Tuesday, 30 December 2014

52 Ancestors Week 52: Helen Pert

Well, I've done it!  52 weeks....52 Ancestors!  And the person who is #52 has a surname which is new to the blog:  Pert.  Helen Pert is my great great grandmother.  She was born on December 26th in Ferryden, Angus and was baptised three days later.  Her parents were Thomas Pert and Isobell Coull and I know of one sibling - Robert - but there's quite likely more to be found.

When she was 24 Helen married fisherman John West on July 10th 1847 in Ferryden and they lived their lives there living the traditional way of a Ferryden fishing family.  They seemed to move around a bit within the village:   Rossie Terrace, Beacon Terrace, King Street.  

Helen and John had five children.

Helen died of old age on November 26th 1898 in Brechin - at the home of her daughter Robina.  She was 75.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

52 Ancestors Week 51: Robert Christie

Robert Christie was my maternal grandfather's brother - so my grand uncle.  He was born on Christmas Day in 1860 to the Turriff farming family of Adam Christie and isabella Donald.  He was the fourth of their eleven children.  He was born at Gask Farm.

Robert married Mary Pratt, the daughter of farm labourers, at the Session House in Fyvie, Aberdeenshire on the 14th of August in 1880.  He was 19.  Mary was 23.  The couple produced seven children over the next 15 years.

Robert remained a farm labourer for a number of years and then by 1895 was employed as a carter by Messrs S. & W. Christie, slaters of Dyce.  During this period he was involved in a serious accident which was reported in the Aberdeen Journal in August 1895.  Robert was carting wood and while the horse and lorry were proceeding down a steep, narrow road the drag slipped out below the wheel of the lorry.  Robert ran to the mare's head, as the lorry with its load, weighing about a ton, was rapidly pushing the horse down the brae.  The horse, however, trampled on his feet, tearing his right boot to pieces and causing him to fall to the ground.  The wheels of the lorry then passed over him, breaking ribs and injuring both his feet, the right one severely.

By the time of the 1911 census Robert is living in Allanvale Cottage on Gordon Terrace in Dyce and he is a creosoter in the railway industry.

His wife, Mary, died in 1928.  Robert lives a few more years.  He died of carcinoma coli on February 27th 1936 in Allanvale Cottage.

Grand Uncle Robert at Allanvale Cottage

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

52 Ancestors Week 50: Elspet Donald

Elspet Donald was born into the farming family of George Donald and Ann Matthew.  She was the older sister of my great grandmother, Isabella Donald, hence she was my great grand aunt.  She was born on March 1st 1833 in Monquhittter, Aberdeenshire.

The censuses of 1841 and 1851 have Elspet at home with the growing Donald family.   In 1841 they're at Graystone, and in 1851 she is 18 and is employed at home at Fintray.  Both places are in the Parish of Monquhitter in Aberdeenshire.

At the time of the 1861 census she is 28 years old and is a servant at Quarryhill, the home of her uncle, Peter Matthew.  She had probably lived there for some time as in 1857 she gave birth at Quarryhill to a daughter, Mary Ann Walker.  Elspet was not married to Mary Ann's father - and never did marry him.  Mary Ann seems to have lived with her grandparents.

But Elspet did get married - at age 32.  She married William Finnie, a 29 year-old farm servant on June 16th 1866 in Turriff.  The couple had four sons.  Their second child died at age 2 of diptheria.  The family lived for a while in Banffshire but mostly they were in the parish of Monquhitter in Aberdeenshire.  They ended up at Scotsbrae sometime between the 1881 and 1891 census.

In the 1911 census, which was just a year before the death of her husband, Elspet declared that she had been married 46 years and had four children of whom two were still living.  These of course were the children of her marriage with William.  Her first born, her only daughter, Mary Ann, gets no mention.

Elspet died at Scotsbrae on February 16th 1920.  She was 87 and the cause of death was stated as senile decay and heart failure.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

52 Ancestors Week 49: Alexander Matthew

My third great grandfather, Alexander Matthew, was born on March 25th 1779 at Skillimarno in the northern end of the parish of Old Deer in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.  He was a son of crofters, Peter Matthew and Barbara Bruce.

And it was in the parish of New Deer that Alexander married Mary Byres on March 31st 1801.  If you read last week's My Ain Folk, you may remember that I wrote about Alexander and Mary's daughter, Ann, who was my great great grandmother.  At that time I could only identify one sibling for Ann.  What a difference a week makes!  I now have a family of four for Alexander and Mary.  I suspect more will surface.  So apart from GGGrandmother Ann, Alexander and Mary also had Sarah, Isabel and Peter.

By the time of the first census in 1841, when we can discover where the family was living, the kids were pretty well grown.  But in 1841 Alexander is living in Monquhitter the neighbouring parish from Old Deer.  Then by 1844 we can place him in Quarryhill in the parish of Turriff through a newspaper article about his son Peter doing rather well in a ploughing match.  In the 1851 census Alexander is described as a farmer of 70 acres there.  Quarryhill remained in the family for many years the tenancy being passed on to son Peter.

