Tag Archives: Mosside Croft

The value of old maps

The cottage at Mosside croft, home of my Fraser ancestors, was built of stone with a slate roof and is next to a stone walled steading (barn), but as the Frasers lived there from about 1840 I doubt these were the original buildings. Studying old maps has helped me pinpoint when the now derelict croft buildings might have been constructed.

The National Library of Scotland has loads of old maps online, so you can open a digital image and zoom in to the particular place you want to study. The web site can be found at http://maps.nls.uk

The OS 25 inch map surveyed in 1872 shows Mosside as below – Mosside isn’t named but it’s the one at the top of the lane numbered BM 331.2

Mosside 1872 Map 25%22

There seems to be one long building with a much smaller one behind it. Below is what appears on the OS 25 inch map surveyed in 1899, this time numbered BM 331.1. What I know as the cottage is now there, but it wasn’t in 1872.

Mosside 1899 OS Map 25%22

This seems to be convincing evidence that the stone cottage with the slate roof that’s still standing today was built some time between 1872 and 1899. This is interesting, as my gg grandfather Alexander Fraser took over the croft when my ggg grandfather William Fraser died in 1877. Perhaps it was Alexander who rebuilt it.

This leads to the question: what were the Frasers living in before then? There would have been one long low building, as shown on the 1872 map, divided into two – the people lived and slept in one half and the animals had the other half. It would have been built of rough stones, with a roof thatched with turf or heather. The floor was most likely dirt, perhaps incorporating some stone. Originally an open fire would have been in the middle of the floor, with an opening at the centre of the roof for the smoke. Chimneys came late to Scottish crofter’s cottages. All in all, it was primitive and not very comfortable – and no doubt damp, dark and smelly.

This means that in 1861 the old style, possibly one roomed cottage accommodated a household comprising William and his wife Christian, in their 50s, 2 of their adult daughters, their youngest son age 11, 5 grandchildren aged from 16 months to 6 years, and the pauper boarder John Black age 29. Where on earth did they all sleep? How did they feed them all at meal times?

When the new cottage was built, it looks as if the old one was converted into a steading, and the people and the animals finally had their own buildings. But the new cottage only had two rooms downstairs and one attic room upstairs so it wasn’t exactly large. When my mother went there for summer holidays in the 1920s, there would have been 10 people to be accommodated. My suspicion is that young men and boys still slept with the animals, and were bedded down in the steading.

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When two lines link

Today I came across a marriage that very nicely rounds out my research into illegitimate William Fraser.

William’s mother, Janet Sangster, married William McWilliam and her illegitimate son seems to have been brought up by her and her husband, along with their own children. William Fraser took on the lease of Mosside Croft, just a few fields away from where his mother lived, and eventually the croft was taken over by his son Alexander and then his grandson William. William the younger married and had children, then tragically his wife died. But, as most men did in that situation, he remarried. His second wife was Helen Ann Morgan, who my mother remembered from her childhood holidays at Mosside Croft.

I’ve often noticed that second wives seem to be linked to the man’s family in some way, and can’t help wondering whether the family looked around for someone suitable to act as housekeeper and, when nature took its course, as wife and mother of more children. So did William and Helen know they were related? For they were – their great-grandmothers were sisters.

William Fraser, great-grandchild of Janet Sangster, married Helen Ann Morgan, great-grandchild of Janet’s sister Isobel Sangster, who had married Peter Morgan.

So it turns out that the step great-grandmother I didn’t think was a blood relation turns out to be a relative after all, albeit distantly.

The Peter Morgan who married Isobel Sangster back in 1815 was, I suspect, the son of George Morgan and Margaret Logan. Janet Sangster’s grandchild Alexander Fraser married Mary Ann Logan. I’ll have to do more research on her and see if she was related to Peter Morgan’s mother!

James Fraser and Clara Green wedding day

This is a photo of my grandparents, Clara Green of Kirkstall, Leeds and James Fraser of Mosside croft, Hatton, Aberdeenshire. It was taken to mark their marriage in 1919 in Kirkstall, and Clara is making sure her wedding ring is on display.

It was obviously taken at a photographer’s studio, and I expect my grandfather’s hat and stick were the photographer’s props.

James Fraser and Clara Green marriage

Mosside Croft at Hatton, Cruden Bay

This is a photo, that I took in 2000, of Mosside croft, near Hatton in Cruden parish, Aberdeenshire. It was the home of my Fraser ancestors from some time before 1841 until after the second world war. My mother spent some of her summer holidays there when she was young.The land extended to about 3 acres. The cottage had two rooms plus an attic, and there used to be a small dairy attached to it where my mother remembers her (step)grandmother making butter and cheese. The roofless building to the right of the cottage is the old steading, where the cows lived and vegetables and equipment were stored. At the back of the cottage was a pig sty.

The lane on the left leads to the peat moss, where people from the surrounding area would come to dig their peats. The lane leads down to Hatton, which is a couple of miles or so south.

A shame about the tyres! I don’t know who owns it now, but as it can be seen on Street View on Google Maps I do know it’s still derelict and the land is being used for storage.

Mosside