Many Years Ago

Genealogy writings about my ancestors

The family of Angus McPhail and Mary Graham, Oban, Argyll, Scotland

Background:  This research forms part of a series of papers that identify the kinsmen of Catharine McPhail the first wife of fisherman Duncan McTavish.  By widening the scope of research to include extended family members, neighbours and acquaintances of the McPhail and McTavish families, a more nuanced understanding of identity and kinship relationships emerge.[1]

The primary focus of this paper is to prove the paternity of merchant seaman Angus McPhail, born about 1839-1840 Glasgow, resident Oban. The interest in Angus McPhail emanated, from his 1860 conviction for fish killing, while in the employ of Duncan McTavish.[2]  A transcribed record of Angus’ incarceration at Inveraray Jail for salmon killing is available on the jail’s website. [3]  He also appears in several digitised Crew Lists & Agreements for the year 1881, held by The Maritime History Archive (Newfoundland), and on two occasions, sailed with Robert McTavish on the passenger liner Devonia.[4]  Until now, Angus McPhail was an obscure figure unattached to any family.

This paper is composed of two parts.  First, it tests the hypothesis that Angus McPhail is the son of Duncan McPhail and his first wife Mary Cameron then discusses whether there is enough evidence to surmise, that Angus’ parents were first cousins.  Biographical data is provided on his descendants.

The second part resolves what happened to Angus McPhail’s paternal grandmother, Mary Graham. Three different genealogies in which Mary Graham appears have not made a connection between Mary Graham, the first wife of Angus McPhail and Mary Graham, the second wife of Gilbert May.  This study makes an original contribution to the lineage of Angus McPhail and Mary Graham and their descendants.

Review of genealogies

Family-tree id 130006 rootsweb.  This genealogy concentrates on the descendants of Duncan McPhail, fisherman, welk merchant, peddler or hawker, bellman-town-crier of Oban.  Shows Duncan is the son of Angus McPhail, weaver (occupation listed on Duncan’s death certificate) and Mary Graham; shows Angus is the son of James McPhail and Katherine McCowan.  There is no mention of Angus McPhail 1839-1840.  The same tree reveals Isabell McPhail, daughter of James McPhail and Katherine McCowan married Donald Cameron 12 January 1819 at Kilmore and Kilbride. There is no mention of issue from the McPhail-Cameron union. The author is not aware of Mary Graham’s date of death and there is no reference to her second marriage.

On the Argyll list at rootsweb, author, Duncan McIntosh is looking to connect with relatives of Duncan May 1818-1885 son of Gilbert May and Jean Munro, born Kilbrandon, probably Balvicar.[5]  Moreover, on 30 March 1822, Mary Graham of Oban married widower Gilbert May and had issue five sons and two girls. The author does not mention Mary Graham may have been a widow and is not aware of her date of death. [6]

At there is an extensive and illuminating narrative of the May family of Kilbrandon. There is mention Mary Graham originated from Oban, the twenty year age difference between Mary and Gilbert May and the roots of the Omay-May surname but no reference to the surname McPhail. Sources are not referenced.

A limitation of this study is that this research relied on pay-to-view databases.  Access to repositories with unpublished records was not possible. The data in this paper is drawn from a number of on-line sources. The old parish registers and statutory records for births, deaths and marriages, Wills, census records and valuation rolls held by Scotlands People. In addition, Inveraray Jail’s transcribed prisoner records as well as newspaper articles in the Oban Times. A licence agreement between the Oban Times and British Newspaper Archive limits the availability of publications.

An outline of the descendants of James McPhail + Katharine McCowan

            McPhail Angus FR16 (FR16) 5 October 1783

            + Mary Graham

                        Isobel 1812 “Glenshellach” [7]

                                    + William Allan 1838 Glasgow (nativity Ireland)

                        Duncan 1814 “Glenshellach” [8]

                                    + Mary Cameron 1838 Glasgow

                                                + Angus McPhail 1839-1840

                        Donald 1816 “in Glenshellach” [9]

            + Catherine McRae

McPhail Alexander FR18 (FR18) 27 October 1784 Soroba [10]

McPhail Donald FR25 (FR25) 24 February 1787 Soroba lawful son of [11]

            + Isabel McColl

McPhaile Isabell FR35 (FR35) 4 July 1790 no address [12]

            + Donald Cameron 1819 Oban (hypothesis)

Proving Angus McPhail’s paternity and extending the line

This section argues Angus McPhail born about 1839-1840 Glasgow is the son of Duncan McPhail and his first wife, Mary Cameron.  A search of the Old Parish Registers banns and marriages between 1815-1840 yielded thirty-three results for the surname Mcphail (fuzzy matching) forename Duncan (fuzzy matching) and nil results for the Roman Catholic and other churches. One marriage in the Parish of Gorbals is compatible with Angus’ birth period:

“Duncan McPhail, Sailor and Mary Cameron in this parish married by the Revd. D McLeod 4 Nov 1838”

Duncan and Mary are the only couple described as “in this parish“. Other entries on the image have either “both of this parish” or “of” place or parish. The wording “in this parish” may imply residency in, but not originally from.[13]

