Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Family history becomes real with the use of primary documents.

The site of Tullich Farm, Glenaray, Argyllshire. 

Family History is a combination of luck and accurate hard work.

by Tom Thorne
Although I come from Welsh and Scottish roots I have spent most of my family history research time discovering my Scottish family story first. It’s not because my Welsh Thorne side is less interesting, it is simply because contemporary members of my Scottish family are deeply into family history and I could get a head start from them.
I soon found that relatives such as Ralph Clark, the son of my first cousin Iain Clark, was very much in the know and put me on a fast track with copies of actual documents he had downloaded from Scottish Government’s genealogy pay per view web site Scotland’s People. This was a great incentive for the Scottish story to unfold. If you are starting a family history check with your relatives. You may save a lot of leg work.
My Scottish family history really became much more tangible with an entry found in the the 1881 British Census. The information in this entry begged more questions and opened many useful research doors. It read:
145 Main Street, Bonhill, Dumbarton
Duncan Munro, head, male, widower, age 91, born Inveraray, former shepherd
Archibald Munro, son, male, widower, age 56, born Dumbarton, general labourer
Agnes Munro, granddaughter, unmarried, age 25, housekeeper, born Dumbarton
Janet Munro, granddaughter, unmarried, age 22, factory girl, born Dumbarton
Catherine Munro, granddaughter, unmarried, age 21, dressmaker, Dumbarton
Agnes Munro, granddaughter, unmarried, 19, factory girl, Glasgow, Lanark
Andrew Munro, great grandson, male, unmarried, age 1, born Glasgow, Govanhill, Lanarkshire.  
Discovering a relative who is 91 is a real find mainly because a year later in 1882 he died after serving as a witness for the wedding of his granddaughter Agnes Munro and her new husband James Broadfoot. He must have been a lucid nonagenarian.  All would not have been lost, however, because he is also in the 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871 Census tracks. 

