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Ah.... those random relatives who pop up unexpectedly in census returns because they happened to be around the night of the census (hence my non-strangers in the night title......) They can break down brick walls, or they can build new ones ;-)

I've got a couple mysterious half brothers who pop up in mid-nineteenth century Scottish census returns who have lead me down several interesting research side trips. In a fun quirk, both stories eventually involve different women named Mary Brown.

Note: Not sure what I was thinking when I signed up for this week ~ no idea how I thought I'd fit this diary in:-( Today is the last day of my graduate school's first summer session (just turned in the major paper for one class; yippee!) and I'm hosting a DKos/Cheers & Jeers meet-up tomorrow {if you are anywhere near western Maine and would like to join us, see details in this comment}.  So I'm going with a repeat encore edition of a diary I did last summer. Hope some of you haven't seen it before ;-)

First mysterious half-brother:

Hendry McMun shows up as a half-brother in the household of William Keddie and his wife Mary Brown [Scottish women often kept their maiden names before about 1860], living at Ladhope Bank, Galashiels, on the 1851 census. Hendry is listed as aged 52, born in Lanark, and a Chelsea Pensioner.

Ladhope Bank now:

8 Ladhope bank site Keddie 1861 to 1899

William Keddie, born about 1801 in Peebles, is the son of Peter Keddie (1782-1864) and Margaret Donald (exact dates not known, but she evidently died before 1864, when Peter's death record listed him as a widower, and likely before 1841, when Peter, a tea merchant, was living with his son Peter and grandson Peter in Peebles at the time of the census). But Peter Keddie and Margaret Donald had children (including William about 1801) about the same time that Henry was born (1799/1800, to be 18 in May 1818, from his army enlistment papers), so I'm guessing Hendry doesn't fit in there.

Peebles Old Town Northside, where the three Peter Keddies were living in 1841:

Peebles Old Town north side Peter Keddie 1861 census

So I'm guessing that Henry was actually related to Mary Brown, as I've found much less on her (even the names I have for her parents -- George Brown and Janet Clark -- are in the best semi-educated guess category, rather than something well-documented), plus she's several years younger than William, leaving room for one of her parents to have had an earlier child with someone else.

One factor complicating the search is that these families seem to have affiliated with various seceding Presbyterian churches, which kept less good records than the established church -- and the records that do exist are much harder to track down, especially from a distance. For example, William Keddie was baptized by John Dalyell, the seceding minister at Earlston (witnesses were John Gorudleck, wright, and William Dutch, mason, both from Peebles), instead of a more local established church.

In my search for more details on Hendry, I found the summary of the Kew holdings for Chelsea pensioners that lists him as discharged with pension, aged 42 in 1842. (Kew National Archives WO 97/835/21). I ordered a copy of the record, which was fascinating reading:

Highlights of his record:
Enlisted in what looks like the 71st Highland Light Infantry/Regiment of Foot in 1818 at the age of 18. Says he's a weaver born in Barony (Glasgow).

He's assigned to the Stirlingshire Militia later in 1818, then rejoins the 71st from 1822 to 1828.

He deserted on 8 Nov. 1830 but it looks like he rejoined the same day. Gets a pay/service deduction and a couple months in prison for it. In 1837, he gets former service (and pay!) restored for good conduct by a secretary of war letter dated 15 July 1837. The letter mentions him and a Private George Gifford who deserted on the the same day.

Served 11 years 4 months in Canada (hospitalized in Lower Canada) and 2 years 10 months in Bermuda.

Discharge processed 14 June 1842 in Montreal, effective 13 Sept. 1842. It is prompted by several hospitalizations for fever and paralysis in St. Johns, Canada, in 1841 and 1842.

Barely legible pencil entry on the first page says Intends to reside at Peebles, Scotland, which is where I found him in the 1851 census.

I've looked in later censuses and haven't found him. Nor have I found a death record in Scotland; I'm guessing there's a high likelihood (especially given his health issues that were the reason for his army discharge) that he died between the 1851 census and the start of civil registration on January 1, 1855.

Based on the tentative outline of families for William Keddie and his wife Mary Brown, I can't figure out where Hendry could possibly fit in the family tree...... Three of the four parents for William Keddie and Mary Brown died before civil registration (although, as I said, the parents I currently have for Mary are guesstimates, since there are no parental names on her church marriage record or civil registration death certificate). The one -- Peter Keddie -- who was courteous enough to live past January 1, 1855 doesn't have other spouses listed on the death record.

