Tag Archives: Cruden Bay

On 7 May

A migration to USA, plus a granite quarryman who stuck very close to his Cruden home.

7 May 1869
Stewart Shirkie, who married Jean Haggerty, migrated to USA and became a coal business owner in Clinton, Indiana, arrived in USA from Glasgow. His wife and children followed a few months later. See On 30 April for birth of his wife, Jean, and more about the Shirkie family.

7 May 1872
Birth of George Morgan at Cruden, Aberdeenshire, great grandson of my ggggg aunt Isabel Sangster and brother of my great grandfather’s second wife Helen Ann Morgan. George’s parents were William Souter Morgan and Jane or Jean Aitken, and his grandfather was the unfortunate Arthur Morgan, mentioned a few days ago, who was killed by a large granite stone. George worked in the granite quarry at Longhaven too, and was a stonecutter. He is with his parents at Kennedy’s Buildings, near Longhaven, in April 1901 and was married later that year to Jane Simpson Main. In 1911 George and Jane are at Greenleaves, and have not had children. Greenleaves is on the same census page as Kennedy’s Buildings, and also Little Tillymaud where David Ewan Michael, also a quarryman, lived with his wife Mary Ann Fraser, daughter of William Fraser whose second wife was George’s older sister Helen. Cruden seems to have been a web of relatives! Greenleaves is also currently for sale, and has become a renovated little bungalow with a big garden and fabulous views. George can’t ever have moved far, as when he died in 1949 he was living at Kennedy’s Buildings again.

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On 1 May

In today’s events, after three false starts resulting in three illegitimate children, my ggg aunt Isabella Fraser got married.

1 May 1857
Birth of Agnes Caldwell at Galston, who married William Strachan, son of Robert Strachan and Janet Ross Gilmour. She was William’s second wife and he was her second husband, and she was the daughter of John Caldwell and Martha Yeudall. Agnes and William married in 1892, and by 1901 had a large family with 1 of Willliam’s children still at home, 5 of Agnes’s children from her first marriage, and 3 children born since their second marriage. William Strachan was, of course, a coal miner and they lived at Goatfoot Row, Galston. Agnes died in Galston in 1943 at the age of 86, so it looks as though she spent her entire life living in the same coal mining village.

1 May 1862
Birth of Peter Strachan at Riccarton, son of Robert Strachan and Janet Ross Gilmour and therefore brother of the William mentioned above. Peter died in 1864 at Riccarton at 2 years of age.

1 May 1924
My first cousin Helen was born in Glasgow. She’s too recent to give more details about here, but she lives in Scotland.

1 May 1858
My ggg aunt Isabella Fraser finally got married. She was 30 and had had 3 illegitimate children with 3 different fathers, so I can’t help wondering if the family breathed a large sigh of relief when George Wallace married her. George was a widower, 20 years older than Isabella and the farmer at South Hay Farm, Cruden, Aberdeenshire. It’s possible that Isabella worked for him as a domestic servant. Soon after her marriage she had a domestic servant of her own, her younger sister Elizabeth. Ironically perhaps, given Isabella’s track record, she and George didn’t produce any children. George and Isabella had given up the farm and become grocers at Whinnyfold, Cruden by 1881. But George and Isabella eventually became paupers, and after George’s death Isabella lived at Midmill Lodging House, Cruden, headed by the Mutch family and with 3 other elderly lodgers. Isabella died there in 1894.

Poor Arthur Morgan: killed by a large stone

Arthur Morgan was my 1st cousin 5 times removed, as he was the nephew of my gggg grandmother Janet Sangter, whose sister Isobel Sangster married Peter Morgan. Arthur was born in 1815 at Longside, he married Margaret Robb and had 4 children. Then Margaret died so in 1849 Arthur married Catherine Kilgour Adam and had another 3 children. In the 1851 census he was working as a farm servant, but he must have changed jobs and gone to work in the granite quarry at Longhaven, which is between Cruden Bay and Boddom. Sadly, Peter met a premature death there.

I found the writing for the cause of death a bit tricky to read on his 1860 death certificate, so posted a scan of it on the RootsChat forum, to see if one of the helpful people there could work it out. Sure enough they did.

Arthur Morgan cause of death

Accidentally killed by a large stone coming on his body producing emphysema of face neck chest and abdomen with fracture of left arm. Died in a few minutes. As certified by George Mill Surgeon who saw deceased 20th October.

