Donald McCalman was born in Kilmore, Argyll, in 1820, the first year of the reign of King George IV and the same year Florence Nightingale was born. He was the son of a farmer called John McCalman and his wife Margaret Turner.
I’m still to track down Donald on the 1841 census but by 1851 he was a schoolmaster, lodging in North Knapdale, at a place I can’t quite make out in the Registrar’s handwriting – Barnagad, maybe. The following entry was for a family in Achnamara so I’ll check the old maps on the National Library of Scotland and see if I see anything nearby.
So why wasn’t he listed in the 1841 census? Perhaps a someone’s scrawl has been mid-transcribed, or the census recorder misheard Donald’s surname. Or maybe he was away studying before becoming a teacher? One to find out…
Donald did not marry Margaret Turner, my in-law, until the age of 39 in 1859, but they went on to live together for 21 years and have 9 children: Margaret, Lily Ann, John, Donald, Mary, Catherine, Stuart, Isabella and Annie. Maybe he married late, or maybe there is a whole previous family of children out there to discover!
He was again recorded as a schoolteacher in 1861, living in Tayvallich, North Knapdale [my photo is old and doesn't do justice to its beauty], but when they’d married in 1859 he’d been recorded as being a Registrar. I’m curious as to how this came about – was it a government or Kirk decision that Schoolteachers carry out this role, or did he apply for this? Something else for the To Do List!
Finding this info can be done online with Scotland’s People, an amazing Scottish Government resource which actually provides scans of the certificates and register entries – what a treat! Sometimes I see my pay-as-you-go credits counting down really fast - I can go through them like a hot knife through butter when I’m on a roll – but it’s such good value for money for the information it provides! I think when I come to research some branches of my Scottish family with more common names I’ll need to go back through to the General Register Office for Scotland at New Register House, Edinburgh and spend a day searching. It would be a fee for a day rather than pay-per-view so I can get a lot done, but for Donald, whose name is handily uncommon, pay-as-you-go works well, and I can just sit and work through the biographical details for his children.
Donald died in November 1880 of a nasty-sounding inflammation of the knee, only four years after their youngest child was born. He was buried in Inverlussa Church, curiously enough across the Loch from Tayvallich – not a handy journey for church on a Sunday. Possibly to do with religious denominations – this query list is getting longer and longer!
Their second son Donald later took on the role of Registrar and was carrying out this role in 1891 census; in the 1881 census Donald Jnr was recorded as having been a farm servant – an unusual career change!
© Text copyright Lynne Black 27 July 2014
First published http://starryblackness.wordpress.com/2014/07/27/donald-mccalman/