THE MAGAZINE of
THE KINTYRE ANTIQUARIAN and
NATURAL HISTORY SOCIETY
Editor: Angus Martin
Issue Number Sixty-Nine Spring 2011
ISSN 0140 0762
William Gilchrist, Kintyre-born printer in Glasgow and associate of Gaelic poet William Livingstone. A son of Archibald G and Margaret McMillan, he died, aged 67, in Cathcart on 24/8/1879. Jean MacLeod, 15 Churchill Dr., Stornoway, Lewis HS 1 2NP; e-mail: email@example.com
Alex Ramsay. Information is sought on Alex Ramsay, founder, publisher and editor of the short-lived Campbeltown-based Argyl/shire Leader in the early 1930s. Ian MacDougall, Scottish Working People's History Trust, 21 Liberton Brae, Edinburgh EHl6 6AQ. Tel: 01316642436.
Duncan and Mary (nee McPhail) McMillan. This Campbeltown couple emigrated to Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia, from Plymouth in 1862 on board the Utopia, with their eight children and a grandson. Duncan, who was born in 1815, was the son of Duncan McMillan and Janet Armour and grandson of Robert McMillan and Ann Maxwell. His great-great grand-daughter, Suzanne J Ledger, would like to hear from anyone who is related to her or has information on any of these families. Her address is: 7/31 Cowper Street, Taree, NSW 2430, Australia.
Through DNA testing and genealogical records, I am completely satisfied that I have verified my relatedness to two 'long lost', and unmet, cousins - one in Scotland and one in Australia. In 2005 - due to Y-DNA testing through Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) - my Scottish cousin and my Australian cousin discovered there was a strong possibility that they were paternally related. Neither one knew about me at that time, but in spring of 2010 I stumbled on to my Australian cousin's DNA data sitting on the FTDNA website. I had heard romours that I might have relatives in Australia, so I was excited to make online contact. The three of us did the necessary DNA tests through Family Tree DNA and discovered that we matched one other perfectly! We went with the popular Y-DNA testing method which tests DNA in the Y-Chromosome of males only.
While there are other DNA tests available, Y -DNA is probably the quickest and most reliable method to determine relatedness, as it is passed down from father to son, to son, to son virtually unchanged - sometimes for hundreds of years. If daughtering-out (where only daughters procreate) occurs, or no males are born, then the Y-DNA line is broken. Y-DNA testing only works when a pure male lineage is preserved. Maternal relatedness can be determined through MtDNA (Mitochondrial DNA) testing, but it is more expensive and much harder to genealogically verify. Autosomal testing is another method, which tests both male and female DNA. Y - DNA testing is the most popular method, and the results are usually easier to verify genealogically because most cultures today preserve the males' surnames upon marriage.
Many genealogy searches come to dead-ends because the surnames have not been preserved. Surnames are commonly considered to be a relatively new custom among the common man. People used to name themselves according to where they lived, what they did, who they were (if royalty or well-known leaders), or any number of other reasons. With DNA testing, you can make genealogical leaps and discoveries that you would never make by exclusively relying on genealogical or historical data, especially if you are pinning all your hopes on a surname. In short, tracing surnames - while useful for the privileged few who have famous ancestors or descend from royalty of some kind - has its limitations.