Searching for a baptism record for Angus McPhail between 1838-1844 in the Old Parish Registers for the Church of Scotland counties of Lanark and Glasgow City as well as the Catholic and other church registers was unproductive.  However, a search of the 1841 census on FreeCen for McPhail Angus (soundex on) located a record for the family of three:

Lanarkshire Barony 622 ED 1 Folio 175 Page 1 – Stobcross St, Verreville House

William Brady 50 labourer Ireland

Unity Brady 40 Ireland

William Brady 16 Potter Ireland

Dauncan McFail 20 labourer OUC

Mary McFail 20 OUC

Angus McFail 2 Lanarkshire [14]

In 1851, Angus McPhail is enumerated at Faolanacrupan, Kinlochspelvie on the Isle of Mull, as the son of Duncan McPhail, age ten born Glasgow.  Although has transcribed and published the 1851 census for Duncan McPhail’s family on its website, that transcript contains errors.

White Sarah 15 n of – b. Kilmore

MacPhail Duncan 40 Pedlar b. Kinlochspelvie

MacPhail Ann 40 w b. Ardgour

MacPhail Angus 10 s b. Glasgow

MacPhail Niel 7mths s b. Kinlochspelvie

The original image shows Sarah White is the second entry under this household, but it is unclear whether the line above her entry contained details of the head of the household; there is hint of script, but it may have leaked through from other pages.  Sarah White’s relationship to the head is niece. [15]

Duncan McPhail is described as visitor, married, age 40, Pedlar. His place of birth is Argyleshire, Kilmore rather than Kinlochspelvie. Niel (sic), seven months has his birthplace entered as not known.[16] Ann’s birthplace of Ardgour fits with the 1861 census Shore Street, Oban for this family.[17] John Mcphail, who appears in the 1861 census Shore Street, Oban as a fourteen year old, may be the same John McPhail age four, enumerated in 1851 as a lodger in the home of pauper Catherine McLeod, High Street, Oban.[18]

Duncan McPhail married second, Ann McLean, either – in – or after – 1844 at Glasgow. No marriage banns are discoverable. The date of marriage, while partly indecipherable, is recorded on the 1855 birth certificate of Archibald McPhail. The number of living children of the marriage, is three (my emphasis: John, Neil, Dugald 1853).[19] Duncan’s occupation, general hawker corroborates his occupation enumerated in the 1851 census although, by 1860, he is a member of the fishing crew of Hugh McTavish, Colin MacDougall and Peter McIntyre.[20]

Angus McPhail’s marriage certificate contains a wealth of information that also confirms his parental ties. When he married Mary Ann McCallum on 31 December 1867 at Glasgow, Mary Cameron is deceased, and Duncan McPhail’s occupation is recorded as fisherman. The couple were married at the home of Seaman’s Chaplin and ordained Congregational minister, Robert Weir. Donald McCallum and Donald Patterson acted as witness. [21]

Indeed, the 1896 death certificate for Angus McPhail verifies his parental connections – Duncan McPhail labourer and Mary Cameron. However, his age at death, recorded as seventy-four, birth year of 1822, presents a conundrum. An age discrepancy of seventeen years requires resolution. There is no reason to question R McKelvie M.D, certification of the cause of death – “Heart disease hastened by intemperate living”.  Intemperate living hastens heart disease and ages a person, but his wrinkled, leathery, weather beaten face from years at sea probably contributed to him looking older than he was. Alternatively, the age written may be a clerical error. His father’s age at death was out by seven or so years.

Moreover, Angus is described as married, spouse unidentified and his death was registered on the information of Procurator Fiscal Wm. Sproat. There is no mention of being found dead and the words “last seen alive” are not used. But the date of death 2 June 1896 – registered 11 June – nine days later by the Procurator Fiscal intimates Angus died suddenly.  A precognition was not taken, so death did not occur in suspicious circumstances. Angus is identifiable through his occupation and parents, but why is his spouse not named, and who supplied the details to complete the death certificate? [22]

Returning to the hypothesis posed at the beginning of this paper, that Angus McPhail is the son of Duncan McPhail and his first wife Mary Cameron, it is now possible to state that four evidentiary arguments support that identification. One, the 1851 census where Angus age ten born Glasgow is enumerated as the son of Duncan McPhail. Two, Angus’ known birth date fits with the marriage of his parents at Gorbals in 1838 and his father’s subsequent marriage on or after 1844. Angus’ birth date also fits with birth dates of the other known children of Duncan McPhail and his second wife. Three, Angus’ marriage certificate, written while he was living, identifies his father’s occupation at the time and confirms his mother’s death. Lastly, while Angus’ death certificate overstates his age by seventeen years his parents are identified. The age discrepancy may be a clerical error, but a seafaring life and hard living is a consideration for making a person look older than their age.  Although no baptism record states that Angus was the son of Duncan McPhail and Mary Cameron, the evidence presented, provides the proof.

The McTavish family’s “cultural identity and commercial enterprises followed lines of kinship”. Kinship networks in Oban incorporated extended family members related by blood and marriage as well as friends and neighbours.[23] By looking at connections in extant records the evidence unearthed unites Angus McPhail with his family.

