While trawling through the parish registers of St Combs, I came across a record for a Charles Gordon BUCHAN.  It was quite rare to come across a middle name in this family (as opposed to a tee name) and wondered if it was reference to the mother’s maiden name.

Baptism of Charles Gordon BUCHAN, 1785 – Lonmay parish registers

Alexander Buchan (Skipper) in Cairnglass had a son baptd named Charles Gordon. W[itnesses] John Strachan (*sley) & James Buchan.

It was the first time I’d come across ‘Cairnglass’ and found more about the place in the Ordnance Survey Books:

A superior farmsteading on the estate of Cairness. The property of Jas W Gordon Esqr.

I recall reading somewhere that tenant farmers sometimes named their children after land owners so it’s highly likely that Alexander Buchan of Cairnglass names his son in honour of the owner of his farm.  However, this seemed based on the valuation roll of 1869/70 – 85 years later – so proof would be needed that this property was in the Gordon family for some time.

A search for the Gordon name and Cairness brought up a page for Charles Gordon, 7th of Buthlaw and 1st of Cairness. He lived at the correct time and therefore lends credence to the idea Charles Gordon BUCHAN was named after him.  If anyone knows anything for or against this conclusion, I’d be very interested to hear about it.

Charles Gordon of Buthlaw, Lonmay and Cairness (1747–1797) by Henry Raeburn 1790 (c) The National Trust for Scotland, Fyvie Castle


Arthur and Martha… I mean, Mary

I mentioned in my previous post that I’d like to know more about Arthur BUCHAN’s next marriage as their children are mentioned in Roy Buchan’s book ‘From Peterhead to Passchendaele’.  He had married his first wife, Christian BUCHAN in 1857 who had died by the 1861 census.

Marriage of Arthur BUCHAN and Christian BUCHAN 1857

I located Arthur and his sons on the 1871 census who were now living with Arthur’s new wife, Mary and their new half siblings – Andrew, Mary and Elspet. 

Arthur & sons with new family on 1871 census

A search of the IGI located a marriage between Arthur and Mary BRUCE in 1864 which I then downloaded.  Strangely, Mary’s parents are not listed.

Marriage of Arthur BUCHAN and Mary BRUCE 1864

A further search of the IGI uncovered the births of their children, Isabella and Peter.  This Peter is ‘Uncle Peter’ who Roy refers to as “a shadowy figure who followed the family to New Zealand, arriving in about 1910”. Auntie Isa was also mentioned in letters written by Roy’s father and uncles during World War I. “a rotter who deserted his wife and children” (Buchan, R., From Peterhead to Passchendaele, 2003, p145).

I would say there’s a whole new story there.

Kissing Cousins?

I’m still reading Roy Buchan’s fabulous ‘From Peterhead to Passchendaele’ which has thrown up some more avenues of research but have been wondering about Jessie’s husband who was also a BUCHAN.   John’s parents, Arthur and Christian BUCHAN sounded familiar but the same names do keep cropping up in these fishing villages.  How closely related were they?

The first step was to download their marriage certificate to prove the parents of John.

Marriage of John BUCHAN and Jessie BUCHAN (8 Nov 1883 – 4 Port Henry Lane, Peterhead (bride’s home))

Then I located the family on the 1861 census. Christian was deceased and 2 of her sisters were living with Arthur – most likely helping with the 2 young children.

Arthur BUCHAN and his young sons, John and Arthur on the 1861 census at 21 West Row, St Combs

I suspected she died during childbirth but she actually died shortly before the census was taken of consumption and pneumonia.

Death of Christian BUCHAN  –  2 Mar 1861

I then looked to the transcribed 1851 census.  Christian and her sisters were there and again appeared in 1841 with their other siblings. Which I will soon look closer at as a study of the village of St Combs.

Roy lists other children of Arthur and Christian but mentions that he believes some are half brothers and sisters and therefore children of another union after Christian died.  Before I look further into the BUCHAN – BUCHAN connection, I’d like to find out more about this second union.

Son of a Lunatic

I received another reply from the wonderful archivist at NHS Grampian archives. Apparently, Agnes’ brother Wilson was also admitted into the Aberdeen Royal Lunatic Asylum. Wilson was suicidal when he entered the asylum in June 1875. He was released under the authority of John BUCHAN in October 1876. He had either recovered from his ‘melancholia’ or was being cared for at home.

While I wait for the case notes to arrive, I’ve been looking into John BUCHAN as he seems to be playing a vital role in his families lives. I don’t know yet whether this John is Agnes’ son or another family member. There are 2 or 3 John Buchans of the right age in the Lonmay parish in 1881. One married to a Mary PIRIE and one to an Isabella. I downloaded the death record of the only appropriate Lonmay death record (between 1876 and 1930) – this John was married to Mary PIRIE and his mother is recorded as Nancy BUCHAN (father – Arthur).

Statutory Death Record of John Buchan, 1907

Click for larger image

At first glance, it seems the other John in the 1881 census is my man. HOWEVER, the names Nancy and Agnes do sound similar – could this be an error? The informant was the man’s son, who was 18 on the 1881 census and so very likely to know his grandmother well.

A quick google search reveals that Nancy seems to be a nickname for Agnes. This record is looking more likely to be a match. Hopefully, the case notes will give me a clue (at least to whether the John Buchan whom Wilson was released to was in fact Agnes’ son).

Then it dawned on me, dear readers, the case notes had also given son John’s occupation as ‘carter’. The same occupation is recorded on these records and so, in a village full of fisherman, I can be fairly confident this is my man.

1881 Census Record
John BUCHAN & family and FINDLAY servant
Click for larger image

Before I go, however, the census record and the name Mary PIRIE seemed very familiar to me. Then I noticed the name of their servant, Agnes FINDLAY – this was a direct ancestor!

I even blogged about this Agnes’ gravestone a few months ago. I had often wondered if this Agnes was related to her ’employer’ as her mother was a Buchan. It turns out young Agnes (Mad Agnes’ grandaughter) was living with her uncle. I will look into this situation more and report back. I LOVE genealogy!

If you’ve only just found this blog – this particular story starts here.

Lunatic in the Family – Death of a Daughter

Rocks at St Combs
Photo by w11buch via flickr

I had a bit of a hunch and it seems I was correct.

As Jane seemed to be the one looking after Agnes, I wondered if she was the daughter Agnes thought people believed she had killed. I searched the death records and found she died in 1886. 2 years before Agnes was admitted to the asylum.

Her brother John informed the death as well as petitioned for her admittance. I presume Agnes stayed with him until it got too much for him and his family. Her address prior to admittance was 12 Charleston (a nearby village). If I can find evidence of John living at this address, it seems to be the most likely scenario.