Margaret Turner would never have had the opportunity to go off the grid.
Born in 1836 in the small village of Bellanoch, in North Knapdale parish, Argyll, Scotland, she was the lawful daughter (ie born in wedlock) of John Turner and his wife Lillias (nee Stewart). John was a teacher in Bellanoch and I have recently discovered that he was also a registrar.
Later, by the 1841 census, her father was teaching and living in Tayvallich, North Knapdale. In 1859, aged 22, she married Donald McCalman, also a teacher. Perhaps she come across him as her father’s new colleague. Actually I suspect it would have been a small enough place for everyone to know everyone else’s business, whether they worked together or not.
Nine months later Margaret Jnr, their honeymoon baby, arrived. She was followed fairly regularly by Lily Ann, John, Donald Jnr, Mary, Catherine, Stuart, Isabella and Annie, born 1876.
Donald was also a local Registrar. After he died in 1880 the role was passed to Donald Jnr. Donald Jnr had the pleasure of recording his sisters marriages: Lily Ann’s to William Govan in 1883 and Isabella’s to James Ferguson in 1900.
After Donald Snr’s death Margaret stayed close by to Tayvallich School, working as a crofter and receiving an annuity from her husband’s work. She was described on the 1905 Valuation Roll as a farmer who had to pay an annual rent of £12 [2005 equivalent rate is £688]. By 1911 she was living with her daughter. Her Registrar son Donald Jnr had sadly died in January 1911 so the 2 April 1911 census identifies Margaret’s daughter Mary as the Registrar. Nice one Mary, a bit of responsibility for a woman in the early 20th century, but a huge shock having to take over the reins just before a census whilst still in mourning.
I’ll have to wait until the 1921 census is available online before I know more about Margaret’s twilight years, but she lived to the good old age of 88, dying in a nursing home in Rothesay on the Island of Bute.
She did, however, return to Argyll when she was buried with her husband in the church in Inverlussa in Achnamara, across the loch from Tayvallich.
By the time of her death, her life had been formally recorded by her father, husband, son and daughter.
© Text copyright Lynne Black 5 August 2014