Monthly Archives: December 2016

New WALTON and HENDERSON family links

In the last few days I’ve been looking through some links that Dr Mark Jardine pointed me to, about the Scottish Covenanters – transcriptions of their christening and marriage records, etc. – trying to find anything that could help me to link the Covenanter, James DAVIE (shot dead cir.1673) to the Marion DAVIE who married into my JOHNSTON family, in Bathgate, cir.1720. (See my notes at the bottom of Patrick MAIR and Thomas JOHNSTON – Part 1 )

I’ve not yet found anything particularly useful in that respect! But as I looked through the Covenanter records list, I noticed one or two surnames from completely the other side of my family cropping up repeatedly. “URIE” was the surname that caught my attention. I know that there is some Quaker influence on this side of my family (see my WALTON tree), so it made me think that there could be a connection!

A book that a friend gave me for Christmas; “The Glasgow Boys, In Your Pocket”, (one of the “Glasgow Boys” – Edward Arthur WALTON, being my 2x Gt-grandfather), also influenced me when I began by doing a web search for ““Helen Urie HENDERSON”” (wife of E.A. WALTON); “URIE” was her paternal grandmother’s maiden name. At the moment when I did the search, Helen’s was the one full name that came to mind! My thought was; could I find anything that might link Helen’s URIE ancestors to those Covenanter records?

Given that Helen was the wife of a well-known artist, I was surprised to find only 4 links in the search results! Two of these were to AFamilyHistoryBlog, which means that this site is doing it’s job (I guess that this post will be added to that list in future). The other two links were to other people’s family trees; one of Helen Urie HENDERSON’s material line, and the other covering the family of Edward Arthur WALTON’s maternal grandparents.

Both of these trees give me quite a lot of new material; names, dates, etc. I can’t yet confirm what they claim. I would like to go through these trees, and their sources carefully, for myself, to check their records. I have e-mailed the authors of both sites, hoping to obtain more details. But I don’t have a lot of hope for a reply from the WIGHAM site (Helen’s maternal line), due to the page having last been updated in October 2002 (another page of this site was last updated in July 2005)!

But for my own record, and for the interests of others, I’m posting the website links below.

If you know any more about these family connections, please leave a comment below, or use the Contact Page to get in touch.

 

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AFamilyHistoryBlog Review of 2016 and Plans for 2017

First, I would like to say a big

HAPPY  CHRISTMAS

to all the readers of AFamilyHistoryBlogchristmas-star-clipart-ds687z-clipart

Review of 2016;

Having worked on developing it privately for the previous 2 years, I went “Public” with AFamilyHistoryBlog at the beginning of 2016, and did quite a lot to make it known; getting it listed on other websites, like GeneaBloggers and relevant local family history websites. For a recap of what I wrote in January 2016, see HERE.

IMG_7613-crop2I also started working to post details of some old papers of my WALKER family, from Kirkliston, West Lothian. I posted 13 pieces about the WALKERs in Jan, Feb, and March 2016; that’s about one a week.

But after March, I posted very little through the summer months! In the autumn I started looking again at various bits of family history (none of which I’ve yet written about here!). I returned to posting some more WALKER documents/photos in December, facebook-logo-1and was inspired to start a Facebook page where I can share things that I find of a more general family history interest. Then I found some very interesting details about the JOHNSTON family which I have recently posted about.

At the time of writing this post, during 2016, AFamilyHistoryBlog has received 1,195 visits and 2,633 page views, including; from the UK – 1,093 views, from USA – 670, Australia – 303, Canada – 193, Denmark – 135, and New Zealand – 105, along with smaller numbers from 27 other states.

Plans for 2017;

In January 2016 I wrote about wanting to try and post to AFamilyHistoryBlog on a more frequent basis! But clearly the year has followed the same kind of pattern as previous years – working  on the blog over Christmas and into the new year,  then a long period of relatively little activity through the summer and autumn.  (See what I wrote in January 2016 – HERE). I fully expect the same pattern to continue through 2017 and beyond.

IMG_9478-croppedI want to post details of many more documents that I have about the WALKER and JOHNSTON families. Among these, there are invites from the Earl of Hopetoun, to Dinners at Hopetoun House, West Lothian, and related documents. I also want to post a piece about a Great-Uncle, James Hope WALKER R.F.C., who died in a flying accident almost 100 years ago, during WW1. I have photos of James, and of the crashed biplane to post. And there are still many other branches of my family that I want to cover on AFamilyHistoryBlog.

In the summer 2017 we have another bigIMG_1863_Hutchison-family_May-2015 HUTCHISON family gathering booked. We’re heading to a location which is new to most of the family, in South Ayrshire, Scotland. My idea is to stay another week in Scotland, around the gathering, and do some research while I’m up there. I think that I will visit Edinburgh and West Lothian. I may also visit Glasgow. And following what I’ve recently found about the JOHNSTON family, Falkirk is now on my list of places to visit. So I hope to be blogging about this trip when it comes.

Once again, have a very

Happy Christmas

and thanks for reading

Matt

All known surnames in Matt's ancestry up to his 6x Gt-Grandparents
All known surnames in Matt’s ancestry up to his 6x Gt-Grandparents

Patrick MAIR and Thomas JOHNSTON – Part 2

A couple of weeks ago I began to have a fresh look for what I could find out about my JOHNSTON ancestors, from Bathgate in West Lothian, in the WALKER branch of my family tree. Now I want to write up about the new things I’ve found.

newspapers-444448_640In “Part 1”, I’ve posted a transcription of an amazing newspaper article, from the “Falkirk Herald”, on Saturday, 15th August 1925; page 11 – which I found a few days ago, via the British Newspaper Archive. The article is full of biographical information about two of my direct ancestors; Thomas JOHNSTON (my 4x Gt-Grandfather), and his father-in-law, Patrick MAIR (my 5x Gt-Grandfather).

