Tag Archives: Watt

On 21 June

Someone who managed to die just before civil registration commenced in Scotland, a female ancestor who lived her entire life on the same street in Stevenston, and an Ayrshire coal miner whose work made him disabled and in receipt of poor relief.

21 June 1783
My ggggg uncle William Watt was born at Bourtie, Aberdeenshire, son of John Watt and Helen Davidson. There is a William Watt of the right age and born at Bourtie in the 1851 census, so assuming that’s him he married a Helen and was a crofter of 6 acres at Cromlet, parish is Fyvie, which is close to where his brother Peter settled. In 1851 William and Helen has two grandchildren living with them, and in 1841 they’re at the same place, William a stone dyker, with a daughter Jennet (Janet or Jessie) and 4 children, all with different surnnames, two of whom are the grandchildren still with them in 1851. So I’m assuming they followed the very common crofter/farm servant way of life, and had daughters who had illegitimate children, and some of those children lived with their grandparents. Unfortunately Williams must have died before 1855 so there is no death certificate to confirm his parentage.

21 June 1807
Birth of Margaret Adam at Stevenston, Ayrshire daughter of Francis Adam and my ggg aunt Margaret Haddow. She is listed with her parents in the 1819 Stevenston Minister’s List at Towhead, her father as a collier and is probably one of the children with them in 1822 and 1836. In the 1841 census, she is age 30 and a muslin sewer living with her parents at Townhead Street, Stevenston and she was to live there for the rest of her life. In 1851 she’s still with her parents, two younger sisters and what could be either an illegitimate daughter or a niece called Joanna Penman. In 1861 she’s with her widowed mother and Joanna, now with the surname Adam and who I’ve been unable to trace further. 1871 sees Margaret Adam change occupation from muslin sewer to agricultural labourer and pauper – she was 64 by then her eyesight may have failed – and she has living with her is Catherine Burns, niece, the illegitimate daughter of Margaret’s younger sister Jane. Margaret is still an ag lab in 1881 at the age of 79, and Catherine Burns is still with her, now described as adopted daughter. Margaret died in Stevenston in 1882.

21 June 1819
Birth of John Strachan at Riccarton, Ayrshire son of my gggg uncle Robert Strachan and Jean Kelly. In 1838 he married Margaret Lambie in Kilmarnock, and they’re in the 1841 census at Perceton Row, Dreghorn (along with John’s father and other relatives) with 2 young children – John, of course, is a coal miner. By 1851 they’ve moved to Broomlands Row, Irvine, so John must have been working at the Broomlands Pit, and they have 5 children. 1861 finds them in Dreghorn again, where all of their children were born, and in 1871 they’re at Corsehill Square, Dreghorn with their younger children and a grandson. John Strachan became disabled and applied for Poor Relief: his application in 1879 at Dreghorn details his children, all but 2 of whom were married, and he was awarded 1 shilling and sixpence a week. He died on 10 September 1880 at Black Square, Dreghorn age 51 years of chronic bronchitis. He is on quite a lot of trees on Ancestry, but for some bizarre reason a lot of them have the date of birth right but the location wrong, and have him dying in Australia. He didn’t as he spent his whole life in and around Dreghorn.

On 17 June

Quite a few 1700s ones today, a migration to Iowa plus an ancestor buried in an Aberdeenshire graveyard I’ll be visiting this week.

17 June 1705
Birth of what I strongly suspect is my gggg grandfather James Wilson at Stevenston, son of Patrick Wilson and Jean Clark: his daughter Jane Wilson married Duncan Murphie, their daughter Amelia married John Haddow, and his daughter Jean married Joseph Strachan. James Wilson married Agnes Smith

17 June 1722
Birth of John Reid at Kilwinning, who is possibly my gggggg uncle, son of Thomas Reid and Janet Eadie. His sister Christian is probably the one of married John Alexander and was the mother of Susannah Alexander, wife of Thomas Strachan. It’s very difficult to find out much about people who lived so long ago when you’ve no idea if they married or had children, especially when it’s a common name. Hence I’ve no idea what happened to him.

17 June 1733
Birth of Susan Reid at Kilwinning – sister of above. Again, nothing found as there are no marriage for a Susan Reid in Ayrshire at that time.