Nothing beats a good paper trail for verifying long lost relatives, but your odds of making new genealogical discoveries increases dramatically when you start DNA testing. In my case, the genealogical trail went dead around 1806 in Kintyre, Scotland, probably in the Torrisdale/Carradale area. When I got DNA-tested, I not only confirmed my relatedness to two long lost living cousins - connected through two brothers born around 1806 and in 1809 - but I also discovered a close paternal linkage with at least three other surnames which matched me 66 out of 67 'markers'. (A marker is a very specific part of the DNA strand which is found in our chromosomes.) These kinds of matches are considered to be very closely related, paternally, and strongly infer a common ancestor within the last 500 or so years. My paternal ancestor could have been a McLean, a McIntyre, a Duncan, a Martin, or all of them. These are all surnames found in Kintyre from at least the 17th century, the latter two, in their original Gaelic forms, McConnachie (Mac Dhonnchaidh, 'Son of Duncan') and McIlmartin (Mac Gille Mhartain, 'Son of the Servant of [Saint] Martin'). Anyone of these four surnames could hold the progenitor of the other three,· but a genealogical link between them has yet to be established. By tracking mutations in the Y-DNA markers back to approximately 100 A.D, I came up with ancestors who are now named Clendennin and Young. Given the fragility of surnames, it is impossible, without paperwork, to determine exactly which surname, if any, that period's original progenitor possessed. As more people are DNA-tested, other surnames may surface. Theoretically, with complete Y-DNA knowledge, I could construct a world family tree going back to the first man. In fact there is already such a tree under construction. Here's the link: http://www.familvtreedna.com/pdf-docs/2009-Y-ChromosomePhvlogenetic-Tree.pdf
This tree points human origins back to Africa. From Africa, man spread out to lower and upper Asia. Migration then continued on into the lower Pacific, while some ventured into North and South America. Another portion migrated to Europe, and then, eventually, crossed the Atlantic Ocean to rejoin their long-lost cousins in the Americas. For certain, if everyone got Y-DNA tested, then the genealogy puzzle would become considerably easier. Even then, though, because of DNA mutations and the lack of paperwork, most people wouldn't be able to track their relatives beyond the 16th or 17th centuries. But DNA testing certainly does add some new excitement to the process, and you are bound to eventually discover relatives you never knew you had. DNA testing could possibly help you make one of those miraculous leaps beyond your dead-end zone to match up with somebody who has the paperwork you need: that's the real beauty of this great new tool. Some people go for years without matching anybody, while others, like me, get lucky and are DNA-matched immediately. Since a large majority of those already tested are of European descent, that is where most of the matches are made. When the rest of the world takes interest in this great new tool, then they too will make new discoveries. Who knows, you might not know that you're related to a famous person, or that your neighbour is a long lost relative: DNA testing could possibly be the answer you're looking for.
As previously mentioned, there are three main choices when deciding about DNA testing. The male-only Y-DNA which I tested for; Mitochondrial testing which tests female X-DNA; and Autosomal testing which covers both male and female. All forms of DNA testing are great for eliminating non-relatives; however, positively matching wit4. an unknown relative is more difficult because a certain amount of subjectivity arises around the point of common relationship. For example, when three people, like me and my Australian and Scottish cousins, share the same 67 male Y-DNA markers, this could mean that we share the same father, or grandfather, or great x 10 grandfather - the point of common relatedness is unknown. However, in my situation there is paperwork to verify where that common ancestor exists, which would be Duncan Martin in Carradale, Kintyre, a shoemaker of unknown origin, who married Mary McCallum, Achnasavil, and had six daughters and two sons from 1786 to 1809.
My Scottish cousin, Angus Martin, did the hard work of establishing his relatedness to Duncan Martin's second son, John, but was unable to conclusively determine whether the first son, Angus, was truly a son, due to the lack of paperwork. His research, however, determined that as adults these two men lived beside each other and appeared to be brothers. Since my Australian cousin, Ian Martin, and I both descend from this 'mysterious Angus' (as modern-day Angus labelled him in his writings), we were able to conclude that the only way the three of us could share the exact same 67 Y-DNA markers, and the same SNP (which is basically a crucial, but separately identifiable non-mutating marker) was because 'mysterious Angus' of 1806 and John of 1809 were brothers. The best logical conclusion is that these two men received those markers from the same man, Duncan Martin, the genealogically verified father of John of 1809. This identical three-way DNA match eliminated the necessity of birth source documents for Angus of 1806. If he is my progenitor - and source documents prove that he is - then he has to be the brother of 1809 John and the son of Duncan Martin of Carradale.
A cousin of mine recently asked me how it is possible to establish our relatedness to our forefathers without the benefit of their DNA samples. That is the beauty ofY-DNA testing. The short answer is this - we don't need their bodies, or hair samples, or any other organic sample from their bodies because the same 67 markers on our Y -Chromosomes existed on our paternal ancestors' V-Chromosomes. My paternal second cousin's grandsons should have the same 67 markers that I, my son, my brother and his sons, my Canadian male Martin cousins and their sons, cousin Ian Martin from Australia, and cousin Angus Martin from Scotland all share. Unless a mutation occurred somewhere, we all share the exact same 67 markers.
