Many Years Ago

Genealogy writings about my ancestors

Should they part me and whisky

Throughout the nineteenth century, the temperance movement presumed that alcohol rather than abject poverty was the primary cause of working class degradation and crime and believed elimination of the ‘demon drink’ would resolve social problems. This moralistic high-mindedness ignored the miserable reality of working class social conditions and the right of an individual to make their own choice. When the movement failed to bring about working class abstinence, they pushed for a reduction in licensed premises. This prohibition crusade conflicted with the “laissez-faire” politics of Obans ruling middle class. If not to further their own interests, the ruling middle class sanctioned ‘maximum freedom’ in the supply and consumption of alcohol.

Because of deplorable working class housing conditions, tiny cramped two roomed homes that accommodated large families, it was inevitable, the family’s social life spilled onto the streets and into public houses that provided warmth, space and comfort. Thus, the public house became an extension of the family home. Despite the temperance movements endeavours to provide alternate forms of socialisation, the working class remained hostile to change, although functions that catered for children were well attended.

This hostility stemmed from the fact that the land owning aristocracy who controlled the state’s public institutions dominated most aspects of working class lives, the only autonomy the working class had control over was ‘choice’ and that autonomy did not need to be dominated by middle-class do-gooders. Similarly, Obans’ ruling middle class, councillors and magistrates savoured their autonomy. They believed in freedom of choice, irrespective of whether it was the supply of or consumption of alcohol, so long as individuals acted responsibly and played by the rules.

This liberal approach benefited society, for instance, rather than rely on the Parish for Poor Law relief, widows supported themselves and dependents, selling alcohol from a room in their home. Cynics disagreed, the Oban Times printed ‘verily the ways of Oban’s Bailies are past understanding they punish drunkenness and then proceed to increase the facilities for getting drunk’. [1]

Theoretically, the magistrates steadfast refusal to reduce the number of working class public houses arose, in part, from the fact they did not want to be told what to do, in reality, the magistrates believed regulation of public houses would create a market monopoly that exacerbated poverty and not lessen drunkenness. Instead, Oban’s magistrates relied on laws and policing to control the working class ‘drink problem’.

Oban’s magistrates in conjunction with the constabulary regulated the sale and consumption of alcohol. They detested working class pubs conducted in a ‘disorderly manner’. This was the case in April 1879 when, Neil Macdougall, the proprietor of the Bridgend Tavern had his application for renewal of victualler’s licence rejected. However, Macdougall’s appeal was successful once his solicitor pointed out that: during 1878, only two out of the twenty-eight cases of breach of peace documented in the police log were associated with the Bridgend Tavern.

But, proprietors were powerless to control the inebriated working class after last drinks at 11pm when they spilled out onto the streets and continued their drunken squabbles in the public sphere.

JOHN SLAP MRS MACINTYREArguably, John Macdougall’s threat to “spilt up the head of the town’s bellman” was fuelled by more than ale and whiskey. In April 1879, Oban town council appointed Duncan Macphail as the new town crier or bellman. Perhaps John’s father Colin, a Burgh lamplighter, had been passed over for Macphail. Amongst the working class the position of town crier would have been perceived as upward social mobility, in these circumstances, it is understandable John felt his family’s reputation had been blighted.[2]

On the other hand, the threat against Macphail and the assault of Mrs Macintyre, also known as Margaret Buchan widow of slater John Macintyre and mother of John’s only son, might be related.

Nonetheless, Oban’s magistrates were determined to stamp out civil misdemeanours caused by alcohol and while ‘ruffians’ who provoked drunken brawls paid their dues, recidivists served a period of abstinence in Inveraray Jail.

Because Oban was a small town, the magistrates understood the local habits and personalities of people who appeared before them. Consequently, justice was dispensed, which kept the ‘ruffian’s in check and victuallers in business. More importantly, individuals had the freedom to choose whether to act responsibly.

[1] Oban Times, 25 October, 1879

[2] In August 1861 fishermen Duncan Macphail and Colin Macdougall, elected to spend fifteen days in Inveraray Jail rather than pay £5 for contravention of the Herring Fishing Act 1860.


The history of the SS Dunara Castle is as interesting as the many sites devoted to its history.  For seventy odd years, weather permitting, the SS Dunara Castle brought supplies as well as convey passengers to and from the outer Islands of the West Coast of Scotland .

The Old Style of celebrating New Year on the 12th January is also interesting, a custom that in January 1879 seemed to be losing favour and perhaps was not observed by every village or town in Argyleshire.

Excerpts from the Oban Times, Saturday 4th January:

Ballachulish:  Collain – Hogmanay night was observed in the villages of Ballachulish, Tayfuirst, Carnoch, Glencoe and Lettermore hamlets in the usual way. Dry day.  Camanachd play.

Lochgilphead – The first day of the year was welcomed in all over this district with the usual amount of first-footing by the young lads of the community.

Inveraray – The usual holiday amusements and gratulations were indulged in, the more notable being – first footing, shinty, dancing, &c.

