I have been searching The Scotsman digital archive this morning (searches are free) and found a tantalising snippet relating to my family history – or does it?
The Scotsman – 6 Nov 1879 – “DUMFRIES – SHEEP WORRYING. – On Monday, at Woodhead, Dunscore, a dog chased a flock of 92 sheep out of a field and… One was killed”
My farming ancestors lived at Woodhead, Dunscore since at least 1824 when my great grandfather, James Brown, was recorded in the Crown Office Precognitions as a farm labourer there in 1824 (He had been accused of assault but that’s a different story). From the 1841 census onwards, James is recorded as Farmer at that property until 1871. Woodhead played a significant part in my family’s life until James died at Woodhead in 1873. This newspaper snippet was from 1879.
James Brown’s death – 1873 (shows Woodhead as place of death)
As fabulous a resource the Scotsman archives are, I can’t really afford to jump in ‘willy-nilly’, so I need to check if any of my family is still tied to the property in 1879.
James’ third wife, Sarah (nee Douglas) survived him and the 1871 census shows more Brown’s living on the property (ie., Woodhead Cottage, Woodhead Farm). This means that the easiest first step is to check the 1881 census to see if these Brown’s are still at Woodhead. If so, then the article will at least be referring to my extended ancestral family.
Browns at Woodhead in 1871
A search of the 1881 census shows that his widow, Sarah and son, Samuel are also still at Woodhead in 1881. Another search shows that the William Brown who was living at Woodhead in the 1871 census, is still there in 1881. I’m unsure of the exact family relationship between my James Brown and this William but chances are high at least that the newspaper article will be referring in some way to the property part of my family owned at the time. This does not mean they will refer to my ancestors by name however, and as I’m a thrifty genealogist, I’m going to see if there are any other articles to do with my family before I invest.
I’m in luck though, as the Scotsman Digital Archives are having a special offer to celebrate Homecoming Scotland 2009 and prices currently start at £3.95 for a 24 hour pass (July only).
Edit: This is definitely not my ancestor’s place. Woodhead, Dunscore is much different to Woodhead of Dardarroch.
I’ve discovered that if the record image you want is not online, the Archives Office of Tasmania has a free record service – I’ve now requested a copy of the original page with George and Elizabeth’s Convict Application to Marry.
I found out last year that I have convict blood coursing through these law-abiding veins.
Alice Ann WHITE was born in Victoria, Australia in 1860. Her parents names on the birth certificate left no clues that both her parents were actually freed convicts. The only reference to their previous life was that both of their birthplaces were recorded as Birmingham. Now, Birmingham’s a big place – George Allen WHITE and Elizabeth ALLEN are not unusual names, so I was unable to confidently identify my George and Elizabeth from the many others in the IGI.
After a bit of digging about and requests for information online, a helpful person contacted me to say they had located George and Elizabeth’s marriage in 1845 but it was actually in Tasmania! That’s pretty much where my research into this family stayed for some time.
To cut a very, long story short, I discovered that both had been transported to Australia for various thefts – George was convicted in Bedford 1834 and Elizabeth in Birmingham 1842.
I went to the Birmingham Central Library archives last week to do a bit more research into this.
I looked in the Quarter Session Records and found the record of Elizabeth’s sentence of transportation. I was surprised to see it also mentioned that she had been previously convicted of felony.
‘Oh, well’, I thought, ‘yet another mystery I may never know the answer to’.
However, when I photographed the index page, I noticed Elizabeth Allen listed again.
The entry stated that Elizabeth had been sentenced to three months hard labour for stealing a brooch and some earrings from Ann Rock.
She obviously didn’t learn her lesson – it was less than three months after her release when she stole a shawl from Michael Kelly and was transported to the colonies for 10 years.
‘Twas a hard life in them days…
I’ve been researching family history for a few years now and my computer has lots of little notes to self (or others) about how I’ve come to conclusions or where I plan to turn to next. I recently started a blog about my retro interests and thought a blog may be a good way for me to store thoughts and record my research. I will begin with my most current ‘branch activity’ – which involves gypsies AND convicts!