“Part 2” is my chance to say what set me off on this, and what I’ve found; to make some more comments about the newspaper article in “Part 1”, and mention some other things that I’ve found.

findagrave-icon-2I begin in September 2016, when I was contacted through AFamilyHistoryBlog by “Nevada Bob” who had been photographing gravestones in Bathgate, for the website FindAGrave.com. Bob asked me if a particular grave was of interest to me in my family history research. That grave wasn’t! But Bob suggested that I keep an eye on the Find A Grave website for anything of interest, as he added more of his photos.

Gravestone of John JOHNSTON & Margaret YOUNG, in the Old Parish Churchyard, Bathgate, West Lothian; via www.findagrave.comA couple of weeks ago I had another look on the Find A Grave website and saw a photo and transcription, which Bob had added, that very clearly is of interest to me – see HERE. So I got back in touch with Bob, via e-mail, about it. This is the gravestone of John JOHNSTON, his wife – Margaret YOUNG, and 3 of their children. There was some brief (and understandable) confusion, with Bob mistaking a photo that I’ve posted of Margaret JOHNSTON, to be of her mother – Margaret YOUNG, who is named on the tombstone. But that was soon clarified.

Due to this, I was spurred into doing some fresh internet searches looking for anything new that I could find about the Johnston family. I started looking for gravestone records, comparing 2 websites; Find A Grave.com, and BillionGraves.com (which I’ve been using recently, and rather like). The two sites were quite similar, and I found nothing particularly new on either one. You might find that a grave is on one website, but not on another, or has been transcribed slightly differently, or that one site has a better photo than another! So its worth using the different sites.

When searching for the JOHNSTONs had yielded very little new information, I looked back further, and began searching for John JOHNSTON’s maternal Grandfather “Patrick MAIR”, JOHNSTON-family-tree-coverwho was a printer and publisher in Falkirk, and his brother “Thomas MAIR”, a “merchant”/banker in Bathgate. I knew almost nothing about them beyond what little is on the old “Genealogical chart of the JOHNSTON family”, which I’ve previously posted about.

I soon found two particular sources of information on-line, that gave me lots of new details about Patrick MAIR and his descendants. One is the Falkirk Community Trust, which operates the Falkirk Archives. They hold a collection of legal papers about Patrick, and Thomas MAIR, and some of Patrick’s descendants – mainly the RANKINEs, through one of Patrick’s daughters; Isabel(la). The Falkirk Archives’ description of the “Mair and Rankine family papers” says quite a lot about Patrick MAIR and his family, and the archives’ “finding aid (no.33)” (PDF file) also give a brief description of each document that the archive holds about the family. Both of these pieces are interesting to read through.

falkirk-herald-crop-1The second source was some old newspaper articles from the “Falkirk Herald”, available through the British Newspaper Archive. The Falkirk Herald was the first newspaper to be owned by the Johnston Press; the printing business established by Patrick MAIR and Thomas JOHNSTON, and continued by some of Thomas’ descendants. I have found articles of interest, about Patrick MAIR, and Thomas JOHNSTON, printed on 3 different occasions in the Falkirk Herald.

The earliest article is a relatively short biography of Patrick MAIR, printed on Wednesday 7th April 1909. I’m interested that this seems to be very close to the time when the “Genealogical chart of the JOHNSTON family”, that I have, was produced. Might this chart, or the chart’s author – Alexander Cuthbert, have informed the article? (No author is credited with the newspaper article!). Although one big discrepancy is that where the chart says that Patrick died in “1796”, the newspaper article states that he “retired from business in 1797”, and died “on 20th February, 1805”. I think that the newspaper article has more authority on this!

This 1909 article says that “the works which came from the press of Patrick Mair were very numerous, and it is hoped that at some future time a list of these will be obtained for publication. The next article that I’ve found lists some of these works. But I have not yet found any indication of a comprehensive list having been produced. Perhaps it’s never been done! But if anyone knows otherwise, I would be interested to hear. If so please leave a comment below, or use the Contact Page to get in touch.

The second occasion where I’ve found an article is in an issue of the falkirk-herald-crop-2Falkirk Herald, marking the newspaper’s “eightieth anniversary”, on Saturday, 15th August 1925. It is the text of this article that I have posted in “Part 1”. It contains all the details from the 1909 article and more. This article then goes on to tell of Thomas JOHNSTON’s succession to Patrick’s printing and publishing business, and beyond, to tell of two of Thomas’ sons.

The third occasion, marking the Falkirk Herald’s “ninetieth anniversary”, on Saturday, 10th August 1935, appears to be an almost exact repeat of the “eightieth anniversary” article.

Being a “Real Christian” myself (to use the end of the title from the 1783 publication – the 1st known work from Patrick’s Falkirk Press), I was intrigued to discover in these articles the list of clearly “Christian” titles that Patrick published. I would like to find out more about some of these publications. It appears that there is quite a strong spiritual heritage, seeing just how many of Patrick’s descendants went into church ministry! I count 3 great-grandchildren – 2 named in the article, and 1 on my JOHNSTON Genealogical Chart. But Patrick’s son-in-law, Thomas JOHNSTON appears to have gone off-track – joining the non-Christian, Masonic Lodge! There are many sites which explain why, from a “Real Christian” perspective, Christianity and Freemasonry are incompatible; here are a couple of examples; www.EMFJ.org & www.Ephesians5-11.org. Also a Wikipedia article about the positions taken towards Freemasonry by various church denominations (and cults).

