This is the first of many blogs to come about my Scottish ancestral line. Researching this ancestor has been rather fascinating, as was able to explore exact geographical locations of where he lived and where his descendants ended up. Also I discovered that there are some brick walls to break down with more research. Here is what I have so far on my three times great grandfather George and his family during the 19th century.
According to the various censuses, George Ritchie was born during the latter part of the regency period in approximately 1819 in Keith, Banffshire. A marriage and death record from Scotland’s people indicated that he was illegitimate and his mother was Ann Ritchie. I have yet to discover anything about his childhood or much about his mother.
However, a couple of years into the Victorian era the first record I locate George in aged 20ish is the baptism of his illegitimate son James Ritchie in 1839 in the hamlet of Cairnie, on the border of counties of Banffshire and Aberdeenshire, which is south east of Keith. The record indicates that James’ mother was Isabella Patullo.
It seems that by 1841 census, Isabella and George had parted ways, as George and James had moved to the parish of Newhills which is 5 miles West North West of the city of Aberdeen. At this point not sure where Isabella disappears to. I found George a farm servant (aged 22) and James (aged 2) living at the Mains of Sclattie, a farm just outside Bucksburn – see map below.
So far I have not been able to locate a marriage record for George with Barbara Imlay. However, Scotland’s people website (www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk) has been a fantastic resource throughout my research, such that it enabled me to locate baptisms for their all their children – the first 5 being George 1842, Ann 1844, Margaret 1845, Elspet 1847 and Isabella 1848. The 1851 census revealed quite a lot of information, as this confirmed where he was born and proved the link to his illegitimate son. The more interesting fact from this was that the family were all living at Marlpool.
According to the various census records and the OS Name Book of Aberdeenshire – see link www.scotlandsplaces.gov.uk/digital-volumes/ordnance-survey-name-books/aberdeenshire-os-name-books-1865-1871/aberdeenshire-volume-66/76. Marlpool was a piece of land (croft) about the size of 7 acres with a one storey farm house with office houses thatched where George was a tenant (crofter) who would have farmed the land. According to the valuation rolls downloaded from Scotland’s People website, the landlord was Mr Hay who looked after various pieces of land which lay within the Estate of Stoneywood. Mains of Sclattie and Sclattie Quarry were also part of this estate. The valuation rolls downloaded from Scotland’s People indicated what George would have had to pay in rent, so between the years 1855 to 1865 he paid 13 pounds (equivalent of today’s money would be around £768), which was then increased by 2 pounds to 15 pounds between 1875 and 1885.
The area has changed rather a lot over the last 100 years, which includes Aberdeen Airport and various housing developments increasing the size of Bucksburn. As you will see in the link below Marlpool is now a soccer pitch belonging to Bucksburn Academy and Beacon sports centre. The name of Marlpool lives on, as the name of the bus stop at the entry to beacon sports centre is called Marlpool Place. www.maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/side-by-side/#zoom=15&lat=57.18017&lon=-2.17941&layers=5&right=osm
When the 1861 census were taken the enumerator found Barbara and George family at Marlpool with the addition of a few more children, John my 2xgreat grandfather 1852 and Alexander 1859. Unfortunately between the 1851 and 1861 census they had another son William born in 1854, but sadly he only survived for 9 months. Some of the family had also spread their wings but not very far. I am not sure where James is at this point in time. George Jnr had moved to Banchory Ternan to become an assistant druggist. Ann had become a servant at Midmar. Margaret was still living at Marlpool but was visiting the nearby place of Maidencraig an oatmeal mill.
The 1860s were quite eventful for George and the family as various children marry. Ann in 1864 to John Clunes, James marries Jane Minty in 1866 and Margaret marries John Anderson in 1869. He also becomes a grandfather a few times, through Ann and Margaret. Sadly Barbara passes on 18 May 1870. Fourth daughter Isabella marries James Rennie later on in 1870.
The newspapers have always been a fantastic resource for my genealogical research and the British Newspaper Archives (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) came up trumps when I managed to find a couple of pieces relating to George in 1870 and 1871 respectively – see below.
The 1871 census shows the George as a widow and had remained at Marlpool. Elspet and Alexander are still living at home. James was living as a crofter in Udny with his wife Jane and her nieces and nephews. George Jnr remains in Banchory Ternan as a druggist. Ann had moved into Aberdeen with husband John a Railway Stoker to Union Wynd with 3 children and her brother John my 2xgreat grandfather had also moved in with her. Margaret was living at Maidencraig with hubby and their first child. Isabella and hubby had moved to Kintore.