AND the festivities in Oban were of a very mild kind which, however, is not unusual in this quarter.  Wednesday was fine and people indulged in outdoor walking for its’ own sake and to visit friends; further down the column, a mention of drunkenness and a commendation for publicans – “a noteworthy fact is the early closing of public houses, for which act of self-denial they merit thanks”.

11 JAN 1879 Ardnamurchan to Celebrate NY 12th JanOn Saturday the 11th January – Cheery Greetings were received from a writer in Ardnamurchan;  Season &c., – Happy new year to all the readers of the Times:

In Ardnamurchan we have not yet come to our New Year (12th) and so we are unable to give you our greetings so enthusiastically as we would wish, but we keep up our cheer in the hope that our day is coming.  We have had some three weeks of keen frost and a covering of snow, but last Saturday week thawing set in, much to the delight of man and beast.

Registration – We are happy to say that our registrar is kept busy with the discharging of marriage preliminaries; but, on the other hand, sad to say, death registrations are unusually frequent, while births are by no means numerous.

A week later, Saturday 18th January:

Islay: Old New Year’s Day – On Monday last a number of people here kept the New Year holiday – each in his several way; some jolly and sprightly, others sombre and demure; all apparently anxious for the welfare and happiness of each other.

Duror – Shinty Match – On Old New Year’s Day (13th) between the Duror and Kintallen people, 18 a side.  Upon the whole, the old style passed over as usual.  A feeling is gaining strength that the new style should in future be held in this district.

IONA DUNARA CANT LAND SUPPLIES FOR NEW YEARIona – We have had very severe weather for the past few days.  Severe snowstorm Tuesday night.

Old and New Styles:  The first of January was held as New Year holiday here for the first time, by nearly half of the inhabitants.

A good deal was said both for and against.  It was apparent that a majority were in favour of the new style, but objections were urged against the untimely notice of only one day to consider and make the necessary arrangements and that a time honoured custom ought not to be so slightly departed from on so trivial a notice.

How people who are proverbial for their attachment to old established customs assented to do so, almost in a moment, is difficult to understand.

One reason given, perhaps characteristic of Highlandmen, was that the principle element conductive of Highland felicity at New Year was still on board the Dunara Castle and if the next day was stormy (which was the case) no liquor could be landed.

It is customary not to order the New Year beverages until the end of the year, for it sometimes happens, even in well-meaning families that the best Islay will disappear in hot haste.

Our absent friends will no doubt be glad to hear that the New Year was held again on the 12th, as usual by the other half; but the Dunara Castle passed again in the midst of the storm unable to land the needful, but may probably do so on Friday.

Written on the 17th and published the 25th January, H.A.B. of Tobermory wrote – ”PS – I am glad to find that a large proportion of the inhabitants of Iona have led the way in giving up the observance of old style.  I hope all other islands will follow and, that when 1880 comes, no Highlander will be found lagging twelve days behind the rest of the kingdom”.

Whether cousin John McKinnon son of Catherine McTavish and her husband, Morven born seaman, Alexander McKinnon was on board the SS Dunara Castle during Christmas/ New Year 1878-79 is unknown.  What a nuisance from a research point of view that If the vessel is trading exclusively between Scottish Ports the law does not require the Master to keep an Official Log at all.

The Census taken on 3 April 1881, while the SS Dunara Castle was docked at Tarbert, Harris, records him as age 25, born Oban and Ship’s Cook.

The crew of the SS Dunara Castle were lucky, reports of wrecks and drowning during this stormy season were usual.

Saturday 11 January 1879

  • Stornoway: Communication with Harris again interrupted; heavy fall on mainland; Ondine did not arrive Friday.
  • Mull: Salen – Severe storm from the south-east with keen frost, not experienced for several years; “Clansman” from the north unable to call at pier last Tuesday.

Saturday 18 January 1879

  • Islay: Lloyds telegram states the schooner Witton of Stralsund, Germany, F H Boortman, master bound from Larne to Liverpool in ballast was wrecked on the Stremnist, near Mull of Oa, Islay at about 10pm on the 7th inst.  The master, his wife and the ship’s cook, Fritz Garbash drowned.  Remaining 4 persons saved.
  • Islay: “Nations of Glasgow“.  Accidental drowning Lachlan Kennedy on the 4th inst. off the Mull of Oa, overboard.  Master John Kennedy of Bowmore (father).  A brother also on board.  Both unable to render assistance.
  • Ardrishaig:  Crinan Canal frozen.  No traffic.”Struggler” lies panting at Auchindarroch.  “Plover” icebound at Miller’s bridge.

1879 – News from Oban

The Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages, Kilmore & Kilbride published his quarterly report for the period ending 31st December, 1878 in the Oban Times on Saturday 4th January 1879.

Births:        30      Oct (9)        Nov (10)     Dec (11)      avg.   two illegitimate

Marriages:  12      Oct (3)        Nov (2)       Dec (7)        above avg.

Deaths:       37      Oct (7)        Nov (13)     Dec (17)      above avg.

The Oban Times, Saturday 4 January 1879 at page 5
The Oban Times, Saturday 4 January 1879 at page 5

102 deaths occurred during the year, the largest number ever recorded in Kilmore & Kilbride.  Presuming the population to be 4,000 the death rate has been 25.50% per 1,000 – which is high for this District.  Eight of the deceased were above 70 years and 12 under 5 years.  The quarter was excessively cold; pulmonary complaints prevalent; whooping cough for some time.

