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.
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: https://starryblackness.wordpress.com/2014/08/17/margaret-muir/