#52Ancestors #35 Hugh Forbes and Isabella Simpson – tugboats and Grandpa Simpson        

52ancestorsHugh came from rural beginnings in Alness, Ross-shire, where he was baptised in April 1831. He was the third of six children and grew up speaking both Gaelic and English.

Isabella, the fourth of the eight children of gardener Douglas Simpson and Elizabeth Wilson; she was christened on 30 October 1836 in Greenock.  Like her husband, she also grew up speaking both Gaelic and English.  By the time she was 14 Isabella was working in a cotton mill.

I suspect that Hugh moved away from Alness for work, although perhaps he just didn’t want to work on the land. If that was the case he certainly achieved that goal as he became an engineer and later worked on tug-boats.

They married on New Years Eve 1857 (so they could celebrate then get a day off the next day!?)

I have a lot of Isabellas in my family and had wondered where the name came from.  I was at Who Do You Think You Are Live yesterday and in a leaflet I bought I found out that it’s a variant on Elizabeth.  So there you go, things you learn!  And instantly I see the connection when their first child, a daughter, was named Elizabeth, born in 1858.

Together they went on to have 8 more children, with the birth of William in 1867 curious – the only child not to be born in Greenock – a census entry states he was born in Ireland.  Why? For his father’s work? Friends of the family?  I’m not aware of any Irish connection for Hugh, so maybe Isabella has Irish roots (via Glasgow where her parents lived).  I can’t see him on Scotland’s People and a quick search on Ancestry’s Irish pages (all Family Search records) doesn’t give me enough info to confirm.

There may have been a family ruction in 1863 – their first son was born and registered Hugh Forbes by his grandfather Douglas Simpson, Isabella’s father.  In the margin there is a reference to a corrected entry – it seems Grandpa Simpson had made a mistake and Hugh had been changed to John!  However eight years later they did have a son called Hugh, his name unchanged.

By 1871 Isabella’s widowed mother Elizabeth had moved in with them but passed away the following year.

Hugh and Isabella lived on together until 1909 when Hugh died.  The cause of death is intriguing: concussion cerebri(?) – I’ll have to find out if it’s a medical term or a blow to the head.  He’d retired by then so wouldn’t have been at work.  Isabella herself died 15 years later in 1924, in Greenock.

© Text copyright Lynne Black 30 August 2014
First published:

http://starryblackness.wordpress.com/2014/08/30/hugh-forbes-isabella-simpson/

Who Do You Think You Are Live – Glasgow

This is a week of three cities for me: Stirling yesterday, Dundee tomorrow, and today it was Glasgow, with a great trip through to the Scottish Exhibition & Conference Centre to see Who Do You Think You Are Live – Scotland.

It took me about 90m to get from home to the venue, so I was so chuffed they’ve come to Glasgow. And so much cheaper than the trip to London I made in February to see Who Do You Think You Are 2014 for its last show in Olympia!

Last time I was in Glasgow it was for the Commonwealth Games, and we needed to make a 20m walking detour from the SECC railway to the SECC itself – I managed it in 5m today via the walkway, luxury!  No crowds this time, but also no sunshine.  But hey, the walkway was covered.

What I liked about the London show was that so many local family history societies were represented.  I could get such a variety of local knowledge and information in one place for so many areas, saving me a lot of travel, searches, emails and phone calls.  It was the same with this one – I came home with info from Argyll, Renfrewshire, various Glasgow parishes, the Borders and even Northumberland (they’d hopped up for a visit).  Hopefully there will be a return to Scotland next year, and if so it would be nice to have more of a presence from Highland organisations.

So I picked up about 3 reams of paper in the shape of Alan Godfrey historical maps, leaflets, flyers, more maps (no such thing as too many maps!) and discs with various collections of local monumental inscriptions, registers, oh and some Ancestry jellybeans!

I sat in on Bruce Bishop’s interesting talk on kirk session and burgh records, which managed in 40 minutes to cover a variety of sources and cheerfully feature both fines for fornication and the town layouts of burghs.  Lots of research ideas to follow up! And I caught various bits of various other talks as I walked in circles, well, squares, round the venue, with the big Ancestry banner being the only thing preventing total disorientation for most the morning.

As I use a lot of public transport and had a distance to travel I wrapped up well.  I was almost wilting by mid-afternoon!  The SECC staff were friendly, and of course everyone on the stands were really helpful.