Members of  Mary McFadyen and Peter McIntyre’s family were part these statistics.

During the month of November, 12 year old Peter McIntyre, son of deceased slater, John McIntyre and Margaret Buchanan passed away in his Shore Street home on the 13th.

R B McKelvie, MD, Oban certified the cause of death, dropsy for 2 months and hetic fever 14 days.

On a happier note, in December, 30 year old fisherman, Archibald McIntyre married married Janet McLean, a 27 year old domestic servant.  Cousin Malcolm McFadyen, one of the witnesses.  The ceremony took place at 25 High Street in accordance with the forms of the United Presbyterian Church.

“Excessively cold weather” reports on page 4 of the Oban Times, covering the period between Christmas, New Year:

OBAN – THE THAW – Between Saturday and Sunday the long continued frost gave way and a rapid thaw set in.  On Sunday the ground was one sheet of ice, which rendered locomotion rather perilous but by Monday most of the ice had disappeared.  The hills of Mull and Morven still retain their wintry covering down to their very base.

SNOW – The thaw came to an abrupt close on Tuesday night and the New Year came in with frost and a slight fall of snow.  Yesterday was bitterly cold, with every indication of a snow storm. 

LOCHALSH – Severe Weather – Writing on Monday a correspondent says: – Sheep farms in Lochalsh have seldom experienced so terrible a winter as the present has been thus far; their stocks have been suffering great privations, owing to the deep snow and severe frost which have lasted now over three weeks.

In the low ground the hoggs cannot get at the turnips and on the hills even rushes and heather are buried from sight.  On some farms too, the heather has been so severely burnt that even were the snowfall less, the sheep would be very badly off.  At present sheep and cattle alike are being fed with hay and straw and all hands are pressed into this service along the west coast.

CAMPBELLTOWN – Severity of the Season – The severe weather in this quarter is proving fatal to a large number of the feathery tribe which are frequently found dead on the ground.  A flock of several score of wild geese to be seen in the neighbourhood of Dhurrie Loch and other game birds are to be found far from their usual haunts in quest of food.

STORNOWAY – Weather – During the last three days there was a keen thaw, with heavy showers of rain, most of the snow disappeared.  On Tuesday and Wednesday nights, the wind changed to the north, with keen frost snow has fallen again.  Owing to the heavy sea, the steamer Ondine was unable to cross with the mails.


From “Heavy the Beat of the Weary Waves” – an Old Dirge from the Isle of Mull

Robert McTavish born 23rd September 1859 at Oban, the fifth child, second son of Duncan McTavish a fisherman and first child of Elizabeth McFadyen, the daughter of a fisherman left a scant paper trail during his brief life.

Finishing school during his early teens, employment would be found on the many fishing or cargo vessels operating out of Oban as the following article from the Oban Times, June 1879 discloses, in a not too favourable light.

The Oban Times, 28 June 1879
The Oban Times, 28 June 1879

JP Court – Yesterday before A Brown Esq. and Bailie Menzies, John McFadyen and Robert McTavish hands on board the smack “Isabella” of Oban were charged with stealing several gallons of porter from a cask while on the voyage from Oban to Kinlochspelve, Mull.  After hearing evidence the charge was dismissed as not proven.

Possibly, Robert and his uncle, John McFadyen worked for the Cumstie family, merchants in Oban who ran cargo between the mainland and islands: a google of “smack Isabella” took me to e-bay.  For sale was an invoice from the Commissioners of the Burgh of Oban, Proprietors of the North Pier addressed to Mr W Cumstie for “dues to smack Isabella, Nov 1900 to Jan 1901”.

After residing in High Street, thirty plus years and wondering what prompted the McTavish family’s move to Shore Street (1881 census) an article in the Oban Times, 25 October 1879 explains – “There are a number of buildings in town in course of erection or nearly finished. High Street will soon be rebuilt and when the old houses have disappeared it will be one of the best streets in the town”.  Let’s hope it was spacious for all eleven: –

  • Duncan Sr. noted as formerly fisherman age 60 and wife Elizabeth 41;
  • Alexander fisherman 32, Elizabeth domestic servant 18 and fourteen year old Duncan who ran errands for a baker;
  • Robert 21 unemployed mariner;
  • Mary 8 and Catherine 5 attended school as did eight year old grandson Duncan McTavish;
  • Four year old pre-schooler Flora and baby Donald age 1.

The next Statutory Record for Robert, an entry in the Return of Deaths at Sea dated 22 February 1886.

On the 25th December 1885, Abel Seaman Robert McTavish 26 of Oban drowned abroad the Aigel official ship no. 86720 with 21 year old Hugh Kennedy a cook and engineer’s steward of Glasgow.  Whether both were swept overboard together or one dived in to save the other or two separate incidents occurred, we’ll never know.

Unsatisfied with the lack of detail on his death record I exhausted my amateur detective skills to discover where “abroad” was.