17 June 1781
Alexander Sansgter born at Cruden, my ggggg uncle and son of John Sansgter and Elizabeth Matthew. Not sure what happened to him as he doesn’t seem to have lived long enough to be in the 1841 census.

17 June 1822
Baptism of Jane Watt at Rayne, Aberdeenshire, my gggg aunt and daughter of Peter Watt and Helen Alexander. In 1841 she’s a female servant to the local miller, at Mill; of Wartle, Rayne. Then in 1847 she gave birth to an ilegitimate son, George Smart, and is with her parents and her son at Meikle Wartle, Rayne. In 1856 she had another illegitimate son, Alexander Harper, and in 1861 and is with her parents at Meikle Wartle, occupation stocking knitter. At the 1871 census she’s living with Janet Durno at Cushieston, just a couple of fields away from Meikle Wartle: Janet Durno has 5 children and is married to a farm servant who is not at home. By 1881, Jane is a bit further up the main road at the delightfully named Baldyquash living with her daughter-in-law Jane Harper, her son Alexander’s wife, and a young granddaughter while Alexander is away from home working as a farm servant. By 1891 she’s living on her on in Oldgateside Cottage, Culsamond, and is at Highmuir, Rayne on her own in 1901. In nearly all census, including 1901, her occupation is sticking knitter, knitter or wool knitter. Jane Watt – Jean on the headstone – died in February 1908 at the age of 82 at Warthill, near Meikle Wartle, and is on the Watt family memorial headstone in the kirkyard at Rayne (which I intend to visit next week).

17 June 1865
Birth of James McWilliam at New Pitsligo, Aberdeenshire son of my half gggg uncle Nathaniel McWilliam and Mary Yule. He migrated to USA with his family when young, and they are in Post Township, Iowa in 1870, 1880 and 1883, by which time James was 17 and was still at school. I can’t find him in the records after that.

On 6 June

A busy day on my family tree. Includes an Aberdeenshire gg grandmother who didn’t bring up her daughter, a migration to USA, and a Yorkshire ancestor whose mother spent most of her life, sadly, in an asylum.

6 June 1771
Birth of William Hunter at Stevenston, Ayrshire, son of John Hunter and Margaret Barr and my gggg uncle as his sister Margaret Hunter was the grandmother of Jeanie Haddow, who married my great grandfather Joseph Strachan. I need to add, though, that there isn’t a great deal in the records to fully prove this connection. However, there’s a marriage for William Hunter and Margaret Sharp in Stevenston in 1797, and they can be found in the 1819 and 1822 minister’s census for Stevenston at Townhead. They’re both mentioned in the 1836 Stevenston census but it says ‘dead’ next to Margaret’s name. No baptisms for children have been found. He made it to the 1841 census, and is living at Burnside Lane on his own, age 70 and a pauper.

6 June 1839
Baptism of Barbara Hutcheon at Cruden, Aberdeenshire daughter of my gggg uncle Keith Hutcheon and Barbara King. She is with her parents at Teuchan, Cruden in 1841 and 1851, and her father was a tailor. Her mother died sometime between 1851 and 1861, and in 1861 Barbara is a housemaid at Auchinten, Cruden, working for the household of Peter Brand, a farmer of 320 acres. In 1863 she married agricultural labourer Adam Birnie from Rora, Longside, and in 1871 they are living in Main Street, Longside but without any children, and Adam Birnie has become a quarrier. In 1881 they are still in Longside but have a boarder, 3 year old James Murison. Can’t find them in 1891, but in 1901 they are at Great Northern Road, Woodside, Aberdeen, Adam still a granite quarry labourer, but James Murrison has become James M Birnie, son age 23, and is a chemist’s assistant. Barbara Birnie died in 1925 at Balmoral Place, Aberdeen, age 86, of senility and bronchitis, and the informant is James M Birnie adopted son.

