This week I’ll look at one of my first success stories that got me hooked. My most recent ancestors to immigrate to Canada was my Great Great Grandmother Barbara (Ferguson) Nicholson who was widowed in the First World War and married a Canadian soldier and brought her children with them when he returned to Canada after the war. I knew her name and the names of her children as well as the name of her first husband and I knew they were from Dumfries.
I had a chance to visit family friends in Dumfries in 1995/6 while I was studying in Salford and thought I would visit the local record office to see if they could help me uncover the family. We were able to locate the family members I already knew and as the Scottish statutory records are so detailed I was able to add a number of new ancestors to my tree. Being able to find out all these new names had me hooked.
One of the people I found was my 3rd Great Grandfather William Nicholson. He was born on the 8t h November 1860 at a place called Marjorybank in Lochmaben to George Nicholson and Mary Smith. He married Sarah Jane McFarlane and on the 6th August 1878 at Nethermill in Kirkmichael and they had nine children. Sometime between 1882 and 1884 the family moved from Dumfrieshire to to nearby Kircudbrightshire where he eventually died at Carsethorn on the 7th April 1931 at the age of 70.
The 1861 and 1881 census records for him raise some interesting questions.
1861 – Lochmaben – Age 4 Months. He is listed as living with his mother Mary Smith only. I haven’t been able to locate George Nicholson on this census although he appears on later censuses as being born in Yorkshire so I may need to expand my search into England. George and Mary were married on the 1st June 1860 at St Michael’s Manse in Dumfries so I don’t know why she would be showing under her maiden name a year later. Doing the math on the wedding date and the birth suggests they jumped the gun a bit – but this seems to happen several time on this line of the family so I don’t know how uncommon that would be for this time and place.
1871 – Lochmaben – Age 10 Years, Scholar. Living with both parents and his father is an agricultural Labourer
1881 – Kirkmichael – Age 20 years, Plowman. Living with his wife and their seven month old son who was born at Kirkmichael.
1881 – Lochmaben – Age 20 years, Farm Servant. Listed as married but living with both parents, three brothers and four sisters aged from one to 18 years.
WHAT!!!! How can he appear twice on the same census???? I’ve checked and can’t find anyone else this would be and asking around it seems it is not uncommon for a person to be enumerated at two addresses depending on who was asked. Looking at old maps it seems these are only a few miles apart so maybe they didn’t know where he would be staying that night when the census taker came round.
1891 – Kirkbean – Age 30 years, Farm Servant/Ploughman. Living with his wife, four sons and one daughter aged from one to ten years.
1901 – Kirkbean – Age 40 years, Ploughman on farm. Living with his wife, mother in law, six sons and two daughters aged from one to 20 years.
1911 – Southwick – Aged 50 years, Ploughman. Living with his wife, one son, and three daughters aged from five to 14 years.