The “factory girls” probably worked in the fabric dyeing  factories a stone’s throw from their Main Street address in Bonhill. The wonderful web site www.valeofleven.org.uk/ provided me with a lot of useful historic background about the 19th Century Bonhill-Dumbarton area including early industrial history.
Primary documents offer clues
However finding Duncan Munro (1790-1882) in the 1881 census is what really set me off. The additional clue came in the 1851 Census when Duncan told the census taker that he came from Glenaray which linked him to the Munro families living in that glen behind Inveraray town rather than in the town itself. His profession as a shepherd also indicated rural rather than town origins.
Inveraray is in Argyllshire in the Scottish Highlands and the parish for the area has had several names including Inveraray alone, then the Glenaray was known as Kilmalieu parish and finally in 1750 the entire area including the town became Glenaray-Inveraray Parish. 
I quickly learned that the Argyll Munros would need a lot more work to discover old Duncan Munro’s family which I later found goes back as it does for all Argyll Munros to 1650. A quick look in the Family Search online service provided by the Church of Latter Day Saints, found Duncan’s parents John Munro and Mary Munro.They were married in Glenaray Inveraray Parish in 1789.
Then from the same source I found John and Mary’s children starting with Duncan 1790, Sarah 1791, Grisell 1793, Isabella 1796, and Archibald 1798. The outcome of my research work just kept piling up. Each one of these siblings had their own story. More later on in further articles about what happened to them. Suffice it to say that through the web and email I have met descendants of two of these children of John and Mary.
The Duke of Argyll’s 1779 Census offers a window into 18th Century Argyllshire
Then I saw continual references on World Wide Web family history sites to the 1779 Duke of Argyll’s Census listing all the inhabitants living on his Argyll farms with their ages. This primary document enables the researcher to isolate people for relationships with other families, births, deaths, marriages and how they show up later censuses starting with 1841. 
I eventually located the full 1779 Census on microfilm at the Church of Latter Day Saints Family History Centre at Trenton near my town of Belleville here in, Ontario, Canada. They brought in the microfilm from Salt Lake City and allowed me to re-photograph each page with my digital camera. This is a wonderful service provided by this church and you do not need to be of their faith to use this service.
The 1779 Census gave me lists of Munros living and working on all Argyll farms owned by the Duke of Argyll at that time. It was a useful snapshot in time because it also mentions the maiden names and ages of all the wives and listed all the children with their ages. It is a very unique document and a wonderful find if your family comes from Argyllshire. I used this document to narrow down both John and Mary Munro's parents and to find both of them with their families on Tullich and Drimfern farms.
However, I found a confusing number of people who may be related to John and Mary on the farms of Tullich (14 Munros), Drimfern (28 Munros)  and Stronmagachan 
(7 Munros). These farms are largely in the Glenaray behind Inveraray town. All Munros in such a small gene pool are related within several past generations.
In addition, in 1779 there were more Munros on Achnagoul (13 Munros) and Auchindrain (30 Munros out of 38 people) farms just south of Inveraray on Loch Fyne. Later I found other early Munros living on another Argyll Parish called Kilmorich who were related by marriage to Munros in the Glenaray and as it turns out important to my family’s origins in 1699.  
There were also a few more Munros unlisted in the 1779 Census in  the Glen Shira at a farm called Stuckguoy. These people were owners of their property which they got for a service to the Duke of Argyll in the late 17th Century. As a result they were not counted in 1779. All the other Munros, however, were largely Duke of Argyll tenants and as a result are in the 1779 Census. 
In addition, other records such as court actions showed several Munros actually lived in Inveraray town as shopkeepers, whiskey merchants, and working as the court sheriff in the late 18th Century. It became obvious that most Munros were related.
The 1881 Census indicates a caring family life
In the 1881 Census tract for 145 Main Street Bonhill four Munro generations were living together. Duncan, his son Archibald, his daughters Agnes and Janet, and Janet’s son Andrew Mitchell Munro who is my maternal grandfather. 
The other people at 145 Main Street in Bonhill, Catherine and Agnes Munro, are the daughters of Duncan’s other son, John Munro (named for Duncan’s father) and their mother Catherine Broadfoot who both died in 1874 from a severe bronchitis leaving the orphans Janet McCunn Munro (born 1855), Marion Johnson Munro (born 1857) Catherine Broadfoot Munro (born 1859) Agnes Munro (born 1862) and Rachel Broadfoot Munro (born 1864).
Old Duncan was married at Dumbarton, in 1818 to Janet McCunn. Janet McCunn was born 1783 in Roseneath, Row Parish.  Janet’s McCunn’s parents were Peter McCunn and Agnes McFarlane both from Roseneath and Row Parish which includes the town of Helensburgh. Janet McCunn died in 1869 at age 86. Naming babies after grandparents is a habit in Scotland that often enables the reseracher to make informed guesses about who is related to whom.
In Duncan and Janet’s besides John and Archibald they had two other children Peter and Agnes. Their daughter Agnes married James Robertson in 1840. Peter Munro, their second son, was born in 1823 in Dumbarton and died at age 34, in 1857, at Newtown, Fintry just north of the Dumbarton-Bonhill area. His life is vague and short and he was married to Agnes Blair in 1854 at Drymen, Sterlingshire.
My family line begins back in the Glenaray and through Duncan Munro (1790-1882) and Janet McCunn (1783-1869) through their son Archibald born 1825 who married in 1854 Helen Mitchell (1832-1861). Archibald and Helen had three children (Agnes 1855-1945, Janet 1858-1898, Duncan (1860-1861). I descend from the second Daughter Janet Munro who had my grandfather Andrew Mitchell Munro (1879-1948) out of wedlock in 1879. Andrew’s father is unknown and there is a lot of unsubstantiated lore about who his father was.
1861 was an horrific year for the Munros, but fortunately a Census year for researchers.
Janet and Agnes Munro led tough lives for little girls when Helen Mitchell their mother died of tuberculosis in 1861 on a estate called Dumbuck where Archibald was working as an agricultural labourer and as a "flesher" which is the old Scots word for butcher. Janet was shipped off to live with her aunt and uncle Agnes and James Robertson at nearby 6 Church Street in Dumbarton. Agnes was shipped off to live with old Duncan and Janet also at Mains Farm very close to Dumbuck.
We know all this because 1861 was a Census year and by consulting death certificates for the infant brother Duncan Munro (1860-1861) who died of meningitis on 23 April 1861. Helen Mitchell’s death certificate also tells us about her death at Dumbuck. Today Dumbuck House, once an 18th Century estate mansion, is a charming hotel on the Clyde river near the Erskine Bridge which traverses the Clyde into Renfrewshire. Archibald went to work at Crosslet Farm also near Dumbarton after Helen Mitchell’s death as the 1861 Census confirms. Crosslet farm is preserved by a modern street of that name and is now a housing estate on the outskirts of Dumbarton.
Janet Munro, age 2, goes to the Robertsons and here is the 1861 Census track for that family. The mother of this family is Agnes Munro, Archibald’s sibling, born in 1819 although if she is 38 as reported in the Census she would be born in 1823 making her 17 for her marriage. If she was born in 1819 then she would be 42 in 1861 and 21 at her marriage. She married James Robertson in 1840. Not all government records are accurate is the lesson learned from this information and by cross checking documents.  The building they lived in survives to this day and can be seen on Google Map. The 1861 Census track provide the following information:
6 Church Street, Dumbarton.
James Robertson, head,  Age 43, Operative Mason, born Perthshire
Agnes Robertson, Age 38, wife, born Dumbarton
Mary Robertson, Age 17, a domestic servant, born Dumbarton
Christina Robertson, Age 15, a domestic servant, born Dumbarton
Isabella Robertson, Age 9, a scholar, born Dumbarton
Agnes Robertson, Age 6, a scholar, born Dumbarton
Duncan Robertson, Age 4, born Dumbarton
Janet Munro, Age 2, a Relative, born Dumbarton