After a lot of searching for information on the Aigel, I believe the ship’s name was incorrectly transcribed.  Using a database set up to improve access to the records of merchant seafarers on registered British ships for the years 1861 to 1913, I restricted my search to the ship’s official number, getting a hit for the S.S. Nigel later renamed Juno.

Robert Steele & Co, Shipbuilders of great repute with an interesting history, opened its Cartsdyke West yard near Greenock in 1854 to produce iron-hulled screw steamers instead of wooden-hulled paddle steamships.  Orders were slow until the end of the decade when the company secured a contract with J & A Allan Line of Glasgow and Montreal to build a 2,000 ton screw steamer the “Canadian” a business relationship which continued for many years.3

s.s. NIGEL a cargo ship, tonnage 1384 grt; length 240.5ft and breadth 33.2ft built by Robert Steele & Company, Yard No 123 for G Hood of Glasgow was launched on 20th October 1882; sold in 1886 to Maclay & McIntyre, Glasgow; sold in 1890 to Bristol Steam Navigation Company; last name 1901 JUNO.   Status: Fatally Torpedoed in ballast by UB 18 on 2 May 1917, 17 miles E by S of Cape Barfleur, Rouen for Cardiff.
s.s. NIGEL a cargo ship, tonnage 1384 grt; length 240.5ft and breadth 33.2ft built by Robert Steele & Company, Yard No 123 for G Hood of Glasgow was launched on 20th October 1882.

The company also produced smaller screw steamers and in October 1882 delivered to George Hood & Co., Shipping Agents of Glasgow the S.S. Nigel.

George Hood & Co., operated steam packets from Liverpool to various destinations as illustrated in the Glasgow Post Office Directory 1882-83 at page 1043.

And still none the wiser, Robert could have worked on any of these routes.  Undeterred further searches took me to


Shipping Agents page 1043In 1886 George Hood & Co. sold, together with three other steamers, the SS Nigel to Maclay & McIntyre of Glasgow.

“Founded 1885, Glasgow by Joseph Maclay and Walter McIntyre with six small steamers to operate tramp services.  1886 – Established the Glasgow United Shipping Co.  By 1896 the company owned 33 ships, concentrating on the coal trade to Algoa Bay (a wide inlet along the South African east coast, 425 miles east of the Cape of Good Hope) and the ore trade from the Mediterranean.  Joseph Maclay retired in 1905 the business was then run by Walter McIntyre”.4

The SS Nigel was sold in 1890 to the Bristol Steam Navigation Company and in 1901 renamed Juno.  A search of the National Archives (UK) describes it as a continental trader.5

On 2 May 1917, the SS Juno was fatally torpedoed in the ballast by a U-Boat 17 miles East by South of Cape Barfleur, Rouen for Cardiff.

Although I haven’t solved the question of where “abroad” may be it was certainly an interesting exercise in locating maritime information.


Previous update by Stuart Cameron; Photo supplied by Internet source as JUNO; Additional data by Bruce Biddulph; Last updated by George Robinson from the original records by Stuart Cameron.

s.s. NIGEL a cargo ship, tonnage 1384 grt; length 240.5ft and breadth 33.2ft built by Robert Steele & Company, Yard No 123 for G Hood of Glasgow was launched on 20th October 1882; sold in 1886 to Maclay & McIntyre, Glasgow; sold in 1890 to Bristol Steam Navigation Company; last name 1901 JUNO.  Status: Fatally Torpedoed in ballast by UB 18 on 2 May 1917, 17 miles E by S of Cape Barfleur, Rouen for Cardiff.

Copyright (except where otherwise stated). Extracts from the database may be used so long as credit is given to this website with a full url published in printed material or embedded in your website, plus credit to the editor(s) who supplied the information. Unfortunately we are unable to deal with requests to research ships, any information found in the database is all the information we have to date or are able to supply.

3 Mark Howard’s paper “Robert Steele & Company: Shipbuilders of Glasgow” provides a history of the company from its humble beginnings in the 1700s through the period of growth and expansion until its liquidation in 1883 – an excellent read.  The link for downloading‎.


Steamers sold to Maclay & McIntyre: Ivanhoe GT 942; Nigel GT 1384; Peveril GT 731 and Rowena GT 1353

Searches for Crew Lists:  The National Archives (UK) Crew Lists for the Nigel/Juno 30182/553 no date:  Contents:  Years on Register 1889-1913.  Official No. 86720.  Description Screw Steamer, continental trader.  Crew Lists 1889-1913.  (Held by the Bristol Office)


Recently I found newspaper articles relating to the death of my husband’s second great grandfather John Baird, sadly the graphic detail more revealing than his death certificate and precognition.

The Northern Warder & Bi-Weekly Courier & Argus, 1st February 1876, page 6
The Northern Warder & Bi-Weekly Courier & Argus, 1st February 1876, page 6

Melancholy Case of Drowning at Montrose

On Saturday night, between six and seven o’clock, a most melancholy affair occurred, by which Mr John Baird, lighter master, was drowned.  The lighter had been moored alongside the schooner Vigilant and after that vessel had been ballasted, she was in the act of being towed down to the dockgates, Mr Baird alone remaining on board.

