I’m aiming to write and post a little bit each day about the family history research I’m doing, and what I find, during a week staying in Edinburgh. But for personal privacy, the posting of these travels on AFamilyHistoryBlog will be delayed by a few days, and will not necessarily be in day by day order! Some of these posts may be given later tweets, with added photos, etc.
I began the day by going to obtain a readers ticket for the National Records of Scotland Historical Search Room. I arrived at the General Register House just before their doors opened at 9am. The registration process was quick and easy (as I had come fully prepared). So I was done and out again in just 20 minutes.
My plan is to return to the Historical Search Room later during my week in Edinburgh, to see some records I’ve identified from the National Records of Scotland catalogue, that look to be of interest to me. Some of these records are listed as being “off site” and need to be ordered in advance. So before leaving I made my request for those documents, so that they will be available to view on the day that I plan to go back there.
I then headed to a bus stop and caught a bus out to explore a bit of West Lothian. My first stop was Kirkliston where I had arranged to meet Joe Henderson, who was able to open the church building for me to see inside. I have visited the Kirkliston churchyard a couple of times before, but not previously seen inside the church. Joe appears to know a great deal about the history of Kirkliston church and the parish. He gave me a copy of “Kirkliston; A Parish History” by Donald Whyte, and I gave him a copy of the history I have about my WALKER family.
After a little while inside the church, we went out into the churchyard, where I went particularly to look at the WALKER family gravestones there, and to take some new photos of them. Unfortunately (as you will see from the photo – to follow) a bush has been allowed to grow up right in front of the oldest gravestone – that of “William WALKER, late tenant in Hiddlefold, who died on Jan.1st 1768, aged 73″. But I was able to pull the branches away enough to check the inscription, which is still readable.
Joe was then able to give me a lift to Kilpunt. I had a good look around there, taking a number of photos, and wandered down to the nearby site of Hiddlefaulds, where the Walker family had farmed from about 1745. There is now just a pile of stones on the site of Hiddlefaulds (which I believe was demolished in the 1890’s), and all the farm buildings at Kilpunt have been converted into houses.
From Kilpunt I went on to Broxburn, then Livingston. In the afternoon, on route back to Edinburgh, I got off the bus in Kirknewton, where the Walker family also farmed, to have a look at the old graveyard there. I didn’t really expect to find any Walker gravestone inscriptions there, but thought I’d have a good look anyway! So I looked, but didn’t find anything of family interest there!
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.
In “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.
I 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.
A 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”, who 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.
The 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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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);
Hotel in Feilding town centre
Entrance to Feilding Cemetery
Gravestone of John Johnston WALKER
Colse-up of John Johnston WALKER’s gravestone
The gravestone at Feilding cemetery reads;
“In Memory of
John J. Walker,
born at Kilpunt, Linlithgowshire,
Died at Feilding, N.Z., 19th Nov. 1891,
Aged 44 Years”
John’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; Transcription 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; Transcription 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;
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);
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.
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!
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.