Tag Archives: Ayrshire

The Begg paternal line…such as it is: Part I

I spent a good chunk of this past weekend on ScotlandsPeople, downloading birth, marriage, death, and census records. In particular, I was researching my mother-in-law’s paternal line–the Begg family. However, it’s not Begg for long.

Her grandfather, Samuel Begg, was born on 28 Jun 1878 in Muirkirk, Ayrshire, Scotland. His birth register only lists the name of his mother, Annie Stevenson Begg, and it clearly states that he is “illegitimate”. Annie would have been about 17 at the time of his birth, and was working as a domestic servant. But with no father listed, how can I track his paternal ancestry? Fortunately for me, a note in the margin gives a pretty direct hint at his father’s identity:

Paternity of child found by Dec. of Court. See Reg . of Cor. Entrs. Vol. 1 P 71. 2nd April 1879

Page 71 of the “Register of Corrected Entries for the parish of Muirkirk in the County of Ayr” says:

In the Fourth Column of Entry No 127 in the Register Book of Births for the year 1878, before the name of the child’s mother, insert Samuel Hall   Engineman, …to the following effect:

In an action relating to the paternity of a child named Samuel Begg born 28th June 1878, at the instance of Annie Stevenson Begg, Kames Row, Muirkirk, against Samuel Hall, Engineman, New Terrace, Muirkirk, the Sheriff Court of Ayrshire on the 29th da 7th day of January 1879, found that the said child was the illegitimate child of the parties aforesaid.

I don’t know the exact details of how it would have worked, but Annie apparently sued for child support or, at the very least, to have the father’s name recorded, and the court agreed that Samuel Hall was Samuel Begg’s biological father.

So the documentation makes it clear that Samuel Begg’s parents were Samuel Hall and Annie Stevenson Begg. Unfortunately, Samuel Hall died barely two years later on 18 Dec 1880 at age 23, of “phthisis”, better known today at tuberculosis. He was listed as single in the register of deaths, and had no other children that I know of, so matching DNA with his descendants is out of the question. His death register, however, confirms that he lived at 34 New Terrace, and lists his parents as Alexander Hall and Mary Scott. It was signed by his father, so I can be fairly certain that the information about his parents is correct. So I started researching Alexander Hall.

(An interesting side note: the registrar of Muirkirk who recorded Samuel’s death was named John Begg. I wonder what relation he might have been to Annie.)

My preferred method of researching the parents of a known individual is to track them forward in time through census records until they are no longer found, then search for death records after the last census year where I found them. The death record should hopefully give information about where and when the person was born, as well as the names of his/her parents. This information helps in tracking them back in time in census and other records from the family where they are listed as parents to the families where they are listed as children.

Tracing forward from Samuel’s death in 1880, the family is found in the 1881 census living at New Terrace in Muirkirk with two children: Alexander (17) and Margaret (13). The 1891 census has similar information, except that the two children are about ten years older, listed as 26 and 21 respectively, and their address is now 34 Railway Terrace #2. In the 1901 census, Mary Hall is living with her son, Alexander, in the same house at 34 Railway Terrace #2. Neither Alexander (the father) nor Mary appears in any census records after 1901. Their birth places in the census records vary: Alexander is listed as having been born Ayr, Newton, or Newton on Ayr; and Mary as being born in Monkton, Prestwick, or Newton.

As I mentioned, tracking the family forward in time gives me a sense of when Alexander and Mary may have died. Since Mary appears in the 1901 census without her husband, who was with her in the 1891 census, I can assume that he must have died sometime between 1891 and 1901. Sure enough, a search of death registers at ScotlandPeople turns up the death of an Alexander Hall on 11 Jan 1893. But how do I know that this is the right Alexander Hall? Three clues that match other evidence I’ve already found in the census records:

  1. the death register says he is “married to Mary Scott”, which matches the information found on their son’s death register and the census records;
  2. the death register is signed by “Alexander Hall, son”. From the census records before and after this death, I know they had a son named Alexander;
  3. most importantly, the death register says that he died at “34 New Terrace, Muirkirk”.

One glaring discrepancy is apparent, though: the addresses of New Terrace and Railway Terrace. Because 34 New Terrace was the same address listed on Samuel’s death register, and the 1891 census has the family living at 34 Railway Terrace #2, I am assuming that New Terrace and Railway Terrace refer to the same location. This is supported by the fact that they lived at Railway Terrace in the 1891 and 1901 censuses, but New Terrace is the address listed in 1893 on the death register. Also, the David Jack family is listed as their next-door neighbors in the 1881 census (where no specific house numbers were listed–just “New Terrace”), and again in the 1891 and 1901 censuses, living at 35 Railway Terrace #2. Still, I’ll want to do a bit more research to determine that for sure.

But there are other important clues in the death register that will now help me in researching Alexander Hall moving back in time.: the names and occupations of his parents, listed in his death register as “James Hall, Fisherman, (Deceased)” and “Margaret Hall, M.S. More, (Deceased)”. Do I know for sure that these are Alexander’s parents’ names? No. All I know is that Alexander’s and Mary’s son gave that information to the registrar. They are important clues, but they will need to be verified by additional records that corroborate the information or provide the correct information.

And as I soon discovered, the trail to further information is full of forks and sudden curves.

Begg lines revisited: The joys of intermarriage

Yesterday, I was inspired by a comment left on a blog post about Samuel Begg. The post was written by my mother-in-law about her grandfather, and posted on my husband’s blog to share with the world. (This, by the way, is one of the reasons I enjoy blogging about my genealogy finds–hearing from distant cousins.) So, I decided to revisit the Begg lines and see if there was any new information out there.