When nearing the gates it is supposed that she had given a lurch, and that the tiller had struck Mr Baird and thus swept him overboard into the seething ebb tide which was then approaching full force.  One agonising cry was heard from the unfortunate man, but no help was available and in a moment he disappeared and was lost.

The last paragraph reveals much about John’s person.

Mr Baird was well known throughout the town as an active, intelligent and obliging man and he has been cut off with appalling suddenness in the prime of his manhood, his age being only forty-two, leaving a widow and seven of a family to lament the loss of a good husband and a kind father”.

Brother Charles registered John’s death on the 1st February and twenty days later Procurator Fiscal Robert Whyte handed down his findings: “About 6 o’clock on the evening of Saturday 29th January 1876 in the River Southesk and at or – thereof near the Net Dock, Montrose – Drowning”.

Unfortunately John’s body was never recovered and this distressing article appeared in The Dundee Courier & Argues, Friday 10 March 1876:

The Dundee Courier and Argus, Friday 10 March, 1876
The Dundee Courier and Argus, Friday 10 March, 1876

A Body Found – On Thursday morning a woman belonging to Ferryden discovered a body at Marywells, about a quarter of a mile south of Montrose Ness.  It was in a sadly mutilated condition, and was at first supposed to be the remains of Mr John Baird who was drowned off the ballast lighter six weeks ago, but that unfortunate man’s relatives failed to identify the body as that of their friend.

John, baptised 2nd May 1830 son of Alexander Baird, Blacksmith, Mains of Murthill, Tannadice and Ann Clark married at Montrose, June 1851, sixteen year old Midlothian native Mary Marquis the youngest daughter of John Marquis and his wife Mary Knight.  Loving the very readable handwriting.


The 1860s was a particularly morbid time for the family; ten year old Alexander died from typhoid fever in July 1864 and on 30th December, Mary gave birth to a son, naming him Alexander.  In May1866, John registered the death and probably organised the funeral of Mary’s brother Alexander Marquis, the cause Bright’s disease of the kidneys.

At the end of the decade, scarlet fever shrouded the household.  A week after her sixth birthday, Elizabeth contracted the illness, languishing four days before succumbing in early February 1869.

Within a month, two year old Ann Clark named after her grandmother and twelve year old John fell to the clutches of the deadly childhood illness, John registering their deaths on the 13th March.

Unlike other widows who through economic necessity remarried, Mary stayed faithful to the memory of John, the couple just a few months short of celebrating their silver wedding anniversary before the tragedy.  The thought she may have received a small income from Hugh Baird’s Trust Disposition and Settlement has crossed my mind.

In later census years, 1891 was the only time Mary listed an occupation, that of housekeeper. Still residing at home were married daughter thirty-seven year old flax mill worker Euphemia minus her husband and son; youngest daughter also a flax mill worker, Mary age 27 and eighteen year old baker, Robert Johnston Baird.

Seventy-five year old Mary Campbell Baird residing 46 Murray Street, Montrose, widow of John Baird, Shore Labourer/Ballastman died at 4h 10m pm on the 7th March 1910 from the effects of bronchitis, son Alexander of Chapel St, Inverness at her bedside.

Mary born 10 August 1834 was the last of her generation (Marquis) to pass away.

Notes:  Wikipedia “A lighter is a type of flat-bottomed barge used to transfer goods and passengers to and from moored ships. Lighters were traditionally unpowered and were moved and steered using long oars called “sweeps” and the motive power of water currents. They were operated by highly skilled workers called lightermen”.

A search of between the years 1876 and 1880 returned a burial record at Montrose Old Cemeteries, Angus dated 14 February 1878 for John Baird – unviewed.

The Glasgow Herald also reported on the tragedy, the Montrose Coal & Lime Company owner of the Vigilant.

The Glasgow Herald, January 1876
The Glasgow Herald, January 1876


Ann McTavish first cousin 3xr, the daughter of Archibald McTavish and Catherine McLean married at Oban on the 14th May 1863 fisherman Dugald McKenzie, Charles Whyte, Minister of the Independent Church officiating.

I believe Dugald’s family have ties to the Parish of Kilmore & Kilbride dating back to the 1790’s, the estimated birth year of his father, possibly even longer. Donald McKenzie and Dugald’s mother, Margaret Whyte married 1813 at Oban.  Whether there is a connection to Charles Whyte the Minister is indeterminable Margaret’s death occurring sometime between the 1851 census and before 1855, the beginning of civil registration in Scotland.

Ann first married in 1857 to David Miller a Tailor and Bugler in the Argyll & Bute Rifles.  During the Crimean War, Oban was the headquarters for the Rifles “called out under the Marquis of Breadalbane by royal warrant.  In 1861 the regiment changed to an artillery force; and in 1863, when the Duke of Argyll became lord-lieutenant of the county, despite a petition by the Oban magistrates, its headquarters relocated to Campbelltown”. (  On census night 1861 the couple with daughter Margaret were enumerated at the Militia Barracks, Oban.

This article found on the British Newspaper Archive gives a little insight into Dugald’s personality.  I haven’t decided whether he was a very stubborn man or oppositional.