I would be very interested to find out more about Thomas JOHNSTON’s “progenitors”; the DAVIE family. Is there a real connection to the Covenanter, James DAVIE? I suspect the problem in proving it may be a lack of Covenanter records (equivalent to the English non-conformists)! I know from the Genealogical Chart that Thomas JOHNSTON’s paternal grandmother was a Marion DAVIE. I have no dates for Marion, except for the birth of her children between 1723 and 1728. From that we could infer that Marion was born around 1700. James DAVIE was killed in 1673, which suggests to me that perhaps he was the same generation as Marion’s grandparents! If you know anything more about this DAVIE family, please leave a comment below, or use the Contact Page to get in touch.

I’ve mentioned lots of generations of my family above, and I realise that it could be confusing! So I’ll finish with a couple of overlapping genealogy lists, which cover all those mentioned. Those mentioned above are in Bold text below. The number “0x” is the number of Great-grandparents back in my tree; so “3x” is my 3 times Great-grandparent(s). Or you can look at my WALKER tree page.

JOHNSTONs;

  • 6x – Thomas JOHNSTON, m. Marion DAVIE.
  • 5x – John JOHNSTON, b.1723, m. Margaret WEIR.
  • 4x – Thomas JOHNSTON, b.1755, d.1831, m.1785, Margaret MAIR, b.1767, d.1838.
  • 3x – John JOHNSTON, b.1786, d. 1872, m. Margaret YOUNG, d.1878.
  • 2x – Margaret JOHNSTON, b.cir.1818, d.1890, m.1847, James WALKER, b.1818, d.1881.

MAIRs;

  • 5x – Patrick MAIR, b.1738, d.1805, m.1863, Jean AITKEN b.cir.1726 , d.1819.
  • 4x – Margaret MAIR, b.1767, d.1838, m.1785, Thomas JOHNSTON, b.1755, d.1831.
  • 3x – John JOHNSTON, b.1786, d. 1872, m. Margaret YOUNG, d.1878.

Patrick MAIR and Thomas JOHNSTON – part 1

A couple of weeks ago I began to have a fresh look for what I could find out about my JOHNSTON ancestors, from Bathgate in West Lothian, in the WALKER branch of my family tree. Now I want to write up about the new things I’ve found.

I will write more about my recent research into Patrick MAIR and Thomas JOHNSTON in “Part 2”. But in this post (Part 1), due to its length, I just want to focus on this amazing newspaper article, from the “Falkirk Herald”, from Saturday, 15th August 1925; page 11 – which I found a few days ago, via the British Newspaper Archive. The article is full of falkirk-herald-crop-1biographical information about these direct ancestors of mine from my WALKER family branch. Before I found this article, I knew some very limited pieces, but very few of the details that this article contains.

Please see the JOHNSTON family tree that I’ve previously posted, or the JOHNSTON category for all my articles relating to the JOHNSTON family.

Being mindful of copyright issues, I’m not posting the full British Newspaper Archive’s image of the newspaper article (you’ll need to visit their website for that!). I am posting my own transcription of the text from that image, word for word (including the original typos!). falkirk-herald-crop-2All I’ve changed is to brake the text up into more paragraphs, highlight some of the publication titles mentioned, in bold, and put the lists of titles into bullet-point lists – all in the hope of making it easier to read. I have also added hyperlinks to additional information about some of the names, places, & terms mentioned, and I have made some notes/comments of my own at the end, about various names, places, terms, etc, with hyperlinks to further information.

Just a note of caution; this newspaper article is a “secondary source” of information. I would very much like to hunt out and check “primary sources” (like parish records) to verify many of the details given in this article.newspapers - free clipart image from https://pixabay.com/

AN OLD PRINTING BUSINESS.

ITS FORMER PROPRIETORS.

The printing business, of which the publishers of the “Falkirk Herald”* are the proprietors, and of the founder of which they may claim to be the lineal descendants, has a history extending over a period of no less than one hundred and fifty-eight years. Its founder was Patrick Mair, who belonged to a West Lothian family. Mr Mair’s forbears were among the smaller lairds of that county, and for generations they had farmed their own patrimonial lands of Pottishaw, in the southern district of the shire. To that property Mr Mair himself eventually succeeded. Afterwards the lands passed into the possession of the Johnston family, and some years ago were sold to Messrs William Baird & Co., Ltd., coalmasters.

The son of Patrick Mair and Margaret Telfure* his wife, the future printer of Falkirk was born in Ridge of Blairmucks, in the parish of Shotts, and baptised in Whitburn Kirk on 13th March 1738. In 1743, on the birth of his brother, Thomas Mair, the family were resident in Bathgate. In passing, we may note that Thomas Mair of Pottishaw, who was a well-known Bathgate merchant for many years, and who died in 1808, was one of the original partners of the old Falkirk Banking Company from its foundation in 1787 to 1802, and conducted business for the bank in Bathgate. He was also one of the originators of the ill-fated Union Bank of Falkirk, founded in 1803, but which had to close its doors in 1816. Patrick Mair’s parents then being settled in Bathgate, it may be surmised that after a few years’ schooling he was apprenticed to the printing trade. Married on August 11th, 1763, to Jean Aitken, of Falkirk parish, in the following year he had set up a printing press of his own in “the second close above Bell’s Wynd,” Glasgow, a volume, entitled “Sermons by the late Mr Thomas Boston” being then issued from his press. Mr Mair’s name is not found on the toll of “Burgesses and Guild Brothers of the City of Glasgow.” But these rolls, it has been authoritatively stated, are notoriously defective, and it may be deemed a certainty that Mr Mair had the necessary permission to begin business in the city, although that fact is not recorded. His stay in Glasgow, however, was not a lengthy one. He was there in the opening month of 1765, but from an advertisement inserted in the “Edinburgh Evening Courant”* for Monday, 6th April, 1767, regarding an edition of Matthew Henry’s Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, subscribers for the work were asked to send their names to — among others — “Mr Patrick Mair, Book- seller, Falkirk.”