This section intends to determine whether there is enough evidence to argue Duncan McPhail and Mary Cameron are first cousins, in other words is Isabell McPhaile the mother of Mary Cameron born December 1819, the daughter of James McPhaile and Katherine McCowan.

Donald Cameron, if resident Oban 1804, and between the age of eighteen and twenty-four years may have been of military age.[24] Isabell McPhaile, the daughter of James and Katherine McCowan, if she survived infancy, was twenty-nines years when she married in January 1819. Donald’s occupation is not recorded in the marriage register, but the baptismal entry for Mary Cameron, December 1819, gives his occupation as mason in Oban.[25]

Of the six entries on the baptismal image, Donald’s entry is one of two that records the father’s occupation and one of three that records place. Discerning what Rev. Mr Peter MacIntyre means is the key. The entries where the father’s occupation is recorded may indicate the men are new to the area while the absence of occupations in the remaining four entries may indicate the longevity of residence in the parish and the Minister’s familiarity with his parishioners. The other two anomalies were Dugd. Livingston labourer in Oban and Jean Cameron (looks like his spouse) baptised Catharine 14th December, the same day; Margaret the daughter of John Mc(c/b Dougall) – Kerera and Mary Campbell. [26]

An Ancestry hint for Isabell McPhail wife of Donald Cameron conflates the argument Duncan McPhail and Mary Cameron are first cousins. OPR documents uploaded to Ancestry by louisejquinn in 2018 identify Mary Cameron (1819) as the daughter of Isabell and Donald and wife of steamship fireman, James Campbell. Mary Cameron Campbell died September 1903 Glasgow age seventy-two (1831), twelve years younger than a birth year of 1819 suggests.  Interestingly, the informant was James McPhail, nephew, of 147 Stobcross Street, Glasgow. [27] Mary Cameron Campbell’s age in the column on her marriage certificate is partially illegible but, looks like 32 or 52.  Based on an estimated birth year of 1830 or 1810 then Mary Cameron Campbell is not the Mary Cameron baptised December 1819. 

The same author shows the family of Donald Cameron, mason, enumerated High Street, Oban, 1841.

Donald Cameron 45, born this county, mason

Isabella 45, born this county

Allan 15, born this county

Isabella 13, born this county

Ann 13, born this county

Archd. 9, born this county [28]

The data in the census, is not corroborated by baptismal records in the Old Parish Registers, including the Roman Catholic and other Churches. Although the Old Parish Registers are notorious for defects and gaps in the registers a search of the Church of Scotland’s baptismal registers (all counties) for Allan, Isabella, Ann and Archibald based on year of birth with a generous plus or minus, naming parents Donald Cameron and Isabell McPhail returned nil results.

Standard search criteria entered into database search: “Event: ‘(B OR C OR S)’, Church type: ‘Old Parish Registers’, Surname: ‘Cameron’, Surname Option: ‘Fuzzy’ “.

AllenForename Option: ‘Fuzzy’From year: ‘1821’To year: ‘1831’    38 results
AnnForename Option: ‘Fuzzy’From year: ‘1823’To year: ‘1833’138 results
IsabellaForename Option: ‘Fuzzy’From year: ‘1823’To year: ‘1833’  47 results
ArchForename Option: ‘Fuzzy’From year: ‘1828’To year: ‘1834’Nil results

The Ancestry Tree by louisejquinn shows Ann Cameron, daughter of Donald and Isabell McPhail both deceased, married 1863, Colin McPhail, a twenty-four year iron bolt maker, widow (sic) son of Colin McPhail, distiller’s labourer deceased, and Marion Campbell.[29]  Ann Cameron is described as a twenty-eight year old domestic servant, spinster. Her age of twenty-eight suggests a birth year of 1835 while her age in 1841 suggests a birth year of 1828, out by seven years. 

The author also presents evidence, distiller’s labourer John Cameron, age twenty-five married Margaret McPhail, daughter of Colin and Marion Campbell at Glasgow, 1859. Donald Cameron’s occupation is recorded as agricultural labourer. [30]

Two Mary Camerons born Oban have been identified in census records.The following table outlines the extent to which each “fits” the details known. Despite the tabularised data showing anomalies in the estimated year of birth and tempting though it may be to assume Mary Cameron Campbell and Mary Cameron (1819) are two different people, the origins of Mary Cameron Campbell’s family requires further investigation. Tracing members of the Cameron-McPhail family through census records will provide a clearer picture of their origins and ages. There is a possibility Isabella McPhail Cameron and Colin McPhail are related. Until that is explored a proof argument that Duncan McPhail and Mary Cameron (1819) are first cousins cannot be made.

