Re: [Peterhead] 1861 Census - Helen Mitchell- Domestic Servant;Replies
- Hello again, Hester: This will be a reply to both of your afternoon e-mails
I have tried to use the REPLY feature of my e-mail to r espond to Ray
Hennessy"s e-mail, but I do not know if it went through, or not. I cannot agee
with Ray more. One reason that we do this research is bring out the many reasons
to honor our ancestors perservearance (sp) in the most difficult times of the
19th century, or for that matter, the 18th century. Ray is absolutely right.
As to Helen Mitchell at Auchreddie in Ellon Parish: Do you suppose Jean
Linn (Mitchell) was Helen's mother. Women often used their maiden name, even
though married. I would suspect that Helen was the baby's mother, as I cannot
see any one, unless the proverbial "wet nurse" otherwise doing that, and I
doubt Helen could have been such. I believe what you have discovered is probably
some relatively common mixed up situation, and the family makes the best of
it. In Scotland at the time, the common people disparaged the poor law system
because it was so ineffective and the expression was: "the poor take care of
the poor" While your situation is not necessarily analogous, it is simply a
situation I have experienced myself with Scottish research on different
family members...grandparents often saved the day...they took the infants and
children and raised them in their own home. Here if Helen was the mother, and
probably without a designated official father, she was in need of great help...the
poor law administrators would break down and aid women for a few years when
the children were very young...the administrators expected the women to somehow
get to work earning something after a very few years.
The lady in the house, who was a "stockingknitter" was one occupation that
even the very elderly at home could make a little. At one time in the late
1700's and early 1800's stocking knitting was a very important source of poor
families incomes. There were merchants in Aberdeen through their factors who
would furnish the materials, and later pick up the finished stocking product.
In some cases the knitters furnished everything. These merchants were
commonly second or later sons of well to do, or noble families. Rannieston where my
ggrandparents started their married lives was purchased by a Dingwall (of
noble family), from profits he made in the stocking business...at one time these
stocking were in great demand in Scandinavia and the Baltic countries...great
profits were made...Dingwall bought a farm named ARDo, still on the map today,
nearby, with such monies too. Gradually the demand dried up, and while
there was some opportunity, it was left mostly to older women, who would accept
very little for their work, and which was unprofitable for younger women who
could do better at something else.
Both in one McWilliam sister's family in Kinmundy and even in my
ggrandmother's sisters family in Boddam I observed how they were taking care of one of
more children by different names, but obviously relation. No social workers, in
those days. They made do amazingly well...somehow the children got an
education and became good citizens.
I do not think most of the "flitting" was for the reasons that you gave...it
was just the style. Of course, often if the single farm servant got the
kitchen maid pregnant, he might just move on to many parishes distant. Most
farmers would discharge the girl under such circumstances as soon as they
knew...although somehow things would work out elsewhere...but family aid was all
important. There were women well married, who if their husband died, and they had
no real family, found them selves reduced to seamtresses, and able only to eak
out a bare living. To be a true "dressmaker" usually required some money to
get training, and that was family again. The lot of seamtresses was truly
distressing...the other thing they could do is take in washing...not very
Sounds like you are well supplied with research sources provided you also
make good use of the Internet and Search Engines. I have found some very good
articles on the Internet. Here at Old Dominion University, their library, about
20 miles away, some years ago had a Scottish STudies program. The McLeod
Clan gave over 1000 books on Scotland, but they are just a fraction of their
total Scottish books. I have researched in several other Virginia university
libraries, and also many others: Library of Congress; New York Public Library:
the Salt Lake Mormon library, the Newberry Library in Chicago and other state
university libraries... Of course I did some researching in Scotland at the
Family History Centers in Aberdeen and Edinbugh, and the Edinburgjh Public
Library. However there are some choice items yet that I would like to see. You
have the U. of Guelph to fall back on...and their Scottish Studies programs.
They have just added a real Scottish Studies Scholar from the U. of Edinburgh,
In 1992 a minister that served for 21 years in all positions in the Toronto
headquarters of one of Canada's main stream churches wrote a genealogy on his
family but included supposedly his take, in one chapter about how my namesake
family, and his were related. I did not mind his claiming that in his family
genealogy (it was just not true) BUT he had a Scottish connection and he put
the claim into the SCottish Dictionary of Emigrants to Lower Canada, Before
Confederation....or one ot its volumes...such appears in every good Scottish
genealogical library in Canada, the US, and the UK.now. Nevertheless, the rest of
the volume helped to explain why my family had an entirely different and
false cover story, to hide that they had been farm servants in Scotland.
The families into which some of their children intermarried could drop names
like the Clark Thread Co. of Paisley, Jamaica Fortunes, Large farms, and also
one of the greatest livestock breeders of the 18th century. My family did
not want to be tarred with being just "farm servants" but wanted to be known as
"farmers' in Scotland....also my ggrandmother, was illiterate, which was kept
totally secret,as it was a reduction in status, if known. The other
families, on investigation had some real basis for their claims. I will rebut our
families cover story in total but will step on a few toes of those who like
the original cover......but such isnot the truth. In fact, I find the true
story is far more interesting...and it connects with a far flung Scottish
diaspora of distant relatives that is true.
Sincerely, Jim Thomson
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- Hi List
Just a little addition to Jim's latest.
We believe that New Pitsligo [a.k.a. Tyrie] was a great centre
for Stocking Knitters. Sheena's GGrandmother had seven
step-sisters and most of them went and lived near one another
in Tyrie [High Street and School Street] in the 1870s.
I imagine the factor for this industry was the local Laird [can't
remember the family name, it's on the main memorial there].
The town is built like a model village, with rows of similar small
granite houses along three of four main streets which suggests
that the main owner had a good reason for building the 100+ houses..
Our very extended families - there are four mothers we know
about - seemed to do well there. They were obviously very
companionable in their step-sisterhood and even looked after
a disabled step sister until she died aged 69. That's devotion!
- Dear Ray: Your last e-mail shows how important "family" was in Scotland in
the nineteenth century. A perfect example!
Regards. Jim T.
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