I do feel almost dazed with the amount of information and sources I now know are out there somewhere.  One of those days that you really appreciate that the more you learn, the more you find there is still out there to discover.

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7 abandoned villages that can teach us about medieval life

starryblackness:

I love these photos from a time lost. If pictures can paint a thousand words, these photos just ask me one: Why?

Originally posted on Heritage Calling:

1. Little Oxenden, Northamptonshire

Little Oxenden AP - earthworks of abandoned village

The classic layout of a medieval village. The long groove running left to right formed the main route through the settlement. The large rectangles either side are called crofts and they represent gardens used for growing vegetables. Within these are smaller rectangular earthworks, called tofts, which were walled plots with a house and perhaps a barn standing within. The large rectangle in the centre may have been the manor house or chapel.

 2. East Matfen, Tyne & Wear

east matfen

Surrounding this deserted village are the undulating lines of medieval ploughing, known as ridge and furrow.

 3. Clipston, Northamptonshire

Clipston medeival village remains and ridge and furrow (1)

Although Clipston is still occupied, many abandoned features surround the current village. This image shows crofts, tofts and extensive medieval ploughing.

4. Wharram Percy, North Yorkshire

N070612

The most famous and one of the best preserved British deserted medieval villages, Wharram Percy is a nationally important scheduled ancient monument. Visiting…

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#52Ancestors #34 Donald Dewar, the man from Experiment

Kilmartin gravestone

Kilmartin gravestone (no relation!)

Donald was born circa 1811 in Experiment Farm, Kilmartin parish, in Argyll.  His parents were Donald Dewar and Margaret Dewar. The farm is believed to be named after some experimental farming methods they carried out there. [Allan Begg]

Janet, his future wife, was a farmer’s daughter who grew up in close-by Glassary parish.  Her parents were Peter McCallum and Janet Campbell and she was born circa 1815.

Donald and Janet married on 21 January 1837 in Kilmartin. They had their first child Margaret baptised in December 1837 then  went on to have 10 more, working hard to do the best for them in some pretty unforgiving places.

In 1841 Donald was working as a labourer like his father before him, but by 1851 he was working as a gamekeeper at Strath Mill, Glassary parish in Argyll.

By 1851 they’d had 7 children, and in the 1851 census they had five of them living with them: Peter, Duncan, Janet, Jane and Christina.  No sign of Margaret and third child Jane so I fear I’m still to discover their deaths recorded in the parish records.  Baby Christina was only a year old. Elizabeth arrived c1853, but by May 1855 when Joan arrived they had moved on.

By c1854, the family were working in a different area of Kilmichael Glassary entirely: Island Mackaskin –  in Gaelic Eilean MhicAsgain – in Loch Craignish.  I’ve looked at the island, found in the Inner Hebrides (west coast of Scotland) on Google Earth and it must have been a really isolated place in which to live and work.  In the present day it is no longer inhabited.

Baby Donald followed in November 1857 also on the island, although two days after his birth his proud dad registered his birth on the mainland.  I suspect Barbra was also born on the island; she was certainly living on it in April 1861.  By that April only Christina, Elizabeth, Joan, Donald and Barbara were still on the island with their parents.

It must have been some place to grow up!  I’ve read suggestions that some families sent their children to board on the mainland for them to go to school, while other hardy souls would row across daily. But Donald and Janet’s children were too young for school, so she’d have had them round her feet in the house or trailing after their father as he looked after the boss’ game.  Sheep?  Cows?  Deer, perhaps?

By 1871 they were back on the mainland.  They lived in a village called Dunamuck; by 1881 they were living in the gamekeeper’s cottage there – a house which had six rooms with windows which seems a huge number for that time!

52 ancestors logoDonald died in April 1889 of old age.  He was 78 and had been living at Craigloan, North Knapdale.

Two years later Janet died of heart disease, from which she had been suffering from around-about the time of Donald’s death.  She was then living at Timister Cottage, Sandbank, in Cowal.  She was 76 years old.

I would like to find out about who owned the land, his employer.  And I sort of want to visit Island Macaskin but sort of don’t – definitely one only for a fine day – as I’m a townie and would find it grim to think of all those years the family had to live out there, especially for Janet, in labour out there in November.

The photo of the gravestone is one of many stunning markers displayed in the churchyard at Kilmartin Church.  An amazing part of Scotland: Dalriada, land of the ancients.

