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Topics - bonjedward

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Canada / Thomson, Swanson, Fairley - Scottish emigrants in Calgary around 1910
« on: Saturday 28 September 19 20:23 BST (UK)  »
At the start of the 20th century, two sisters and a brother, Mary, Agnes and Andrew Thomson emigrated from Broxburn, West Lothian, Scotland, to Calgary, Alberta. Their parents were Andrew Thomson (1842-1914) and Helen Henderson (1843-1932).

I'm hoping some descendants will recognise them. I'm including a PDF display of the three families and their descendants (anonymised for those probably still living).

Mary (1873-1955) ( ) emigrated first - she married John Swanson (1864-1945) in Broxburn in 1896, and they emigrated with their four children in 1907.
Next was Andrew (1880-1949). He married Anne Cameron (1876-1946) in Dunblane in 1909 and emigrated with their daughter in 1911.

Agnes ( ) married George Fairley (1877-1973) in Broxburn in 1901 and they emigrated with their two sons in 1912.

Andrew ( ) was a watchmaker who started a business, but later worked as a farmer in Michichi.
They had one daughter, Rhoda St. Clair Robertson Thomson (1910-1994) who married Norman Kennedy and later moved to British Columbia.

George Fairley became a well-known butcher in Calgary. His sons Henry Grant Fairley and Andrew Thomson Fairley took over the family business, which only closed in the late 1990s.

John Swanson was at various times a stonemason, farmer and travelling salesman.
His son William Lumsden Smith Swanson (1897-1976) was a jeweller who ended his career as factory manager at Henry Birks & Sons, a chain of jewellers. He enlisted in the Canadian Field Artillery in WW1, and was said to have had a romatic attachment to his cousin, my grandmother in West Lothian, who he visited when on leave from the front. Our family has a brooch he gave her that he had made himself ( Another son, James Sinclair Swanson (1900-1966) was an optician.
Both sons moved to California in later life. A daughter, Helen Henderson Swanson (1901-1972) married Eber Rowles Upton, a dentist.

My mother met people from Calgary in the 1950's, and was surprised to hear that the Swanson family was so well-known there.

Midlothian / Brash family of Leith, originally Linlithgow
« on: Tuesday 10 September 19 21:10 BST (UK)  »
I've just come across a lookup post from 2011 mentioning Ebenezer Milner and the Brash family of Leith. I've been researching this family for a while. I'll add a link to this post in the other forum.

Margaret Brash, born 1767 in Linlithgow, daughter of David Brash and Margaret Easton, was my 5xG-grandmother.
I've followed 3 other branches of David and Margaret's children Jean (1771-1864), David (1778-1864) and Alexander (1780-1838). Also two other daughters of my direct ancestor Margaret Brash and Alexander Cunningham, Jean (1786-1862) and Margaret (1793-1860) Cunningham. My direct ancestor is their sister Helen (1788-1865).

I use the GenoPro genealogy program where you draw diagrams of the family relationships. For branch lines, I create links to a new page where there's room to display them. Here's a PDF file (attached) showing the abovementioned branch lines for Jean, David and Alexander Brash, and Jean and Margaret Cunningham. All 5 are displayed with large circles/squares to show they link back to my main page.

I've come across some interesting stories. David was obviously a well established merchant who was active in campaigning against the "unjust, impolitic, and oppressive" Excise Laws. He was a juror in the Burke and Hare trial - they sat though the night with the jury retiring to consider at 8:30 on Christmas morning and came back with their verdict after 50 minutes. David went bankrupt in 1849 (those damned Excise laws!) but was back in business a couple of years later.
I see David's son John was transported to Australia in 1850 - I don't know what happened to him afterwards.

Among David's other descendants was David Brash Dick (1846-1925) a successful architect in Canada, and Robina Brash who died within a month of her husband Ebenezer Milner leaving 4 orphaned children. I found a number of newspaper articles on Ebenezer, a respected doctor known for helping the poor. I see one of his descendants played in a band in the 1960's in Sussex with Keith Emerson, later of prog-rock band ELP fame.