Another helpful person explained the emphysema (written as emphisema on the certificate): “surgical or subcutaneous emphysema happens when something punctures a lung internally, so that the air within the lung is released into the space in the chest around the lung; the air can track under the skin to other parts of the body. It produces a very characteristic appearance and sensation to touch. Broken ribs could do this if they punctured the lung.”

So basically, poor Arthur Morgan was crushed to death by a large granite stone falling on him. He was 45 years old and left a widow, three young children and four children of working age.

On 20 April

Not much today, but two events involved early 20th century migration to Canada and USA.

20 April 1800
Baptism of Betty Green at Worsbrough, Yorkshire. She was the daughter of my ggggg uncle John Green, a bleacher, who married Mary Addey.

20 April 1859
Marriage at Greenock of Elizabeth Strachan and Robert Liddell, a joiner. Elizabeth became the grandmother of Eric Liddell (see blog post)

20 April 1921
Margaret Milne sailed from Glasgow to Canada and settled in Vancouver. She was the granddaughter of my ggg aunt Janet (also Jessie) Fraser, and had been born in Cruden, Aberdeenshire. She married George Birnie in Vancouver in 1922.

20 April 1931
Jessie Lydia Michael married Robert Moore at Manhattan, USA. She was born in Cruden, Aberdeenshire, the daughter of my gg aunt Mary Ann Fraser and husband David Ewan Michael and had migrated in 1929. In 1930 she was working as a servant for a banker and his family, as was her older brother.

On 26 March

26 March 1809
Elizabeth Firth was baptised at Royston, Yorkshire, daughter of Joseph Firth and Hannah Fisher. Joseph Firth was my gggg grandfather, and Elizabeth’s sister was Sarah Firth who married my ggg grandfather William Green of Worsbrough. That makes Elizabeth my gggg aunt. I haven’t researched her beyond her baptism so have no idea what became of her. 


26 March 1843
Sarah Ann Green was baptised at St Mary’s Barnsley, daughter of Joseph and Mary Green, bleacher of Barnsley. Joseph was the brother of my ggg grandfather William Green of Worsbrough. No idea what became of Sarah Ann as I have yet to research her.

26 March 1861
Alexander Strachan was born at Corsehill, son of my gg grandfather Robert Strachan and his second wife Susan Cran, making Alexander my half gg uncle. He’s with his parents in the 1861 census at 24 Kenneth’s Row, age under 1 month, but he’s not with them in 1871 when he would have been 10 and I can’t find him anywhere else, nor can I find a death record for him. He’s a mystery.

26 March 1868
Amelia Murphy Haddow died at Lamont’s Row, Kilwinning age 2. She was the daughter of Hugh Richmond Haddow, who married Marian Mackay. Hugh was the son of my gg grandparents John Haddow and Amelia Murphy, so Amelia Murphy Haddow was obviously named after her grandmother. Hugh and Marion had a second daughter in 1874 and named her Amelia Murphy Haddow, to the name lived on. Amelia became a recurrent name on my Strachan family tree: my father had a sister called Amelia, more commonly known as Milly.

Hmm. Doing this is reminding me that there are a lot of people on my family tree that I know very little about, though I’m glad there’s still plenty more research for me to do.

Was my ancestor wounded at Waterloo?

There is no doubt that a William Fraser from Cruden was wounded at Waterloo. What I can’t prove is that he was my ancestor, although there’s good circumstantial evidence.

I have long suspected that my GGG Grandfather, William Fraser, is the one baptised in Cruden in 1805 – the OPR reads “27 May 1805 John Sangster in Burnthill presented a child to baptism begot in fornication by William Fraser (as the mother Janet Sangster affirms). The child was baptised and named William. Witnesses John Davidson and William Sangster.” William went on to marry in 1828 in the parish of Longside, which borders Cruden to the north-west, and by 1841 was settled at Mosside Croft, close to the parish border between Cruden and Longside, not far from Burnthill (also known as Brunthill). On his death certificate his father is given as William Fraser.

The question has been – who was the William Fraser reputed to be his father? When William born 1805 died in 1877, his son James was the informant for the registration and knew his grandfather was William Fraser but wasn’t able to name his grandmother. So he seems to have known something about the father William but nothing about the mother Janet. This summer I am going up to Aberdeenshire and intend to study the Kirk Session Minutes and Poor Law Records in case they provide any more clues.

