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Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Thomas Fraser's Neighbour, Dr Philip Whiteside MacLagan

My previous post (Did Agnes Aitchison's Son Survive ?) mentioned Dr Thomas Fraser who lived at 58 Ravensdowne, Berwick on Tweed.

Dr McLagan and his family lived next door at 54 and 56 Ravensdowne.
In the 1881 Census, 54 Ravensdowne is named Dr McLagan's Sick Entrance and 56 is named Dr Fraser's Sick Door. Both were occupied by Dr Phillip McLagan from Edinbro (Edinburgh), a widower aged 62 and his children: Jane 30; Margaret 28; Georgina Johnson 24, Charles George 21, a student of medicine;.Euphemia 16,  Patrick Johnson 15 (scholar). There's also Jessie Mace McLagan 27 (born Berwick), their cook and domestic servant and Margery Gladstone McLagan 15 (born Newcastle on Lyne), a housemaid.

There's a statue of Hygeia (the ancient Greek goddess of health, daughter of Asklepios, the god of medicine. Her godly charge was cleanliness and how to live a long life) in Infirmary Square, Berwick on Tweed.

On the side of this statue is a weathered bronze plaque with Dr McLagan's head facing right and a memorial below:
DIED 23RD MAY 1892

Philip McLagan was the son of David McLagan and Jane Whiteside.
He married Margaret Johnston, second daughter of Dr George Johnston, in quarter 1, 1847 in Berwick. According to the 1861 Census, she was born about 1824 in Berwick. That census also shows other children not on the 1881 Census: Katharine C born about 1848, Susannah R, born about 1855; Philip S, born about 1859.
In the 1871 Census,  the doctor, his wife, Katharine Charlotte, Margaret, Georgina,  Euphemia,  Patrick Johnson are present but Jane, Charles George, Susannah R (appears to have died quarter 4 1861) and Philip S are not.
Margaret Johnston (MacLagan) died quarter 2 1874 in Berwick.
Philip is named as a joint Great Western Railway shareholder with John Renton Dunlop who died 18 April 1869.

I find it interesting that Jane and Margaret were born in Canada, and the remaining children born in Berwick.
When did Philip and his wife go to Canada, and was it while he was an army surgeon ?
Are Jessie Mace and Margery Gladstone Phillip's nieces ?
Did Susannah R McLagan and Philip S McLagan die before the 1871 census ?
It's interesting that in some records the surname is McLagan and in others, MacLagan.

If you're related to this McLagan family or Philip's mother, Jane Whiteside, or you can answer my questions, please leave a comment.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Did Agnes Aitchison's Son Survive ?

In the Hawick Heritage Hub, I found a letter (SC/B/33/2/29) from Agnes Aitchison of 68 Church Street, Berwick on Tweed. The addressee isn't stated but from the following letter, I surmise that it was sent to George Tweedie, Inspector of the Poor at Swinton.

October 2th (sic) 1882
Berwick upon Tweed
I write a few lines to let you know that my boy has fallen into bad health with the dregs of the mesles and we took him to the docter and he said he would have to paint his throat in the inside but he would not touch him and if you would two or three lines by return of post to try and save my child I had docter Fraser when they had the mesles Please write by return of post
Agnes Aitchison
68 Church Street
Berwick on Tweed

This letter (SC/B/33/2/31), in the same bundle, is from Dr Thomas Fraser to George Tweedie, Inspector of the Poor at Swinton.

Ravensdowne Berwick on Tweed 4th Oct 1882
A woman named Aitchison residing in Church Street Berwick, called on me today and asked me to attend her child stating that your parish would pay me for attendance and medicine supplied.  In July and August I attended the child when suffering from measles on the strength of the Same statement wd you now oblige me by letting me know whether you will authorise me to attend the child as well as pay me for past attendance.

I am Yours truly
Thomas Fraser, MD

George Tweedie Esq,
Inspr of Poor

It's odd that Agnes fails to mention the boy's name but we can presume she has only one son.
Measles was a real killer in Victorian Britain and no doubt she was very worried.
I haven't found her on the 1881 census yet but she doesn't seem to have been in Berwick.
I haven't looked at the Poor Law records for Swinton, however I think that would provide the name of her son and possibly her husband and thus will enable more of her history to be discovered.

Do you know whether her son survived ?

I have found Thomas Fraser on the 1881 census, though.
58 Ravensdowne, Berwick on Tweed

58 Ravensdowne, Berwick was occupied by Thomas Fraser, 31, a general medical practitioner, Edinburgh University, born Scotland.
He was single and the other occupants were 2 unmarried servants: Jane Robertson, 17, born Horncliff and Susan Davidson, 49, born Scotland.

If you're related to Agnes Aitchison, George Tweedie, Jane Robertson, Susan Davidson or Thomas Fraser, please leave a comment.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

John Hamilton Hall - Dangerously Assumed to be Unique

One of the dangers of family history research is assuming that the person you're seeking is the person you've found.

With common names, John Smith, Fred Brown, James Hogg, there must be thousands of individuals.
Adding a middle name reduces the number of possibilities and adding a rare middle name must reduce them still further.

