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OK, geniuses, any guesses on this 1870s Scottish handwriting? And vague Qs on Scottish family history as well

(25 Posts)
PortAndLemon Sat 25-Apr-09 23:15:06

Here, from marriage registers

What I know or can guess...

Robert Whyte
Factory Manager
Betsy Whyte
M.S. Copland


John Gray
Ploughman (Dec.)
Margaret Seton

I have NO IDEA what that last line reads.

Also, while I have your attention grin, the 1853 Old Parish Register entry for the birth of Catherine Gray (the daughter of John Gray and Margaret Se(a)ton, who was getting married in the first record) looks like this (second from bottom).

I'm assuming from the various sources that John Gray and Margaret Se(a)ton never married, but does "his party" mean anything more than "the woman it's generally accepted he was shagging and whose child he acknowledges fathering" -- i.e. is there any kind of archaic quasi-official status implied?

I can't get this line any further back than Catherine and the bare names of her parents, and it's bugging me. And the MN Family History crowd seem to be uniformly helpful, well-informed and inspired (also intelligent, witty and attractive, obviously)

mollymawk Sat 25-Apr-09 23:42:25

could the first one be housekeeper?

PortAndLemon Sat 25-Apr-09 23:46:56

Oooh, it could, that's a good idea!

eidsvold Sun 19-Jul-09 22:27:49

last line is housekeeper as molly suggested. I would infer as you did that 'party' might mean our 'defacto'.

have you tried the IGI - you may be lucky to get a pedigree.


ButterbeerAndLemon Sun 19-Jul-09 23:43:44

Thanks (I haven't checked this thread for ages but coincidentally decided to have a look today). Someone on the Ancestry boards commented that according to the Concise Scots Dictionary "pairty" or "perty" have the meaning of a person proposed or intended as a marriage partner; a lover; a spouse.

Nothing on the IGI on the Gray/Seton side (well, the index of the baptism record itself, but I have that from ScotlandsPeople).

I may have another look for Margaret Se(a)ton in the various censuses armed with the housekeeper information to narrow it down, and see where that gets me.

LaurieFairyCake Sun 19-Jul-09 23:48:03

Yes, I would think it means betrothed. Perhaps because of youth, one party already married (no divorce), or in a Rochester-type way ex-spouse barking? Could also be an uncle and niece (couldn't marry) but he had repsonsibility for her. Or perhaps a servant he was obliged to look after.

How interesting smile

KristinaM Sun 19-Jul-09 23:50:25

i agree it looks like housekeeper

ButterbeerAndLemon Mon 20-Jul-09 00:04:01

I think the "Housekeeper" has got me somewhere -- there's only really one that fits the bill on the 1861 census, and that gives me a name and birthplace that I think identifies her on the 1851 census where she's living with her parents. Hurrah!

KristinaM Mon 20-Jul-09 00:14:44


Erbert Mon 20-Jul-09 14:19:30


Have you looked in the Statutory Deaths Registers for the deaths of John Gray and Margaret Seton? Which area were they in? I had a quick look for the death of Margaret Gr*y ms Se*ton with no results so presume that they did not marry - but a search in the correct area for deaths of Margaret Se*ton may narrow it down.

ButterbeerAndLemon Mon 20-Jul-09 15:18:47

I've got Margaret Seaton on censuses up until 1891, but can't find her in 1901 so I tentatively assume she died between those dates. I can't find a matching death, though.

There are lots of John Grays, and lots of them are agricultural labourers ("ploughman" is the sort of job title that can easily be reported as "agricultural labourer") so it's hard to narrow it down given I don't even have an approximate age (or only very very approximate). Also it's unclear whether he died in 1853-4 and I need to look at OPRs (patchy coverage anyway) or in 1855-1877 and I need to look at SDRs. There are a few candidates but nothing much to choose between them -- and that's just assuming he stayed in Perthshire rather than moving on elsewhere, which is entirely possible.

What I would like to do next is get a look at the Kirk Session records for Moulin in 1853 to see whether Catherine's illegitimate birth features in them, as that may give some more details about her father (say, his age or his family). But they aren't (I think) available online yet so I'll need to pay a researcher to go and look them up for me (shouldn't be too arduous a job so I'll get some quotes).

Erbert Mon 20-Jul-09 18:52:10

Do you have Margaret in the 1881 census (age 44) living with her mother, Catherine in Cargill? I think it looks like her. I can also see this persons death (I think) in 1893 in Perth.

I can see a John Gray in 1881 who could be a candidate:

John GRAY Brother Widowed 68 M Retired Coachman

Could this be him?

