James Findlay and his wife, Helen Buchan were living at 29 Port Henry Road in April of 1881 with 6 of their 8 children (Jane Ann & Agnes appear to be in service at this time). James was a boat builder and ship carpenter and they had been married for 20 years.
Sadly, only a few years later, both James and Helen were dead. Helen died of dropsy in 1885 and the following year James died of pernicious anaemia, leaving behind their young family.
Approximate age of James Findlay’s children at the time of his death:
- James 23
- Jane Ann 21
- Agnes 20
- Margaret 17
- William 14
- Arthur 10
- John 8
- Helen 6
(note: Another daughter named Helen (b.1870) died before 1880)
James’ estate was only valued as a total of £18 14s (equivalent to roughly £1500 in today’s money) but he also owned the house on Port Henry Rd* where the family lived.
On the surface, there wasn’t a lot of genealogical information in these documents (the only relative named was his son), yet it still managed to indicate the care he had for his family.
…(First) My said Trustees and their foresaids shall as soon as convenient assign convey and deliver to my son James Findlay Junior Fisherman Port Henry Road Peterhead the whole of my moveable estate in consideration of which the said James Findlay Junior shall be bound to pay my debts and funeral expenses including sums due to my children for money lent to me (Second) My said Trustees and their foresaids shall allow the said James Findlay Junior to occupy free of rent with power of subletting my house in Port Henry Road on condition that the said James Findlay Junior shall (in the first place) maintain such of my children as are under the age of seventeen years until the said children or the survivors of them individually reach the age of seventeen years or give such assistance as said children require for their maintenance in addition to their own earnings Declaring that I wish my children to understand that my desire is that they shall as soon as possible do what they can to maintain themselves Declaring further that the said James Findlay Junior shall not be bound to maintain or assist in maintaining any of said children unless they are content to live in family with him in his house and (in the second place) provide a free lodging in said house for such of my daughters as are unmarried though above the age of seventeen during such time as said unmarried daughters have no other home open to them but [beyond] the simple shelter of his house the said James Findlay Junior shall not be bound to maintain or assist in maintaining any daughter beyond the age of seventeen. This provision in favor of unmarried daughters shall cease to be binding when as hereinafter provided my house is conveyed to the said James Findlay Junior in absolute property or is sold Declaring that the said James Junior shall not be bound to perform any of the above conditions in favor of my children and unmarried daughters unless said children and unmarried daughters conduct themselves properly and to the satisfaction of my said Trustees and their foresaids (Third) When my youngest child then alive attains the age of seventeen years if the said James Junior is alive and has fulfilled the above conditions of maintaining my younger children and providing a lodging for my unmarried daughters my said Trustees or their foresaids shall convey my said house to the said James Findlay Junior as his absolute property…
Basically, James willed that his eldest son James Jr would inherit his estate and take ownership of the house, as long as he continued to provide for the younger children until they were 17 years of age and behaved themselves (but desired that they try to maintain themselves as soon as possible). He also hoped that James Jr would allow his unmarried sisters above the age of 17 to lodge rent free in the family home if needed, but wasn’t bound to support them outside this. James Jr appeared to have honoured his father’s wishes.
On the 1891 census, Arthur & John were recorded still with him on the 1891 census. Margaret was boarding with sister, Jane Ann in Almanythie Lane (2 streets over) and the youngest, Helen, was recorded with older sister Agnes in Port Henry Lane (a lane connecting Longate to the harbour – since demolished). I have as yet been unable to locate William.
Interestingly one of the named executors refused the role. John Suttar was a long established local merchant who “carried on an extensive trade with the fishing community” [Aberdeen People’s Journal 15 December 1906 p9] and John Gilchrist Mitchell was a fish curer whose son was the solicitor named in the will, Henry Benjamin Gilchrist. Both were clearly acquainted with James and may have even been close friends but as Suttar declined it’s unclear.
*house number seems to change but still refer to same address