Works from Falkirk Press.

It seems reasonable to suppose that on settling in Falkirk, Patrick Mair brought his printing press with him, and although no work printed by him seems known to bear date earlier than 1783, it is quite likely he may have issued other works before that time. The title of this 1783 volume runs thus:—

“The History of the Holy Bible, containing the Old and New Testaments, By Question and Answer. Giving (I) An Account of the remarkable Events and Transactions of the Antedeluvian and Patriarchal Ages before and after the Flood; As also, several very curious Critical Remarks and Practical Observations upon the Lives of the Patriarchs. (II) A minute Description of the Jews, from the Calling of Abraham to their settlement in the Promised Land; with suitable remarks upon the Messages of the Prophets sent to that People. (III) And lastly, The History of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and his Apostles, from the Birth of John the Baptist, to the Conclusion of the Canon of Scripture, For the benefit of every Real Christian. By Mr Christopher Love, a Martyr, late Minister of the Gospel in London. (John v. 39 quoted). Falkirk: Printed and Sold by Patrick Mair, Also Sold by James Buchanan, Bookseller, 1783.”

Large numbers of works, great and small, were issued from his industrious press, and some of these books of which he was printer and publisher are now much valued by collectors on account of their scarcity. In the production of religious literature, especially that of the early Scottish seceders and the English Puritan divines, he attained a certain reputation and eminence of his own.

To name every work that came from Patrick Mair’s press, even if we had their titles, would occupy considerable space. The following are a few of the works he issued, in addition to the one just named:—

  • “The Old Man’s Most Serious Advice to his Young Friend and other Pamphlets, by a Lover of Truth” (1783);
  • “Human Nature in its Four-fold Estate; A New Edition, Carefully Revised and earnestly Recommended To the Perusal of every Christian Family. By the Reverend Mr Michael Boston. Minister of the Gospel in Falkirk, and Author’s Grandson.” 1784. (The Rev. Michael Boston was the first minister of Falkirk Relief, now the West U.F. Church*. He was inducted to his charge in November, 1770, and died while in office on 5th February, 1785);
  • “A Treatise Concerning the Lord’s Supper, by Thomas Doolittle” (1786);
  • “The Whole Works of the Rev. and Pious Mr Andrew Gray, late Minister of the Gospel in Glasgow.” 576 pages (1789);
  • “The Whole Works of the Rev. Ebenezer Erskine,” 1024 pages, quarto (1791);
  • “The Westminster Assembly’s Shorter Catechism Explained by some Ministers of the Gospel,” 290 pages (1795);
  • “The Sermons and other Practical Works of the late Rev. and Learned Ralph Erskine, A.M.,” 10 vols, (1796);
  • “Poetical Works of Ralph Erskine,” 712 pages (1797).

The Complete Letter-Writer.

We should not omit to mention one more interesting book which came from Mr Mair’s venerable press. It is “The Complete Letter-Writer, containing Familiar Letters on the most Common Occasions of Life; also a Variety of Elegant Letters for the Direction and Embellishment of Style, on Business, Duty, Amusement, Love, Courtship, Marriage, Friendship, and Other Subjects; to which is prefaced A Plain and Compendious Grammar of the English Language, with Directions for Writing Letters, and the proper Forms of Message Cards, and a copious English Spelling Dictionary.” This was issued in 1792: the typography is remarkably clear; and the contents of the work, or rather conglomeration of works, are full of quaintness, and redolent of the old school of life and manners.

In the year 1797 Patrick Mair retired from the business, and died at Falkirk, February 20th, 1805, when just about to complete his 67th year. Mrs Mair survived until 1819, when she passed away at the venerable age of 93. Of the members of their family, Margaret married Mr Thomas Johnston, to whom we shall refer more fully presently, and Isabella married Mr John Rankine, bookseller, Falkirk. A daughter of this latter union, Jessie Rankine, married the Rev. Alexander Cuming Rutherford, of Falkirk. Of their family, great-grandchildren of Patrick Mair, and natives of Falkirk, James, born 1840, became celebrated as a mental specialist, and for many years was head of the Crichton Royal Institution*, Dumfries. He died in 1910. John Rutherford, born in 1842, entered the ministry of the U.P. Church, and was ordained pastor of St Nicholas Church, Aberdeen, 11th November, 1868. In 1882 he sought and obtained admission to the Church of Scotland, and for a number of years was minister of St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall. He died at Harrogate, 22nd January, 1922. Alexander Cuming Rutherford, born 5th November, 1844, was a chartered accountant in Glasgow, and for some years Provost of Kirkintilloch. His death took place in 1909. The present minister of Dunkeld Cathedral, the Rev. Thomas Rankine Rutherford, M.A., is also a great-grandson of Patrick Mair.