Duncan Martin, born around 1765, had those exact same 67 markers, which were given to his two sons, Angus (b. c. 1806), and John (b. 1809). Angus passed those same 67 markers to his son, Alexander, who passed them to his son, Captain Duncan, who gave them to John, my grandfather, who gave them to my dad, Donald, who gave them to me. Since I share the exact same 67 markers with modem-day cousin Angus, who is the great-great-grandson of the above-mentioned John (b. 1809), then I know that all of my ancestors had to have those same 67 markers, all the way back to John's father, Duncan, who is my great great -great -great -grandfather.
The only plausible way that modem-day Angus and I could share the same 67 markers on our V-Chromosome is if Angus (b.c. 1806) and John (b. 1809) were brothers, and they both received the exact same 67 markers from their father, Duncan Martin (b. c. 1765) of Carradale. If they weren't brothers, then modem-day Angus and I would not share the exact same 67 markers along with the exact same SNP - the L193. Therein lies the most important aspect of Y-DNA testing: even when documentary trails don't exist, Y-DNA testing can conclusively fill the gap. Before modem-day Angus received Y-DNA proof of his relatedness to me and Ian, he couldn't conclusively say that we were related to him. He had strong suspicions that we were related, but without source documents to prove it, he couldn't conclusively verify it. Now, through Y-DNA testing, combined with his paper trail and our paper trail meeting at John (b. c. 1809) and Angus (b. 1806) respectively, we can all confidently declare our relatedness, and can proclaim that Duncan Martin is our progenitor.
In terms of how huge and unusual our circumstance here is, we've hit the 'trifecta' (horse-racing term). While I've heard of others who have matched up with unknown cousins from different lines, I haven't yet met anybody online who has done it. As DNA testing becomes more common, matches like ours will also become more common. Of course, without the discovery of Angus Martin's family history writings, and the discovery of lan's Y-DNA results on the FTDNA website, we'd probably still be in the dark about our relatedness to one other, and Angus of 1806 would have remained a mystery.
To summarise, we don't need to dig up any bodies to do DNA testing, because our ancestor, Duncan Martin, passed down biological samples of himself through his Y -Chromosome, which is only passed on from male to male. Here's a very good link to a basic DNA website - check it out. http://www.contexo.info/DNA _Basics/ DNA testing does indeed absolutely help us to confidently bridge gaps between potential common ancestors - when used in conjunction with the paperwork. Without paperwork to substantiate our DNA findings we don't really know exactly where that common relative enters the picture. Each individual scenario differs, but I've used my own scenario as an example to give you an idea of the possibilities. DNA testing is just another strong tool that the genealogist can use. It works best when substantiated with paperwork. By using both of these tools, we were , able to leap over the paperwork roadblock that 1806 Angus presented by using Y - DNA testing to allow us to confidently conclude that he was indeed the brother of 1809 John. That is the only logical conclusion we could arrive at once we had analysed all the facts, and it was exactly the conclusion that we were all hoping for. Be careful, though, that you are willing to accept whatever the facts are telling you. I've observed that some people have been greatly disappointed with discrepancies between paperwork conclusions and DNA conclusions; however, DNA facts cannot be misinterpreted in those situations, and should always take precedence over paperwork. It is very satisfying, though, when both tools corroborate each other. DNA genealogy is a new field, and DNA technology has made, and continues to make, great strides. As it continues to evolve it becomes an even more invaluable tool in the genealogist's quest - the discovery of the truth.
If you want to know more about Y-DNA testing (I know very little about MtDNA or Autosomal DNA), then just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I'll do my best to help you out, or go to www.familvtreedna.com. In the meantime, good hunting, and seriously consider spending a few hundred dollars to get tested. It opened up possibilities for me that I never would have imagined. If you're going to get Y -DNA tested, which is a simple mouth-swabbing procedure you do yourself, then get tested for the maximum number of markers available (currently 67 with FTDNA) as this is the best way to find those long lost relatives, and even a few whom you had no idea even existed. If you are serious about finding relatives, and giving others the chance to find you, then make sure to also get SNP-tested. If you are a woman, then you must convince one of your male relatives to take the Y - DNA test, or you could choose the other methods mentioned.
