Tag Archives: Alexander

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.

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.

18 October

One of my gggg grandmothers was born today, back in 1752 – nearly 300 years before I was born. Also born today was my Yorkshire Great Uncle Joe, father of a blog follower, and a current day Strachan descendant. Plus a Strachan who migrated to Detroit, a Yorkshire ancestor who was a coal miner, and a Strachan who disappears from the records after 1901.

18 October 1752
Birth of my gggg grandmother Susannah Alexander at Birkieknowe, Ayrshire and baptised at Auchinleck, daughter of John Alexander and Christian Reid. Her mother is not named on the baptism record, but in 1755 a John Alexander of Birkieknowe had a son Charles baptised, and that record gives the mother’s name as Christian. There is no concrete evidence that this is the Susannah Alexander who married Thomas Strachan but there is strong circumstantial evidence, as Susannah and Thomas had children they named John, Christian and Charles. Susannah Alexander married Thomas Strachan on 15 July 1771 at Irvine, and they had 8 children baptised at Irvine up to April 1790. At some point after that, however, they moved to Gorbals, most probably so Thomas and his older sons could work at the Govan coal mines: their two youngest children were baptised at Gorbals in 1793 and 1795. After that the trail goes cold, as there is no record of a death/burial for Susannah. However, several of Susannah’s sons moved back to Ayrshire: John from 1812, Robert from 1803 or earlier, Peter from before 1809 and Samuel from before 1820. So it’s possible that if Susannah was still alive into the 1800s she may have moved back to Ayrshire.

18 October 1871
Birth of Margaret Mitchell Strachan at Stevenston, daughter of Samuel Strachan and Janet Mitchell and granddaughter of my gggg uncle Samuel Strachan and Ann Miller. She is with her parents in 1881 at Station Square, Stevenston, her father coal miner. Her father died in 1882 and in 1891 she is with her mother and a brother at Station Square, working as a dynamite worker. She married Peter Monie, a printer compositer, in 1897 in Glasgow, and they are in Govan in 1901 with 2 children and a boarder. Peter Monie went to Detroit, USA in 1910, followed by his wife and their by then 4 children in 1911. They are at 14th Avenue, Detroit in the 1920 census, Peter Monie working as a building contractor building houses. By 1930 is a printer again, at a newspaper, and he and Margaret are at Blaine Avenue, Detroit with 2 unmarried daughters. Margaret M Monie died at Detroit in 1950.

18 October 1873
Birth of Joshua White, baptised at Royston, Yorkshire, son of my ggg aunt Jane Simpson and John Murgatroyd White. According to his baptism record, his father was a coal miner and his parents were living at East Gawber Hall Colliery village. In 1881 he is with his family at Carlton, and in 1891 at Monk Bretton: by then he had joined his father as a coal miner. In 1989 he married Mary Jane Caves at West Bretton, and they are at the pit housing near Carlton in 1901 with 2 children. By 1911 Joshua is a colliery contractor underground the Ashleigh pit at Monk Bretton and had moved from Carlton via Smith Wood: he and Mary had 7 children by then and were also housing a coal miner, his wife and young child. Joshua White died in 1952 age 78, his death registered at Barnsley.

18 October 1885
Jeannie Strachan was born at Dunlop’s Land, Crookedholm, Ayrshire, daughter and youngest child of my gg uncle Henry Strachan and Elizabeth Black. She is with her parents in Crookedholm in 1891 and 1901, and by 1901 is working at a woollen factory. Nothing else found so I’m not sure what happened to her.

18 October 1899
Birth of my great uncle Joseph Green at Armley, Leeds, son of Joseph Green and Charlotte Senior. He is with his family, age 1, in 1901 at Hope Grove, Armley – his daughter, who follows this blogs, says he was fond of making the joke “At least I was born in hope, if I die in despair”. He was baptised in 1904 after the family had moved to Kirkstall, and is in the 1911 census as Station Parade, Kirkstall, age 11 and at school. He married Ethel Alderson, the daughter of neighbours, in 1930 at Kirkstall, at which time his occupation was cloth finished, so no doubt worked at one of the nearby mills. He lived in Leeds all his life and died in 1976. My mother was very fond of her Uncle Joe and remembered him as a funny and warm-hearted man.

18 October 1979
A great-gandson of my aunt Mary Ann McInairney Strachan, who married James McBride, was born in Scotland.