Since that part of the family is from Scotland, I went back to ScotlandsPeople, a site I haven’t visited in a while–been concentrating on South Africa a lot lately. I didn’t have a lot of luck on Beggs themselves, but I hit a vein on the related McCrone line.

Elizabeth McCrone was the great-great grandmother of Samuel Begg, making her my great-great-great-great grandmother-in-law. Her daughter, Anne Stevenson, married James Begg around 1836, probably in Muirkirk, Ayrshire, Scotland (that’s a record I should look for). That’s just background…

I had already found Anne Stevenson Begg’s death record showing her parents as Thomas Stevenson and Elizabeth McCrone. Last night, I was able to find Elizabeth’s death record (27 Mar 1858 in Muirkirk), her marriage to Thomas Stevenson (27 Jun 1794 in Muirkirk), and her birth record (25 Mar 1778 in Muirkirk) which included the names of her parents, John McCrone and Mary Aird.

With those names, I did a search and was able to find the birth records of three more children of John and Mary Aird McCrone–a daughter, Christian (b. 11 Aug 1780 in Muirkirk), a son Hugh (b. 26 Jul 1794 in Muirkirk) and another son, John (b. 20 Apr 1797, d. 26 Nov 1797, both in Muirkirk). My instincts tell me that there must be more children between Christian and Hugh, as there is a 14 year difference in their ages. I’ll have to do more searching.

HERE’S WHERE THINGS GET INTERESTING…..and why I like doing research in Scotland….

Remember James Begg (Elizabeth McCrone’s son-in-law)? It turns out (and I already knew this) that he is the illegitimate son of one Adam Begg, Jr. and CHRISTIAN MCCRONE, born in Muirkirk on 4 June 1809. I don’t have any proof yet, but I highly suspect that his mother and his future mother-in-law were sisters…making his wife his cousin! This probably wasn’t totally unheard-of, though, so don’t freak out too much!

Better yet (and still no concrete connections) is what I found on Elizabeth brother’s birth register. Her brother, Hugh–his full name is Hugh BEGG McCrone. That would indicate that the McCrone family had a connection to the Begg family long before Elizabeth’s daughter married James Begg and her other daughter…well….”knew” Adam Begg (at least twice, incidentally…Adam and Christian had two illegitimate sons, James and Adam III (b. 20 Jun 1804 in Muirkirk) before Adam Jr. went off and married Sarah Broadfoot in 1818. (I have never found a marriage record for Adam Jr. and Christian McCrone, nor do I know what happened to Christian after her two sons were born.)

So, before this line gets any more entangled I think I need to unravel it before moving on to another line. Otherwise, I’ll never figure it out when I come back to it.

Margaret McDonald

I spent the day yesterday trying to track down my husband’s great-great grandmother. I know a lot about her, and have a solid family tree leading back to her. I also know a lot about the people that I think were her parents and siblings, and have started a family tree for them. My current concern is establishing a firm connection between the two trees.

Margaret McDonald was born in Inch, Wigtownshire, Scotland sometime between 1848 and 1854, specifically in the Village or Cairn, or Cairnryan. She married William Welsh on 1 Nov 1878 in Wallacetown in Ayr. Together they had eight children, one of which was my husband’s great grandmother, Margaret, better known in our family as Granny Mackie.

All this is well documented through census records, and birth, marriage and death registers. However, the mystery begins with the latter records. Margaret McDonald’s death register (dated 8 July 1931 in Lochrutton, Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland) says that her parents were Charles McDonald (who was a fisherman) and Margaret McDonald (maiden name McDonald), and that she was married to William Welsh. Her marriage register to William Welsh, however, says that her parents were Thomas McDonald (who was a fisherman) and Margaret McDonald (maiden name Adair). I have been unable to find a birth record for her.

After searching census records for a couple with both names, I found that there was a Charles McDonald married to a Margaret Adair who just happened to live in the Village of Cairn in Inch, Wigtownshire between 1848 (when they were married) and 1874 (when Charles died). Charles’ occupation was also listed as “fisherman” for the last two censuses of his life. Finally, the 1851 Scotland Census shows that this couple had a daughter named Margaret who was two-years-old at the time.

Putting all this together, I determined that this two-year-old Margaret McDonald had to be the same person. Unfortunately, though, I have been unable to find ANYTHING else that would connect her to this family. She is not listed with the family in any other census and was presumably working as a domestic servant (as some of her presumed brothers and sisters were doing at that young age). I have traced this family from the 1851 to the 1901 censuses, and have found birth registrations for all the children listed in the censuses (and have even found one son that is not listed with the family in any census). Of course, the only child that I have been unable to find a birth registration for is Margaret. In fact, I have been unable to find a birth registration for ANY Margaret McDonald that could remotely be the same person.

So, yesterday was spent finding records for her presumed brothers and sisters to see if I could find any connections to Margaret. I did find one marriage record that listed Margaret McDonald as a witness. However, the bride’s mother (and Margaret’s, for that matter) was also named Margaret McDonald, so I can’t say for sure if the witness was her sister, Margaret, or her mother, Margaret.

So, right now the whole connection is pretty circumstantial, and based on very little evidence. But since there is a lack of other possibilities, I’m pretty confident that Margaret McDonald is the daughter of Charles McDonald and Margaret Adair. Still, it would be nice to find something solid to confirm that.