Mary Cameron (1819)Mary Cameron b. Oban 1825Mary Cameron b. Oban 1829Mary Cameron m. 1862Mary Cameron Campbell
1838 Gorbals married Duncan McPhail  1862 marriage James Campbell Age 32 or 52 Occupation domestic servant1903 death Age 72 wife of James Campbell – married forty odd years; puts age at marriage closer to 32 than 52
1841 Stobcross St, Verreville House, Barony Dauncan McFail 20 labourer OUC Mary McFail 20 OUC Angus McFail 2 LKS In the home of William Brady 50 labourer IRE  184118411841   
 1851 Sandyford Road Barony Relationship Servant Age 26 Cook [31]1851 Buccleuch Street Barony Relationship Servant Age 22 Cook [32]  
1867 Mary Cameron deceased wife of Duncan McPhail Marriage Certificate 1868 Angus McPhail & Mary Ann McCallum (m. 31 Dec 1867) 1861 Mary Cameron Age 32 est. birth year 1829 Relationship Servant 646/2 Partick Govan Lanarkshire 14 Kew Terrace; Cook ED12A Householder Schedule No. 166 Line 8 CSSCT186_114 (Ancestry hint not viewed)   1871 Mary Campbell est. birth year 1831 Oban census county Lanarkshire (Ancestry hint not viewed)
1896 Mary Cameron wife of Duncan McPhail Death Certificate son Angus McPhail   1891 Mary Campbell est. birth year 1829 Oban census county Lanarkshire (Ancestry hint not viewed)  

Biographical data family Angus McPhail and Mary Ann McCallum

Angus and Mary Ann maintained separate residences at the time of their marriage.

From August 1868-1871 residence 70 Carrick St (District Clyde)

birth John 20 August 1868;

birth Mary 21 October 1870;

death Mary 1872 at 37 Brown St, Glasgow. [33]

Mary Ann registered the births and death of her children.

1871 Angus McPhail is enumerated as head, sailor from home, birthplace blank;

Mary Ann 29 b. Oban; her dau. Catherine 5 b. Oban; John 2 and Mary 5 months both Glasgow; has boarders, including Archibald Fletcher 28 tailor b. Oban. [34]

Neighbour Norman McRae 47 Sailor b. Inverness Sh. Skye and his family.

1881 Mary Ann McPhail 38, with daughter Catherine 14 unmarried and son John 12 scholar.

Neighbour John Cameron 44 Seaman b. Argyleshire; wife Agnes 40; dau Agnes 6 and Sarah 6mths. The address of the tenement is unclear but number 214.[35]

1899 Mary Ann McPhail, scullery maid, widow of (blank) last seen on the night of 1 August or morning of the second, 11 Airds Crescent, Oban usual residence 9 Tweeddale Street, Oban. Age 58. Father Hugh McCallum Tailor Mother Catherine McCallum Ms McGregor. Information Will. Sproat Procurator Fiscal. [36]

“Finding Mary Graham McPhail May” is published in a separate post.

This paper provides an original contribution to the family of Angus McPhail, Mary Graham and their descendants. This research should not be accepted as conclusive, there may be mistakes in the transcription of records or my hypothesis may prove to be false. If you wish to include any of the material contained in, or derived from this paper, place quotation marks around the extracted portion and credit it as follows: “Sarah Baird, “Angus McPhail and Mary Graham 1783-1877”, August 2020 at”.

[1] Elizabeth Shown Mills, “Testing the FAN Principle Against DNA: Zilphy (Watts) Price Cooksey Cooksey of Georgia and Mississippi”, National Genealogical Society Quarterly, 145: “Identity and kinship conclusions should always rest on a wide range of factors. Naming, migration, cultural patterns, and associations are critical to building a case for each person’s identity and placement in a specific family”.

[2] The Journal of Jurisprudence, 1861 Volume V at page 271 the High Court proceedings for Angus McPhail. An excerpt from Reports of Cases before the High Court and Circuit Courts of Justiciary in Scotland during the years 1861, 1862, 1864 and 1864 by Alexander Forbes Irvine, Advocate. Vol IV.

[3] “Angus McPhail Prisoner No 949: Age 19: Crime: Salmon Killing Sentence: 20 days imprisonment or 46/- Tried: 30 June 1860 by Sheriff Robertson Single Address: Born Glasgow Resident Oban. Occupation: Sailor; Admitted 25 September 1860 after non-payment of fine. Released 15 October 1860 (20 days in Inveraray Jail)”. (Accessed July 2020).

[4] In the digitised Crew Lists & Agreements 1881 there are two Angus McPhails, one born about 1839-1840 at Oban and the other born Stornoway. Angus McPhail Stornoway is identifiable by Reserve No. 61032.

[5] See (accessed 2019).

[6] See “Church registers – Old Parish Registers Banns and marriages – Search results May Gilbert Graham Mary 30/03/1822 523/20 149 Kilmore and Kilbride”. Image not viewed.

[7] “27/10/1812 MCPHAIL, ISOBEL (Old Parish Registers Births 523/ 10 87 Kilmore and Kilbride) Page 87 of 168”, National Records of Scotland; digital image ( : accessed 19 July 2020).

[8] “24/08/1814 MCPHAILE, DUNCAN (Old Parish Registers Births 523/ 10 93 Kilmore and Kilbride) Page 93 of 168”, National Records of Scotland; digital image ( : accessed 8 February 2020).

[9] “14/11/1816 MCPHAILE, CATHARINE (Old Parish Registers Births 523/ 10 99 Kilmore and Kilbride) Page 99 of 168”, National Records of Scotland; digital image ( : accessed 27 January 2020); Donald McPhail’s baptism entry appears on this image.