In the PDF display I've coloured individuals who moved overseas dark red - those who later returned in a lighter red. The thin arrows between some individuals is marked 'lived-with' in GenoPro - it gives a good overview of where orphans and others ended up.

links to individuals

Margaret Brash born 1767    
Jean Brash (1771-1864)       
David Brash 1778-1864)       
Alexander Brash 1780-1838) 
Jean Cunningham (1786-1862)
Margaret Cunningham (1793-1860)
Ebenezer Milner (1819-1866)  

You can browse the tree from there, or start at the list of names:

West Lothian (Linlithgowshire) / Broxburn West United Free Church, photos?
« on: Saturday 01 September 12 15:59 BST (UK)  »
I'm wondering if anyone knows of the existence of photographs of elders of the Broxburn West United Free Church? My GG-grandfather was an elder, and Session Clerk, there until his death in 1914. I have no photos of him, or of his wife (despite her living until 1932). Is there a collection of old photographs in a local archive, or maybe a book on local church history? I'm guessing that local newspapers at that time had few photgraphs.

West Lothian (Linlithgowshire) / Houston estate, Bathgate
« on: Tuesday 31 August 10 18:40 BST (UK)  »
Anyone know anything about the Houston estate near Bathgate?

I have a death record from 1851 in Bathgate:

Mary Thomson wife of the late James Thomson Overseer at Houston
10th Novr.

He probably died between the early 1820s and 1841. Does anyone know of what records might exist for this estate?

Donegal / Steen family, farmers, Taughboyne parish
« on: Thursday 15 November 07 19:09 GMT (UK)  »
I had previously posted a question about the Steen family under the Derry board (,43759.0.html  )

Recently I've come to suspect that they originated in eastern Donegal, not so far from the city of Derry. I'm looking for a Rebecca Steen, born anywhere between 1821 and 1826, and whose father was Joseph Steen, a farmer (on Rebecca's death certificate in Scotland her mother's name is not listed).

On the 1796 Irish Flax Growers List there is a Joseph Steen, in Taughboyne, Donegal and also one in Clogher, Tyrone. The first is more likely, as it's only 10 miles or so from the city of Derry. I've found a number of references to this family (see below). From 1789 to 1910 at least, the same family was living in the townland of Dromore Little, Taughboyne parish, and the names Joesph and Rebecca were used in the family.

I found also:
Index to Raphoe Marriage Licence Bonds 1710-1755 &
1817-1830 transcribed by Rosemary ffolliatt
Devenny, Jane & Joseph Steen 1824

(it seems the actual marriage records were destroyed in 1922). This could be the parents of Rebecca, whose daughter was named Margaret Jane Wray.

Matthew, the head of the household on the farm in 1901, would have been born around 1838 and could be Rebecca's younger brother.

Rebecca married a Samuel Alexander Wray, police sergeant, while very young ( a son Samuel Wray was born between  4 Apr. 1840 and 4 Apr 1841 according  to the 1881 Scottish census. I have not found any record of Samuel Alexander Wray or of the marriage.

I'm still not so familiar with Irish records, so can anyone suggest where I might look next? I won't be able to visit Ireland in the next year or so, and would prefer not to hire a genealogist. Even if I got Matthew Steen's death certificate some time after 1901, it wouldn't tell me who his parents were. The family were probably Church of Ireland and/or Presbyterian, although of Margaret Jane Wray's three marriages one was R.C., one Church of Scotland (after moving to Scotland) and the other I haven't found.

Abercorn Rents
The List of Renters who Signed a 21 yr lease with Abercorn
in December 1789, on the Mongavelin Estate

                                                      Annual rent
      (don't know what the first column is)
Drummore East    John Steen                        - - -   19 6 8
                         James Steen                        - - -   20 0 0

Drummore Little     
                     Joseph Steen                   15 6 8  30 13 4

Moness Lower   
                          James Steen                  - - -   8 13 4
                          William Steen                 - - -   17 6 8


STEEN, James, Moness
STEEN, Joseph, Dromore
STEEN, Wm., Moness


1835 Abercorn Estate Townlands

Maps & Data
 Drimmore (Dromore)

Nos       Tenants            Quantity            Quantity
                        Statute Measure -       Plantation Measure -
                        acres/roods/perches     acres/roods/perches

14 to 30  John Steen        33/0/24               20/1/34

31 to 49  James Steen       60/3/17               37/2/11
50 to 70  Joseph Steen      64/0/34               39/2/23

In  1836 Field Books, Parish of Taughboyne  )

Dromore Little  (townland)               
Steen    Mathew    3.07.00    (valuation in s p )
Steen    Joseph    4.19.00

Dromore Big                 
Steen    John    4.00.00    
Steen    James    4.12.00

