Tuesday, 17 August 2010

John Paterson

Jane Paterson's father was a character who fascinated my father. It started with a family bible that had obviously been passed down through John to Jane to Lydia and then my father. This is what my father wrote about John.

When I started my research the only information I had regarding this ancestor was taken from my grandmother's marriage certificates and from a list of births registered in the family bible. I now know that he was born on 28th December 1798 in Dunscore, Dumfriesshire and that his parents were John Paterson, a farmer and Margaret Paterson, ms Dunn. I have been unable to substantiate his date of birth from the Old Parochial Records as registration for the Parish of Dunscore up to the early nineteenth century was very sparse, in fact for some years there are no entries at all on the OPRS.

He was the eldest of nine children, six boys and three girls, born between 1798 and 1814.

The date of birth is taken from an entry in the family bible and the place of birth is taken from two sources:-
(1) On the birth certificate of one of his sons the birthplace of the father is given as Dunscore,
(2) In the 1861 census for the parish of Kells, Dunscore appears in the "where born" column.

John Paterson was born in 1798 in the South West of Scotland. If we consider that Robert Burns was born in 1759 in Alloway in nearby Ayrshire and spent part of his life as an Exciseman in Dumfries then it is not unreasonable to assume that the Scotland that John Paterson was born into was not unlike that depicted by Burns in his poems. But was he a boozey Tam o Shanter type as illustrated in the poem of that name or a pious Cottar wending his weary way home to his loving family after a hard days toil?

I have no record of him until 1831 but one strange fact to emerge is a copy I have of Samuel Johnson's Dictionary, printed in 1820, with the inscription of "John Paterson, Bradford, Yorkshire, 1828". To my untrained eye the handwriting is similar to that in the family bible.

From the IGI at Huddersfield I obtained the fact that a John Paterson married a Mary McKean on 4th October 1831 at Crossmichael, Kirkcudbrightshire.

The marriage is confirmed by the following extract from the OPRs for the Parish of Crossmichael, "4 Oct 1831 At Plain John Paterson, Castle Douglas to Margaret McKean in Plain". The place name was not very clear and my interpretation may not be accurate.

The following is taken from the handwritten entries in the family bible:-
Margret born 6 September 1832
John and Elizabeth born 20 August 1834
Their mother died 20 August 1835
Margret died 1 October 1850
John died on the Isle of Ceylon 1 July 1858.

The births of the twins were confirmed by the following extract from the OPRs for Crossmichael:-
     20 August 1834
     John lawful son of John Paterson, Stone Dyker and Margaret McKean at Burnside of Crossmichael.
     Elizabeth lawful daughter of John Paterson, Stone Dyker and Margaret McKean at Burnside of Crossmichael.

The local publican identified Burnside as the first cottage past the war memorial on the left hand side of the road from Crossmichael to Castle Douglas. It is not a two storey building but the top story has been added this century.

The death of Mary McKean is substantiated by a record I found in the Ewart Library, Dumfries listing of Memorials Records for Crossmichael which read "In sacred memory of Mary McKlan spouse of John Paterson who died on 20th August 1835 aged 27 years". Having subsequently viewed the actual gravestone I can understand how McKean could be read as McKlan.

On my grandmother's first marriage certificate her father is registered as a Stone Dyker, ie a person who builds stonewalls, but on her second marriage certificate this is changed to a Builder and Contractor. Did he become a businessman in later life or was this just a case of poetic licence on my grandmother's part. As I get deeper into my research some of the facts I unearth jog my memory about things I heard in my childhood. I can now clearly remember my mother telling me of a relation who built stonewalls.

John Paterson remarried in 1838. This time he married Lydia Hall and the wedding took place at Parton. I have no record of this marriage other than a reference to it on the birth certificate of their ninth child. There were eleven children by this marriage, the last twin in 1858 when John Paterson was sixty years old.