[10] “27/10/1784 MCPHAIL, ALEXANDER (Old Parish Registers Births 523/ 10 7 Kilmore and Kilbride) Page 7 of 168”, National Records of Scotland; digital image ( : accessed 8 February 2020).

[11] “24/02/1787 MCPHAIL, DONALD (Old Parish Registers Births 523/ 10 14 Kilmore and Kilbride) Page 14 of 168”, National Records of Scotland; digital image ( : accessed 27 January 2020).

[12] “04/07/1790 MCPHAILE, ISABELL (Old Parish Registers Births 523/ 10 24 Kilmore and Kilbride) Page 24 of 168”, National Records of Scotland; digital image ( : accessed 8 February 2020).

[13] “04/11/1838 MCPHAIL, DUNCAN (Old Parish Registers Marriages 644/2 70 223 Gorbals) Page 223 of 570”, National Records of Scotland; digital image ( : accessed 21 July 2020).

[14] Free UK Genealogy “Scottish General Register Office: 1841 Census Returns database”, FreeCEN ( : accessed 31 Jul 2020) [data about Angus MCFAIL in household of William BRADY]; citing Piece: 1 Place: Barony Enumeration District: 175 Civil Parish: Barony Ecclesiastical Parish: 622 Folio: 1 Page: Schedule: Stobcross St, Verreville House.

[15] “1851 WHITE, SARAH (Census 545/ 3/ 16) Page 16 of 17)”, National Records of Scotland; digital image ( : accessed 21 July 2020).

[16] “1851 WHITE, SARAH (Census 545/ 3/ 16) Page 16 of 17)”, National Records of Scotland; digital image ( : accessed 21 July 2020).

[17] “1861 Scotland Census”, ( : accessed before 2020), search for Duncan McPhail resident Oban 1861, transcription citing “Parish: Kilmore and Kilbride; ED: 1; Page: 16; Line: 22; Roll: CSSCT1861_70”.

[18] “1851 MCPHAIL, JOHN (Census 523/ 9/ 8) Page 8 of 30”, National Records of Scotland; digital image ( : accessed : 20 July 2020).

[19] “1855 MACPHAIL, ARCHIBALD (Statutory registers Births 523/1 26)”, National Records of Scotland; digital image; ( : accessed 21 July 2020) “MacPhail, Archibald (present informant) 17 July 1855 6h pm at Ca- near Shore St, Oban F: Duncan MacPhail General Hawker 35 years Glenshellach near (Oban?) Married year looks like 1844 but may be 1849, Glasgow. Issue three boys living. Ann MacPhail maiden name MacLean Issue her third child 35 years Ardgour, Argyleshire Informant Duncan MacPhail father Registered 1855 – illegible at Oban”.

[20] “RELIEF OF THE OBAN FISHERMEN.” Glasgow Herald [Glasgow, Scotland] 30 Oct. 1860: n.p., British Library Newspapers; Web. 28 July 2020.

[21] “1868 MCPHAIL, ANGUS (Statutory registers Marriages 644/6 32)” National Records of Scotland; digital image; ( : accessed 24 July 2020): “On the 31 December 1867 at 8 Douglas St, Glasgow after banns according to the forms of the Congregational Church; Sgd Angus by his x mark McPhail witnesses to his mark Donald Patterson Donald McCallum Seaman Merchant Service, Bachelor Age 26. Presently residing at 37 West Carrick St, Glasgow; F Duncan McPhail fisherman M Mary McPhail Ms Cameron deceased Sgd Mary Ann McCallum domestic servant spinster Age 25 4 Wood Lane, Glasgow F Hugh McCallum Tailor M Catherine McCallum Ms McGregor deceased Sgd Robert Weir Seaman’s Chaplain and ordained Congregational minister Sgd Donald McCallum witness Sgd Jane A Weir witness Registered 3 January 1868 at Glasgow”.

[22] “1896 MCPHAIL, ANGUS (Statutory registers Deaths 523/ 40)”, National Records of Scotland; digital image; ( : accessed 19 July 2020).

[23] Thomas R Saxton, “Living in Two Worlds: Kinship Networks and Pennsylvania’s Integration into the Atlantic World” (2011).Theses and Dissertations. Paper 1238, 1:6.

[24] Fiona Morrison, The Development of Oban as a tourist resort 1770-1901. Doctorate Thesis (Doctorate). Bournemouth University, 2015, 155.

[25] “20/12/1819 CAMERON, MARY (Old Parish Registers Births 523/ 10 157 Kilmore and Kilbride) Page 157 of 168”, National Records of Scotland; digital image; ( : accessed 25 July 2020).

[26] “20/12/1819 CAMERON, MARY (Old Parish Registers Births 523/ 10 157 Kilmore and Kilbride) Page 157 of 168”, National Records of Scotland; digital image; ( : accessed 25 July 2020).

[27] “1903 CAMERON, MARY (Statutory registers Deaths 644/10 449)”, National Records of Scotland; digital image; ( : accessed 23 July 2020).

