27 March 2013

McFadyens Part 17: Realigning Roderick

~ A portion of ongoing revisions for Ancestors and Descendants of Donald McFadyen and Flory McLean from the Isle of Coll, Scotland to River Denys, Nova Scotia ~

Roderick McFadyen was a son of my Donald "the pensioned soldier" McFadyen and Flory McLean, born when his parents were at Toraston on the Isle of Coll, Scotland. There is no baptismal entry for him in the Coll parish records.[1] Only five of Donald and Flory's eight children were baptized, which left the birth order partially tentative.

For some time I believed Roderick was the third child and third son of this couple. His year of birth ranged from ca.1798-1799[2] to ca.1806.[3] Roderick (or Rory, the usual nickname) has not been found through the use of 1841 census indexing.[4] Because ships' passenger lists could be even less accurate for age than the 1851 census, for the time being I will go with the earlier birth theory. As yet I don't have a copy of his full death certificate wherein his age would have been noted―another piece of secondary information.

The recorded baptisms of two of his brothers (Lachlan, 30 November 1798 and Angus, 16 May 1801) make it possible that Roderick was born between August 1799 and August 1800—assuming normal pregnancy terms and the customary infant baptisms soon after birth.

Highland naming patterns come into play here (second son named for the mother's father; Roderick followed this in naming his own children). Previously I had placed Angus in the second child position. That meant looking for an Angus McLean as the potential father of our Flory McLean. Did such a man exist in the 1776 Catechist's List for Coll?[5] He would have to be an adult because Flory was born just a couple of years later ca.1778. Yes and no. At Sorisdale is an Angus, son of Peter McLean and Margaret McDonald. I have grave reservations about this as a hypothesis:
1) Angus is the first child of this couple and the only one of age for the catechism questions; several more children are all under the age of seven years old; it's likely Angus is between seven and ten years old, therefore not an adult.
2) Peter and Margaret are not "family names."

Placing Roderick as the couple's second son alters the earlier generation theory. Roderick McLean (not Angus McLean) would be the likely name of the child's maternal grandfather. I find two adult Roderick McLeans in the 1776 census of Coll. One is married to Flora Morrison with no others in their household, i.e. childless; the supposition would be they are either elderly or recently married, preferably the latter! They are at Arnabost "enumerated" only three households away from Donald-the-soldier's parents. While this Roderick McLean and Flora Morrison seem the best candidates as my Flory's parents, the Coll parish register has no baptisms for any children of this couple.

The other Roderick McLean heads a family at Triallain, married to Christian Campbell, with two small children (John, Ann) and a servant. Well ... Christian and John are not "family names" for what it's worth, about all I can muster to argue against this choice. As luck would have it, there is no recorded birth of a Flory/Flora McLean ca.1778 to a father called either Roderick or Angus McLean.

We know a little more about Roderick later in life. He married Marion McDonald of Grishipol, Coll, in 1826.[6] Marion was recorded as Sarah in most subsequent records; the two names are known to be used interchangeably despite their dissimilar sounds. In 1828 Roderick's parents and his younger siblings departed for Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, on the ship Saint Lawrence.[7] The young married couple chose to stay on Coll even though living and agricultural conditions were steadily worsening.

Roderick and Sarah had nine children born on Coll from 1827 to 1847, father eking a cottar's existence variously at Grishipol, Arivorich, and Torandeich. Notations on the 1851 census show that the children then living at home were being subsidized by the Highland Destitution Commission—like many others on Coll. Finally, together with Sarah's parents, they set off for Australia in 1856 on the ship Lloyds.[8] Their destination was the Hunter River Valley of New South Wales, about 200 km north of Sydney.
Panorama of Morpeth, 16th October 1865, M2120,
Cultural Collections, University of Newcastle, flickriver.com
Emigrants from Coll had reached Morpeth and the Hunter Valley as early as 1838, starting a classic migration chain.[9] Roderick's son John preceded him there, perhaps before 1851. The Roderick McFadyen who died at Morpeth in 1870 is identified as the son of Donald and Flora McFadyen.[10] Australian descendants have successfully traced their roots back to Roderick. His son John settled at farm no. 3, Narrowgut, on the river west of Morpeth.[11]

[1] Coll Kirk Session Minutes, 1776-1813; National Archives of Scotland (NAS), CH2/70/1. (The minutes include baptisms and marriages in this period, later copied into a separate parish register.)
[2] "1851 Census Scotland," database, Ancestry.ca (www.ancestry.ca : accessed 1 October 2008), entry for Roderick McFadyen, Argyllshire, Coll & Tyree, Enumeration District 3, p. 10; citing General Register Office for Scotland, CSSCT1851_115, roll 904.
[3] "New South Wales, Australia, Assisted Immigrant Passenger Lists, 1828-1896," database, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 28 February 2010); Roderick McFayden, Lloyds, 1856.
[4] Searches at FamilySearch.org, Ancestry.com, and ScotlandsPeople were negative.
[5] "List of the Inhabitants in the Island of Coll Decr 2nd 1776," in Coll Kirk Session Minutes 1776-1813; NAS, CH2/70/1. The list is also transcribed at Isle of Coll Genealogy, www.collgenealogy.com.
[6] "Isle of Coll Marriages 1821-1855," database, Isle of Coll Genealogy (www.collgenealogy.com : accessed 27 February 2010), McFadden-McDonald marriage, 29 August 1826, parish register 2, p. 8.
[7] Saint Lawrence passenger list (1828); Nova Scotia Archives (NSA), MG 1, Vol. 227. NSA states the list is faithfully reproduced in J.L. MacDougall, History of Inverness County, Nova Scotia (1922; reprint, Belleville, ON: Mika Publishing, 1972), 128.
[8] "New South Wales, Australia, Assisted Immigrant Passenger Lists, 1828-1896," database, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 28 February 2010); Roderick McFayden, Lloyds, 1856.
[9] Rootsweb.com, SCT-ARL-TIREE Mail List (http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/index/SCT-ARL-TIREE/2010-01) January-February 2010.
[10] Deaths search, database, NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (www.bdm.nsw.gov.au/ : accessed 12 January 2009), Roderick McFadyen, Morpeth District, death registration no. 4529/1870.
[11] Correspondence Michael McFadyen to Brenda Merriman, 2 August 2012.

© 2013 Brenda Dougall Merriman


Rob said...


Just wanted to make you aware of our McFadden/McFadyen DNA project and web site at http://themcfaddenproject.com. We're taking a fresh look at the relationships and/or non-relationships between the various McFadden/McFadyen lineages by finding men with those names to take Y-DNA tests. We also hope the site will go well beyond that and serve as a hub of sorts for all things related to the various surnames. Hope you'll take a look and spread the word if you know of any living McFadyen men.

Take care,

BDM said...

Rob, thank you! I posted the link to your Project on our McFADYEN page on Facebook. Please join us and tell us more. I am having trouble registering on your site.