When I chanced across John Hamilton Hall son of John Hall (deceased), admitted to Berwick-upon-Tweed Guild on 24th Oct 1840 with the occupation of Capt, East India Company, I thought this would be an easy person to find, an interesting person, and no competition from people with the same name.

How wrong I was.

Confusingly there are several men named John Hamilton Hall in the early to mid-19th century:
  • one of Dunglass; I think this one’s father was General Hamilton Hall, who lived at Mount Hall, County Antrim, Northern Ireland and died at Bombay (now Mumbai), India.
  • another, the son of a physician who was a Freeman of the Guild of Berwick-upon-Tweed,
  • another who was married in 1858 in Madras, India, to Victoria C Raulim who had a child in 1861,
  • another who was married on 15 December 1860 in Belgaum, Bombay, India to Annie Malcomson.
  • another was appointed to Middlesex Regiment (1st Battalion) 57th Foot: records for 57th (West Middlesex) Regiment of Foot and later, after 1881, when known as Duke of Cambridge's Own (Middlesex Regiment). 
and there are many more in the USA and
another one in England in the First World War (World War I) was appointed Major, 16th Battalion Middlesex Regiment, later Temporary Lieutenant Colonel., then Lieutenant Colonel, then Temporary Brigadier General, then  Brigadier General.

The details below refer to the son of a physician who was a Freeman of the Guild (as I've been researching him for the Berwick 900 project).

His parents were John Hall (the physician) and Mary Dickson.
He was born, 22 Oct 1798; baptised, 8 Nov 1798 in Coldstream (Berwickshire, Scotland.)
The Guild records show the admittance of John Hamilton Hall (2nd son of John, deceased) on 24 October 1840. His occupation is shown as Capt, East India Company.
He married Ann Grieve in September 1841 at Easington, Co. Durham, about 80 miles south of Berwick-upon-Tweed.

Interestingly, Ann Grieve was the daughter of a Berwick-upon-Tweed Guild Freeman.

The 1851 Scotland census shows Capt. John H Hall and family living at 17 Regent St, Portobello (now Edinburgh).
I've transcribed the details:
Abbreviations: BEW - Berwickshire, NBL - Northumberland, INV - Inverness-shire.

In the London Gazette Issue 21658 published on the 6 February 1855. Page 12 of 40, his promotion 'To be MAJORS in the East Indies.' was listed as
Capt John Hamilton Hall, Bombay Infantry.

I've found him in various Portobello directories, but not before 1857.
Portobello Directory for 1857-8 lists Hall, J HEICS 10 John St
Portobello Directory for 1860-61 lists Hall, J H EIA 10 John St

The 1861 census shows:

Abbreviations: BEW - Berwickshire, NBL - Northumberland, MLN - Midlothian

Portobello Directory for 1861-62 lists Hall, J H major EIA 10 John St
Portobello Directory for 1862-63 lists Hall, J H major EIA 10 John St
Portobello Directory for 1864-65 lists Hall, J H major EIA 10 John St

A search on Families In British India Society (FIBIS) showed a transcription from Allen's Indian Mail - the 16 February 1865 edition about his death on 10 February 1865 at Portobello.

Portobello Directory for 1866-67 lists Hall, Mrs J H  10 John St

His family's gravestone is at the back of St Mark's Episcopal Church and churchyard, Portobello High Street.
It reads
'In memory of John Hamilton HALL Major of H.M Indian army who died 10th February 1865 aged 65 years and Ann GRIEVE his wife who died 6th April 1884 aged 78 years, also John Grieve HALL Major Royal Engineers, their elder son who died at Cawnpore India 12th January 1884 aged 41 years, also Ann Grieve HALL, their only daughter who died 10th January 1929 aged 83 years and
Burnett Grieve HALL, Colonel Royal Marine Artillery, their younger son who died in London 7th September 1928 aged 84 years. '
Picture of the gravestone.

The family tree is:

There are lots of questions that occur to me:
  1. What years was John Hamilton Hall in India ?
  2. In what campaigns and actions was he involved ? 
  3. Why was his army career so interrupted ?
  4. Is the John Hamilton Hall of Dunglass related ?
  5. Why did he wait until he was over 40 to be admitted as a Freeman of the Guild ?
  6. Did he meet Ann Grieve as a result of being admitted ?
  7. Did he die as a result of ill-health or wounds sustained in India ?

If you know the answers to these questions or if you're related to any of the people named, please leave a comment.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Berwick-upon-Tweed’s Fascinating Food History

If you had lived in the Scottish Borders in the 1840s and had a modest income as most people did, your diet would have been mostly oatmeal and potatoes with the addition of milk (and in a few parishes cheese) and garden vegetables. Bread was occasionally used, but butcher-meat very rarely. In the Scottish Borders, the most common meat was pork (or bacon or ham), the labouring classes rarely saw beef or mutton, except for dead or diseased sheep, though I suspect many may have eaten fish or rabbit.