“Killing Time” Recalled.

Mr Mair was succeeded in the printing business by his son-in-law, Mr Thomas Johnston. The latter was also of Linlithgowshire stock, his people having for generations farmed lands at Ballencrief, near Bathgate, where he was born on 22nd July, 1755. In that district, during the killing time,”* when so much Scottish blood was shed by the persecuting myrmidons of the unworthy King Charles II, there was strong popular sympathy with the covenanters. One at least of Thomas Johnston’s progenitors suffered death for the cause of Presbytery. This was James Davie*, an ancestor through the maternal line, who was slain, while attending a conventicle at Blackdub, in 1673, by a party of dragoons under an officer named Heron. Davie was buried in the secluded old churchyard of Bathgate, where there is a stone to his memory.

There are pretty good grounds for believing that Thomas Johnston was not bred to the printing of bookselling trade, but first followed another calling, ultimately assisting Patrick Mair in business, and finally succeeding to it as we have stated, in1797. That, at least, is the earliest date known, when any of the numerous books which bear his name was printed. He had evidently been settled in Falkirk by 1785, as on the 5th December of that year he was united in marriage to one of Patrick Mair’s daughters, Margaret. If, as we may assume, he assisted his father-in-law during the years 1785 to 1797, he must have been thoroughly equipped to carry on the business when it was transferred to him.

During a long series of years Mr Thomas Johnston carried on printing and publishing in Falkirk, issuing editions of many important books, a few of which are:—

  • “Parable of the Ten Virgins,” opened and applied, by Thomas Shepherd. 2 vols., 500 pages each (1797):
  • Memories of the Life of the Rev. Geo. Whitefield, M.A., with portrait. 300 pages (1798):
  • “The Death of Death in the Death of Christ,” by John Owen, D.D. (1799).

Quaint Chap-Books.

Like his father-in-law and predecessor, Mr Thomas Johnston was strong in the works of famous divines, for which there was in the Scotland of that period a remarkable demand; but he also did a good deal in the reproduction of lighter literature. Chap-books* were then greatly in vogue, and of these he printed large quantities. They were cheaply got up affairs and were vastly popular with the masses. Through the agency of these packmen or pedlars who, before the epoch of railroads, were about the only traders to supply the wants of remote localities, they found their way to every rural district, where they were eagerly purchased by the peasantry. The chap-books were almost infinite in their variety, among them being sermons, stories, ballards, lives of heroes, historical abridgments, travels, etc.

It is worthy of mention that one of the chap-books entitled “The Life and Exploits of Rob Roy Macgregor.” issued by Thomas Johnston in 1814, must, according to Mr Clement K. Shorter, the well-known literary critic, have been seen by Sir Walter Scott, whose romance of “Rob Roy” “is made,” he says, “to run on parallel lines.” A reprint of this chap-book was given in the columns of the “Falkirk Herald” beginning 3rd August, 1910, and was taken from a copy of the book in the British Museum*. The titles of a few of those issued from this office may be given as curiosities —

  • “The Mournful Tragedy of the Valiant Knight, Sir William Wallace, Governor of Scotland, to which is prefixed a Brief Historical Account of his most surprising exploits for the Delivery of Scotland, and the way in which he was betrayed into the hands of the English”;
  • “The Surprising Life and Sufferings of Peter Williamson, who was carried off from Aberdeen in his infancy and sold as a slave in North America”;
  • “History of the King and the Cobbler”;
  • “The History and Adventures of that famous Negro robber, Three-fingered Jack, the Terror of Jamaica”;
  • “The Surprising Adventures of Frederick, Baron Trenck, giving an account of how he was confined in a dungeon with chains of 68 pounds weight, and was afterwards guillotined in France, in the time of the Revolution”;
  • “The Advantages and Disadvantages of Married State by Philanthropist”.

The British Museum Library* contains a considerable number of others, not mentioned in the above list, many of them with quaint titles.

At the Burns Exhibition* held at Glasgow in 1896, the following works from Thomas Johnston’s press were shown, and are now rarely to be met with:—

  • “The Beauties of Burns” (12mo). 1809;
  • “Beauties of Burns’ Poems” (12mo). 1819;
  • “The most admired Poems of the celebrated Scots Poet, Robert Burns” (12mo). 1826.

The first-named was lent by the late Mr George Gray, whose collection of rare Scottish books and chap-books was unique, and the last-named, by the late Mr W. Craibe Angus, Glasgow, renowned as an art critic and authority on everything pertaining to the works of the National Bard.

Stintmaster and “Chief Magistrate.”

In the affairs of his adopted town, Mr Thomas Johnston took a lively and public-spirited interest. On 10th October, 1809, he was elected a Stintmaster*, being one of four who represented the merchants, and three days later he was elected Preses* of that body. On the 13th May, 1811, he was re-elected. Further confidence was shown in him by the Feuars* of Falkirk, who elected him Preses of a committee composed of several of their number and of the inhabitants. The subject that agitated the community at the time was the construction of the present handsome town’s steeple* — our most conspicuous landmark. As “Chief Magistrate,” he falkirk-steeplepresided at the laying of the foundation stone of the structure on 24th March, 1813, and it was principally owing to his unremitting assiduity and public spirit that the undertaking was brought to a successful conclusion. The handsome town clock, which keeps the “Bairns” “up to time,” was contracted for during Mr Thomas Johnston’s term of office, as a brass tablet in the Steeple indicates, and also the magnificent toned bell, cast by Mears, of London. On the completion of these undertakings, Mr Johnston retired from taking an active share in Stintmasters’ and Feuars’ affairs. He was, it may further be mentioned, one of the originators of the Falkirk Curling Club, founded in 1816, which is still going strong “when stern winter rules,” and in 1811 he joined the old Masonic Lodge of Falkirk, now known as Lodge 16. He died on 18th May, 1831, much and justly esteemed and respected by the community. Mrs Johnston died 25th October, 1838.

