More on the Davidson's of Peterhead
- Hi Ann,
Thanks very much for that tip! I'd looked for Will's years ago but had little to go on then. His will made for interesting reading, but more of that later.
Last night, I was able to purchase James's will from Scotlands People and in it he makes reference to his brother Robert in Peterhead, Robert's wife and their son James, which all ties in. As it was also written over a period of time, it gives us a time frame for Robert Davidson's death (sometime between 1848 and 1851). He also speaks of his deceased brother Alexander and family who were living in Dundee and Alexander's son Robert from his first marriage (so he was married twice).
I then had a look for an Alexander Davidson born Peterhead c1793 (from the OPR). According to James's Will of 1858, Alexander, was already deceased by the 1st February 1848, had a son Robert from his first marriage and had a family residing in Dundee. I checked the Howff Database and found:
ID: 269 Alexander Davidson, burial: 8 January 1843, aged 49, Birthplace: Peterhead, Occupation: Joiner, Cause of Death: Typhus fever
From this, I was able to find the 1841 census, his wife's Elizabeth's death cert for 1871 and marriage record. The OPR Birth Cert and 1841 census give the same year and location for the birth of Alexander Davidson, 1793 in Peterhead. I purchased Alexander Davidson, Wright, Parish of Aberdeen and Elizabeth Cuthbert marriage OPR for 27th November 1826, when Alexander was 33. This means that his first marriage, and birth of son Robert must have taken place between 1809 and 1826. Interestingly, although another individual on the page of marriages is recorded as a widower, Alexander is not. I was then able to find Alexander's Death Cert in Dundee for 1843, (which is a rarity), confirming his age, location of birth, and occupation which all ties in.
Finally I've transcribed the majority James Davidson's Will below:
"I have had from infancy to struggle with a weakly constitution; and unless cut off by
sudden death, there is every probability that I may live a considerable time after I
have caused to be able to earn a livelihood for my self. This circumstance I have
never lost sight of, but have endeavoured to lay up a little against old age that I may
not be burdomsome to the community among whom I live. My gain has never been
great, and, although I have used the greatest economy in so far as concerns myself,
my expenditure has ere been small."
..."Lest I should suddenly be taken away by death, I think it proper that I now
commit to writing how I would like to have my effects disposed of. I think it proper
to state here that, up to this date, I never have had any debt, having paid every
thing I wanted in ready money. This practice,if able, I shall continue til the end of
It is my will and desire that whatever money shall belong to me at my death, shall be
equally divided between the family of my brother Robert in Peterhead, and the
family of my deceased brother Alexander in Dundee. My brother Robert having lost
all self command, through the intemperate use of strong drinks, and, having up to
the present time shown no symptoms of penitence, although more that twenty years
have elapsed since he lost his self command. To give him, therefore, the command
of money, would be to inflict a positive evil upon him.
At Peterhead 1st February 1848 (signed) James Davidson
I appoint the Poor Rate Commissioners of Peterhead, for the time being as my
Executors, and I fondly hope that they will take the trouble, the portion of money
already mentioned, to manage for the best (?) behalf of my Brother Roberts' family,
taking care that none of it be given to him for the reason already stated. I aslo wish
to say that the half of what money shall belong to me at the time of my death to my
brother Alexander's widow in Dundee, to be, by her, used for the good of her and my
My brother Alexander's son, Robert, by the first marriage having given ample proof
that he cannot manage his own earnings, which for some time past have been very
considerable, I wish to have no part of the aforementioned money.
My watch I wish to be given to James, my brother Robert's son, if he shall turn out
to be well behaved. If not, I wish it to be given to the best behaved of the family,
whether among the boys or girls.
My household furniture, bedding, clothes and tools, I wish to be given to my brother
Robert's family, for the bringing up of them who maybe unable to provide for
This my will, although not written with that ?ness of inspection required by law, I will
hope be found sufficiently explicit to be understood: and I hope none of the parties
concerned will try to breach it. If not suddenly cut off by death, I intend to sign it in
presence of witnesses, but in the mean time I subscribe with mine own hand this, as
I did that on the other side a few days ago.
At Peterhead, the 9th February 1848
(signed) James Davidson
Since the foregoing was written circumstances have changed, my brother Robert has
died and I have converted my money into shares of the Peterhead Gas Work. I have
now sixty shares of the Peterhead Gas Work, and a Deposit of Sixteen pounds,
seven shillings and a penny, and no debts.
If my brother Robert's family should be able to provide for themselves, before my
death, I would wish that their mother should have an equal share along with them of
what money or Gas Stock my then belong to me.
In consequence of the attention which my brother Robert's widow has shown to me, I
wish her to get my household furniture, clothes and Tools, over and above her share
along with the rest.
Peterhead 9th March 1855
(signed) James Davidson
I've purchased his Inventory which shows that after auction, his estate, for 1858 was worth £117, 14 shillings and thrupence. Using the National Archives convertor, this would be worth around £5-6000 today.
There now. More family, a warning about the evils of drink and back another generation to the 1800's.
Do let me know if this ties in with anyone else, and another mystery:
Father Alexander Davidson, joiner or wright, born Peterhead 1793, son Robert born 1809-1826, mother unknown.
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