[28] “1841 CAMERON, DONALD (Census 523/ 9/ 5) Page 5 of 19″, )”, National Records of Scotland; digital image; ( : accessed 23 July 2020).

[29] “1863 MCPHAIL, COLIN (Statutory registers Marriages 644/8 71)”, National Records of Scotland; digital image; ( : accessed 23 July 2020) : Free UK Genealogy “Scottish General Register Office: 1841 Census Returns database”, FreeCEN ( : accessed 3 Aug 2020) [data about Colin MCPHAIL in household of Colin MCPHAIL]; citing Piece: 1 Place: Barony Enumeration District: 1 Civil Parish: Barony Ecclesiastical Parish: 622 Folio: 12 Page: Schedule: Bishop St “Colin McPhail 43 distiller born Lanarkshire with Marrion 38 LKS; Elizabeth 15 silk throuster; Donald 13; Duncan 9; Margret 7; John 4; Colin 1 all LKS” : Free UK Genealogy “Scottish General Register Office: 1851 Census Returns database”, FreeCEN ( : accessed 3 Aug 2020) [data about Marion MCPHAIL]; citing Piece: 622 Place: Barony Enumeration District: 40 Civil Parish: Anderston Ecclesiastical Parish: – Folio: 582 Page: 20 Schedule: 80 Address: Greenhill Street. The discrepancies in place of birth are italicised. “McPhail Marion head w 46 washerwoman ARL Campbelltown; Betsey dau u 24 steam loom weaver ARL Campbelltown; Duncan son 19 Rope spinners apprentice ARL Campbelltown; Margt dau 15 Steam loom weaver LKS Glasgow; John son 14 Rope spinners apprentice LKS Glasgow; Colin son 11 scholar LKS Glasgow.”

[30] “1859 CAMERON, J (Statutory registers Marriages 644/6 367)” National Records of Scotland; digital image; ( : accessed 23 July 2020).

[31] Free UK Genealogy “Scottish General Register Office: 1851 Census Returns database”, FreeCEN ( : accessed 1 Aug 2020) [data about Mary CAMERON in household of John WILSON]; citing Piece: 622 Place: Barony Enumeration District: 18 Civil Parish: Anderston Ecclesiastical Parish: – Folio: 580 Page: 22 Schedule: 79 Address: Sandyford Road.

[32] Free UK Genealogy “Scottish General Register Office: 1851 Census Returns database”, FreeCEN ( : accessed 2 Aug 2020) [data about Mary CAMERON in household of James HUTCHESON]; citing Piece: 622 Place: Barony Enumeration District: 26 Civil Parish: Blythswood Ecclesiastical Parish: – Folio: 586 Page: 18 Schedule: 70 Address: Buccleuch Street.

[33] “1868 MCPHAIL, JOHN (Statutory registers Births 644/5 832) District Clyde”, National Records of Scotland; digital image; ( : accessed 26 July 2020) : “1870 MCPHAIL, MARY (Statutory registers Births 644/5 920) District Clyde”, National Records of Scotland; digital image; ( : accessed 26 July 2020) : “1872 MCPHAIL, MARY (Statutory registers Deaths 644/5 233) District of Clyde”, National Records of Scotland; digital image; ( : accessed 26 July 2020).

[34] “1871 MCPHAIL, MARYANN (Census 644/5 41/ 7) Page 7 of 20 Civil Parish of St George Burgh Glasgow” National Records of Scotland; digital image; ( : accessed 26 July 2020).

[35] “1881 MCPHAIL, MARY ANN (Census 644/7 66/ 16) Page 16 of 18 Civil parish of Barony Quoad Sacra parish of Blythswood”, National Records of Scotland; digital image; ( : accessed 26 July 2020).

[36] “1899 MCPHAIL, MARY ANN (Statutory registers Deaths 523/ 72)”, National Records of Scotland; digital image; ( : accessed 24 July 2020).


(C) British Library Board (Shelfmark: Additional MS 36426). Artist: Buckler
(C) British Library Board (Shelfmark: Additional MS 36426). Artist: Buckler

Worshippers of the medieval church, St Mary’s, standing on a lofty eminence above the River Bure, Wroxham could be forgiven their confusion during the month of October 1843 when marriage banns were read for three members of the same family on three consecutive Sundays with two sets of the betrothed couples named William and Maria.  The “usual ceremony” took place on Tuesday 31 October and received a brief mention in the Norwich Mercury, Saturday 11 November 1843:

“On Tuesday se’night, the inhabitants of the quite village of Wroxham were somewhat enlivened with the ringing of bells, occasioned by the unusual ceremony of three marriages taking place, in which were three members of the same family: William, second son of the late Mr J Booty to Maria Woodcock; George, third son of the above to Caroline Jermany; and Maria, eldest daughter of the above to William Hendry, all of Wroxham.”

Bridal dress – Collections – The Victoria & Albert Museum, wedding dress worn by Sarah Maria Wright in 1841 reveals the type of clothing women of the rural labouring class might wear for their wedding.  The dress made of printed cotton has a low neckline, gathered shoulders and full skirt.  Worn for Sunday best long after the event. This is a lesson in environmental sustainability.