The newspaper article continues, with pieces about of two of Thomas JOHNSTON’s sons; the “third son”, James, (or the 4th son according to the Genealogical Chart!) who was an Engineer to the Russian Czar (Nicholas I) in St. Petersburg, and the “youngest son”, Archibald who succeeded Thomas in the printing business.

*Notes;

Falkirk Herald; See – Wikipedia for a bit about the newspaper’s history, or the Newspaper’s own website HERE. For some history of the Johnston Press, see their website, or Wikipedia.

Margaret Telfure; At first site of this, I wondered if the newspaper (or their source) had mis-transcribed the “F” in Telfure from an old-fashioned long-S, making it “Telsure”! (I have since been assured that this is not the case). By searching the IGI, I have also found records of a couple in the same parish, at the same time period, transcribed as “Peter MAIR” and “Margaret TELFER”, including the christening of a son; Thomas, in April 1743. So is this the same couple? It needs a careful look at the parish registers to try and work out!

Edinburgh Evening Courant, newspaper;  See – Wikipedia.

Falkirk Relief or Falkirk West United Free Church; See Falkirk Archives; Finding Aid (60) pdf file.

The Crichton Royal Institution, Dumfries. See – Wikipedia

The “killing time”. See – Wikipedia.

James Davie, Covenanter; See CANMORE Record of James Davie’s tomb at Bathgate, and Dr Mark Jardine’s blog about the Covenanters for more details about James Davie’s life and death. Thomas JOHNSTON’s paternal grandmother was a “Marion DAVIE, from Blackdub, or  Tannock, near Cumbernault(according to the JOHNSTON family tree that I have). I have no other details for Marion DAVIE. If they are related, then James might belong to the generation of Marion’s Grandparents.

Chap-books. See “Chapbook” on Wikipedia.

The British Museum Library; www.britishmuseum.org . I have tried searching their catalogue HERE, for some of the titles given, and for the JOHNSTON name as publisher, but without results!

The Burns Exhibition, held in Glasgow in 1896; there are several examples of the exhibition catalogue digitised on-line, including;

Stintmaster, or Stentmaster; see Falkirk Local History Society.co.uk or the book “Falkirk Through Time”, via Google Books.

“Preses”; meaning “President” (I think!).

Feuars of Falkirk; see the Dictionary of the Scots Language for its meaning, or Falkirk Local History Society.co.uk for the local history.

Falkirk town Steeple; see Wikipedia or Falkirk Local History Society.co.uk.

Please see “Part 2” for some of my thoughts about the above article, and other information I’ve recently found.

John Johnston WALKER, 1848 – 1891

This is one in a series of blog posts about some old papers of the WALKER family, from Kirkliston, West Lothian, Scotland. You can see a list of these papers HERE.

John Johnston WALKER
Photo of John Johnston WALKER, taken (I think) shortly before he left for New Zealand in 1869.

Having mentioned him, and included his photo, in a previous piece, I want to post a bit more about this 2x Gt-Uncle, John Johnston WALKER. To my present knowledge, at least on the WALKER side of my family, John is the closest relative to my direct ancestry (i.e. a son/daughter, brother/sister, uncle/aunt) to have emigrated from the British Isles.

What little I know about him is mostly contained in the WALKER family history, first written by my Granddad (John’s nephew) in the 1950’s. I copy the little section written about John, here;

John Johnston Walker was born 21st January 1848. He went to New Zealand in 1869 [aged 21] and was manager of a large Sheep Station at Edendale until 1877, when he decided to start on his own, and took up a virgin block of land on the Otamakapua Block. In 1891 he went to Feilding to have treatment for a severe attack of fever and was treated by a Doctor Charlton without success, and died on 19th November 1891. On his retirement from the sheep station, where he was most popular, he was presented with a very handsome gold watch and chain.

I’m not 100% sure about the locations mentioned, particularly “Edendale”, of which I can find 3 identified places with that name, around New Zealand! (Search for “Edendale”, HERE)

On a trip to New Zealand in 2013, my uncle, David, visited Feilding and took the following photos (note; these are scans of the prints I have from him);

The gravestone at Feilding cemetery reads;

“In Memory of
John J. Walker,
born at Kilpunt, Linlithgowshire,
Scotland.
Died at Feilding, N.Z., 19th Nov. 1891,
Aged 44 Years”

scan0003John’s death is also recorded on a gravestone in Kirkliston churchyard, West Lothian, Scotland, along with his parents, infant brother, and 3 of his sisters.

I have found just one document about John Johnston WALKER among the WALKER family papers; a letter home from him, responding to news of his father’s death in 1881. (See below for transcription and notes).

Page 1; letter-home-from-john-j-walker_july-1881_p1_300dpiTranscription of Page 1 (right side);

Lyndhurst*
July 15th 1881
My Dear Mother,
I am in receipt of ~ Tom’s letter conveying the ~ sad news of my Father’s death. ~ It is certainly a very solemn ~ [invitation] we have received ~ from Him with whom we ~ have to do. I feel the loss ~ very much for your sake ~ & for mine but we must ~ bow ourselves submissively ~ before Almighty God and ~ say ‘Thy will be done’.