The Oban Times, Saturday June 14, 1879 – Monday:

OBAN EJECTMENT SNIP 1An ejectment case of much public interest was heard before the Burgh Court of Oban this week – Bailies McIntyre and Menzies on the bench. The case excited more than usual interest – it being the first civil case tried before the Burgh Magistrates.

The action brought by Dugald Campbell, Shoemaker of High Street, Oban pursuer against Dugald MacKenzie, Fisherman also of High Street, Oban.

The pursuer petitioned the Court for power to eject McKenzie from the home he occupied in High Street for which Campbell is the factor on the ground that he had been duly warned out of the house in March last but that he had refused to remove and was still in illegal possession of the house.

The Defendant pleaded that:

  • the pursuer had let him the house till Whitsunday 1880; and
  • the Burgh Court had no jurisdiction, Oban not being a royal burgh.

The Pursuer held that:

  • the Court had jurisdiction as Oban was a Burgh of Barony which has same jurisdiction in such case as a Royal Burgh and further, the Court had jurisdiction under the General Police Act of 1862; and
  • the allegation on the merits made in defence was not a competent defence.

The Magistrates made avizandum of the case on Monday, when it first came before them and appointed the parties agents to attend next day (Tuesday) at 11 o’clock.  Mr MacArthur for Campbell; Mr Wilson of Nicol & Wilson for McKenzie and Mr Lawrence, Town Clerk as assessor to the Court.

OBAN EJECTMENT SNIP 2Tuesday: The Magistrates repelled the objection as to jurisdiction and McKenzie having offered to verify his defence on its merits, the case went to proof, the first witness being the Defendant.

Dugald McKenzie testified to having a conversation last March about taking the house for another year at an advanced rent.

Campbell replied that he had received a higher offer for the property and following a conversation to this effect, McKenzie was warned out of the house, although he (Dugald) understood that he had taken the house for another year, from what passed between the parties.

On the term day Dugald took his furniture out of the house but in his absence his wife put it back again on the advice of Mr Hodge Wilson, solicitor. The Defendant’s daughter gave similar evidence as to the putting out and taking in of the furniture.

The Court adjourned until Wednesday.

OBAN EJECTMENT SNIP 3Wednesday: Mr Wilson acting for the Defendant addressed the court saying that he and the agent for the pursuer, Mr MacArthur had agreed – Campbell would find a house for the Defendant for a month rent free allowing him time to look for another house.  He hoped their Honours would try to persuade McKenzie to agree to this arrangement.

Bailie McIntyre addressing Dugald in Gaelic explained that he could not do better than accept the offer. Bailie Menzies also urged acceptance of the offer.

OBAN EJECTMENT SNIP 4Dugald refused, stating that he would leave the house but not enter the one offered. This being held as abandoning the defence, the following decree was made:

“The Magistrates grant warrant, after a charge of 48 hours to officers of court to summarily eject Dugald McKenzie, his wife, bairns and others, his dependents (print blurry) from the premises mentioned in the petition and find the said Dugald McKenzie liable to the petitioners in the modified sum of £1 sterling of expenses and decerns”.

The 1881 census has the family living at 2 Burnside Street.  A few months earlier Ann had given birth to son John.  Sadly he passed away in July 1884, his death certificate revealing the cause of death unknown, no medical attendant and a new address of 2 Soldiers Park, Oban.

Undiscoverable in Ancestry’s 1891 census transcriptions, it is possible Dugald is deceased and Ann and children are lodging with relatives or friends.

Twenty-three year old son Dugald’s 1895 death certificate gives his residence as 7 Hill Street.  This time there was a medical attendant, the cause of death certified as phthisis and pneumonia for three days, friend and cousin Donald McTavish of 15 High Street the informant.  Dugald Sr. noted as deceased.

And Hill Street is where I found Ann a year into the 20th century employed as a washerwoman with twenty-two year old daughter Ann and granddaughter, Dolina Miller child of Ann’s first born, Margaret Miller.

Ann died in 1914 age 74 at 8 Tweeddale Street, Oban.  I feel she had a hard life.


Charles Baird son of Charles Baird and Elizabeth Knowles spent a good part of his life helping people with their spiritual well-being.

Born 25 February 1865 in Montrose at the age of 16 Charles worked as a stonebreaker with his father, a road surface-man.

On census night 1891 Charles residing in 17 North Wellington St, Dundee with his mother and siblings was described as “Evangelist”.  Charles Sr remained in Montrose at Little Nursery.

i The Dundee Courier, Wednesday, September 19, 1894

Evangelistic meetings held in the old Schoolhouse, Logie every night for the last three weeks by Mr Charles Baird, Dundee have been well attended.  On Monday night Mr Baird held a meeting in Craigo Hall and is to continue these meetings for two weeks.

And at Laurencekirk Charles’ cousin Alexander Baird, baker paid a fine of 10 shillings for obscene language.

In April 1895 Charles age thirty, took the opportunity to marry eighteen year old Mary Mather Crockett daughter of retired Sergeant, Alexander Crockett and Euphemia Neilson (deceased).  Minister John McPherson of the Hilltown Free Church, Dundee officiated.

