31 July 2012

August Ancestors

For the sake of brief entries, I am not footnoting the facts in this ongoing memorial. Sources have been noted either in other blog posts or in my family history books.

17 August 1808 John Fraser age 32, a farmer at Rivière Rouge, married Margery McIntyre age 22 of the same place, at St. Gabriel Street Presbyterian Church in Montreal. John was a widower whose first wife, Ann Fraser, died sometime after 16 November 1806; he had been left with three small children. Rivière Rouge was a settlement on the outskirts of St. Andrews East (St-André Est) in the seigniory of Argenteuil, about 40 miles northwest of Montreal. St. Andrews did not have a resident Presbyterian clergyman until 1818. Dates of birth (in Scotland) and death for this couple have not been ascertained. John had another eight children with Margery from 1811 to about 1827. Alas, I have no photos of this couple or any of their children. They are my triple-great-grandparents.
HFD by Nicholas de Grandmaison, 1963

23 August 1896 Hector Fraser Dougall was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, second child and only son of William Charles Dougall and Jessie Isabella McFadyen. He grew up in Winnipeg with two sisters. During the First World War Hector enlisted with the Winnipeg Rifles but then became a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps, later spending nine months as a German POW before the Armistice. See also In 1931 after a move to Fort William, Ontario, he founded what would become a family media conglomerate. The Second World War saw him as manager of Canada's No. 2 Elementary Flight Training School for new Commonwealth pilots. Hector was my father.


22 July 2012

July Ancestors (2)

For the sake of brief entries, I am not footnoting the facts in this ongoing memorial. Sources have been noted either in other blog posts or in my family history books.
Killin parish church, Perthshire; photo BDM, July 2010
24 July 1783 Duncan Frazer was baptized in Killin parish church, Perthshire, Scotland, son of John Frazer and Janet Buchanan of Ballechuish. The apparent place name puzzled me until Cousin Lizzie came to my rescue. Ballechroisk was one of the small settlements adjacent to the village of Killin. We are sure this is our ancestor although his mother’s surname differs in a later source that I won’t go into here. In 2010 I visited the church, built in 1744, not the expected classic stone building. Nevertheless, a thrill to be in a place my ancestors frequented so long ago—it is “listed” as a Scottish ancient and historical building. The baptismal font was rescued from the older, preceding church structure “and is reckoned to be 600 years old” according to an interior plaque. Of great interest was the memorial out front to Rev. James Stewart (1700-1789) who served at Killin for 52 years, more renowned as the first translator of the New Testament into Gaelic. The consequences of that spread far and wide across the Highlands. He was likely the man who baptized my triple-great-grandfather Duncan.

29 July 1878 Marion Hastie, widow of John Dougall, died in Montreal at the home of her youngest daughter Helen (Dougall) McCunn. As a youngster in 1804, Marion embroidered a sampler with the names of her parents and their six sons and six daughters. The sampler has disappeared, likely into a family of McCunn descendants—women often being the keepers of family memorabilia. Marion was 88 years old when she died. She was my great-great-grandmother.
McFadyen stone, Sunnyside Cemnetery, Manitoba; photo BDM, ca.1972

31 July 1915 John McFadyen died, probably at his farm in Springfield, Manitoba, at the age of 78. Of his five sons, none produced McFadyen heirs. My McFadyen branch “daughtered out” as we genealogists like to say. John and his wife Isabella Campbell (Cape Breton natives) are buried in the local Springfield cemetery sometimes known as Sunnyside or Moose Nose Cemetery. “In my father’s house are many mansions; I go to prepare a place for you.” At the time I paid my respects, many years ago, deer were also visiting but moose were not in evidence. John was my great-grandfather.

14 July 2012

McFadyens Part 14: A Welcome New Source

Historian and author Nicholas Maclean-Bristol (NMB) is now publishing the translation of Donald Mackinnon’s important manuscript about the Isle of Coll, written after the schoolmaster left for Australia in 1859.[1] He includes a transcript of the original Gaelic version. The second installment in West Highland Notes and Queries, Series 3, No. 19 (May 2012), newsletter of the West Highland and Island Society of Historical Research, had me chewing my brain for days.
My thanks to NMB for providing a copy of this map.
The second installment of Mackinnon’s account concerns Crossapol and Totamore, and presents two interesting implications for McFadyen descendants:[2]
▪ Mackinnon seems to have revealed a hitherto unknown son of the Charles Roy [McPhaiden] at Ardnish as per the 1716 disarmament list.
▪ By naming grandchildren of the hitherto unknown son, he gives clues which may lead to identifying origins of some of the earliest McFadyens petitioning for land grants in Cape Breton. 

For now, I air my thoughts on the first point above. Comments on the second will follow later. I air my thoughts in full recognition of my limitations as a scholar and fervently hope that others more knowledgeable will respond. Genealogical research for Highland ancestors who pre-date parish registers usually depends on manuscript material in difficult to access collections, often obscured by the primary nature (cataloguing) of such a collection, and/or on the traditional oral family memory. Thus early genealogical linkages frequently rest on sporadic sources, secondary information (memory), and inevitable assumptions.