END-NOTE. In addition to the two divergent (but reunited) Martin families discussed above, there are several other Martin families in Campbeltown. Most of them originated in Killean and Kilchenzie Parish, and some are probably inter-related; some, indeed, may be related to my own family. These questions haven't so far been answerable by conventional genealogical means. If any male member of any of these families might be interested in being DNA-tested, get in touch with Daryl Martin or with me. The results could well be of great interest. McLeans, McIntyres and Duncans are also, of course, in the mix. Editor
All the Hills in Skipness were said to be descended from Robert Hill, a miller born about 1675, at or near Renfrew, who came to the village. Robert's descendants in Skipness became blacksmiths, weavers and seamen. Over the years many emigrated - to the 'gold diggings', to New Orleans and to Jamaica. One Hill family went to Canada and ultimately to the US and Utah where they played a key role in the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Other relatives were cottars and some fell on very hard times, receiving kirk session handouts.
Skipness people were said to be all cousins marrying cousins. Local folklorist Mrs Higginson notes that 'between the years 1820 and 1850 there was not a family in the parish of Skipness but was related to all the rest through marriage. The people never had to go out of the parish for a husband or wife; in fact it was a crime for anyone long ago to marry anyone that could not speak Gaelic - they were looked down upon'. If the Hills arrived in Skipness as non-Gaelic-speaking Lowlanders, their descendants were Gaelic speakers and they settled into the tradition of marrying cousins, to a confusing extent. They married into the Taylor, Hyndman and Lusk families, among others.
The surname Hill was well established in Skipness by the end of the 18th century but seems to have disappeared by about 1850. In the mid1840s the last of the long line of Campbell owners sold the estate to William Fraser, who set about introducing the 'improvements' that caused him to be so hated that stones were thrown at his coffin. My great-great-grandfather Archibald Hill and his wife Flora Currie, who had been living at North Caolfin, were among the last of the family to leave. In about 1843, like several other Skipness people, they went to the Isle of Bute, across the water, where Archibald found work as a farm labourer. Robert the miller, and other relations, are said to lie in the graveyard at St Brendan's Chapel, Skipness, close to the stone erected by Archibald Hill, hammersman, 'in memory of his spouse Mary Taylor who departed this life 25th June 1772 aged 32 years'.
No official record has yet been found of Robert, and his epitaph, if he had one, has disappeared, although what may be his gravestone is there alongside that erected by Archibald the hammersman. We know about Robert and other members of the family from wonderful family history notes made in the nineteenth century. James Mutter, who married Catherine Hill, a great-great-granddaughter of Robert, collected the memories of his father-in-law, Captain William Hill (born at South Caolfin, Skipness, 1794).
There is, however, an official record of a later miller Hill - an edict of executry (Argyll Commissary Court Records in the National Archives) for John Hill, miller of Skipness, who died in Kilcalmonell Parish in 1751 leaving 'all his moveable goods and gear' to his only son, also John Hill. James Mutter's notes describe the mill as standing close to the garden wall of the old Skipness House, demolished in 1881, the water for driving the mill wheel coming from the Skipness burn. Writing in the 188o.§. he says: 'The mill was removed and the dam filled in, nothing now remains but a mound and two old trees to mark the site [reduced to a solitary tree by the 1990s] a well-drained field is where previously a wet damp place existed for the dam leaked and soaked the neighbouring ground.'
The last millers were named Cook or Cooke, and were Hill descendants, according to James Mutter. In the 1841 census we see the mill is occupied by miller William Cook, his wife Mary and family. James Mutter, who began making his notes in 1865, describes the excellent memory of his source, Captain William Hill: 'A sailor from boyhood until he was 76. A man of remarkable strength of body and power of memory, a ripe Christian worthy of imitation ... '
William's grandfather was Robert the miller's son James (born Skipness about 1710), farmer at Easka Dhu, on the road from Skipness to Claonaig. James Mutter says: 'I am quite confident that Robert Hill, the Father of James Hill, had other sons and daughters. It was a name foreign to the place and everyone that I have consulted agree that all the Hills in the district were closely connected and all descended from Robert Hill, the miller who came to Skipness.'
The Mutter notes include Hills, descendants of Robert, who lived outside Skipness. 'There was a John Hill and Robert Hill, his son and several daughters lived at Port Askaig, Islay.' It seems possible this refers to John Hill who was packet master at Port Askaig (1782-1819 in the Stent Book) and Robert Hill, postmaster (1812-27). In Kintyre, other Hills are mentioned at Tarbert and Bellochantuy.