Examining the marriage certificates of Charles’ sisters reveals the diverse religious faith each wed under – Elizabeth Milne Baird in the Established Church – 1882; Jane according to the Wesleyan Methodist faith in 1897; Williamina 1905 and Mary 1906 both under the auspices of the Baptist Church.  In the Free Church on 31st December 1898 brother, David Beattie Baird married his first wife.

By 1897 Charles and Mary resided in Inveraray where both their children were born: Ruth according to Ancestry’s 1901 census in 1897, the year her grandfather Alexander Crockett passed away and Charles Alexander, 25th October 1898 in Main Street, Inveraray.  On Charles Jr.’s birth certificate Charles Sr. gave his occupation as tailor.

CHARLES BAIRD EVANGALIST MEETING JUNE 1907In 1907 Charles was back in the Dundee area: The Courier, Saturday 29th June advertising the closing service for the Special Summer Mission held at Midmill on Sunday.

Unable to find much on the web about the everyday life of an Evangelist, specifically income and housing needs when viewing the 1911 census for this couple they were enumerated as lodgers at the home of David Ogg in North Queenferry, Inverkeithing, Dunfermline.

Charles 46 gave his occupation as travelling missionary working on his own account.  In answering the “particulars as to marriage” question Mary 34 stated she had been married for sixteen years, three children had been born alive with one still living.  Charles Jr attended school.

Surely the life of an itinerant missionary’s wife would not have been easy, Mary foregoing materialistic comforts her peers of that period enjoyed or took for granted.

An article appeared in The Evening Telegraph & Post, Thursday 10 August 1911 page 3 concerning the inquest into the death of Lawrence Atkinson an engineer on board a tug connected with the Rosyth Naval Base.

Snip Small Charles Baird Giving EvidenceAtkinson fell overboard at Charlestown Harbour on the 17th July and died six days later in Dunfermline Hospital.  Giving evidence, Charles Baird, evangelist, Cowdenbeath said he was taking a walk with a friend when Atkinson passed and he appeared to him to be under the influence of liquor.  Witness remarked to his friend that that was how so many men went missing, going down to the harbour late, missing their footing and falling into the water.

Charles Baird 68, Missionary died on 23 April 1933 at 21 Backmarch Road, Rosyth, Dunfermline.  His death notice described him as Rev. Charles Baird late of the United Free Church, Tomatin.

CHARLES BAIRD MISSIONARY DEATHUsing the site to find out more about Tomatin United Free Church – “a fine example of a ‘tin’ church built in 1903 by the United Free Church as a mission church to serve the needs of the workers from the newly built distillery and railway.  Tomatin Church came under the ownership of the Church of Scotland in 1929.  [Date 2010 Event ID 961942, Documentary Reference]”

Possibly for his life-long commitment to God, the Church made him Honorary Reverend in the same way his nephew received the Decree of Doctor of Divinity in September 1937. “Rev. Alexander MacDonald, M.A., B.D. minister of the parish of Dunino since 1911 and formerly assistant to the professor of Hebrew in St Mary’s College and warden of the Church’s Pastoral Institute in St Andrews”.

Mary Mather Baird 75, widow of Charles Baird, Minister of Religion was found asleep in bed at 9.30 am on 8th September 1951, the cause chronic myocarditis.  The informant gave his qualification as Grand Master.

ALEX CROCKETT DEATH NOTICEAdding to an already picture heavy post – Mary’s father Alexander Crockett was in his 90th year when he passed away on the 17th June 1897 at Luthermuir.  Chicago papers were asked to copy.  NOW THAT’S what you call a late in life baby – Mary born 1877.


Not much has changed in the last two centuries when comparing the weekend ritual of young people today and those of our ancestors.  19th century newspaper reports of drunken brawls are not dissimilar from today’s articles.

9 April 1879 – Rowydism in Oban – Last Saturday was pay day for the navvies working on the Oban end of the railway line and in the course of the afternoon and evening there was a good deal of noise in the town but very little disorder or breach of the peace.  If the navvies were pretty quiet, the same cannot be said of some young men belonging to the town, who on various occasions, notably Saturday last, behaved in a most outrageous manner.  Publishing their names may have a salutary effect.

Two ancestors can be described as “rowdy young men who behave in an outrageous manner”, their local watering hole, the Bridgend Tavern.

Neil MacDougall, licensee of the Bridgend Tavern appeared before Bailies Menzies and MacIntyre in early April 1879 seeking renewal of the tavern’s licence.

Acting Fiscal, Sgt Campbell, objected on the grounds that the tavern was a disorderly one and that no less than 28 police cases had occurred in the house during the last year.  MacDougall also had one conviction for breach of certificate.  Adjourned until the following Tuesday.

26 April:  Mr Macgregor, solicitor appeared for Neil MacDougall, Bridgend Tavern.  In relation to the charge made previously by Sgt Campbell that there had been 28 police cases during the last year, he [MacGregor] had been unable to discover more than two cases in the Fiscal’s books and statements of this kind should not be made without foundation.

The licence was renewed on the distinct understanding that the house should be regularly conducted and no loose characters be admitted.

John McDougall, first cousin 3xr, fisherman and brawler with a taste for alcohol.