6 June 1868 (born about 1843)
Marriage of Helen Watt, my gg grandmother, who was born about 1843 at Ellon, Aberdeenshire but no baptism record exists. She was the daughter of James Watt and Margaret Symon, who lived at Mill of Shivas, Tarves. Helen is with her parents in 1851, and in 1861 is a domestic servant at Logie Buchan. In 1863 she gave birth to an illegitimate daughter Helen Hay, my great grandmother, at War Mill, Auchedley, Tarves, and the father was George Hay of Tarves, a farmer’s son. In 1868 Helen Watt married John Smith, farm servant, at Ythan Bank, Tarves and their daughter Barbara was born shortly after. In 1871 they are at Newington, Edinburgh, John Smith a carter, with 3 lodgers. Helen’s daughter Helen Hay, however, remained at Tarves and was brought up by her grandparents. John Smith died sometime between 1871 and 1881, as in 1881 Helen Smith, with daughter Barbara, is at Elm Row, St Andrews, with no occupation given. In 1891 they are at Drum Terrace, Leith, Edinburgh with lodger William Thompson, a librarian, who Barbara Smith married. In 1901 Helen Smith is at Marchmont Crescent, Morningside, Edinburgh, with student lodgers, and her daughter lives in the same street. By 1911 she has moved in with her daughter and son-in-law, who did not have children. Helen Smith nee Watt died in 1929 at Longmore Hospital, Edinburgh of cancer of the larynx. It’s not known how much, if anything, she had to do with her daughter Helen, who died in 1903.

6 June 1881
Birth of Lilian Burton at Wakefield, Yorkshire, daughter of James Burton and Sarah Ann Wilson and granddaughter of my ggg aunt Mary Green. Her baptism record states her father was wire rope worker and lived at Stanley Hall Lodge: this was the home of Lilian’s grandparents, who were the gardener and housekeeper. Lilian’s parents were living in Pilkington Street, Alverthrope by 1891. She married John Slee in August 1900 at Alverthrope, and in 1901 they were living in Banscroft Lane, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire with John Slee’s sister and her family, and John was working as a brick maker. In 1911 they are at Woolley Colliery, near Barnsley. and John Slee is a coal hewer. They had 6 children. John Slee died in 1925 age 49, and Lilian married John England in 1929 in Doncaster. She died in 1971 at Don Valley.

6 June 1897
Birth of Robert Michael at Boddam, Aberdeenshire, son of my gg aunt Mary Ann Fraser and David Ewan Michael. He was born at 10 Lendrum Terrace, Stirling Gill, Boddam and his father was a granite quarrier. In 1901 he’s with his family at Wickersgill near Shap in Westmoreland, England, where his father was a granite quarry foreman. The family returned to the Cruden area, however, and in 1911 are at Little Tillynaud, Cruden and Robert, age 13, is at shool. In 1923 he migrated to USA giving his UK address as Thistle Cottage, Longhaven and his US destination as his brother Alexander Michael of Caledonian Avenue, South Quincy, Massachusetts. His arrival papers say he had a fresh complexion, brown hair and blue eyes. He married Beatrice, and in 1930 they are in the US census at Oconomowoc, Wisconsin (yes, I had to look it up too – it’s not far from Milwaukee) where he was working as a grounds superintendant at a private club. His draft papers for WW2 give his address as Niantic, New London, Connecticut and his occupation as employed by the US Navy as the Underwater Sound Laboratory at Fort Turnbull – he was probably looking after the grounds. In 1940 he and Beatrice are at Black Point Beach Clubm East Lyme, Connecticut and are looking after 15 year old Beatrice Green, 14 year old Nicola Myenier and 12 year old Lorraine Whitehouse (both described as ‘charge’): were they foster parents? Robert Michael died at Niantic in January 1972, 10 years after his wife.

6 June 1955 (born 1884)
Death of Lily Ann Walters, born Lily Ann Schofield in 1884 at Worsbrough, Yorkshire, daughter of James Schofield and Eliza Hammerton and granddaughter of my ggg aunt Ann Green. Her father was a drayman and in 1891 was living at Hammerton’s Row, Worsbrough Dale, but Lily Ann was living nearby at Upper Lowther with her grandparents. In 1901 she is still with her grandparents and is a dressmaker’s apprentice. From 1891 her mother was in the South Yorkshire Lunatic Asylum at Wadsley, and her father died in 1905. In 1906 Lily Ann married Gilbert Waters, and inn 1911 they are at Platts Common, Hoyland Nether (where Lily had relatives): Gilbert is an engine man at the coal mine and they had had 2 children. Lily Ann Walters nee Schofield died in 1955, and probate for her will gives her address at Gawber Road, Barnsley.