Although, as my other mysterious half brother shows, there may not have been another spouse......

Second mysterious half-brother:

29 James St, St. Cuthbert's, Edinburgh, a Thomas Wilson, half brother, aged 16 b. Edinburgh, printer compositor, on the 1871 census living with William Paterson (b. abt 1837) and William's wife Isabella (birth name Jacobina Isabella Bain Ralston) and their children.

Tracing back, I find Thomas Paterson aged 6 in 1861, living at 13 Horse Wynd, Edinburgh, with his father William Paterson, a tailor b. about 1811/2, and Williams' older children Adam, Helen, and Isabella (William, the son I'm descended from, is a newlywed with an infant daughter a couple closes away).

1851 finds father William living at 2 Dunbar's close with children Charlotte, William, John, Isabella, Helen and Adam.

Dunbar's Close:

Dunbars Close from Canongate burying ground

So my first guess was that William's first wife Charlotte died before the 1851 census, and that he married (maybe; there's no second wife listed on the death record......and the variation in Thomas's surname could lead to the conclusion that his parents didn't marry) again between that census (as there's no wife listed) and the mid-1850s, when Thomas was born. His second wife would have then died before the 1861 census, since she's not listed there. William, Thomas's likely father, died shortly later, in 1862.

I was so hoping that Thomas was born in 1855 (that would have been too that is the amazing first year of civil registration and its detailed records) but I haven't found a birth record for him. I also looked for a death record for his mother* (using the maiden/married name feature at Scotlandspeople, hoping find a second wife for the older William) but haven't found one for her or for Thomas. I also hadn't found found a definitive Thomas in later census returns, either.......

* Just women named Paterson dying in Edinburgh from 1855 to 1861 provides lots of choices, too many for me to skim using SP, while adding Wilson as an alternate surname narrows it down too much, to women in their 70s and 80s.....

So, I turned to the very helpful people at the TalkingScot forum, and with their assistance, we find Thomas in 1881:

8 Murdieston St
West Greenock, Renfrew, Scotland
Marr    Age    Sex    Birthplace
Thomas WILSON    M 25 M    Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland
Rel:    Head Occ:    Carpenter
Jessie WILSON    M 21 F    Eddleston, Peeble, Scotland
Rel:    Wife
William F. WILSON     2 M    Greenock, Renfrew, Scotland
Rel:    Son
John WILSON     6 m    M    Greenock, Renfrew, Scotland
Rel:    Son
Jean's thought for how she found him:
Before you say....but how did you find him in Greenock as a carpenter???? first I doubted seriously this was the right guy...but I persisted and searched on Ancestry in 1891 for a Thomas Wilson with occupation of "printer" in a reasonable age range anywhere....and you know there was only one and he was with a family and wife in St. Rollox but was listed as born Edinburgh and was a printer compositor....soooooo.....I quickly examined the ages of the kiddies and selected one young chap born approx 1880-1881 in Greenock and went looking for a BC...and 4 came up and I got lucky and chose right the first the parents names were good and the father was a quickly taking the parents date of marriage and mom's maiden name I plugged these in to a marriage search on SP and there is only one and bingo....he looks good with a father named William Wilson, tailor, deceased and I'll let you find the mums name for yourself. Marriage is in 1877. So all in all I'd say the carpenter occupation was a mistake on someones part as shown on the 1881 census above!!!
Then she worries:
You know....... after firing this one off as I was leaving the office last night I didn't give it a second thought....but then at some point during the night it popped up and I started running it through my head and then had to get out of bed and read it again  .....Wow I thought to myself....I really blew that one!!! His father wasn't William was spose to be William Patterson!!! Crikey I've been here going back and forth and recreating and comparing notes and whew....thankfully.....I still think it's your mysterious Thomas's marriage!!! Compare the address of William Paterson and family in 1851 census to the one on Thomas's MC....
My response:
So here's how I expect the conversation at the marriage registration went:
Registrar: Groom, what is your name?
Him: Thomas Wilson.
Registrar writes Thomas Wilson.
Registrar: Groom, what is your father's name and occupation?
Him: William; he was a tailor.
Registrar writes William Wilson, tailor..