In the census for 1841 for the Parish of Irongray I found the following entry:-
37 Larbreck
John     Paterson  - 35 years old, Ag Lab
Lydia         "         - 25
Margeret    "         -   8
William       "         -   2
Robert       "          -   4 months

As in many instances in census returns some of the ages can not be depended upon. If John Paterson was born in December 1798 then he should have been 42 in April 1841. However the age entered for his wife Lydia agrees with the age of 56 given in her death certificate in 1872 and the children's ages agree with corresponding entries in the family bible.

 Margeret is obviously the daughter born to his first wife on 6th September 1832. As far as the twins born to his first wife, Elizabeth was living, at the time of the census, at Lochroan, Crossmichael with a Barnabus and Elizabeth McKean who I take to be her grandparents. I found no record for the other twin, John.
William's age of 8 agrees with the date of birth in the bible of 21st August 1839 and similarly the age of 4 months entered for Robert agrees with the bibledate of 25th January 1841.

In the 1851 census for the Parish of Irongray I found the family living at 4 Brochmore Cottages. Included in the census was John the son from his first marriage and seven children from the second. The eldest daughter, Margaret, from his first marriage had died in 1850 according to a bible entry. Again John Paterson's age is inaccurate although the ages given for his children agree with the dates of birth entered in the bible.

The birth certificate of his ninth child Joseph Kirkpatrick Paterson gives the place of birth as Morningside, New Galloway so it is possible that the family may have moved to a new address by 1855.

In the 1861 census for the parish of Kells, Kirkcudbrightshire I found an entry for John Paterson and his family. The address was not very clear but appeared to read "7 Marchiehall". However an extract from the Wigton Free Press of 9 September 1858 under deaths which read "At Colombo, Isle of Ceylonon 1st July, John Paterson son of John Paterson, Marchwell, New Galloway". This extract not only clarifies the address on the census but confirms the bible entry related to the death of John Paterson's son John by his first marriage.

The census included John Paterson, his wife Lydia and seven children. Two of the missing children were John Ann and Margret Lydia who died in 1859 and 1860 respectively. Also missing were the eldest son, William, and the eldest daughter, Jane Watson, who I assume had left home by that date. The names of all the other children agree with the names on the bible list although in some instances the ages do not entirely agree. John Paterson's occupation was registered as Stone Dyker as was that of his sons Robert and Thomas B.
The only Marchwell in New Galloway today is a house outside the village on the road to Ayr.

In checking the Valuation Rolls for Kirkcudbrightshire at the Hornall Museum in Kirkcudbright I found the following entry:-
     "New Galloway 1865
      House and garden, Back Street
      Proprietor, Robert Crosbie, Tea Dealer, 32 Duke Street, Whitehaven
      Occupier John Paterson, Dyker
      rent 5 Guineas"

There he was still living in New Galloway in 1865 but the address was different from the one on the census in 1861.

I could not find Back Street in the street map of New Galloway but a kind lady in one of the shops in the village told me that Back Street was in fact what is now an alleyway behind the Kenmure Arms Hotel which was just across the road from the shop.

John Paterson died on 3 July 1873 of chronic bronchitis at Old Kilpatrick, Dunbartonshire. His wife Lydia Hall died the previous year of the same complaint.

Why he moved from Galloway to the other side of the Clyde some time between 1865 and 1873 is a mystery, unless it was to find work. Assuming that some of his younger children were still living with him in Old Kilpatrick then it must have been quite a journey to move the family together with all the family goods  at least one hundred and fifty miles possibly with only the assistance of a handcart.

Since my grandmother also moved to Old Kilpatrick some time between 1871 and 1872 the question can be posed, did she follow her parents or vice versa?


1. Census Kells 1861
2. Death Certificate Lydia Hall Paterson 1872 Old Kilpatrick
3. Death Certificate John Paterson 1873 Old Kilpatrick
4. Census Irongray 1851

Birth Certificate

Extract No 19, Parish Minigaff
Name - John Patterson Gordon
When and Where Born - 12 July 1870, Creebridge, Minnigaff
 Sex - male
Name of Parents and Date and Place of Marriage - James Gordon, Ploughman
                                                                      Jane Gordon, ms Patterson
Married June, 1870, Crossmichael
Name of Informant - Lydia Patterson, Grandmother

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