18 and 19 September

On the 18th: James Booth from Aberdeenshire who proved easy to research, and Ann Strachan from Ayrshire who is a mystery as she just disappears from the records, and my great aunt Sarah McCrae. And on the 19th: three who can’t be found with any certainty in the records, a Strachan who became a spirit dealer when she was widowed, and my great aunt Sarah McCrae.

19 September 1760
Birth of Elizabeth Wilson at Stevenston, daughter of my gggg grandparents James Wilson and Agnes Smith. Unfortunately, Elizabeth Wilson is a fairly common name and there were several of that name having children in the right place at the right time. There is a marriage of Elizabeth Wilson at Stevenston in 1788 to Archibald Clark, but I’ve no idea whether this is the right marriage or not: they had a son baptised James but their eldest daughter was called Margaret, not Agnes.

19 September 1779
Birth of my ggggg uncle James Alexander at Bourtie, Aberdeenshire, son of James Alexander and Helen Burgess. And that is all I know as I’ve not come across anything that is certainly him. James Alexander was a common name in those parts.

18 September 1816
Birth of my gggg uncle James Booth at Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, son of William Booth and Margaret Allan and brother of my ggg grandmother Isabella Booth who married John Logan. James Booth is possibly the James in the 1841 census working on a farm at Drumgowan, Leslie. He married Jean/Jane Keith in about 1841, though I can’t find a marriage record in the parish registers, and by 1851 they were at Nether Kinmundy, Longside with 5 children, James a labourer. He was to remain there for the rest of his life and had several of my ancestors as neighbours. In 1861 James, general labourer, and Jean have had more children and the eldest have left home: they were to have a total of 11 children. In 1871 James is a road contractor and they have 2 grandchildren with them as well as their own 3 children. The 1881 census has them as Crofters House, Redbog Road, which is at Nether Kinmundy, James a crofter of 6 acres with wife Jane and a granddaugter. James is still a crofter in 1891 and his wife and the same granddaughter are still with him. His wife then died and in 1901 James Booth, crofter retired, it a Bruckleseat, Longside. He died in May 1901 at Longside at the age of 86.

19 September 1819
Birth of Janet Strachan at Witchknowe, Riccarton, Ayrshire, daughter of my ggg uncle Thomas Strachan and Elizabeth Nisbet. Her coal miner father died in 1821 and her mother remarried in 1823 to William Mitchell but he also died, and her mother married for a third time in 1827 to James Brown, both marriages in Kilmarnock. So by the time Janet was 10 years old she’d had a father and two stepfathers. Janet Strachan married John Hamilton at Kilmarnock in 1837, and the 1841 census finds them at Moorfield Tile Works, Kilmaurs with 2 children. By 1851 they are at Corsehill Square, Dreghorn, John a coal miner and with 5 children, a visitor and a servant, 13 year old Catherine Strachan who was Janet’s cousin. They had moved back to Kilmaurs by 1861 and had 7 children with them, John Hamilton and their oldest sons all working as coal miners. John Hamilton died in 1869 and in 1871 Janet Hamilton is earning a living as a spirit dealer and living at 66 Kilmaurs Road, Kilmarnock with 2 coal miner sons and 2 children still at school. She is still in Kilmarnock in 1881 with a son, a niece and a nephew. Janet Hamilton died in 1889 at Gilmour Streeet, Kilmarnock of heart disease.

18 September 1838
My gg aunt Ann Strachan was born at Shewalton Colliery, parish of Dundonald, Ayrshire, daughter of my gg grandparents Robert Strachan and Margaret Haggerty. At age 2 she is with her parents and siblings at Shewalton in the 1841 census, and the family moved to Kilwinning some time after 1842. Her mother died in 1846, when Ann was only 7 years old, and Ann would have been looked after by her several older sisters. Her father remarried in 1850 to Susan Cran. By 1851, at age 12, Ann was living in as a domestic servant in Kilwinning for the McInnes family, the father Daniel a coal miner who probably worked with Ann’s father. In 1861 Ann is listed in the census as a visitor to coal miner Alexander McDonald and his wife at West Thornton Hamlet, Dreghorn – also a visitor was another Ann Strachan, Ann’s cousin. After 1861 things become tricky as I can’t find anything in the records for Ann. There’s no marriage or death certificate to be found at ScotlandsPeople. It is possible Ann had an illegitimate daughter in 1862, so a child called Margaret Strachan was born in December 1862 at Kirkland Rows, Dreghorn to mother Ann Strachan, domestic servant. As Margaret was Ann’s mother’s name this could well the right Ann. However, I can’t find anything for Margaret – nothing in the census and no death record. The only other possible entry for Ann is in the 1891 census, which has an Ann Strachan age 50 living alone and earning a living as an outdoor worker living at Brigend, Kilwinning. That Ann was born in Irvine, which is very close to Shewalton. But what became of Ann and her possible daughter Margaret is a mystery.