Regarding the estate of ~ my late Father, I do not ^[think] it ~ would be prudent to advise ~ you, as I lack a knowledge ~ of circumstances. One thing ~

Page 1 (left side);

and that is ? would Kilpunt ~ be worth keeping seeing so ~ much money has been lost ~ by farming it of late years. ~ So far as I am concerned ~[treat] me as if I was not, at ~ the same time if I can help ~ you in any way depend upon ~ me. I too have lost [heavily] ~ at farming. two years ago – ~ £800 went. but what of ~ that.

If Tom is inclined to farm the ~old place so as to keep the ~ family together let him do ~ so. But before [signing] any ~ lease, don’t forget to be pre~pared against foreign com~petition.

Now Tom*, I as your elder ~ brother would kindly advise

Page 2; letter-home-from-john-j-walker_july-1881_p2_300dpiTranscription of Page 2 (left side);

to look well to our Mother’s ~ ## comfort & happiness & ~ also to that of our sisters. ~ Don’t go hunting, or pleasure ~ seeking, but seldom: remem~ber we must try to discharge ~ our late Father’s debts, for ~ I think it is a duty of ours ~ if we com by [God’s] help ~ perform.

Some one here sent word ~ I was ill. He was mistaken ~ I kindly bid you ad[..] ~ [m…le_] Am writing in ~ haste to post for mail_

Yours Aff-ly
J. Walker
P.S. Will write next mail
for sure___
put in [p…ite] for me

Page 2 (right side);

address as formerly-

*Notes; I’m not sure of the location given at the top of the letter! There is a “Lyndhurst” west of Christchurch, on the east side of South Island. (See NZ Topo Map ).

* “Tom” – was John’s youngest brother; Thomas George WALKER (my Great-Grandfather).

Searching the internet, I have found two other documents of interest;

First; a newspaper report of John Johnston WALKER’s death, from The Feilding Star newspaper, Thurs, 19th November 1891 (via Past Papers; National Library of New Zealand);

Report in the Feilding Star newspaper, NZ, 19 Nov 1891
Newspaper report

This morning there died at Buckingham Palace, (Mr Worsfold’s boardinghouse). a settler named John Johnston Walker, who was one of the first selectors on the Otamakapua Block. Some months ago he came to Feilding for medical treatment as he was suffering from fever. Dr Charlton was unremitting in his attention and managed to cure his patient so far, but Mr Walker suffered a relapse, and lung disease rapidly developed. From the beginning Dr Charlton held ont no hopes of recovery, and the deceased was quite prepared for the fatal termination of his complaint. Mr and Mrs Worsfold showed every possible kindness and provided all that was necessary to insure the most perfect comfort of the invalid. The funeral will take place tomorrow at 10:30 am.

Second; in just the last few days (Dec. 2016) I’ve found details of John Johnston WALKER’s Will in New Zealand’s Probate records, available through FamilySearch.org. (I am unsure of FamilySearch’s copyright policy, so I won’t copy the images here! But I will add links to the page images – please click on the numbers – and I type up my own transcription of the text);

Image no. 154;

38290 ~ Dated 24 Sep 1891 ~ WILL ~ of ~ Mr John. J. Walker ~ John Prior ~ Solicitor ~ Feilding

Image 155;

A
This is the last Will and Testament of me ~ John Johnston Walker of Otamakapua in the ~ Provincial District of Wellington and Colony of ~ New Zealand. Farmer. I appoint Ernest Albert ~ Barton of Feilding in the Provincial District of ~ Wellington, Bank Agent (hereafter called “my ~ Trustee”) to be the Executer and Trustee of this ~ my will. I give devise and bequeath the ~ whole of my Real and personal property of ~ whatsoever nature or kind and wheresoever ~ situate including amongst other things my ~ interest in a perpetual Lease, moneys at the ~ Bank on deposit and open account into my ~ Trustee Upon trust that my Trustee shall sell ~ call in and convert into money the same or such ~ part thereof as shall not consist of money and ~ shall with and out of the monies produced by ~ such sale calling in and conversion and with ~ and out of such part of my personal Estate as ~ shall consist of money pay my funeral and ~ testamentary expenses and debts and shall stand ~ possessed of the residue of the said monies in ~ [burial] for my Uncle Thomas Johnston* of No.25 ~ Athol Gardens*, Glasgow, Scotland absolutely.

In Witness whereof I have to this my last Will ~ and Testament – set my hand this twenty fourth ~ day of September one Thousand Eight hundred ~ and ninety one.

Signed by the above named John ~ Johnston Walker as his last Will ~ and Testimony in the presence of ~ us both being present at the ~ same time who at his request ~ in his presence and in the ~ presence of Each other have ~ here[unto] subscribed our names ~ as witnesses.

John. J. Walker (signature)

[Clifton] [Chaelton] MB. [Clu.] […] ~ Feilding (signature)

John Prior ~ Solicitor, Feilding. (signature)

Note on Left side of the page (img.155), at 90°.;

This is the paper [w…] marked “a” referred [to] in the ~ Affidavit of Ernest Albert Barton […] this 29th day of ~ December 1891 Before me ~ […(signature)…] ~ A Solicitor of the Supreme Court of New Zealand.

In addition to the Will, there are 7 further images of related Supreme Court documents, which are worth a look at, but which I won’t transcribe here because they seem to yield few additional details of note!

See; Image 156; Image 157; Image 158; Image 159; Image 160; Image 161; & Image 162.

