Find A Brown

After contact from a distant relative, I’ve spent the weekend revising my BROWN information and basically doing a kind of stocktake on the records I have for the family.

James BROWN (abt 1801) had 3 successive wives, 8 children and one more potential child born out of wedlock (see Antenuptial Fornication).  These lives centred around the farm, Woodhead of Dardarroch in the Glencairn parish of Dumfriesshire.  After tidying up my records, I rewarded myself with a quick search for Dardarroch and lo and behold, the gravestone of James’ parents was revealed to me (or at least the location and inscription):

screenshot from


Jun. 11, 1793
Dumfries, Scotland


Apr. 29, 1870
Dumfries, Scotland

In memory of Daniel BROWN who died at Moorhouse, Keir 29th April 1870 aged 77 years. Also William his son who died 1st May 1865 aged 34 years. Also Mary his daughter who died in 1848 aged 7 years. Margaret his daughter who died in Sept 1858 aged 28 years.
[West Side]
Here lyes Margret BROUN who died Mrch 14 1796 aged 2 months. Margt BROWN spouse to William CLERK, who died 27th Oct 1820 aged 25 years. Also Jean MAXWELL, spouse to John BROWN, who died upon the 19th Jan 1827 aged 66 years. Also the said John BROWN who died at Woodhead of Dardarroch the 15th of April 1840 aged 80 years. Erected by John BROUN, father in Crosford. 1796.

Penpont Parish Churchyard
Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland


This gravestone inscription has given me another child (Margret); death dates for John BROWN & Jean MAXWELL, as well as approximate birth dates.

It has also given me some other leads to follow, including 2 other ‘Brown’ graves on the Find A Grave website. Thankyou transcriber!

Neighbouring Families – Part 2

This is a follow on from my previous post – Neighbouring Families.

! The results here are accurate, however not the William BROWN I was tracing (see previous post for correction).  I have chosen to leave this information here to help others.

Using FamilySearch, I searched the IGI for Sarah FERGUSSON with a spouse named BROWN.

Success: It listed Sarah marrying a John BROWN in Glencairn, 1826 (about 3 years before William BROWN was born according to the censuses).  This seemed a very good match indeed so I began to search for birth records of William and his brother, John.
No sign of William but I found a birth and christening record for John (parents John BROWN and Sarah FERGUSON) in the nearby parish of Keir, for September 1825.  However, this was a year before his parents’ marriage so although it is not impossible, I could not be sure. Perhaps the parish record will say whether the birth was ‘legitimate’ or not?  I bit the bullet and viewed the actual parish record on ScotlandsPeople.  The birth had been transcribed incorrectly and actually took place in December 1828 – remember ALWAYS view the actual record where possible!
Birth entry for John BROWN, son of John BROWN & Sarah FERGUSSON – December 1828
While checking my previous searches on ScotlandsPeople, I found an entry for William, legitimate son of John BROWN and Sarah FERGUSON of Snade Mill (the residence was indecipherable to me at first but the ordnance survey maps helped me a great deal) He was born on the 2nd December 1826 and christened the 6th December.

Birth entry for William BROWN, son of John BROWN & Sarah Fergusson – December 1826
Snade Mill (Cairn Water), Glencairn parish

Now I need to link this John BROWN to my James BROWN to prove these neighbours were also family.  I would also like to find the family connection to George BROWN who also lived at Woodhead throughout these censuses.

Next steps (edited):
  • Find a family link between these BROWNs and the BROWNs at Woodhead (see next post in the series)

Neighbouring Families

Dardarroch, Dunscore, Dumfriesshire in 2006
NOT Woodhead of Dardarroch

Eight years ago, I posted on the rootsweb message board regarding my BROWN ancestors farm, Woodhead of Dardarroch, in the parish of Glencairn. Recently someone replied that their ancestor was boarding with some BROWNS at Woodhead Cottage on the 1891 census. By 1891, James BROWN had died and his widow, Sarah (nee DOUGLAS) had moved away.  However, it is too much of a coincidence that the BROWNs still living at Woodhead were an entirely separate family as my BROWN’s had lived there since at least 1824 (discussed in this post).

I had long ago noticed the many BROWN families at and around Woodhead.  Now it was time to find out exactly how these BROWNs were connected.
Dardarroch via Get-a-map
First, I located William Brown at Woodhead Cottage on the 1891 census.  As you can see in the photograph above, Woodhead is quite a large house.  I presume Woodhead Cottage is the smaller part attached to the main building where the other family units lived together.  By this time, James’ widow and youngest son had moved to Keir where they lived in another home named ‘Woodhead Cottage’.
Woodhead on the 1891 census

I searched back for William BROWN (b.1829) and found him at Woodhead Cottage in all but 2 censuses.

Edited: It is here where I made a dangerous mistake.