Some of the family were tenant farmers in Skipness and we can find them in the records - James Hill and William Hill are among the 10 tenants at South Caolfin in 1784 and 1787. But times must already have been hard, with many families struggling to live off one piece of land. Other members of the family flourished overseas. Archibald Hill, a grandson of Robert the miller, went to Kingston, Jamaica, and was able to send a son home to study medicine, according to James Mutter.
Another emigrant was Alexander Hill, born at Skipness in 1779, the son of a boatman, Daniel. His story is told not by James Mutter, but in a history of his branch of the family published in the 1970s. The family moved to Greenock when Alexander was a boy and he later joined the Navy, fighting in a number of battles, including the Nile in 1798. There is a description of him as over six feet in height, slender and very athletic.
In the economic depression following the Napoleonic Wars, Alexander, his wife Elizabeth Currie and their seven children emigrated to Canada in 1821. By the l840s they were settled on land in what is now Simcoe County, their children grown up and married. The family were apparently members of the John Taylor Society in Toronto, dissenters from the Methodist Church, and were converted to the LDS church through the teachings of a missionary, along with John Taylor himself.
In 1842, the Hills set off by wagon to join the main body of the church in Nauvoo, Illinois, but four years of persecution and harassment by mobs led to the evacuation of the city. In 1847 Brigham Young declared the Great Salt Lake Valley in Utah to be the place where the Saints would gather, and each year more members of the Hill family made their way west, settling first in the Mill Creek area, apparently a favourite for families of Scottish origin who had first known one another in Canada.
Some of Alexander's children and their families were among the first to colonise the Cache Valley, in particular the town of Wellsville. Daniel and John Hill built a grist mill, to serve the valley, which came into operation in 1860. A description of the pioneers' life and their hardships says: 'They were plagued by Indians, crop-destroying grasshoppers, severe cold winters and wild animals that roamed the valley. They learned to overcome these obstacles. By following the policies of their leaders of befriending and feeding the Indian, rather than fighting them, their Indian troubles became fewer, they learned to prepare well for sometimes severe winters and in general adapted to the environment gradually.'
Alexander died in 1867 at the home of his son Daniel and was buried in Salt Lake City at the side of his wife.
When I have looked for Hill monumental inscriptions at Skipness I have found the one for Mary, wife of Archibald the hammersman, and another for Mary Taylor, a daughter of Duncan Taylor and Margaret Hill at Colphin, who died in 1762 aged 24. I have failed to find the inscription which has been recorded marking 'the burial place of John Hill, tenant in Skipness, and Mary Heman [Hyndman] his spouse 1732'. That has possibly been obliterated by time. But Captain William Hill lists several other Hills buried there, including his father James, who died at Largs in 1844: 'His body being conveyed from Largs in a boat to the old burying place in Skipness Churchyard.'
Captain William himself died aged 93 in 1887 in an old seamen's home in Greenock. On his death certificate his parents are given as James Hill, weaver, and Catherine Hill, ms Jamieson. The informant is his daughter Catherine Mutter. I don't know whether he was returned to be buried at his birthplace but it would be good to think he was.
Owing to space restrictions, the author's sources have been omitted. Ed.
I have been researching my father's family for some time, but had, frustratingly, reached a full stop in Kilsyth in the late 1700s. By a stroke of good fortune, last year I was sent a family tree done by an earlier generation, before the advent of Scotlandspeople and the Internet, which showed that previous generations of McNeils were from Kintyre, and shared their ancestry with the McNeills who were tenant farmers at Amod in Southend Parish.
The earliest records I have are those of Archibald McNeil (they seem to have dropped the second '1' on their move to the Lowlands) and his twelve children, born between 1799 and 1823. He is described variously as a blacksmith and a sickle-maker. I have followed, as far as I can, the paths that his descendants took. After Archibald's death, some time before 1841, his son Charles, my 3 x great-grandfather, moved to Glasgow with his mother and some siblings, where he earned his living as a blacksmith. Charles's son and his grandson (all named Charles) followed in his footsteps, and by the mid-1800s had a substantial iron foundry - known, at different times, as Chas McNeil & Sons and Kinning Park Ironworks - making a variety of products, the best known of which is probably the McNeil ship's boiler, which will be known to some with a knowledge of marine engineering. Descendants on this line were almost exclusively mechanical engineers, still associated with the iron industry, and the odd teacher.