*Note; “John JOHNSTON” was a brother of John Johnston WALKER’s mother, Margaret. I think that “Athol Gardens” might be “Athole Gardens, Glasgow, G12 9BQ

I would be interested to find more details about John Johnston WALKER; like where he lived/travelled in New Zealand, and the passenger records for when he moved out there in 1869 (which I’ve started having a little look for, but not yet found anything!).

If you know of anything more about John Johnston WALKER, that you could direct me towards, then please leave a comment below, or use the Contact Page to get in touch. Thanks.

AFamilyHistoryBlog – new Facebook page

Today I was reflecting on a number of interesting pieces that I’ve either seen, heard, or read, about family history/genealogy in the last couple of weeks. I’ve thought about posting links to some of these onto “AFamilyHistoryBlog” – the website which I’ve been developing for nearly 3 years now. But I haven’t particularly wanted to do so because I want to keep the blog focused primarily on my research into my own family history.

facebook-logo-2Then the idea came to me that I could create a Facebook page where I can easily share links to interesting general articles like these, as well as to “AFamilyHistoryBlog” articles about my own research.

So after a bit of evening tinkering, here is that Facebook page.

This is intended, in part, to be a kind of scrapbook/diary for myself – to collect together such articles that I find of interest.

facebook-logo-1But I would also like to encourage family, and anyone else who’s interested in my family history research, to “Follow” BOTH the WordPress blog (click the “FOLLOW” button in Right-hand column of the website), and the Facebook page (click “LIKE” at the top of the page).

IMG_9478-croppedI will continue posting articles about my own family history research onto AFamilyHistoryBlog and will then share those articles on this Facebook page. But I will also use the Facebook page to quickly share anything else I see of general interest to family history research.

Thanks for FOLLOWING.

Matt.

All known surnames in Matt's ancestry upto his 6x Gt Grandparents
All known surnames in Matt’s ancestry upto his 6x Gt Grandparents

Some old photos of the WALKER family

This is one in a series of blog posts about some old papers of the WALKER family, from Kirkliston, West Lothian, Scotland. See a list of these papers HERE.

Here are a few photos that I have, of members of my WALKER family. These are currently the oldest photos that I know about, of members of this branch of my family. I found this group of photos together inside a plain blue envelope, aprox- A6 sized. The images are all about 2⅛ x 3¾” (54 x 95mm).

Although the photos of James WALKER and Margaret JOHNSTON are not dated, the details on the back, naming the studio where they were taken, can give us some indication of a date range. It seems clear that these 3 photos were all taken at the same time, during the same studio sitting.

The backs of these 3 Photos are all labled “ROSS & THOMSON, PHOTOGRAPHERS, 90 Princes Street, Edniburgh”. Websites with information about early photographers (for example HERE) indicate that this studio opperated at this address between 1848 and 1864, which suggests that the photos must be from this date range. I suspect that they date from fairly soon after James and Margaret’s marriage, at Bathgate in February 1847 (so earlier rather than later in the possible date-range).

The 4th photo in this group is of James and Margaret’s oldest son; John Johnston WALKER. John was born in January 1848, and went to New Zealand in 1869 where he was manager of a large Sheep Station at Edendale until 1877, when he decided to start on his own, and took up a virgin block of land on the Otamakapua Block, North Island. He died at Feilding, Manawatu District, NZ, in November 1891.

The back of this photo is labled; “J Horsburgh, PHOTOGRAPHER, 131 Princes Street, Edinburgh”. This photograhper’s name, at this address, appears to suggest a date between 1868 and 1898 (not earlier than 1868) (see HERE). So the year written on the reverse, “1869”, is probably accurate, suggesting that the photo was taken shortly before John left Scotland, for New Zealand.

In the envelope, along with these photos, there is a hand-written list of all the members of this generation of the Walker family (including the children’s birth dates). (I have shared this note previously). This is on the back of an old envelope addressed to James and Margaret’s youngest son (and my Gt-Grandfather), Thomas George WALKER, in 1891. I believe this list to have been written down by Thomas George Walker.

Transcription of note (with added details);

James Walker b. 24/1/1818, d. 6/5/1881. and
Margaret Johnston b. btw. Apr & Sept. 1818, d. 15/9/1890. married
23rd Feb. 1847 at Bathgate.

John Johnston Walker, born 21st Jan. 1848 d. 19/11/1891 – aged 43 – in N.Z.
Margaret Young “} and
d. 13/ 5/1891 – aged 41.
James (twins) “} 19 Oct. 1849 d.   4/ 5/1851 – aged 18 mths.
Isa(bella) Neill 3 May 1852 d.  8/11/1916 – aged 64. Married
Jemima Janet 30 Mar 1854 d. 24/12/1892 – aged 38.
Mary 9 Feb 1856 d. 25/ 6/1903 – aged 47. Married
Thomas George 4 Mar 1858 d. 19/10/1951 – aged 93. Married
Elizabeth Barron 7 Oct 1860 d. 14/10/1882 – aged 22

Note that several of these children have middle names which are the surnames of their Mother, Grandmothers, and Gt-Gt-Grandmother. This was common with many of the earliest recorded middle names, which can sometimes cause confusion knowing just who is being referred to. It is to avoid such confusion that on this site I tend to write SURNAMEs in CAPITALS, to distinguish actual Surnames from this kind of middle name.

Of these 8 children, only 2 have any descendants; Mary WALKER married John BRASH, and had 1 daughter. Thomas George WALKER married Helen Black CADZOW, and had 7 children.

For futher details please see A history of the WALKER family.