However, I have long wondered if the father William was William Frazer baptised 3 January 1778 Cruden, father Donald Frazer. It’s the only one in the OPR that is at all close, though it’s quite possible that the one I’m after isn’t in the OPR. But a William born in Cruden in 1778 puts him in the right age group and the right place.

So yesterday, I revisited this and looked to see whether a William Fraser born in 1778 was still in the area in later years. And he was. He’s in the 1841, 1851 and 1861 census living with relatives at Brick Works, Peterhead. The brickworks were at Invernettie, south of the town of Peterhead and up the main road from Cruden parish. In 1861 William Fraser age 79 is described as a Chelsea Pensioner, which means he was in the army and receiving a pension.

The Chelsea Pensioner records are online, and I found: “92nd Regiment of Highlands: William Fraser Private Soldier in Capn. Angus Fraser’s company, born in the Parish of Cruden, was enlisted at the age of 24 and has served in said regiment for 10 years … in consequence of gun shot wound received in the left hip joint, right thigh and left arm, while in action with the enemy at Waterloo on the 16th & 18th June 1815 is rendered unfit for further service, and is hereby discharged … said William Fraser is about 33 years of age, 5ft 8ins, fair hair, grey eyes and fresh complexion, and by trade is a labourer. Statement of service: 92nd Foot 25 July 1806 to 24 July 1816 and served at Waterloo 2 years.”

His age is a bit out, which wasn’t uncommon for someone who couldn’t read and didn’t have written evidence of birth. He was baptised in 1778, so if he joined up in 1806 he was actually 28 and not 24.That he joined up just a year after the birth of illegitimate William Fraser means he could well have been doing his labouring – as an agricultural labourer most likely – in the Cruden area at the time of William’s conception.

I then downloaded Chelsea Pensioner William’s 1864 death certificate and discovered his parents were Donald Fraser soldier and Margaret Sharp. So he is the William I’ve had my eye on from the OPR baptisms.

Donald Fraser was also in the 92nd Regiment and received a pension. His record reads “Donald Fraser age 51, labourer, born in Scotland, served with 92 Regiment as Sgt., was discharged 1795 after 24 years with ??th Foot and 2 years with 92nd. Discharged due to being old and long in the service, and the regiment being ordered to be reduced, and having been before a pensioner.”

Although Donald was in the army for 25 years up to 1795, it wasn’t continuous service as he’d previously received a pension. It looks as if he was in the army, then settled in Cruden where he married and had children, then enlisted again in the early 1790s when the 92nd Regiment (which became the Gordon Highlanders) was raised due to the war with France.

So although not proven, there’s a possibility that my Fraser ancestors were Gordon Highlanders at the time of the Napoleonic Wars. There’s a nice link to later time, as my grandfather James Fraser fought with the Gordon Highlanders in WW1 and was discharged wounded after being shot at the Battle of the Somme.

When the illegitimate William Fraser born 1805 died in 1877, his son knew who his father was. Was there still a connection? Did army pensioner William Fraser know about his illegitimate son William? Did the family tell the story of his army exploits and wounding at Waterloo? These are unanswerable questions but it makes for a great story!

Three ancestors on one OPR page

I decided it was time to spend some money downloading the actual OPR pages from ScotlandsPeople for some of my early Fraser ancestors rather than going just from FamilySearch entries. And I hit lucky with my very first download.

For whatever reason, a lot of the Cruden OPR looks like a copy, as it’s all in the same hand writing and is not in date order. The order of the baptisms listed on the one page I downloaded are 1828, 1854, 1849, 1852, 1845, 1853 and 1830. My suspicion is that when official registration began in 1855, someone decided to produce a copy of the Cruden OPR that wasn’t in chronological order. I’d love to know why, but I have to be grateful it was done as the result is that just one page contains three baptisms that are of my ancestors – so I got three for the price of one.

Isabella Fraser 1828

This is the baptism of my GG Aunt Isabella Fraser in 1828, which gives a good deal of detail for an OPR. But on the same page I found two more relevant baptisms.

William Fraser 1830

This is the baptism for my GG Uncle William Fraser in 1830, again with some very useful detail.

Mary Ann Matthew 1854

And finally, this is the baptism for the illegitimate daughter of my GG Aunt Janet Fraser with Thomas Matthew. This one has left me intrigued to know who the witness Robert Fraser was, as so far there is no Robert Fraser on my family tree so I don’t know how he was connected. A good clue to follow up, though.