The oldest daughter, Agnes Portous McNeil, married William Paterson, who was an iron furnaceman in Larbert. Their three sons I can trace were iron-moulders, and two daughters married an iron-moulder and iron-founder. Two of their children emigrated to Australia. I had the good fortune to find two of their living descendants, one now in New Zealand, who inform me that, to the best of their knowledge, the blacksmithing did not continue, but medicine and teaching predominate now and in the previous generation. The descendants of those remaining in Scotland were mainly still in iron.
There were twin sons born in 1806, George and Thomas, who both departed from the family tradition and became leather curriers in Arbroath. George's life was an unhappy one - as was so common at the time, he lost all his three children, before adulthood, and also his wife. He emigrated on his own to Ontario, where he continued as a currier and tanner.
His brother Thomas, who became a leather merchant, had four children in Arbroath. The oldest, George, reverted to family tradition and became a blacksmith. He spent part of his life in Russia, where one of his children was born. There is a family story which I think must refer to his son, also George, who was an iron driller. Apparently the Tsar admired his woollen stockings, so he asked his mother to knit an identical pair for him. The Tsar was so pleased with them he gave him a grandfather clock in return. Such stories are of course embroidered as time goes by so I cannot swear to the absolute truth of it, but a clock certainly exists, as it was passed down to my father's brother, and is still in the family.
The rest of Thomas's descendants became, in more or less equal numbers, either teachers or engineers. One of them, David McNeil, was a sugar mill machinery engineer. It was brought to my attention by the editor of this magazine that there was another descendant of the same McNeil family, 'Sugar' McNeil, who owned the Colonial Ironworks in Glasgow, making sugar mill machinery. I wonder whether David worked there, and if so, whether he knew he was related to the 'boss'. 'Sugar', who bought Gartnacopaig and died there, aged 62, in 1938, was actually Charles McNeil. His father and my great-great-grandfather were brothers.
Another of the twelve, Mary Mitchell McNeil, married a blacksmith, William Aird. One of their sons was a vertical machine keeper, and the other an engine fitter. Their daughter Agnes married her cousin William Paterson and emigrated with him to Australia. Their son William also married his cousin, Betsy McNeil, daughter of Thomas. Margaret in 1811 married a cattle-dealer from Aberdeen, and after his death became a dairy keeper in Glasgow, which was carried on by her daughter. Her son, though, was an iron turner.
Glasgow and the Lowlands had a strong tradition of ironworks and heavy industry. I have not been able to establish the parents of the first Archibald (except to know that his father was Archibald McNeill and his grandfather Malcolm McNeill). Their distant cousins in Kintyre were, as far as I can find, farmers. It is likely that he is descended from a younger brother who took an apprenticeship as a blacksmith, and that decision influenced the fate of more than thirty of his descendants, of whom there are records as working in the iron trade, and very probably many more.
As census returns are at present only available up to 1901, I only know about my own branch of the family as far as the last few generations have been concerned. Mechanical engineering, medicine and teaching are the main occupations, so it is of interest that these last two are mirrored in the New Zealand families. When the 1911 census for Scotland is made available next year I shall hope to continue this 'work in progress'.
I have not been able to find much trace of the remaining siblings. Some I know died young, while others may well have emigrated. What I do know is that, with my branch at least, they remained aware of their Kintyre history. The first Charles was married to a McAllister from Skipness, which makes me think they still maintained contact with the area. My great uncle, who did the original research on the family tree, knew the names of the whole family at Amod in the late nineteenth century, despite being separated by several generations. My grandfather had a house in Wemyss Bay which he named 'Dunavertie'. I have only realised since visiting Kintyre in 2008 that it refers to the headland at Southend. If anyone has any interest in this family I would be very pleased to hear from them, and share what information I have.
Clare Grant, 35 Chamberlin Road, Norwich NR3 3L Y; e-mail: email@example.com
Our Editor, as we all know, is the very soul of patience and equanimity in the face of the trials of editorship, but even he was moved to exclaim 'Aw, naw!' early in October 2010. He had just put to bed the Kintyre Magazine No. 68, with its article on J Campbell Mitchell, when the story broke that the artist's studio in Corstorphine had been revealed almost untouched since Mitchell's death in 1922. The news came too late, by a whisker, to be incorporated into our publication.
