31 December

In Ayrshire, there were a lot of marriages on 31 December – clearly a popular day for tying the knot, though those who married on New Year’s Eve are not featured today as I have a birth date for them. Today’s births and baptisms include an 18th century Melville from Aberdeenshire, and in the 19th century a Strachan from Ayrshire, an Oxley and a Haigh descendant from Yorkshire, and a Watt from Aberdeenshire.

31 December 1779
Baptism of George Melville at Daviot, Aberdeenshire, son of my gggggg aunt Agnes Alexander and James Malvel or Melville. Nothing known about George’s younger days, but in 1821 he married Elizabeth Skene at Old Meldrum: he was 41 years old so it’s possible this was a second marriage, although there’s no record for an earlier marriage nor are there any baptism records for any children he may have had. But in 1841 he was a farmer at Sauchenton, Chapel of Garioch with wife Elizabeth and 3 farm servants. George and Elizabeth are at the same farm of 60 or 65 acres in 1851 and 1861, each time with 3 different farm servants. Unfortunately I’ve not located his death certificate, though he died between 1861 and 1871, as that may have shed more light.

31 December 1811
Birth of my ggg uncle Henry Strachan at Coltburn, near Muirkirk, Ayrshire, son of John Strachan and Agnes Neilson. The family moved to Riccarton and then to Shewalton Colliery, and it is at Shewalton Colliery that coal miner Henry married Ann Stewart in 1841. They did not have any children, and in 1851 are in Colliery Houses, Dreghorn taking care of two children of Henry’s brother Peter, who had died of fever and whose wife had also died. They are still in Dreghorn, at West Thornton Hamlet, in 1861 with one of brother Peter’s children and a niece of Ann’s. They remained in Dreghorn and in 1871 they have Ann’s elderly mother with them: by then Henry was working as watchman which indicates he may have not had the health and fitness required of a coal miner. This is confirmed by his 1872 application for Poor Relief which says he is a partially disabled coal miner and that his case is well know to the board as he had previously applied in 1870. He was given relief. His 1873 application says he was awarded 3 shilling a week and his disability was miners’ asthma. Henry Strachan died at Dreghorn in 1874 of chronic bronchitis.

31 December 1843
Baptism of my ggg aunt Emma Drusilla Oxley at Barnsley, Yorkshire, daughter of Thomas Oxley and Sarah Grist. She died at the age of 7 in 1850 at Barnsley.

31 December 1854
Baptism of John Womack at Royston, Yorkshire, son of my gggg aunt Maria Haigh and James Womack. John died at age 5 and was buried at Royston in April 1858.

31 December 1860
Birth of George Watt at Old Deer, so of George Watt and Mary Mutch and grandson of my gggg aunt Elizabeth Hutcheon and John Mutch. He died in 1861 at Old Deer, before his 1st birthday.

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