Janet Munro, Age 2 is my great grandmother. We cannot find her in the 1871 Census when she would be 12. The next time we find her is her signing my grandfather’s birth certificate in 1879 and some time later in the 1881 Census living at 145 Main Street, Bonhill. By that time she is a 22 year old single mother of my grandfather Andrew Mitchell Munro. She is also missing in the 1891 Census.
No Janet Munro in the 1891 Census: She went to Australia
For some time we fretted about where Janet Munro was in the 1891 British Census. She seemed to fall off the earth. However, my grandfather Andrew Mitchell Munro appears in 1891 living with relatives in Glasgow. We now know that his mother left him with her cousins and went off to Victoria Colony in Australia. The 1891 British Census provides the proof of his being farmed out to his aunts. My mother always said her father was raised by his aunts and here that story is substantiated.
300 Cathcart Road, Govan Glasgow
Agnes Love, head, married, age 28, born Lanark Glasgow
Kate Love, daughter, unmarried, age  1, born Lanark Glasgow
Kate Munro, border, unmarried, age 26, waitress, born Dumbarton, Dunbartonshire
Andrew Munro, unmarried, age 11, scholar, born Lanark Govan.
These two women are also found ten years earlier in the 1881 Census  taken at 145 Main Street, Bonhill. They are the two daughters of John Munro and Catherine Broadfoot. Agnes Love was married to Edward Love, an electrician, which in 1891 was  like being a computer wiz today. 
The baby “Kate Love” is really registered at her birth as Catherine Munro Love. The baby’s birth certificate states that Agnes and Edward were married in Philadelphia, on 5 March 1889 which in itself is interesting but we have few details. They left Scotland unmarried or perhaps at different times. Perhaps Edward was on course in the United States to learn about this new electric technology? We really don’t know. He does not appear in the 1891 British Census so he may be out of the country again. That issue remains open. 
Janet’s father Archibald Munro, also appears in the 1891 Census living in Helensburgh, Row Parish, on Clydeside Street, a widower,  age 65, and described as a dairyman. Helensburgh is the site of his grandson Andrew Mitchell Munro's wedding to Jane Kerr in 1899. We don’t know why he is living alone in Helensburgh.
In 1890, Janet Munro went out to Australia, following her sister Agnes and her husband James Broadfoot. Her ship was the Orizaba landed at Melbourne in Victoria Colony. Janet joined her sister at Cheltenham, Moorabbin, Heatherton, a suburb of Melbourne. We know this from shipping records and from the birth certificate of a new baby Marion Broadfoot, dated 29 August 1890. Janet signed this document as a witness.
Janet’s reasons for going to Australia are unknown. It is very likely that she went out to help her sister who by this time had a large family to raise. James Broadfoot, when he arrived worked as a gardener, but later he made his way into the shipping business eventually owning five vessels by his death in 1931. Through the web and leaving notes on various family history sites I finally met Wendy Davis via email. She is a descendant of James and Agnes Broadfoot and lives in Australia.
Janet Munro returns to Scotland in 1893 and later to an early death at age 40.
Janet returned home to Scotland we think about 1893. This in itself is unusual but with her son still with relatives it was likely to happen. By 1895 she  married  John Philps who delivered bread in Glasgow. In 1896 she gives birth to the first child of this marriage John Philps and in 1897 she has Nellie Mitchell Philps. A year later in 1898, at age 40, Janet dies of enteric fever (Typhoid) at the Shieldhall Fever Hospital in Glasgow and a few days later her husband John Philps also dies of enteric fever at the same hospital leaving two very young orphans.  
John Philps’s father comes to Glasgow take care of the arrangements along with his sister. The death certificates tell us that the Philps come from Kilearn just north of Bonhill and Dumbarton. The children are taken in by the Philps family. Just how her first son Andrew Mitchell Munro fits into this part of her life is a guessing game. 
However in 1899 Andrew Mitchell Munro marries Jane Kerr in Helensburgh and they start their life in Clydebank where Andrew is a machinist in the Singer Sewing Machine plant which at its height employed 10,000 people.  Andrew works for Singers for the next 50 years.  He and Jane Kerr have nine children. My mother is one of them born in 1906.
This is the first of a series of  family history articles I intend to write. The purpose is to show how information is pulled from primary documents. The next article will cover the early 17th and 18th century story of the Argyll Munros leading up to my great great great grandfather’s birth in 1790 in Glenaray Inveraray Parish.