commenced, so there is no marriage certificate to confirm who is parents were. James Fraser and wife Margaret had 8 children and in 1861 are on a farm at Foveran where James is a ploughman, but by 1871 had recently moved to Ellon and were living at the Police Station, with James’s occupation a carrier. By 1881 he had taken the lease on a 53 acre farm at Newfield, Boddom. I can’t see a death certificate that seems to right so again can’t confirm this is the right James.

11 November 1933 (born 1870)
James Dunlop Liddell
Photograph of James Dunlop Liddell and his wife Mary with their children, from left to right, Jenny, Ernest, Eric and Robert.
James Dunlop Liddell was born in Greenock, son of joiner and grocer Robert Liddell and Elizbaeth Strachan. He was the grandson of my ggg uncle Thomas Strachan and Elizabeth Nisbet. James had moved to Drymen, Stirlingshire with his family by 1881, and in 1891 was boarding in Stirling where he worked as a clothier’s assistant. He then studied at the Scottish Congregational College in Glasgow and was ordained at the Dundas Street Congregational Church. In 1898 he applied to the London Missionary Society and was accepted for a post in Mongolia, northern China. In October 1899 he was married at the Shanghai C of E Cathedral to nurse Mary Jane Smith Reddin. Four children were born, the second being the famous Scottish athlete Eric Liddell. James and his wife continued to be missionaries in China, although their elder two sons were sent to boarding school in Scotland. In 1921, at the age of 50, James returned to Scotland and lived at Marchmount Road, Edinburgh but died in 1933, at age 63, at his home town of Drymen, Stirlingshire.

11 November 1884
Birth of Edward Docherty in Kilwinning, Ayrshire, son of my half gg aunt Janet Strachan and Thomas Docherty, and grandson of Robert Strachan and his second wife Susan Cran. Edward can’t have remembered Scotland as he migrated to USA with his family when he was not yet 2 years old, and they want to Pratt City in Alabama. In 1895 Edward’s father and his mother remarried. By 1910 Edward was a coal miner living in Eldorado, Illinois and had married Margaret Orr who was born in Missouri of Scottish parents. They had three children, the eldest two born in Alabama and the youngest in Illinois. They had more children, and remained in southern Illinois where Edward was a coal miner, then a coal loader and was working on the road project by 1940, and lived in Eldorado, Frankfort, Chrstopher and Tyrone. Edward Docherty died in Tyrone, Illinois at the age of 56.

11 November 1898
Birth of Alexander Mitchell Fraser at Mosside, Cruden, Aberdeenshire, illegitimate son of my half gg aunt Margaret Fraser and James Mitchell, and grandson of Alexander Fraser and his second wife Margaret Booth. He was brought up by his grandparents and lived at the Fraser family croft of Mosside, outside Hatton. He’s there in 1901 when his mother was working as a farm servant in Ellon. His mother married farm foreman Robert Robertson in 1904 and they and their children are at Foveran in 1911, though Alex (as he was known as) was still in Mosside with his widowed grandmother, an aunt and several cousins. Alexander married farmer’s daughter Ethel Willox at Foveran in 1921, they had children, and lived in Aberdeenshire all their lives. Alex died in 1972 at Ellon.

10 November

Three varied ones today, but one raises a question which I often have but can’t answer. When people who were related ended up living near each other though not where they originally came from, did they know the other was around? Were they in touch, did they get together, were they friends? People did seem to be very good at keeping in touch with family back then – better than most people are today, despite such easy methods of communications nowadays.

10 November 1835
Birth of Elizabeth Willox at Lonmay, Aberdeenshire, daughter of my gggg aunt Anne Hutcheon and William Willox. She’s with her family in Lonmay in 1841 and 1851 where her father farmed 18 acres, and then in 1858 married Robert Tait. He was a sailer and in 1861 Elizabeth and her daughter Ann are in Fraserburgh – husband not present so he was probably at sea. By 1871 she’s become a shipmaster’s wife, but husband is again absent. He’s at home in 1881, a ship master, and by then he and Elizabeth had had 8 children. Robert then died and in 1891 Elizabeth is still in Fraserburgh with 4 children, all working – but none of the boys followed their father as they become joiners and a cooper instead. By 1901 she has a son and three grandsons with her: the grandsons are the children of her married daughter who had died. Some of Elizabeth’s sons migrated to the USA.