Another eventful decade reveals a change in George’s circumstances. He met and married Margaret England in 1872 at Fintray. By 1873 he has his last child William in 1873. His son John marries Christian Cameron in 1877 in Udny. Daughter Isabella having had 5 children sadly loses her husband James Rennie 1880.
The 1881 census shows that he is still at Marlpool with wife Margaret and son William. For some reason George Jnr and Alexander become unable to be located in the census so a brick wall to be broken through. Ann is still in Aberdeen with husband and now with another child having been born. John and other half is in Aberdeen area also with their first 2 children – one being my great grandfather. Isabella widowed in Kintore with her 5 children. Elsie became a servant in Skene. Margaret is in Kingsford near Peterculter with hubby and 4 children. James remains as a crofter but moved to Savoch with his wife.
During the next decade, George and Barbara’s daughter Isabella marries for a second time to James Mackie in 1883 in Skene and has 5 kiddies with him. Elspet known more as Elsie marries William Anderson in 1886 in Peterculter and they have 2 children. During this decade, sees George become a great grandfather in 1887 courtesy of Ann’s daughter Elsie Ritchie Clunes who had married in June 1886. The decade also saw one of his descendants immigrate to Toronto, Canada – another of Ann’s children.
So 1891 census indicates George and Margaret are no longer at Marlpool, but at Sclattie along with son William. James has moved to Tarves with his wife Jane. Ann and hubby remain in Aberdeen with their youngest daughter Jeannie. George Jnr and Alex still remain elusive. Margaret and husband John with their 5 children still in Kingsford. Elsie and hubby William are in Bridgefoot, Skene with 2 children. I found Isabella living with her second husband at Lawsondale, Skene with 2 children from first one and all 5 with the second one. John and Christian are living at Forest Cottage in Kintore with 5 children as he had become the manager of the Tom forest’s quarry.
Later on in 1891 George sadly loses his daughter Margaret and then in the June of 1893 his second wife Margaret passes on. According to the valuation rolls, he was still paying rent in 1895-1896 at Sclattie. The last of his children William marries in 1898 to Barbara Hunter in Newhills. William is the only family member that stays in the Newhills area as George finally moves out of the area. James sadly loses his wife Jane in Kintore.
The first census of the 20th century records that George moved to 24 Union Wynd, Aberdeen where his daughter Ann and hubby were living along with George’s granddaughter Jeannie Clunes. George Jnr and Alex still could not to be located. James is living as a crofter with his sister Isabella’s daughter Annie Rennie and some of his wife’s nieces and nephews in Kintore. Sadly Isabella had become a widow a second time but remained in Lawsondale, Skene with her last 5 children. Elsie is still living with a husband and 2 kids at Bridgefoot, Skene. John was by now on his travels around the world with his work as quarry-man, but Christian his wife remains at home in Aberdeen with youngest 3 sons. William remains in Newhills with his spouse and his first 2 children.
During the Edwardian period, George would have spent his last few years in Aberdeen. On the 24 October 1904 George dies at the age of 85. His daughter, Ann was his informant. He was buried at the Old Parish Newhills church at Chapel of Stoneywood where his first wife and son William were buried.
He left quite a legacy of descendants, 33 grandchildren in total from his children Ann, Margaret, Elsie, Isabella, John and William and 59 great grandchildren. There are maybe more to find, if I can find out what happened to George Jnr and Alexander. I was surprised how much I was able to find out about George, despite not knowing much about his mother or an exact birth date. However DNA matches confirmed that I was on the right track with Ann Clunes descendants. Today a majority still remain in Scotland and some have moved across the border down to England. I think George would be fascinated now to see how many countries his descendants have taken up roots ie USA, Netherlands, South Africa and Canada.
One more fact that came to light recently, which really surprised me, was the discovery that Ann Clunes daughter Elspet (Elsie) Ritchie Clunes born in 1868 was either born or had become deaf. This intrigued me immensely as I was born partially deaf and so was my second cousin’s daughter who was born profoundly deaf. Is there something in this – more research is needed here so watch this space?
George certainly had some ups and downs in his life. The family names of James, John, George, Alexander, Ann and William have definitely been passed down the line multiple times. Some of the family members carried on with the tradition of farming; some became quarry-men; some became carpenters, teachers, engineers, publicans, doctors and one currently is a mayor. Below is a map of the current whereabouts of some of his descendants to my knowledge (green pins) and locations associated with his life (blue pins when zoomed into Scotland).