His marriage shows his mother as Mary Wilson m.s. Brown. Yup, Mary Brown turns up again ;-)

Thomas neglects to say that his daddy was actually named William Paterson and the registrar doesn't ask, neither of them realizing that 130 years later a couple-greats-grandniece will be looking for Thomas, trying to figure out how he fits among her relatives.

Runs in the family; the half brother William I descend from managed to immigrate to the US with wife Isabella and all the kids except my great-grandma -- and leave no trace of that immigration in family legend, despite the fact that great-great-grandma Isabella survived late enough to see my grandfather, the son of the one daughter who stayed in Scotland, arrive in the US and live in the same town for several years.........Another of Thomas's half brothers managed to supposedly have a couple kids with his wife several years after he last saw his wife, based on the various declarations on birth certificates of said children........)

So I'm guessing that the reason that Thomas settles on Wilson rather than Paterson is that his parents never married...... At least I'll go by that theory until I find evidence otherwise.

Am I the only one who has ever wished for ancestors or other collateral relatives named Cornelia MacHumplethwaite?

Do you have a line that brickwalls at a Mary Brown?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip microfilm box...... (16+ / 0-)

    On the maternal side of the family, I have lines that brickwall at a Mary Brown and an Anna Brown..... but no dead-end Smiths on either side ;-)

    I'll be in and out of the comments over the course of the afternoon, as I finish the final for my other class and get some food ready for tomorrow's meet-up ;-)

    The worst sin - perhaps the only sin - passion can commit, is to be joyless. (Gaudy Night, Dorothy L. Sayers)

    by mayim on Fri Jul 06, 2012 at 06:47:14 AM PDT

  •  oh have fun (8+ / 0-)

    and enjoy your weekend

    It is better to light one small candle than to curse the darkness.

    by raina on Fri Jul 06, 2012 at 09:11:08 AM PDT

  •  Can't think of any Browns right off, but... (7+ / 0-)

    ...I do have people from Lanarkshire...

    Nice post, mayim. Thanks so much!

    There are, in every age, new errors to be rectified, and new prejudices to be opposed. ~Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

    by slksfca on Fri Jul 06, 2012 at 09:35:03 AM PDT

  •  I have Browns (7+ / 0-)

    as well as Whites and Wilsons.  Go me.

  •  thanks for the diary Mayim ... (7+ / 0-)

    sounds like a chaotic schedule, which is mindboggling during all this heat!

    Good reminders to check for collections of first names/occupations on the census, and not to ignore the mystery people, and that "servants" are sometimes cousins or nephews-in-law. :) As irritated as I get at old-time census takers, I cut them slack in some of the more complicated households.

    A pilgrim wedding would be fun to see -- I've participated in period weddings in my former living history days. It's always a lot of fun to engage site visitors in a slice of life like that.

    "If you are sure you understand everything that is going on around you, you are hopelessly confused." Walter Mondale

    by klompendanser on Fri Jul 06, 2012 at 09:45:28 AM PDT

    •  Not that warm here.... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jim H, NonnyO

      About 80 or so at the cottage, and a bit less right by the lake.

      Census returns can often be milked for more information.....

      The worst sin - perhaps the only sin - passion can commit, is to be joyless. (Gaudy Night, Dorothy L. Sayers)

      by mayim on Fri Jul 06, 2012 at 12:42:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I've worked on a tree for a friend who (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jim H, Aunt Pat, klompendanser, mayim, NonnyO

    had ancestors from Lanark, but no Browns.  Those ancestors were new arrivals, though, previously from faaaaaarrr northwest Scotland.

    I am currently working on updating the family history book on my husband's mother's side, the Judd family of North Carolina.  We will be attending the annual family reunion in August, this year in Myrtle Beach (yaaaay - Beach!).

    The Judd Family History Book is a fundraiser for the reunion, so I need to get the updating project in gear since the reunion is only 5 weeks away - and we still need to print and UPS out the books.

    Once at the reunion however, I plan on doing a lot less reunioning thing and a whole lot more of the beaching thing.

    •  family history book (0+ / 0-)

      I just got back from FedEx/Kinkos where I had them bind my first "book". Nothing especially creative on my part. Just a couple Google map printouts, 2 church records, the Schleswig records I recently received, and my aunt's 19-page memoir/family history that I retyped into Word (I had a xerox copy of a copy of an original that appears to have been created using an actual typewriter - remember those?) and added a photo, a few of my own notes interspersed here and there and some formatting. This will be his birthday present next week.