© Text copyright Lynne Black 23 August 2014
First published: http://starryblackness.wordpress.com/2014/08/23/donald-dewar/

#52Ancestors #33 Margaret Muir McVicar, from farm to fish

1881 Census extract, Archibald and Peggy McVicar

1881 Census extract, Archibald and Peggy McVicar

Margaret ‘Peggy’ Muir was born in 1813 in the Glassary parish of Argyll, to farmer John Muir and his wife Mary McVane/Bain.  Peggy was the fifth out of six known children, although John and Mary’s oldest child was also called Margret so I suspect died young.

Mary has been hard to confirm as her surname seems to meandered from McVane to Bain over the years.  The family spoke Gaelic as their first language. Perhaps her Gaelic accent confused the census enumerators – and years later her family when they identified her on official documents – or possibly it was a deliberate attempt to move from one pronunciation to another.  But I am confident that Mary McVane and Mary Bain are one and the same person.

Peggy’s next 20 years are rather empty in my records but I do know that she had married a fisherman called Archibald McVicar by 1838 and they were living together in Kames, on the shores of Lochgair. If she was known as Peggy I suspect he wouldn’t have been known all the time as ‘Archibald’ but possibly Archie, but it seems a bit cheeky to just assume that!

Together they also had six children: Niven ‘Sandy’, John, Jean, Peter, Mary and Archibald. There were many Muirs and McVicars in the immediate neighbourhood – with everyone related and/or knowing each other’s business it must have been hard for their kids to get away with any anonymous mischief.

The 1851 census entry confused me for a while – Peggy was living at home as usual and marked as married.  So where was Archibald?  I think I may have finally tracked him down (via Genes Reunited) miles away – he was at Torosay, Mull, Scotland: Cod or Ling Fisher, Fishing Station Smack Kelly Lochgan.  Not at all sure what that entry means – is a smack a type of boat or a place? Was the Kelly Lochgan a deep or shallow water craft? And how do I find out more about the boat and its owners?  I’ve tried searching but haven’t yet been able to find answers to that one so advice welcomed.

52ancestorsAt the time of the 1861 census they were both at home in Point House [the Castle] Lochgair; and again for the 1871 census.

In 1874 their daughter Mary, a domestic servant, married gardener John McKellar in the parish and moved away to Peebles.  Mary had a little boy called John in c1878, but then was widowed and they had moved back with her parents again by 1881. They were all living in the Castle at Point of Lochgair at that time; only two rooms had windows.

Peggy died of old age, aged 70, on 25 May 1884 in Lochgair. It was her brother Peter who registered her death which occurred after 2 days of weakness so perhaps Archibald was away at sea again.  Or perhaps he was grief stricken after losing his wife of almost 50 years so Peter offered.  Archibald died 5 years later, on 19 June 1889 of a stroke.  He was 78.

© Text copyright Lynne Black 17 August 2014
First published: http://starryblackness.wordpress.com/2014/08/17/margaret-muir/

#52Ancestors #32 Sandy McVicar, fishing off the shores of Loch Fyne

Report of the 'Late Hurricane in the Glasgow Herald on 13 March 1846 British Newspaper Archive

Report of ‘The Late Hurricane’ in the Glasgow Herald on 13 March 1846 © British Newspaper Archive

Niven ‘Sandy’ McVicar, my husband’s great-great-grandfather , was born in Kames, Lochgair, to Archibald McVicar and Margaret Muir on 23 March 1838.

I found this report of a hurricane in the British Newspaper Archive.  When he was just 8 years old, a terrible storm hit the west of Scotland, uprooting trees and damaging buildings, including part of the spire of St Andrews Church in Glasgow.  In just-round-the-headland Ardrishaig it was particularly severe, with one poor boy having to be treated by leeches to help him recover from a head wound(!) so it must have been terrifying for the McVicar family, right on the shore. [I believe the Kames Bay the story refers to is a different one, on Bute.]

His future wife Jane was born on 11 December 1841 and christened on 19 January 1842.  She was born in Taysiloan, North Knapdale and her parents were Donald Dewar and Janet MacCallum.

Kames Bay, Argyll

Kames Bay, North Knapdale, Argyll

Sandy and Jane married at Bridgend, Glassery, on 18 January 1870 when he was a 30-year-old fisherman.   She was working as a domestic maid, and was living in Dunamuck.