10 November 1842
Birth of James Logan at Chapelton, Glassford, Lanarkshire, son of my gggg uncle Adam Logan who had abandoned his wife and children. James’s mother was Ann Craig, who Adam Logan set up home with after separating from his wife and daughters. James was with his parents in Chapelton until his marriage in 1864 to Janet Robertson, and they lived in Chapelton working as silk weavers, and brought up 9 children. James died in 1889 age 47, and his death certificate simply says he was “found dead in bed”. His youngest child was only 2 years old, but the eldest were working and living close by. But did James ever know he had some half sisters over in Renfrewshire?

10 November 1909 (born 1889)
Joseph Arthur Vickers Wilson married Lucy Farrar at Kippax, Yorkshire. He was the son of Thomas Arthur Wilson and Elizabeth Florence Wilson, and the grandson of my ggg aunt Mary Green and Joseph Wilson. His father was a gardener who became a park ranger, and Joseph became an insurance agent. In 1911 he and wife Lucy are in Kippax, but their young son had been born in Horsforth, a suburb of Leeds not too far from where I now live and very close to Kirkstall, where my great grandfather Joseph Green lived. I wonder if they were in touch when they were living so close to each other?

9 November

Quite a few today, but it includes the sad story of Peter Strachan, killed at the age of 13 in a mining accident. Also an Alexander who had been researched by Ian Macdonald. Plus there’s a Morgan and a Green who died young, and a Haddow who disappears.

9 November 1807
Birth of Janet Morgan at Longside, daughter of my ggggg aunt Isobel Sangster and Peter Morgan. Nothing else found for her, and someone on Ancestry has a death date for her of 11 November 1809 but without a source given, so it’s possible she died in infancy.

9 November 1834
Baptism of George Alexander at Rayne, son of my ggggg uncle John Alexander and Janet Morrison. He has been written up in Ian Macdonald’s book about the Alexanders of Bourtie, who writes: “George (1834) was the last of the children. He made his way as a craftsman. At sixteen he was working on the land at home but by 1861 had served an apprenticeship and was now a carpenter in Old Meldrum. Beyond that he had also married and was living with his wife in two rooms, with a boarder, at North Road. In fact he was next door to carpenter master John Webster and had married the master’s daughter Helen Ann Webster. It looks as though their place had a change of name to Urquhart Road by 1871 as they were still in two rooms next to the master’s home but now with four children. By 1881 they had a separate place of their own with five of the now seven children at home and by 1891 there were still four of the final brood of nine living with them. George never left Old Meldrum dying there in 1909 aged seventy-five, with Helen outliving him to 1914. They ended up in Urquhart Road where they had started – rooted lives.” In 1901 George and Helen also had a grandson with them.

9 November 1834
Baptism of my gg aunt Alice Green at Worsbrough, Yorkshire, daughter of William Green and Sarah Firth. She is with her family in 1841 at Worsbrough Common, her father a linen bleacher and living two down from the Rose & Crown where her grandfather Joseph Green was publican. Alice died in 1851 at age 17.