Borders Family History Society's next meeting is on Sunday, 27th April, at 2.30pm in Coldingham Village Hall, Coldingham, TD14 5NL, when Derek Sharman will talk about Berwick-upon-Tweed’s fascinating food history. 

The Victorian period was a period of change and innovation in farming, fishing and the producing, processing and selling of food and drink.  It was also the heyday for Berwick’s trade in barley, herring and salmon. The town is full of reminders of its food-producing heritage - old salmon fishing shiels, ice-houses, herring yards, smokehouses, breweries, granaries and maltings. This talk offers fascinating glimpses into that time through a selection of extracts from local newspapers and photographs from the Berwick Record Office collection. 

I think you'll find this a very interesting talk whether you're interested in family history, local or social history and you're welcome to attend the talk whether you are a member or not.

Doors open at 2pm; the meeting begins at 2.30pm. It’s free to come in.

They'll have a range of family history publications available to buy, and there’ll be light refreshments (donation expected) available after the talk.
If you have a problem with your family history, please discuss it (no charge) with one of their volunteers.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Free access to Irish Newspaper Archives - if you're quick !

According to Irish Genealogy News, there's free access to the Irish Newspaper Archives until 11am on Thursday 17th April.

A lot of people came from Ireland to work in Berwick-upon-Tweed and Northumberland, so if the Irish were in your ancestry (as they were in mine) or appear in your family stories, they might have been in the newspapers.

I've tried it out but haven't yet found anything relevant.
If you get stuck, there's a video tour when you login.

Login information needed:

User: freebie16
Password: freebie16

Thanks also to Canada's Anglo-Celtic Connections where I first saw it.

Post a comment below, if you find anything interesting, please.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Ancestry Offers Free Access at Easter between 18 April and 21 April

To celebrate Easter, Ancestry are offering free access to some of their collections at Easter (from 00:00 on 18 April until 23:59 on 21 April).

You'll need to be registered to take advantage of the offer and be signed in when you search.

The collections are:

    1901 Scotland Census
    1901 Wales Census
    1911 Channel Islands Census
    1911 Channel Islands Census Summary Books
    1911 England Census
    1911 England Census Summary Books
    1911 Isle of Man Census
    1911 Isle of Man Census Summary Books
    1911 Wales Census Updated!
    1911 Wales Census Summary Books Free Index
    British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920
    British Army WWI Pension Records 1914-1920
    British Army WWI Service Records, 1914-1920
    England & Wales, Birth Index, 1916-2005
    England & Wales, Death Index, 1916-2007
    England & Wales, FreeBMD Birth Index, 1837-1915 Free Index
    England & Wales, FreeBMD Death Index, 1837-1915 Free Index
    England & Wales, FreeBMD Marriage Index, 1837-1915 Free Index
    England & Wales, Marriage Index, 1916-2005
    England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966

Access Ancestry's Easter offer and find your Berwick-upon-Tweed, Tweedmouth and Spittal connections !

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Interesting Family History Stories Shared at Coffee Morning

I had an interesting day at Berwick-upon-Tweed on 5 April, talking to people about their families at the Riding of the Bounds coffee morning at the Guildhall, Berwick-upon-Tweed.

Linda Bankier, the Archivist at Berwick Record Office created a new exhibition about the ceremony and the people involved in the 20th century and that attracted lots of interest. The slideshow of a recent riding was also popular and I was surprised that one lady was able to name lots of the horses.

I was pleased that people came to share their family stories.
  • One older man told me that in his youth there were 4 fishing families of his surname in the Greens area of Berwick. That's a huge contrast with the 1891 census when there 15 fishing families of his surname in the Greens area. He started going fishing with his father at the age of 5 or 6, and apart from 3 years war service had spent most of his life fishing - for salmon, sea fish, lobsters, and became a ghillie in his retirement.
  • A lady told me proudly that her ancestors were freemen (of the Berwick-upon-Tweed Guild)  back to 1730, at least. One ancestor who had married again after the death of his wife was jailed for a debt of £3 but his wife and children needed welfare. In those days, the welfare was paid by the husband or the father's home parish and one of the parishes did not recognise the prisoner's second marriage as valid so there was a court case to decide which parish should bear the cost. Another man was involved in election irregularities in the 1860s.
  • A visitor from York, whose father and uncle were freemen, told me his family were widely scattered, in Canada, Kenya, New Zealand
  • Another lady told me that her grandfather attended a tribunal twice during World War I so that he could avoid being conscripted. His reasons were understandable and the tribunal agreed to exempt him.
  • The granddaughter of a carter from Spittal told me that he carried stone to build the new bridge at Berwick-upon-Tweed; the business stopped at the start of World War I and her great uncle was killed early on, probably on the Somme.
  • Another man told me that his surname was from around Newton Stewart and his grandfather came to Tweedmouth to work on the railway. That contrasted with a lady whose family came from Tyneside to work on fish curing.
Of course, more detail is needed on these stories, but these show the antiquity of the Berwick-upon-Tweed Guild and that Berwick has both immigrants and emigrants.

If you have an interesting family story, please give me a summary in the comments below.