The Scotsman of 2nd October carried the best account of the story, with photographs, under the headline 'The room that time forgot'. It described the 'large, airy purpose-built studio with a couple of pianos' containing numerous oil and watercolour paintings and sketchbooks. These were sold on 14th October by Bonham's, the auctioneers, in Edinburgh. The estimates given by the auction house were relatively modest, most works being estimated at between £1000 and £2000.
There is here perhaps a parallel with the sale in 1986 of the studio contents of that other Campbeltown-born artist, Sir George Pirie PRSA (1864-1946). Sir George lived latterly in Torrance, Stirlingshire, and forty years after his death about thirty oil paintings and sketchbooks were sold by Christie's. The forthcoming sale was reported, with illustrations, in the Campbeltown Courier of 7th February 1986.
'The death of Lord Archibald Campbell was foreshadowed ... by the ravens that occasionally haunt Duniquaich, the well-known hill close to Inveraray Castle. Previous to the death of the late Duke, ravens hovered over the hill, circling round and round the steep wooded slopes. Rare as that bird now is in many parts of the country, it was lately observed in scores between the Castle and the hill. As many as five were seen together on the day previous to Lord Archibald's death, though they are all supposed to be far up the glen preparatory to nesting. Ravens have long been associated with deaths and disasters in the Campbell family.'
Argyllshire Herald, 19/4/1913.
Kilkerran Graveyard Revisited: a second historical and genealogical tour. Angus Martin. The Grimsay Press in association with Kintyre Civic Society, 2010, £10.95.
What fascinating people lie in Kilkerran! As you would expect in the old graveyard of Campbeltown, there are fishermen and airmen and golfers and distillers and ministers, and, tucked in beside them, their wives and children, all too often prematurely dead, some of them, perhaps, remembered now only by carved words on stones. But Angus Martin has brought many of them back to life here. This volume is a sequel to the same author's An Historical and Genealogical Tour of Kilkerran Graveyard, 2006 (reviewed in Kintyre Magazine 61 and still available from Kintyre Civic Society), and is again charmingly illustrated by George John Stewart; you'll like the picture of Neil Martin, who fell out of a tree and found God. While each book stands alone, a reader who enjoys one will be irresistibly drawn to the other.
Who will those readers be? Of course, some will be seeking the graves of their ancestors, and for them this book - neat enough to fit into a decent-sized pocket on a rainy Kilkerran day - is most helpfully arranged by divisions, as you would walk round the graveyard, with a map and a name index as well. Others will be more generally interested in Campbeltown over the centuries, and will find the town here in a nutshell: occupations, immigrants and emigrants, large families, court proceedings, wartime heroism and everyday life.
But even those who - like the present reviewer - have no
ancestors in Kilkerran, and only a shaky grasp of local
history, will find treasure. There's the lifeboatman
thrown overboard in stormy November seas, who survived to
celebrate his diamond wedding among his eight children.
There's the black sheep of the family who threatened to
shoot the Sheriff's dog. There's the telephone call
from India to a lady on her deathbed, the first such call
received in Campbeltown. There's a song which you may not
have heard for sixty years. Certainly this is anecdotal
material, but it is solidly underpinned by Angus Martin's
meticulous work - relationships, dates, derivation of place
and personal names, all scrupulously referenced - so that
both the browser and the researcher will be fully satisfied.
Fascinating people lie in Kilkerran and they are suitably
commemorated here. Is there, perhaps, a third volume to
Kintyre Families. Angus Martin. Available from the author at 13 Saddell Street, Campbeltown, Argyll PA28 6DN, at £5 including p & p.
Angus Martin's latest offering is less than 80 pages long but the amount of interest and information it contains is prodigious. Following his previous work, Kilkerran Graveyard Revisited, the author has now extended his subject matter to cover the whole of Kintyre, drawing information from over 30 sources, all meticulously recorded, to which he has added his own remarkable store of knowledge. There are few Kintyre names not included with the origins, derivation and alteration of their names, the circumstances of their arrival in the area and the main places in which they are to be found, together with mention of particular personalities.
Just as Kintyre is a fascinating mixture of Highland hill, Hebridean beaches and machair, and rich, agricultural farmland, so too are its inhabitants a complicated pot pourri of Highland, Lowland, and Irish, with distant echoes of Norse, Pict, Dalriadan, with even a dash of Italian spice to add in. The mixture of people mentioned in the book reflects this diversity, with some famous personalities added in. I knew of President Reagan's descent from Donald Blue, the notorious distiller of moonshine, but not of Ally McCoist's Kintyre origins.