Customs - John Glyde Jr., “The Norfolk Garland” - Interesting
  • “The attendance at the weddings of agricultural labourers is naturally very small and remarkable that neither father nor mother of the bride or groom come with them to the church.  I can hardly recollect more than one instance of any of the parents being present at the ceremony”;
  • “At labourers’ weddings the father is frequently an attendant, the mother very seldom, yet I have known two or three cases in which the mother has been present and signed the register”.

Bridal attendants are usually an engaged couple “who purpose in a short time going to the altar or the communion rails on a similar errand upon their own account”.

A Girl's got to have Romanticism

“As the wedding party came out at the south porch, the girls of the village lined the pathway, strewing the gravel walk with fern leaves.  They had mustered all the handbells of the neighbourhood to greet the happy couple with a wedding peal”.   Reference made to exiting via the south porch, through the magnificent Norman south door of St Mary’s surviving from the twelfth century.

South Door Wroxham SketchNo three or four tier wedding cake for the newly-weds, just a home-made flat cake of flour, water and currants into which is put a wedding ring and sixpence.

Before the wedding party retire, the cake is broken and distributed amongst the unmarried females.  “She who gets the ring will shortly be married and she who gets the sixpence will die an old maid.”

History lesson = Community & sustainable environment = learning from history.

Argument for return to local artisan; growing, world-wide movement working to encourage sustainable clothing choices; use of natural fibres; reduce use of synthetic materials; reduce landfill by recycling or re-purposing old clothing.


1879 Statistics, Oban

The Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages, Kilmore & Kilbride published his quarterly report for the period ending 31 December 1878 in the Oban Times on Saturday 4 January 1879, page 5.  For the three months ending December 1878 of the thirty births, which was about average, two were illegitimate.  On the other hand, marriages and deaths for the period were above average.  From the twelve marriage ceremonies performed during three months, seven couples tied the knot in December.  Similarly, the final death tally of thirty seven for the period was above average and took the number of deaths for the year to one hundred and two, the largest ever recorded in the district.  However, the quarter was excessively cold and pulmonary complaints and whooping cough had been prevalent for some time.  Naturally, this had an effect on the elderly and young, with eight of the deceased over seventy years and twelve children under five years of age.


BDM Quarterly Report
The Oban Times, Saturday 4 January 1879 at page 5

Page four of the Oban Times, 4 January 1879, reported that the weather had been “excessively cold” between Christmas and the New Year. Over the preceding week, the long frost had abated and a rapid thaw set in, consequently, by Monday most of the ice had disappeared although the hills of Mull and Morven retained their wintry covering, down to their base.  The thaw stopped on Tuesday night and the New Year was welcomed in with frost and a slight snowfall.  However, in the Lochalsh district, rarely had sheep farmers experienced a such a terrible winter with livestock suffering great privations caused by the deep snow and severe frost, which has lasted for over three weeks.  In the low ground, the hogs cannot get at the turnips while on the hills, rushes and heather are buried from sight.  As a result, farmhands were hard pressed feeding sheep and cattle with hay and straw.  Before going to press, the author wrote, it was bitterly cold at Oban and every indication another snowstorm was imminent.

Members of Mary McFadyen and Peter McIntyre’s family were part these statistics.  During the month of November, their grandson, twelve year old Peter McIntyre the son of deceased slater, John McIntyre and his widow Margaret Buchanan, afflicted with dropsy and hectic fever passed away in his Shore Street home on the 13th.  On a happier note in December, Mary and Peter’s thirty year old son, Archibald McIntyre, fisherman married twenty seven year old, domestic servant, Janet McLean.  Archibald’s cousin Malcolm McFadyen from the Isle of Mull witnessed the ceremony, which took place at 25 High Street, Oban in accordance with the forms of the United Presbyterian Church.

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.

Maritime Monday: Old Style New Style

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 and conveyed passengers to and from the outer Islands of the West Coast of Scotland.

The Old Style of celebrating New Year on 12 January is also interesting, a custom that in January 1879 seemed to be losing favour and was not observed by every village or town in Argyleshire.  New Year festivities in Oban, celebrated in the New Style, were temperate which, according to the author, was usual while Oban’s publicans received a hearty commendation for the early closing of public houses – “for which act of self-denial they merit thanks”.  By Wednesday the fine weather allowed people to indulge in outdoor walking for its’ own sake as well as visit friends.  However, on the island of Iona, the decision to celebrate New Year in the New Style alienated the minority.


On Monday 30 December, Iona residents convened to discuss New Year celebrations.  Objections against the departure from a time honoured custom were raised however, it was apparent the majority were in favour of the New Style celebrations and befuddled by the minority who remained attached to old established customs.

One reason, probably characteristic of Iona residents as with most people worldwide, was that the principle element conducive to Highland felicity during New Year was still on board the SS Dunara Castle.  Given the weather at this time of the year, there was little doubt the SS Dunara Castle could land the liquor, essential to New Year celebrations.  As it was customary not to order the New Year beverages until the end of the year, because, even in well-meaning families the best Islay whisky disappeared in hot haste, Iona residents were disadvantaged by geographic and meteorological conditions.  Not all was lost.  The correspondent from Iona wrote – “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”.