JOHN SLAP MRS MACINTYRE“17 May 1879:  Oban Police Court –

On Monday before Bailie McIntyre in the burgh Police Court:   John MacDougall, a fisherman better known by the cognomen of “Coaton” was charged with a breach of peace on Saturday by threatening to split up the town beliman’s bead and also with giving a Mrs MacIntyre a slap on the face.  “Coston” denied both charges but after hearing evidence, the Bailie found the charge proven and sentenced him to 24 hours longer in the cells or pay 2s/6d into the police exchequer.”

Mrs MacIntyre is likely to be Margaret Buchan widow of slater, John McIntyre, son of Peter McIntyre and Mary McFadyen (3xgreat aunt) and the mother of John McDougall’s only child.

Having found several convictions for John and second great uncle Charles McFadyen on the Inveraray Jail website, this article in the Oban Times on Saturday 1st November, 1879 confirmed my suspicion both were involved in the same skirmish in late October.

MCDOUGALL & MCFADYENSaturday night – the boys get together down at the Bridgend Tavern drink copious amounts of alcohol, argument breaks out and it’s all on.

The local constabulary arrive and manage to restrain John.  His mates, as mates do, led by Charles, a noted “bruiser” rush to free him.

Eventually police overpower the drunken brawlers and cart John and Charles off to the lock-up.

The “wholesome” sentences handed down by Bailie Menzies the following Monday – Charles 14 days and John 42 days with hard labour at Inveraray.

A deterrent to John! – Well, he was back again in March 1880 when Bailie McColl sent him down for 30 days and Charles, that appears to be his last visit to Inveraray.

Just a pity one year (1879) of the Oban Times is digitised on – heaven knows what else I would find.

Sympathy Saturday – Testaments & Trusts!

Sadly, I associate the name Hugh Baird with an early death, not just this Hugh but also his nephews.

Hugh, the third son of Alexander “the Blacksmith” Baird and Ann Clark born 13th November 1832 and baptised at Montrose [OPR 312/00 0100 0257] executed his Last Will and Testament “upon the 26th day of November 1879” four days before his death.

“At Montrose the 13th day of May 1880 in the presence of James Mundie Esq one of Her Majesty’s Justices of the Peace for the County of Forfar appeared David Beattie, Grocer residing in High Street, Montrose, Executor of the deceased Hugh Baird, Labourer formerly residing at Lochside afterwards residing at Nursery, Montrose, who being solemnly sworn and examined deposes that the said Hugh Baird died at Nursery Montrose upon the 1st day of December 1879 and the Deponent has entered upon the possession of management of the deceased’s Estate as Executor nominated by him along with James Baird and Charles Baird his brothers in a Trust Disposition and Settlement executed by him along with a Codicil …”.

Snip Personal Property Hugh's WillTotal movable property amounted to £79/6/6 consisting of:

Body clothes belonging to the deceased: 10/6

National Security’s Savings Bank, Montrose: 76/17

One Share in the Montrose Baking & Trading Society: 1/19

That Beattie name rears its head again and I’m seriously thinking of tossing my original research on Ann Clark’s parentage out the window.

“Trust Disposition and Settlement” that stumped me but may have something to do with the home occupied by brother Charles at Little Nursery, Montrose.

Checking the NAS: “Between 1868-1964 a will could transfer movable and heritable property.  A Trust Disposition and Settlement (TD&S) could be used to transfer ownership of the land concerned to a group of named trustees.  They did not require to be registered to be valid. Locating a copy is not always straightforward.  Could be in the register of deeds either of the local sheriff court …” – unless you were a major landowner!

Forget hunting for the TD&S. I turned to the 1905 and 1915 Valuation Rolls I had for Charles Baird of Little Nursery – noted as Owner/Occupier and wonder whether this real estate was part of the TD&S.  Perhaps Charles and Hugh were joint owners/long term lessees?

In 1915 yearly income totalled £27/10 and feu duty £4/5/6.  Charles lived in No. 9 and occupied the garden area while son-in-law Alexander McDonald occupied or sub-let No 7.  [VR58/33/237]

Snip 1915 Valuation RollThe tenants, some long term:

No 3:  John Taylor, Surfaceman (and 1905) and at No 5: Mrs Mary Carnegie (1905 John Carnegie, Labourer).

So what was the relationship between Hugh and David Beattie?

Tracking shopman/grocer, David through census years on Ancestry, he originated in Dundee relocating to Montrose by 1861 with brother, William also a shopman and died in April of 1888.  In another twist, Hugh’s niece, Euphemia Sturrock Baird named her only child, Charles Beattie Watson.

Perhaps Hugh appointed David as a third man, to resolve any differences that may have arisen between brothers, Charles and James?  Who knows, I’m speculating.

A share in the Montrose Baking & Trading Society – a labourer in a bakery shop I presume. Many of Hugh’s nephews earned their living from the baking trade.  A google of this Society led me to

How did Hugh acquire this property or long term lease for it? – Absolutely no idea.

The answer may lie in the vaults of the National Archives of Scotland, a resource unavailable to me.  Forfar (B26), 1680-1699, 1709-1935, indexed 1809-1914

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