      I don't know if my Dad ever saw the history that his sister wrote (I just got it from her granddaughter). His sister died almost 30 years ago. So I wanted to include it along with something that showed where his paternal ancestor came from in Germany.

      So while it wasn't a big publishing project - it was thrilling nonetheless. Makes me excited to get to a point where I feel I can write up a more rounded out (I hesitate to use the word "complete") history book like you're doing.

  •  Volunteer to host our Friday GFHC Open Thread? (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jim H, Aunt Pat, klompendanser, mayim, hayden

    Don't let the summer go by without it.  It's easy! You can do it from the beach, you can do it from the park, you can do it from in a box, you can do it with a fox, or from a house, or with a mouse, A train! A train! A train! A train!  You can do it on a train!

    July 13   raina
    July 20   hayden
    July 27   larmos
    Aug 3    Ole Texan
    Aug 10  open for adoption
    Aug 17  open for adoption
    Aug 24  open for adoption

    Would you like to try it, Sam-I-am?


  •  I have a couple of nuts (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mayim, Jim H, blueoasis, NonnyO

    ... I've not been able to crack.  One's a Scotsman called Hamilton Steele b. mebbe 1800 or so; a portrait got handed down to my mom, but I have yet to fit him in the tree.  I found one, in Scotland, who I wish would fit, but it just does not work!

    Another's a Ryan, early on, before most Irish immigration.  Fought in the Revolution - I found him through a Sons of the American Revolution application.

    There's plenty more, actually, but those two pop to mind.  One of these days, I'm going to have to get to work on the Scottish part of the family.  Some of the most recent immigrants.

    Grab all the joy you can. (exmearden 8/10/09)

    by Land of Enchantment on Fri Jul 06, 2012 at 01:03:17 PM PDT

    •  Scotland tends to be fairly easy to research... (4+ / 0-)

      especially from 1855 on, when civil registration started....

      If you do start researching Scottish lines, the TalkingScot forums are a must visit ;-)

      The worst sin - perhaps the only sin - passion can commit, is to be joyless. (Gaudy Night, Dorothy L. Sayers)

      by mayim on Fri Jul 06, 2012 at 01:25:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Too bad (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        hayden, marykk, Jim H

        ... that my Scottish ancestors were all in the US by the mid-1850s, so that doesn't offer me much inspiration.  One of these days, though, I'll go after it.  There's so much of the early English in New England that one could stay with that for a long time.  

        There's some handed-down papers that talk about the Scottish ancestry, but they're anecdotal, with a lot left out, so I've not worked that into the tree either.

        There's a great story about a young fella, name escapes me just now, from northern England.  In one of the many wars and skirmishes along the Borderlands, perhaps this in the 1200s, he was injured.  His finery noted, he was collected and taken to a Laird's place in hopes of collecting a ransom on him.  The Laird, McLurg, had no son.  His daughter helped nurse the patient back to health and they fell in love.  He eventually became the Laird of the place.

        Sounds like a subplot for Game of Thrones or some such.

        Grab all the joy you can. (exmearden 8/10/09)

        by Land of Enchantment on Fri Jul 06, 2012 at 04:55:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I have Smiths (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jim H, edwardssl

    collaterally by marriage.  It was fun to find them in Boston, and to learn that instead of Spanish, as everyone had thought, they were from Portugal.  Still can't confirm the name in the old county, although there's a rumor that it was de Linares.

    I have a few surprise rellies of my own, though.  Always thought it was strange that my GF (born Chicago, 1876 to Irish immigrants) was one of only two.  I've been able to confirm now that he was one of at least five, one death in infancy, one probably of TB and then Aunt Annie, who appears to have died as a result of childbirth in 1903.  I found her in the census, and then she vanished.  When I found the graves of the GGPs, I discovered that she, and her infant son, who outlived her by about a month, were buried with them.  She died in Colorado and the baby died in Chicago.  There must be a very sad story indeed behind that, it appears her widower (or someone) must have tried to bring her remains home for burial and the baby died shortly after - or perhaps he tried to bring the baby home thinking that there would be someone who could feed him, in the pre-bottle and formula era.

    If you think you're too small to be effective, you've never been in the dark with a mosquito.

    by marykk on Sat Jul 07, 2012 at 12:41:24 PM PDT

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