Letter to Editor 25 Jan Old Style New Style pg 2
The Oban Times, 25th January 1879

Written on the 17th and published the 25th January, H.A.B. of Tobermory endowed with a morally superior attitude wrote – “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 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 period 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.  The 1881 Scottish Census enumerated on 3 April, for the SS Dunara Castle docked at Tarbert, Harris, recorded John age 25 and born Oban as the Ship’s Cook.  The crew of the SS Dunara Castle were lucky, reports of wrecks and drownings during the 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: Lloyd’s telegram stated the schooner Witton of Stralsund, Germany, F H Boortman, Master bound from Lorne 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 while four people were saved.
  • Islay: The accidental drowning of Lachlan Kennedy who fell overboard the Nations of Glasgow occurred on the 4 January off the Mull of Oa.  The Master, John Kennedy of Bowmore (father) and his brother were unable to render assistance.
  • A report from Ardrishaig revealed the Crinan Canal was frozen and shipping could not get through.  The Struggler lied panting at Auchindarroch while the Plover was icebound at Miller’s bridge.


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

Robert McTavish born 23 September 1859 at Oban, the fifth child, second son of fisherman Duncan McTavish and first child of Elizabeth McFadyen, the daughter of a fisherman left a scant paper trail during his brief life.  Upon completion of his schooling, probably around fourteen years of age, Robert found employment on the fishing or cargo vessels operating out of Oban as the following article from the Oban Times published 28 June 1879 disclosed, in a not too favourable light.

The Oban Times, 28 June 1879

JP Court – Yesterday, John McFadyen and Robert McTavish hands on board the smack “Isabella” of Oban appeared before A Brown Esq. and Bailie Menzies charged with stealing several gallons of porter from a cask while on the voyage from Oban to Kinlochspelve, Mull.  Without sufficient evidence to prove the charge, the matter was dismissed.

Probably, Robert and his uncle, John McFadyen worked for the Cumstie family, merchants in Oban and owner of the smack Isabella, who ran cargo between the mainland and the Islands.

After residing in High Street, thirty odd years and wondering what prompted the McTavish family’s move to Shore Street in 1881, an article in the Oban Times, 25 October 1879 explained – “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”.  It is highly unlikely the Shore Street residence was spacious enough for all eleven members of the McTavish family.

Enumerated in the 1881 Census was, Duncan aged sixty a retired fisherman with his wife, forty one year old Elizabeth; thirty-two year old son, Alexander a fisherman, eighteen year old daughter Elizabeth, a domestic servant while Duncan aged fourteen ran errands for a local baker.  At the time, twenty one year old mariner, Robert was unemployed while Duncan and Elizabeth’s daughters Mary eight and Catherine five attended school as did eight year old grandson Duncan McTavish.  Still at home were four year old pre-schooler Flora and baby Donald.

The next Statutory Record located for Robert was an entry in the Return of Deaths at Sea dated 22 February 1886.  On the 25 December 1885, Abel Seaman Robert McTavish 26 of Oban drowned abroad the Aigel official ship no. 86720 as did 21 year old Hugh Kennedy a cook and engineer’s steward of Glasgow.  Whether the drownings were the result of two separate incidents or one dived in to the save other is unknown.

Annoyed at the lack of detail on Robert’s death certificate I exhausted my amateur detective skills to discover exactly where Robert’s death occurred.  After a lot of searching, the ship’s name had been 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”.  Consequently, the large migratory flow of people between Scotland and Canada ensured this business relationship continued for many years. [1]

SS NIGEL Cargo Ship


The company also produced smaller screw steamers and in October 1882 delivered the SS Nigel to George Hood & Co., Shipping Agents of Glasgow who operated tramp services from Liverpool to various Ports throughout the Mediterranean as well as America and Calcutta. [3]  Still none the wiser because Robert could have worked on any of these routes, further searches took me to

In 1886, George Hood & Co. sold, together with three other steamers, the SS Nigel to newly formed company, Maclay & McIntyre of Glasgow. [4]  Known as the Glasgow United Shipping Company, by 1896 the company owned thirty three ships and concentrated on the coal trade to Algoa Bay on the South African east coast, 425 miles east of the Cape of Good Hope as well as the ore trade in the Mediterranean.  In 1890, the Bristol Steam Navigation Company purchased the SS Nigel and in 1901 renamed it Juno.  A search of the National Archives (UK) described 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.

While the question of where Robert’s death occurred has not been resolved, it was certainly an interesting exercise in locating maritime information.

[1] 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.‎.

[2]  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.  Copyright (except where otherwise stated).

[3] Page 1043 in the 1882-83 Glasgow Post Office Directory.

[4] Other steamers sold to Maclay & McIntyre of Glasgow: Ivanhoe GT 942; Nigel GT 1384; Peveril GT 731 and Rowena GT 1353.

[5] 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, three times removed,  the daughter of Archibald McTavish and Catherine McLean married at Oban on the 14 May 1863 fisherman Dugald McKenzie, Minister Charles Whyte of the Independent Church officiated.

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.

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