Erbert Mon 20-Jul-09 19:02:22

Update - I have a death of this John Gray in 1882 - widower of Margaret Ferguson which could be a mistake - his mothers MS is Ferguson - and I see a similar mistake in the record below. I wonder if this could be him?

yappybluedog Mon 20-Jul-09 19:26:24

how long has this topic been here?

ButterbeerAndLemon Mon 20-Jul-09 19:54:29

Yes, that's my Margaret, although she's not being entirely truthful about her age... but then they were knocking several years off the childen's ages even in 1851.

John Gray is described as "dec" in 1877. He may not actually be deceased at that point, of course, but as the only three things I know about him are his name, that he's a ploughman and that he died before 1877 it would be a bit perverse to ignore 33% of that without some compelling evidence grin.

ButterbeerAndLemon Mon 20-Jul-09 19:56:06

I'll check out the 1893 death, though - thanks. I couldn't see any in Perthshire in the relevant period but I may have been suffering from search blindness...

TheProvincialLady Mon 20-Jul-09 20:03:06

Grr and I just checked in to smugly tell you that it was housekeeper!

I am very envious of your scottish ploughpeople. My ancestors are all n'er do wells from big cities.

Vigilanteawarenessraiser Mon 20-Jul-09 20:23:36

so far as I know, women in Scotland traditionally didn't always take their husband's name on marriage - my great-grandmother's gravestone describes her as Bessie X Y (maiden names), wife of John Z. So as far as I know, you can't assume they weren't married just bcause she is always listed as Margaret Seton. If you look at the entries above, the women are all listed under their own names even when they are also listed as 'his spouse'. 'party' can also be synonymous with spouse, I think. Also think the daughter would prob have had her mother's surname if illegitimate? Also been listed as 'father unknown' even if the father was, in fact, known?

shoshe Mon 20-Jul-09 20:31:20

My Grandmother was buried as Mary Black wife of Thomas Denholm, and her mother as Jane Turner wife of Robert Black, and so on, I think it was fairly common to do this.

GentleOtter Mon 20-Jul-09 20:42:57

It is still quite common for Scottish women to have their maiden names on their headstones followed by 'wife of' if they predeceased their husbands.

Also, is it Moulin near Pitlochry? There are several Perthshire farms and areas by the name of Moulin.

Lastly, feeing markets were an annual affair where farm workers were 'fee'd out' to other farms sometimes for better money or conditions. A good ploughman would be fairly sought after so probably would have moved around a lot.

ButterbeerAndLemon Mon 20-Jul-09 21:28:33

Yes, but Margaret does seem to have been treated differently from a wife. She is never referred to as "Margaret Gray M.S. Seaton" or as "Margaret Seaton wife of John Gray", and she's listed as "Unmarried" on census records. And there's no trace of a marriage record. And she's the only person on the birth register page listed as "party". But, yes, the fact that Catherine appears to have an acknowledged father and to have been officially given his name implies some kind of status above and beyond your average illegitimate child (which is why I originally asked about the meaning of "party"). Maybe Margaret's father was just particularly large and intimidating persuasive (he was a mason when younger, so a handy man with a hammer...) wink

The Moulin near Pitlochry, yes. This branch of family wander up and down the Tummel a bit from Blair Atholl (although technically Blair Atholl isn't on the Tummel itself but on a tributary) to Moulin to Logierait.

I think the Kirk records are probably my best bet at this point. There's clearly some sort of story here so with luck some nineteenth-century nosey parker will have written it down...

GentleOtter Tue 21-Jul-09 08:35:14

You might find this article and this information quite useful.

ButterbeerAndLemon Tue 21-Jul-09 09:01:39

They make me wistful for the pre-DC days when I could take a day's leave and spend it on family history stuff... I spent a very productive day at New Register House when I was "doing" my side (this is DH's) and always intended to come back for a few days at NAS, but real life got in the way... <sigh>

TheProvincialLady Tue 21-Jul-09 10:16:42

I still do that but then my DH is a teacher and I am currently SAHM so I get more opportunities than average. Or at least I will do again when DS2 is a bit older (he's 6m and I am BF). But luckily there is a lot to do online. How are scottish records online?

ButterbeerAndLemon Tue 21-Jul-09 15:29:05

Registration, parish registers and censuses are all at -- handy but it's all pay-as-you-go (or rather, buy a block of credits and use them), no subscription options. To save my pennies if I'm looking at census records I tend to use Ancestry (who have census transcription but no images) to search the census and identify the right record, then scotlandspeople to look at the image (although that's complicated by the fact that the two sites don't always transcribe the same entries the same way).

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