Alexander died of "general decay" in Quarryhill on November 9th 1857.  He was 77.  He was buried in the churchyard of Monquhitter.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

52 Ancestors Week 48: Ann Matthew

This week, a surname as yet to be written about:  Matthew.  My great great grandmother was Ann Matthew.  She was born in 1806 in Monquhitter, Aberdeenshire into the farming family of Alexander Matthew and Mary Byres.  I can at this point only identify one sibling - a brother born a dozen years later.

On the 6th of October 1828, 22 year old Ann married George Donald, a mason, and many children were born of this union - 11 for sure, maybe more.  And over time a number of grandchildren joined the family unit - children born to her unmarried or yet-to-be married daughters.

The family lived in various crofts: Graystone, Fintry and Woodside, all in the parish of Monquhitter.  Then by the 1871 census they were at Lambtech, a place which remained in the family for many years, well into the next century, by members of the Donald family.

Ann died on January 7th 1882 at Lambtech.  She was 76.  The cause of death was given as "softening of the brain".

Lambtech Farm in the hollow

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

52 Ancestors Week 47: John Alexander West

This week we have John Alexander West.  He is my grand uncle.

John was born on November 9th 1885 in Ferryden.  He was the fifth child of seaman Alexander West and his wife Jemima Coull.  My maternal grandmother, Betsy, was their first born.

His mother Jemima died eight months after John's birth.  The family continued to live together without a mum at 23 Southesk Place in Ferryden but by the time of the 1901 census, 15 year-old John was living with his widowed maternal grandmother next door, at 25 Southesk Place.  He was at that time a millworker in a linen factory in neighbouring Montrose.

During the first world war John was a lance corporal with the 14th division of the Scottish Rifles.  He received special mention for his services in attending the wounded.

At the time of his marriage in 1917 he was not only connected with the Scottish Rifles, he was also an attendant at the Haddington District Lunatic Asylum - Haddington being in the county of East Lothian.  It was there that he met his wife-to-be. Euphemia Stewart McBean.  Euphemia was the daughter of a police constable and in 1917 she was a live-in employee of the Asylum as a mental nurse.  John and Euphemia were married in the asylum on August 20th 1917.  He was 31 and she was 28.

John and Euphemia had three children rather spaced out.  The eldest, Victor, was born in 1921 followed eight years later by Robert and then in 1935 a daughter, Winifred, was born.  The family lived at 30 MacDonald Crescent in Rattray, Perthshire.  Rattray became a twin burgh with Blairgowrie (Blairgowrie and Rattray - known now just as Blair) in 1928.

John became an commercial traveller / insurance agent.  He was well-known in agricultural circles working for 10 years for the Strathmore Manure Works of Blairgowrie.  He was also a freemason and a member of the Blairgowrie Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star.

John was active in the Hill Church in Rattray and Blairgowrie being the secretary and treasurer for the Sunday School.  He was there on the evening of December 20th 1939 helping to decorate the church hall for the annual Sunday School Christmas party the following day.  He didn't make it to the party as he took ill that morning.  In his absence his wife was presnted with a fountain pen which was a gift in recognition of his services to the sunday school.

During the night John died in his sleep. He was 54.  The cause of his death was determined to be coronary thrombosis.

Sadly, his older son, Victor, arrived home for his Christmas leave from the RAF a few hours too late to see his father alive.  A sad homecoming.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

52 Ancestors Week 46: George Donald

George Donald was my great great grandfather and the matter of his birth in 1802 has given rise to a mystery than I'm unsure I'll be able to solve.  He was born to Alexander Donald, a mason, and Jean McIntyre of Monquhitter, Aberdeenshire.  Alexander and Jean had seven children with George being the second born.  All but one (James) of these children were handwritten into a register under the heading "All Donald Children" and identified as being born and baptized in the Parish of Monquhitter.  Fairly straight forward.  But George, in all the censuses he was alive for (1841 - 1881) declared his place of birth as Ireland.  In three of them it was just "Ireland".  In 1861 it was "DonegalIreland" and in 1881 it became "DublinIreland .  Once or twice it could be considered an error in transcription by the census taker - or maybe even George trying to be funny - maybe he didn't like having to give any information to the census taker or.....

But apart from these references in the censuses it would seem that George lived his whole life in the small Aberdeenshire parish of Monquhitter.  But he did move around to different settlements:  Graystone in 1841, Fintray in 1851, Woodside in 1861.  Then he seems to have settled in Lambtech where we find him in 1871 and 1881 and at the time of his death 1883.  And then Lambtech (which means House on a Hill) continued to be home for his unmarried son Joseph and various other family members up until at least the 1911 census.

George continued in his father's footsteps as a mason and he also farmed.  He married Ann Matthew on October 6th 1828.  He was at that time living in Garmond - another settlement in Monquhitter.

George and Ann had eleven children and had, over the years, various grandchildren living with them - babies born of their unmarried or yet-to-be-married daughters.  Their daughter Isabella lived with them until she married Adam Christie in 1855.  Isabella and Adam became the parents of my mother's father.

George was widowed in January 1882 and himself died in Lambtech on July 24 1883 of senile debility.  He was 80 years old.  And if the place of his birth is a mystery then the place of his death is not.  I have it in stone.  But unfortunately the year of his death on the gravestone is not the same as the one on his death certificate.  Oh well.