! I found a William BROWN living at Shillanland (or Shillingland) with his uncle James FERGUSSON and a Jane and Sarah FERGUSSON.  I suspected one of these women (both listed as James’ sisters) was William’s mother.  Also listed was John BROWN (b. 1831) – I had discovered a brother to help with my search.

In 1841 the FERGUSSONs and BROWNs were all living at Burnhouse where the head of the household was a William FERGUSON and possible wife Mary.  This time Sarah was recorded as Sarah BROWN so is apparently William’s mother.  Since the 1841 census doesn’t record the relationships to the head, I will need to find records to prove William FERGUSON is his grandfather.  I will also search for a marriage between Sarah FERGUSSON and a BROWN. !

I now realise that this William BROWN is not the one at Woodhead from the 1861 census through to the 1901 census. A simple traceback through the censuses show that the head of Woodhead Cottage in 1891 is the son of George BROWN and Catherine McDOWAL – living at Woodhead from.  I now need only prove that George BROWN is the brother of my James BROWN


Edit 2: The picture at the top of this post is NOT Woodhead of Dardarroch as I mistakenly believed, it is actually a house called Woodhead in the nearby village of Dunscore. 

Next steps:

  • Find marriage record of Sarah FERGUSSON and BROWN
  • Find birth record of William or John BROWN
See following post – Neighbouring Families – Part 2

Chiropody at Trentham

I’ve finally managed to scan some of my grandmother’s photos that I brought back from my holidays.
This one appears to be a photograph of a sketch:
‘Chiropody at Trentham’ – Buchan 1916
On the back, my grandmother has written “Done by Charles Buchan during WWI.  He was in medical unit doing chiropody“.

Charles BUCHAN was my grandmother’s father.  She had written a letter to me years ago, when I first became interested in family history, in which she told me:
“Dad had a slight heart problem (valve) so had not been accepted for active service & ended up in medical corp & it was there that he did his training (or experience) in CHIROPODY (lots of feet there to practice on) & on returning to NZ, decided to set himself up as CHIROPODIST much to Grandma Reid’s disapproval. ‘Why on earth would he decide to out on his own, when CLUFFS (or whoever) would have been more than happy to re-employ him?'”
Grandma REID was Charles’ mother-in-law, who seemed to be a rather stern sort (maiden name – Janet HUNTER – grandaughter of James BROWN).  I’ve tried to research ‘Cluffs’ and its variations but came up blank (any help from New Zealand would be welcome).
While trying to find out more about Trentham Military Camp, imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon this page from Archives New Zealand :

There was no mention of Charles by name or any further information on his drawing but a look around provided me with another World War One sketch by my ancestor:

Swabbing While You Wait – another drawing by Charles Buchan, 1916

I had never seen this picture before and got very excited.  I will be contacting the archives to see if I can obtain a copy of the second image or at the very least if they will credit the images to Charles.

Trentham Camp and Upper Hutt District, 1914-1918

More Antenuptial Fornication

Applegarth Church, Dumfriesshire, Scotland
This is almost a continuation of my post about antenuptial fornication but I have decided to post separately as I am still not sure whether this is the same person.

In the Dumfries Kirk Sessions of 1822 (which are searchable online), James BROWN was “named as the father of Jean Smith’s child; [and] gave satisfaction for this in the parish of Applegarth” (Archive Ref: CH2/537/12).  I believe ‘gave satisfaction’ (in this sense), meant that the father gave monetary compensation to the parish for their support of the child.

So was this James BROWN my ancestor, who appeared in the Dunscore parish records 6 years later for antenuptial fornication?  With such a common name I cannot be sure but I can assess the likelihood of it being the same man for future reference.
First, was he old enough to be involved in this?  Although I don’t have his birth record, the 1851 census suggests he was born in 1801, which means he would have been 21 at the time – a prime age for this kind of crime. 😉
James Brown and family on the 1851 census
(Interestingly, their neighbour, Andrew Lorimer (appearing at bottom of image above) was the certifying physician on James’ death certificate.)

Next, was he near enough to be involved?  Applegarth is roughly 20 miles from Dunscore and about 30 miles from my James’ home, Glencairn.  Not a short walk, but not impossible distances.

Map showing locations of Applegarth, Dunscore and Glencairn (Moniaive) in relation to each other

So I can’t rule out my James Brown as the father of Jean Smith’s illegitimate child and I have kept hold of this genealogical tidbit. To get any closer to proving this, I would need to check for further information in the Kirk Session records and the Applegarth parish records for any further information on Jean SMITH and her child.

Next Steps:

  • Check for further information in the Kirk Session records
  • Check Applegarth parish records for the child’s birth

Update: Checked Applegarth, Dunscore, Glencairn and Lochmaben parishes (via ScotlandsPeople) for any  birth with Jean SMITH as parent (between 1800 – 1825) and any SMITH birth (between 1816 – 1825) – no likely entries found (all have listed fathers).