On 16 May

All sorts today: a crofter/ag lab who lived to 93, a coal miner who married three times plus had an illegitimate child with his cousin, a musical Strachan who was a pipe major on Tyneside, and a salmon fisher Aberdeenshire ancestor.

16 May 1779
Baptism of my gggg grandfather Peter Watt at Bourtie, Aberdeenshire, son of John Watt and Helen Davidson. In 1805 he married Helen Alexander at Bourtie. He seems to have spent his younger years working as a farm servant, as the elder children of Peter and Helen were born in different parishes: Bourtie, Udny, Fintray, Chapel of Garioch and then in Rayne from 1818. He’d probably taken the lease of a small croft in Rayne by 1818, as he lived the rest of his long life there. In 1841 Peter and Helen are living at Meikle Wartle in Rayne and he’s an ag lab; they’re still there and he’s still an ag lab in 1851 at age 72, with a daughter and a grandson with them. In 1861 he’s at the same croft, an 81 year old labourer, with his wife, a daughter, and two children described as nephew and niece but who are his grandchildren. Nor surprisingly he’s a retired ag lab in 1871 as he’s 91 and his wife is 85, and they have a daughter and granddaughter with them. Peter Watt died in 1872 at the age of 93, from senile debility. The farm servant and crofting life seems to have been good for his health.

16 May 1813
Birth of Andrew Strachan at Riccarton, Ayrshire son of my gggg uncle Robert Strachan and Jean Kelly. A coal miner, Andrew married Elizabeth Howat in Kilmarnock in 1834 and the had 7 children. In 1841 the family are at Perceton Row, Dreghorn with plenty of relatives as neighbours. Elizabeth died in around 1845 and I don’t know the cause, but at the time there were epidemics of typhus and cholera. Andrew married Margaret Todd in 1847 and had 2 more children, then Margaret died in about 1850. In 1851 he and his children are at Macreadie’s Land, Dreghorn (the Macreadie family were local land and coal mine owners). With the family is Elizabeth Strachan age 22, general servant: she was the daughter of Andrew’s uncle John Strachan and his second wife Jean Wallace. Elizabeth gave birth to an illegitimate daughter the following year with the father named as Andrew Strachan. I can’t find any records for Elizabeth after the birth of her daughter, but Andrew married Jean Walker in about 1854, though there is no marriage record to be found. In 1861 they are in Riccarton with the younger of Andrew’s children, a child of Jean’s and two of their own, plus domestic servant Christina Braden. They were to have more children before Andrew Strachan died in 1864 at the age of 52 of pulmonary tuberculosis, which he’d had for 2 years.

16 May 1866
Birth of Munro Strachan at Dreghorn, Ayrshire son of John Strachan and Agnes Scott and grandson of my ggg uncle Munro Strachan. He was a coal miner, married Elizabeth Crawford, and had 6 children. They first moved to Lanarkshire and lived in Dalziel, the in 1901 they are Tynemouth, Northumberland, Munro working as coal hewer. In 1911 they are in Wallsend-on-Tyne and Munro is still working in the coal mines, but he clearly had other interests, for in 1914 Munro enlisted. He’d previously been in the Volunteer Scots Rifles and on his army papers it says he was a pipe major. Online is the sheet music to “Jeannie Strachan” composed by Pipe Major Munro Strachan, so he must have been a prominent piper in his day. His wife Elizabeth died in 1923 at Tynemouth, and there is a marriage for Munro Strachan and Annie Chapman in Tynemouth in 1925. Munro Strachan died in 1946 at Fylde, Lancashire, where his daughter Jeanie lived. There is also a marriage of Munro Strachan, furniture salesman, in Fylde in 1942 and a son born to that couple in 1943. If it’s the same Munro, he would have been 75 when he married, 76 when he fathered a son, and died years later. There’s a chance it could have been his son, though, but I haven’t researched it fully yet.

