Friday 30 April 2021

How did they meet? Part 3

 As I said in my previous posts (Part 1 and Part 2), when looking at the lives of our ancestors, there is often much guesswork in determining how they got together. Following are some stories about the third-past generations on my wife’s side.

The exercise in trying to imagine how people met forces us to look further at family dynamics and piece together when and why people moved or how they furthered their occupations. Often you need to look at the parents and siblings of both parties and see how and where they lived and if they interacted with other family members. It is no surprise that families stuck together, often, as they do today, supporting each other in times of need, joining forces in work-related enterprises and introducing future spouses.

Findhorn, Morayshire, Scotland ca 1900

Our Great-Grandparents

Hugh MacKay & Isabella Scott (m. 15 May 1857)

Hugh McKay was a widower when he met Isabella Scott. He first married Isabella Thomson in Auchterless, Aberdeenshire, Scotland in 1845. They had six children together, all born in Macduff, Banffshire. She died of uterine haemorrhage, in 1856, on the day she gave birth to their daughter, also named Isabella. The baby did not survive either, succumbing five days later.

The death of Hugh’s wife left him with four children, under the age of ten years who obviously needed care.

Hugh left Banffshire to join a brother in Findhorn, Morayshire, probably looking for support from his extended family. It was there that he would have met Isabella Scott, the 28-year old daughter of Walter Scott and Janet Stalker. Isabella was born at Knockyfin, Morayshire. By 1851 she was living near Kinloss village, about 10 miles to the north and just a couple of miles from Findhorn. On their marriage record, her residence was shown as Craigmill in the Parish of Dallas, about nine miles from Findhorn where Hugh lived.

While we cannot know for sure, it is likely they met through friends or family members in Kinloss. The couple made their home in Findhorn where they had six children between 1858 and 1869. Their marriage lasted 46 years. Both died in Findhorn, Hugh in 1903 and Isabella in 1907.

Forres, Morayshire, Scotland ca 1900

William Hugh Milne & Mary Ann Anderson (m. 4 September 1868)

Curiously, William was born with the surname Mills. His first marriage record says Milne, though, with his father, William Sr., indicated to be a skinner and his mother’s name as Elizabeth Ross. The record of his second marriage to Isabella Munro also shows his name as Mill. His death record says Mills, the informant for which was Duncan Milne, his son.

As far back as they can be traced, the names of his parents and siblings are shown as Mills or Mill. The births of his children, however, from his first marriage were recorded with the Milne name; the two from his second marriage were recorded as Mill and Mills.

The 1871 census shows the surname of William and Mary Ann as Mills. All subsequent censuses show their name as Milne.

William and Mary Ann Anderson probably met in Forres, Morayshire. William had moved there from Aberdeen in the 1860s. The marriage lasted only 14 years as Mary Ann died in 1882 or peritonitis.

Langlands Road, Govan, Scotland ca 1900

Elizabeth Cooper

OK so we don’t know who the father of Elizabeth’s only son, Alexander Cooper (Part 1), was. From his January 1867 birth record we know they probably met in May 1866. Now, coincidentally, that was the month Elizabeth’s sister, Ann Jean got married in Govan, Lanarkshire, Scotland. Elizabeth was the Maid of Honour at the event. It is entirely conceivable (no pun intended) that she quite enjoyed her time there.

Elizabeth came back to her home in the Shetlands and had her baby in Brough the following January. She returned to Govan in 1871 to live with her sister’s family. Living in the same building was a man named John Blackburn, a dock worker from Ireland. They married in Govan in April of that year. Was he the man she met in 1866, one may wonder.

John died in 1885 but the couple appear to have been separated before then as they were living in different places on the 1881 census. Elizabeth married again, in 1892, to James Ross, of Glasgow but living then in Govan. They did not have children together.

Elizabeth died in 1904. I am still trying to find her burial place and am hopeful we might narrow down her son’s biological father through DNA.

John Walker & Sarah McKenzie Russell (m. 8 October 1880)

John Walker was a railroad employee for most of his life. He and Sarah probably met through friends in Elgin, Moray, Scotland, but they were married in Duffus, four miles to the north. Sarah had been born in Burghead, in 1856, seven miles northwest of Elgin. The marriage record does not indicate whether she was employed in any of the three places however it does show they were both living in Elgin at the time.

John’s career as a locomotive engine driver took them to many towns during the next 47 years. Their first daughter was born in Burghead. Their next six children were born in Elgin, the eighth and ninth in Glasgow. In the Glasgow area, they lived in nine separate residences, each one possibly near where John’s main workplace was located.

John died in Glasgow in 1927. Sarah followed in 1930.

High Street, Elgin, Moryshire, Scotland – ca 1900