Born in 1800, Mackinnon was an educated native of Coll representing “insider” knowledge of both local history and the ancestry of the inhabitants. He wrote of what he knew and absorbed since childhood, with the gift of recalling the patronymics for many, many residents. Here is a welcome new source of island life for historians and genealogists.     
Previously, NMB ascribed two children to the above Charles Roy, shown at Ardnish on the 1716 disarmament list for Coll: Margaret Ann with certainty, and Angus with uncertainty.[3] Franklin and Lamont adopt the same.[4] In his account, Mackinnon names a family of servants to the Maclean farmer at Totamore House, headed by “Lachlan son of John son of Charles.”[5] This Lachlan can be pinpointed in the 1776 list of Coll parishioners, son of John McPhaiden and Catherine McDonald, under the age of seven years.[6] Thus the existence of his grandfather Charles reaches back to the early eighteenth century.

The 1716 list, prepared for the Sheriff of Argyll, “gives the impression that it is a list of the whole male population over the age of sixteen.”[7] Therefore it seems likely that there was no other adult Charles in contemporary McFadyen families. Without conflicting evidence, one works on the theory that grandfather Charles and Charles Roy were one and the same person. Good news for descendants of Lachlan and Catherine—of Totamore when they married in 1789—if they can link (especially their emigrant ancestors) to Lachlan’s children whose names and baptismal dates are provided by NMB in a note. An expanded ancestry to Charles Roy and beyond also carries exciting potential.

Unfortunately for me, the news seems to have no direct impact on my Donald-the-pensioned-soldier who came to Cape Breton in 1828.

Mackinnon goes further to name two sons of Lachlan and Catherine who “went to America.” On that point, I have issues with the attendant note that Cape Breton was their destination in 1822. My next post on the subject will compare his statement with some known early settlers in Cape Breton.
For serious researchers in mediaeval and subsequent times of the Inner Hebrides, I recommend West Highland Notes and Queries by subscription to the Society of West Highland and Island Historical  Research, Breacachadh Castle, Isle of Coll, Argyll, Scotland PA78 6TB. Current annual fees from January 1st each year are CDN$44, US$34.

[1] The first part appeared in West Highland Notes and Queries, Series 3, No. 17 (November 2011). The next appeared in Series 3, No. 19 (May 2012). Four more parts are planned for future issues.
[2] I customarily use the spelling McFadyen in generic mentions but apply the original version used when citing the work of others.   
[3] “The MacFadyens in Ballyhough” chart in West Highland Notes and Queries, Series 3, No. 5 (November 2002), “Special MacFadyen Issue.”
[4] See Glenda McPhadden Franklin and Gene Donald Lamont, “Genealogical Records – The MacFadyen-McPhadden Family in Coll and Tiree” at Coll Genealogy (
[5] West Highland Notes and Queries, Series 3, No. 19, p. 11.
[6] “List of the Inhabitants in the Island of Coll Decr 2nd1776” in Kirk Session Minutes [Coll] 1733-1813, National Archives of Scotland, CH2/70/1.
[7] Nicholas Maclean-Bristol, ed., “Inhabitants of the Inner Isles Morvern and Ardnamurchan,” Scottish Record Society, New Series, Vol. 21 (1998).

© Brenda Dougall Merriman, 2012

13 July 2012

Summer Hiatus

Nothing like some family visits to remember why it’s important to know the past. Genes, characteristics, attributes, favourite sayings—all surface in the present. In my mind, that is.

The generation gaps are sometimes astounding. And educational gaps a bit alarming.
“What lake is this?” she asked.

04 July 2012

July Ancestors (1)

For the sake of brief entries, I am not footnoting the facts in this ongoing memorial. Sources have been noted either in other blog posts or in my family history books.

12 July 1828 Donald McFadyen, retired soldier from the 91st Foot Regiment (later to be known as the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders), his wife Flory McLean, and five children set sail from Tobermory, Isle of Mull, bound for Ship Harbour [Port Hawkesbury], Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

15 July 1978 Victor Carl Freiberg died in Port Arthur, Ontario, at the age of 93. Victor was a tall man, fair-haired and blue-eyed. After his wife Marija died, he lived on his own for over 15 years with the assistance of the Latvian community and his grandson Fraser’s family. Ultimately he developed pancreatic cancer and was hospitalized. Victor was my grandfather.

18 July 1755 Thomas Dougall was baptized, son of John Dougall and Jean Weir, at West Calder, West Lothian, Scotland. His humble farming parents lived on the farm estate called Parkhead on the north side of Linlithgow Loch across the lake from the palace. Parkhead was in the parish of Linlithgow. Later Thomas married Marion Pollons—before 1781, no marriage record found—and he too lived and worked at Parkhead. What I still don’t understand is why both generations ignored the local church to travel several parishes away for children’s baptisms in West Calder, in what was then Edinburghshire. A genealogist would suspect deep family roots or ties there. Thomas became the father of my emigrant ancestor John, so he was my triple great-grandfather.
The "Old Smiddy" at Killin, Perthshire; photograph BDM, July 2010

18 July 1807 Duncan Fraser married Katharine Robertson at Killin parish church in Perthshire, Scotland. Killin is situated smack in the lovely Highland region known as the Trossachs. The couple produced eight children, probably born at Smithy ("Smiddy") Cottage, Monemore, Killin. Duncan was a master blacksmith and his trade was carried on by two sons and a son-in-law. One of the greatest things about blogging and the internet was my 4th cousin Elizabeth (Lizzie, love that name) finding me. A gravestone for Duncan and wife is not visible in the unkempt Killin churchyard. Lizzie and I share Duncan as our triple great-grandfather.