12 January

A bit behind as I’ve been busy doing other things. Here’s the 12th: a ggggg grandfather from Aberdeenshire who was born 258 years ago, a Green from Yorkshire who was born and appears to have done nothing else, a Strachan from Ayrshire who retired to the USA, and a Watt from Aberdeenshire who led a typical farm servant’s life.

12 January 1756
Baptism of my ggggg grandfather James Alexander at Bourtie, Alexander, son of William Alexander of Westerhouses and Ann Strachan (no relation to my Ayrshire Strachan ancestors). His father was an elder of the Bourtie kirk session and died in 1763, and after that widow Ann ran the farm. William’s testament (probate for his will) shows he held substantial farm tenancies but had also borrowed heavily, so Ann was left with very little as the assets had to be sold to pay debts. James was their youngest child and only 7 years old when his father died, so he probably went off as a farm servant when in his early teens. He married Helen Burgess although no marriage record has survived, and their 5 children were baptised at Bourtie, James recorded as living in Kinguidy (aka King-goodie). There was also a John Alexander of Kinguidy having children baptised at the same time, who may have been his uncle. The memoirs of Dr William Alexander say that James’ elder brother William initially farmed Westerhouses with his mother, after the death of his father, but they fell out and when William left, younger brother James took his place – given the baptism records of James’s children this would have been after 1785. There is a memorial inscription at Bourtie for “James Alexander late farmer in Westerhouses he died June 30th 1794 aged 38 years” and includes his brother William and his sister Elizabeth, wife of John Slorach.

12 January 1840

Baptism of William Green at St Mary’s Barnsley, Yorkshire, son of my gggg uncle linen bleacher Joseph Green and Mary White. He is with his parent in the 1841 census but not the 1851 and no other reference to him has been found, so he may have died although no death record can be found either.

12 January 1854
Birth of Ann Miller Strachan at Crosshouse, Kilmaurs, Ayrshire, daughter of coal miner Samuel Strachan and Janet Mitchell and granddaughter of my gggg uncle Samuel Strachan and Ann Miller. She is with her parents at Stevenston in 1861 and 1871, and in the latter census is a bonnet knitter. In 1876, at Stevenston, she married a relation, John Strachan, who was the son of John Francis Strachan and Jane Johnston Loudon. In 1881 John is a railway stoker and he and Ann are living in New Ardrossan with their first child. John Strachan went to the USA and was in Braidwood, Illinois, with some of his Strachan relatives, but returned to Scotland. Ann and John are in Stevenston in 1891: John is a crane driver and they have 4 children. By 1901 they are back in New Ardossan, John working as a railway carriage inspector, and they have 5 children and a boarder with them. Then in their late 60s, in 1923, they went to the USA along with one of their unmarried daughters to join their son Robert, who lived in Cicero, Illinois. Ann crops up on a border crossing permit in 1925 when she went to Canada to visit her daughter-in-law in Windsor. Her husband John died in Cicero in 1926 and Ann died in 1928 age 73 at Berwyn, Illinois.

12 January 1855
Birth of my ggg uncle Francis Knox Watt at Tarves, son of James Watt and Margaret Symon. In 1864 he is with his parents in Tarves and in 1871 is at Bearfold, Ellon working as a farm servant. In 1876 he married Ann Annand at Cruden, and they are a Wester Aldie, Cruden in 1881 with 2 sons both born in Cruden. 1891 sees them at Old Mill of Shivas, Tarves which was Francis’s parents’ home: his father is in the Poorhouse and his mother is in Edinburgh with some of Francis’s siblings. Given the birth places of Francis’s children, he had been moving from farm to farm as a farm servant, as his children were born in Cruden, Peterhead, St Fergus and then Tarves. By 1901 Francis and his wife have returned to Cruden and are at Burnside of Braco, have had more children born at Crimond, Peterhead and Cruden, and Francis is now working as a road labourer. He died in 1939 age 84 at Hill of Braigie, Echt.

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