9 November 1860 (born about 1848)
Peter Strachan died on 9 November 1860, at 12 years old, in a mining accident. We can know exactly what happened as it was written up in the Mining Accident Register. He was born in about 1847 at Riccarton, Ayrshire, son of Robert Strachan and Janet Ross Gilmour, and was the grandson of my gggg uncle Peter Strachan and Mary Monroe. In 1951 he’s with his parents and siblings at Glaston Road, Hurlford (which was in Riccarton parish at that time) and his father become the coal pit manager of a pit at Ford Colliery.
The death certificate for young Peter died says:
Peter Strachan collier, 9 November 1860, in No.15 Pit Head, Ford Colliery, Riccarton Parish, age 13. Son of Robert Strachan coal pit manager and Janet Strachan ms Gilmour. Died from injuries received by falling down part of the shaft of said pit. Burial Ground of Riccarton. Informant Peter Strachan uncle.
The report in the mining accident register reads:
10 November 1860 at Hurlford, mine owned by Allan Gilmour & Co. Peter Strachan boy age 12 killed in shafts. Was thrown out of the cage by the engine raising it unexpectedly. The deceased was a young boy of about 12, son of the underground overman. He had not been forward at the pit to be lowered to his work with the rest of the workmen on the morning of the accident, and after the ‘clerk’ had commenced, he had got into an empty hutch on the cage to be lowered to the bottom. It was known to the engineman and others that the boy had gone into the cage in the ‘rise’ division of the shaft. An upper seam of coal is worked from this division, and when the cage is required to be rested at that level it is the practice to signal to the surface, and the person making the signal closes the ‘folding boards’ or ‘shuts’ for the cage to rest upon. A young lad of about 17 was engaged in this seam on the morning of the accident; he had signalled to the surface for the cage to be lowered to that level, and accordingly the engine man did stop the cage at that seam. The deceased was sitting in the hutch upon the cage but the cage was rested at the ‘mid-working’, according to the signals given, the lad stationed there commenced to take it off, and while he was in the act of doing so the engine man raised the cage, which first canted the hutch, and afterwards allowed it to pass under and down the shaft, a distance of 30 fathoms.

9 November 1870
Jane Jaffrey Haddow was born at Kilwinning, Ayrshire, daughter of my gg uncle coal miner Colin Shearer Haddow and Ann Orr Richmond. She’s with her family in 1871 at Kilwinning, then in 1881 the family are at Coylton, and Jane is at school. Her father died in 1885 but I cannot find Jane in the 1901 census – she’s not with her mother or any of her siblings that I can find. Several of her siblings also disappear after 1881 so I wonder if they migrated, but I haven’t found them on any passenger lists.

Famous ancestor: William Alexander – radical, newspaper editor and novelist

William Alexander b. 1826

Reading Ian Macdonald’s book about the Alexanders of Bourtie, I was delighted to discover I’m related to William Alexander, born 1826, who became editor or the Aberdeen Free Press, a notable radical campaigner, and the author of Johnny Gibb of Gushetneuk, a novel about rural life written in the Doric dialect of the area and the time. Having done a bit of journalism in my time, and having written some short stories that have been published, and also having always been a bit of a radical, I feel very proud to know William Alexander and I share a genetic legacy.

William Alexander was born as Rescivet, Chapel of Garioch, son of a blacksmith who became a farmer. William went to school at Daviot and was intending to be a farmer, but lost a leg due to an accident. He wrote an essay on farm servants which won an essay writing competition, and as a result became a reporter for the North of Scotland Gazette. A year later he joined the Aberdeen Free Press, becoming sub-editor and then editor. The paper was very popular with farmers and farm servants. His journalist always espoused strong radical views, and he was a major supporter of the rights of tenant farmers. He became an elder of the Free Church, a director of the Royal Infirmary and served as a council member for the Aberdeen Philosophical Society. His novel Johnny Gibb of Gushetneuk was first published as a serial in the Aberdeen Free Press.

He can be tracked in the census. In and 1841 and 1851 he’s a farmer’s son at Chapel of Garioch, working for his father, but by 1861 he is a newspaper reporter living in Charlotte Street, Aberdeen with his sister Helen as his housekeeper. He then married Ann Allan in Aberdeen in 1867, the daughter of a shipmaster, and they lived at 3 Belvidere Street, Aberdeen: if you find the house on Google Maps you can just make out his name on the plaque by the front door of the fairly modest and very typical Aberdeenshire two story granite terraced house. Living with him in 1891 was his wife Ann, a visitor and a female servant. William and Ann did not have children, and William Alexander died in Aberdeen in 1894.

Book on CD: The Alexanders of Bourtie

Ian Macdonald, who is descended from my gggg grandparents Peter Watt and Helen Alexander, has done a superb job of researching the Alexanders from Bourtie in Aberdeenshire. He has published his research as a book on CD, which is available from the Aberdeen & NE Scotland Family History Society. I’m having a great time reading it and learning more my Alexander ancestors. Highly recommended if you have Alexanders from the Bourtie area on your tree as it’s very well researched and packed full of fascinating detail.