19 September 1860
Birth of Hugh Richmond Haddow at Kilwinning, son of my gg uncle Colin Shearer Haddow and Ann Orr Richmond. He is with his parents in 1861 at Kenneth’s Row, Kilwinning, surrounded by lots of my anccestors, and in Lyslestone Row, Kilwinning in 1871. By 1881 the family are at Coylton, Ayshire and, like his father, Hugh is an ironstone miner. He then does a disappearing act: no marriage or death found for him, and nothing in the immigration records I’ve searched. So he’s yet another mystery.

19 September 1864
Birth of my great aunt Sarah McCrae at Kilmarnock, Ayrshire daughter of my great grandparents John McCrae and Mary Ann McInairney and sister of my grandmother Helen McCrae. Sarah is with her parents at Dean Lane, Kilmarnock in 1871 and at Mill Lane, Killmarnock in 1881 when she’s 16 and a bonnet maker (which will be the famous Kilmarnock bonnet). In 1885 she married Samuel Downey or Downie at Kilmarnock. Samuel was a hammerman and was born in Ireland. In 1891 they are at Morton Place, Kilmarnock with 3 children and in 1901 at Low Glencairn Street, Kilmarnock with 6 children and Samuel’s brother. They had 9 children altogether but only 3 were still living in 1911, when Sarah and Samuel (who by then had become a coal miner) were at New Street, Riccarton with their 3 surviving children, Sarah’s younger brother James McCrae and 4 year old visitor Agnes McCrae. In 1923 Sarah’s sister Helen Strachan ms McCrae went to Canada and gave her sister Mrs Downey of 12 New Street, Kilmarnock as her nearest relative in Scotland. Samuel Downie died in 1929 at Riccarton, and Sarah died at the age of 73 in 1938 Kilmarnock.

On 28 and 29 August

Two quiet days: a very early Ayrshire ancestor from who can’t be traced further than birth, and an Alexander from Aberdeenshire who left plenty of traces in the records.

29 August 1731
Birth of Thomas Reid at Kilwinning, Ayrshire son of Thomas Reid and Janet Eaddie. His sister Christian married John Alexander and is, I strongly suspect, the mother of Susannah Alexander who married Thomas Strachan. Thomas Reid born 1731 is therefore my gggggg uncle. No further trace of him had turned up, unfortunately

28 August 1817
Baptism of Jane Alexander at Rayne, Aberdeenshire, daughter of my ggggg uncle John Alexander and Janet Morrison. Her sister Helen married Peter Watt. I couldn’t find her in the 1841 census and there were several marriages so, unsure which was her, I searched for death certificate on ScotlandsPeople and found one at Rayne: she had been married twice so I was then able to track her in the census. She seems to have married farm servant George Gray, who was born in Foveran, in about 1844 but there’s no marriage in the records. In 1851 George Gray with wife Jean are at Hatton, Belhelvie with 3 children, the eldest born at Tarves and the younger two at Belhelvie, and the births of the children can be found on FamilySearch with father George Gray and mother Jane Alexander. By 1861 Jean Alexander is back in Rayne, at Cushieton, with 2 children named Gray: the eldest two are not with her and there’s a youngest son born 1854 who can be found on FamilySearch born at Belhelvie. George Gray must have died but there’s no death certificate to be found on ScotlandsPeople so it looks as if he died in 1854. In 1861 Jean, age 43 and a stocking knitter, had a boarder, George Smith age 54, a stone dyker, living with him. Later in 1861 George Smith and Jean/Jane Alexander were married at Rayne. They’re at Coley Hill in 1871 with a young grandson, but by 1881 they’ve gone up tp Gamrie in Banffshire, George still a stone dyker. In 1891 Jane Smith, age 73 and a stocking knitter, is on her own a MacDuff, Banffshire but by 1901 she’s returned to Rayne and is living at Kirktown of Rayne, an 83 year old invalid, with her younger sister Ann Alexander age 77, her nurse. Jane Smith formerly Gray ms Alexander died in 1902 at Rayne.