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).

Antenuptial Fornication

A post by The Professional Descendant reminded me of my own ancestor’s indiscretion.
It’s easy to think that people were more chaste in the past.  This may be true, but a journey through the parish records shows that people back then also indulged in sex before marriage or as the Victorians preferred to call it, ‘antenuptial fornication’. 
Whilst looking through the Dunscore parish records for births and marriages, I found an entry for James BROWN’s proclamation of banns, for which he paid 3 shillings on June 10, 1827. (James was originally mentioned in this post).
James BROWN & Janet CURRIE’s marriage proclamation – Jun 1827
I believe the next entry for June 16, shows his marriage although the bride’s name appears different.  In January the next year, the couple were blessed with their baby girl, Jane.
BROWN, Jane [Legitimate Daughter] of James BROWN & Janet CURRIE, Whitecairn. Born 11th January 1828.
Someone must have done the maths though, because two weeks later James paid 3 shillings and 6 pence as a fine for antenuptial fornication.
James BROWN’s fine for antenuptial fornication – Jan 1828
Janet would have been about 2 months pregnant when they announced their intentions to marry back in June.  It is possible that Janet did not know she was pregnant but I think they were both aware when they decided to marry.  I wonder what must have gone through their heads – were they fearful of their secret being discovered?  How did their families react? Apart from the church fine, did they suffer any other repercussions or did it not matter now the child was legitimate?

Dumfries – Sheep Worrying

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”
Woodhead 2006
 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.