1857 Griffith's Valuation - Parish of Taughboyne

Steen, Joseph, Dromore Little
Steen, Matthew, Dromore Little
Steen, Rachel, Dromore Little
Steen, William, Carnshannagh

1901 Census Dromore Little, Taughboyne Parish
No Surname First  Relationship Religion Education Age Occupation Status  Born
1   Steen   Matthew   Head    Pres   RW   62   Farmer         Widower  Donegal
     Steen   Rebecca E Dau     Pres   RW   28   Farmer's dau   Single   Donegal
     Steen   Matthew   Son     Pres   RW   26   Farmer's son   Single   Donegal
     Steen   Jane      Dau     Pres   RW   23   Farmer's dau   Single   Donegal
     Steen   Mary      Dau     Pres   RW   19   Farmer's dau   Single   Donegal
2   Steen   Joseph    Head    Pres   RW   30   Grocer         Single   Donegal
     Steen   Samuel    Brother Pres   RW   20   Farmer's son   Single   Donegal

 4  Steen   James     Head    Pres   RW   50   Farmer         Single   Donegal
     Steen   Margaret  Sister  Pres   RW   56   Housekeeper    Single   Donegal
     Steen   Mary J    Sister  Pres   RW   53   Housekeeper    Single   Donegal
     McElhenny James   Servant RC     RW   19   Farm Labr      Single   Donegal
5   Steen   James     Head    Pres   RW   48   Shoemaker      Single   Donegal

Raphoe, County Donegal
From the Belfast and Ulster Towns Directory for 1910
Steen, James, Dromore


Argyllshire / Easdale Island Folk Museum - closed?
« on: Tuesday 17 July 07 19:31 BST (UK)  »
Does anyone know if the Easdale Island Folk Museum is still open? I looked at their website some time last year - I was particularly interested in the archives mentioned and their focus on genealogical research.

But their domain name has been seized by domain-name squatters, and doesn't work (there were links to these from web sites like and

Also, if anyone has been there, what kind of genealogical resources do they have? I'm off to Scotland in a couple of weeks and was thinking of going there.

The Common Room / New 3-day free access
« on: Wednesday 20 June 07 20:03 BST (UK)  »
I've just received news that there's another 3-day free offer (via Ancestrylibrary.

You have to go via this llink:

and either register or use an existing login name. I used the same login name that I've previously used for a 3-day free access offer, so there doesn't appear to be restrictions

Technical Help / Firefox image problems on Scotlandspeople
« on: Sunday 28 January 07 21:46 GMT (UK)  »
My Mozilla Firefox browser got updated today, and after that I was unable to see any images in Scotlandspeople - images I'd just bought, or older ones in my Viewed Images list. I could if I used Internet Explorer, though. I prefer not to use Internet Explorer, however, as my PC runs Windows Millenium, and Microsoft no longer supplies security updates to it.

I tried updating my Java version ( go to:  ) to see what version you're using, and  to get the newest one ).

I had been using 1.4.2_05

After updating to the newest, and after restarting the PC, it now works fine and I can see all my images.

Stirlingshire / Bruces of Dunipace
« on: Monday 01 January 07 21:26 GMT (UK)  »
I've been trying for years to prove the story that my family is related to James Bruce of Kinnaird, "Bruce of the Nile" - perhaps by one of his brothers.

The only Bruce in my family tree is a Mary Bruce, born about 1771 in Denny, Stirlingshire (according to the 1851 census ) -  she must have died before 1855.

In the Dunipace OPR (just next to Denny), there is a Mary Bruce born on Apr. 27th and baptised May 1st, 1770, parents William Bruce and Janet Newlands. They also had a daughter, Isobell, baptised in 1771.

Going back, there are various Bruce baptisms in the parish, no doubt all related as they appear as witnesses at each other's baptisms.
Between 1733 and 1759, there are the births of George, John, Margaret, and James to the parents John Bruce and Isobel Taylor. Also William and Margaret, children of Thomas Bruce and Isobel Rob. There's a William Bruce who's a witness in 1739, who can't be the child William listed before.

So there were quite a few of them, and they could well be some of the 5 half-brothers of James Bruce of Kinnaird, from his father's first marriage (David Hay-Bruce and Agnes Glen).  I've put together a Bruce family tree from what I've been able to find from various James Bruce biographies and the internet - see

and there was a William and a Thomas Bruce among them - I don't know all their names.

Does anyone have any information that could help? Monumental inscriptions of Bruce graves in Dunipace or Denny, for example? Or OPR death records?

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