Like his father Sandy worked as a fisherman in the tiny fishing community of West Kames.  They had a private house with one room with a window.  His father was nearby at the castle at the Point of Lochgair, and there were many other McVicar families in East, and West Kames.

'The Castle' - Point House, Kames, Lochgair

‘The Castle’ – Point House, Kames, Lochgair

They had nine children:  Janet, Margaret, Jane, Sarah, Archibald, Christina, Mary, John and Peter. By 1881 they had five schoolchildren at home.

In 1891 their second daughter Margaret and her baby daughter Elizabeth were living with them; Margaret was working as a general domestic servant.

In 1902 Sandy was still fishing, but very soon after that life as a fisherman must finally have proved too hard or unpredictable, for he started working as a road surfaceman, possibly for the Council.

52ancestorsSandy died on 13 December 1905 from a bowel problem at home at East Kames.  After Sandy died, Jane moved through to Greenock, possibly to be near their daughter Christina, and lived at 12 Chalmers Street, where she died of old age on 6 January 1926. I’m going to have to wait 7 years to find out where she was in 1921.  In the 1911 census I have an entry for a Janet McVicar of the correct age in an asylum in Lochgilphead, but there are discrepancies in her name and the maiden surname provided so I suspect it may not be Janet. Something still to track down.

© Text and photos copyright Lynne Black 11 August 2014
First published: http://starryblackness.wordpress.com/2014/08/11/sandy-mcvicar/

#52Ancestors #31: John Turner, teaching with care and fidelity

John was born to John Turner and Ann McArthur on 20 May 1796, in Dunann, Knapdale; his future bride Lilly was born in 1807 in nearby Glassary parish.

52 ancestors logoJohn and Lilly married on 7 July 1827 in North Knapdale.  They had eight children altogether, but three died in infancy.

John was a parochial schoolmaster and a registrar.  Archibald Currie’s little book on North Knapdale “A description of the antiquities & scenery of the parish of North Knapdale, Argyleshire” , written in 1830, mentions him:

“At Bellanach there is one of the established schools of the parish, taught by Mr Turner with great success; in which the children, at the usual annual examinations, have acquitted themselves so well in their respective studies of Latin, arithmetic, English, and Gaelic, as to do much honour to the care and fidelity of their teacher.  It is much to be regretted that such a useful class of men as the parochial schoolmasters of Scotland are in many instances still much neglected; particularly in such parishes as this, where the legal salary is divided, and where the teachers pay rent both for their schools and dwelling-houses.  In such cases, where the salary is only about £17 sterling, yearly, a deduction therefrom of nearly £5 annually of rent, much diminishes the penurious allowance granted them by law.  I am convinced, were the state of the schoolmasters in this parish properly represented to the liberal and enlightened proprietors, that they would immediately order that no rent should be in future exacted from persons whose services are so valuable to the community where they reside.”

Their children were Anne, Bella, Mary, Niel Stewart, Margaret, John, Lillias, and Dugald, all born in North Knapdale.  Sadley Anne, Bella and Lillias died young.

Map extract of Kilmahumaig burial ground, near Crinnan, copyright NLS

Map extract of Kilmahumaig burial ground, near Crinnan, © NLS

Ann Turner (nee McArthur)'s grave in Kilmahumaig, near Crinnan, Argyll

Ann Turner (nee McArthur)’s grave in Kilmahumaig, near Crinan, Argyll

John and Lilly buried their three lost daughters with John’s mother Ann McArthur in Kilmahumaig burial ground, near Crinan.

In 1837 Pigot’s Directory lists him as Parochial Schoolmaster at Bellanoch, but in the valuation Roll of 1858/59 he had been replaced by his son Neil Stewart Turner who continued to teach there until 1874, finishing soon after the new North Knapdale School Board took over education in the parish.

In 1871 they were living on a farm in Kilmichael and had a Glaswegian timber merchant called Samual Cameron lodging with them. By April 1881 they had moved in with their daughter Margaret in Auchentenval.

John died six months later, in October 1881, in Tayvallich of old age.  His death was recorded by his grandson Donald McCalman.  I’ve not yet tracked down Lilly after the death of her husband.

Next steps for me are to discover what happened to Lilly, and where John and Lilly are buried.  And to track down a copy of Mr Currie’s book!

© Text copyright Lynne Black 7 August 2014
First published: http://starryblackness.wordpress.com/2014/08/07/john-turner