A particularly interesting point is the way in which so
many names have been completely altered - the Kintyre Brodies
are really Irish O'Brolchans, for instance, and the Loves
were McKinvens. There are many examples of this Anglicisation
of Gaelic names as their owners sought to make themselves
more socially acceptable, but what can one make of the
Lowland Fullartons making themselves MacCloys presumably for
the same reason in reverse? But that is only one among so
very many fascinating nuggets of information contained in
this book, which should be on the shelves of everyone with a
connection to, or interest in, Kintyre.
ALISTAIR CAMPBELL OF AIRDS
Stronefield and Other Deserted Knapdale Townships. Jean C MacLeod, Natural History and Antiquarian Society of Mid Argyll, £15.
Stronefield, in South Knapdale, was a farming township, or 'ferm-toun', of which there are many ruined examples in Kintyre. No researcher in Kintyre has yet attempted a comprehensive history of any township, and this book would serve as a useful model. Craigaig is probably the outstanding candidate, in south Kintyre at least, since Dr Gary Robinson last year undertook an archaeological survey there.
Jean MacLeod's research falls within the post-medieval period and she has organised this book in accordance with her own strengths. The narrative is especially robust in its analysis of the population of the township: who the families were, how they were related, when they moved, and where they moved to (some dispersed within the area and others emigrated). She is also incisive on the question of eviction as opposed to clearance, and disposes convincingly of a series of self-perpetuating myths which clung to the desertion of Stronefield. She also examines the controversial conflict at Arichonan in 1848 with refreshing objectivity. Her account of the tensions attaching to religious factionalism in Mid Argyll and the role these played in nineteenth century emigration is likewise of interest and value.
Jean MacLeod's Gaelic background has clearly been an
advantage in her examination of the social and cultural
milieu of the time, and her own genealogical connection with
the area has equally clearly been an important driving force
in her labours. She has been well served in the book's
production, on which much care has been lavished: maps,
photographs, and other textual supplements are excellent.
Some subjects - e.g. 'Heat and Light' on p 31 - are
rather skimmed over, but, but this book has much to commend
it, and it is to be hoped that a similar project may
eventually be undertaken in Kintyre.
Old Kilkerran Cemetery, D & F McEwan, Kintyre Civic Society, £13.50
Anyone whose family history research leads them to Campbeltown will find this DVD an excellent source of information. About 20 years ago, local couple David and Florence McEwan undertook the task of transcribing the gravestones in the oldest section of Kilkerran cemetery, Campbeltown. Their notebooks lay little used for many years until lately, when the Kintyre Civic Society decided to make them readily available to the public.
There are 1,194 gravestones recorded and over 4,500 names listed. The organisation of the DVD is very user-friendly, with all the names indexed, and directions on how to locate the graves, an important feature for those who would like to physically visit the graveyard. All occupations are represented, with perhaps the most numerous being farmer or tenant; but with Campbeltown being a coastal town, there are numerous seafarers, e.g. Captain Wm Bennet MacMillan of the Royal Marines who died in 1817. His widow died 36 years later in Australia. Another gravestone was for Patrick Grant, a surgeon of HM Sloop Nimrod, who died in 1826, aged 31. Another inscription I found interesting commemorated Michael Hunter, died 1856, aged 66, late of H.M. Regt., who had seen active service during the Peninsular War, including at Waterloo. There are only a few inscriptions from the latter half of the 17th century and one example is the stone for Kathrine Fleming, spouse to John Pickan in Garrochie, who died in 1690 aged 22. The earliest stone is dated 1672, for James and Agnes Clark and their children.
Many of the inscriptions were in poor condition when the
data was compiled and may no longer be legible, so this DVD
serves not only to provide genealogical material for anyone
connected with Campbeltown and Kintyre, but also preserves
the material for future generations making this an
indispensable reference work.
THE LATE DUNCAN L McMILLAN.
It is with deep regret that we report the death on 27 March 2011, at the age of 82, of ex-Provost / Duncan Lang McMillan, a long-serving member of the Society's Council.
We shall miss his local knowledge, his gentle humour and his unfailing willingness to involve himself in the Society's activities
Copyright belongs to the authors unless otherwise stated.
CLICK HERE for Correspondence and Subscription Information.