16 May 1867
Birth of Alexander Morrison at Cruden, illegitimate son of my ggg aunt Isabella Fraser and James Morrison of Hatton: his baptism is in the Cruden OPR and the father is named. The following year his mother married George Wallace of South Hay Farm, Cruden, and in 1861 Alexander is living with his mother and stepfather. In 1871 he’s a farm servant to George Sangster at Midtown Farm, Cruden, and in 1880 he married Agnes Gall at Peterhead. By 1891 he’s had a change of career and is salmon fisher living at Boddom with his wife, stepson and 4 month old son. In 1891 he’s still a salmon fisher but has moved to Gamrie, Banffshire and had 3 more children, but he was back in Boddom by 1894 as he was informant for the death of his mother. Then by 1901 they family have moved to Rosehearty, and had another 2 children. I’ve not researched him beyond 1901.

16 May 1908
Birth of Mary Porter Strachan at Crookedholm, Ayrshire daughter of my great uncle Colin Haddow Strachan and Agnes Porter. Poor little Mary died in March 1909 at less than one year old.

On 10 May

My great aunt’s birthday, plus an ancestor died in 1872 at the age of 93, which was very good going for the time.

10 May 1812
Janet Sangster, mother of my illegitimate ggg grandfather William Fraser, married William McWilliam at Longside, Aberdeenshire. They had several children, giving William half siblings, and lived at Nether Kinmundy, close to the parish border with Cruden.

10 May 1813
Birth of Robert Haddow Adam at Stevenston, son of my ggg aunt Margaret Haddow and her husband Francis Adam. He’s with his parents in the Stevenston Church Lists of 1819, 1822 and possibly in 1836 but I’m not yet sure what happened to him after that.

10 May 1872
Death of Peter Watt, my gggg grandfather, at the very grand old age of 93, at Meikle Wartle, Aberdeenshire. As he was born on 16 May, I’ll wait a few more days before telling his story.

10 May 1887
Joseph Irvine Strachan born at Crookedholm, Ayrshire, the illegitimate son of my great aunt Flora Strachan, who was the daughter of Joseph Strachan and Jeannie Haddow. Joseph died at 2 months old of infant marasmus.

10 May 1907
Birth of my great aunt Edith Green at Kirkstall, Leeds, daughter of Joseph Green and Charlotte Senior and sister of my grandmother Clara Green. Edith stayed at home and looked after her elderly mother, and then a year after Charlotte Green nee Senior died Edith surprised the family by getting married at the age of 47, to Joseph Martin from Ireland who worked at what is now Leeds Bradford Airport. They lived in Kirkstall just a few doors from my grandparents and I remember them well. Edith Martin nee Green died in 1974 in Leeds.

Working as an ag lab until at least age 81

I’ve recently been doing online research into a line that links into my Fraser line by marriage. What a joy it was to come across a marriage of two people who were both baptised in the same parish some years earlier, went on to have all their children baptised in the same parish, and lived long enough to be in the 1841, 1851, 1861 and 1871 census, always at the same address.

It makes me wonder what their life together was like. Peter Watt was born in Bourtie, Aberdeenshire in 1779 and his future wife Helen Alexander in the same parish in 1785. They married in Bourtie in 1805, and over the next 17 years had at least 8 children. They made their first appearance in the census in 1841 at age 60 and 55, at a place with the wonderful name of Meikle Wartle. Peter Watt was a good old ag lab and was still an ag lab at 72 in 1851 and at 81 in 1861. By 1891, at 93 years old, he’d finally progressed to being a retired ag lab.

Most conveniently for their future family historians, they both waited until after the 1871 census to say goodbye to life. Helen went first on 1 January 1872 at 86 and Peter soon followed her in May 1872 at 93. On both death certificates the cause of death is given as simply senile debility. Clearly working as an ag ab for 70 years didn’t do Peter any harm, and puts grumbling about raising the pension age to 66 into perspective!

If all my ancestors had lead lives like theirs I’d have a lot more names on my tree than I do (and I have an awful lot). But on the other hand, I enjoy tussling with a problem. As nice as it was to race backwards so quickly, I suspect my research would start to feel a little dull if it was that easy with all of my ancestors.