Revisiting the MacColls/McColls of Kenmore and Ontario

Last week I presented my readers with a confusing question arising from letters between two cousins. The jury is still out on whether Catherine McCorquodale later McColl does indeed belong to my family, being a daughter of Duncan MacQuorquodale.

My investigations have sent me down the rabbit hole of discovery so I thought I’d set out some details on this family, irrespective of whether they turn out to be kin.

Dugald McColl married Mary Cameron in Argyll and had the following children:

John born 18 May 1795

Helen born 12 Oct 1797

Donald born 25 Dec 1799

Allan born 24 Dec 1801

Dugald born 25 Jan 1804

Hugh born 21 Sept 1808 (later known as Evan)

Archibald born 12 Jan 1811

Initially I was chasing the primary records trying to determine where the family members had gone, and especially the fate of Allan McColl who married my hypothetical 3xgreat aunt Catherine McCorquodale in 1829. One thing led to another, as it does when you go down that research rabbit hole, and with a hot tip from my Canadian cousin, I discovered some interesting information on Allan’s emigration to Ontario.

4 Kenmore men, Duncan McArthur, Allan McColl, Robert McGilp and Duncan Campbell, Junior, who emigrated to America in 1850, //”the Duke buying their cattle and crops for £92-4-6d and paying their passage money of £36. //” Did this happen for any other men in the surround area? Why did these 4 men go? Did they sail with anyone else?[i]

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a look through the Duke of Argyll’s archives in Inveraray to see what else could be found about these men and their families?

Perhaps there’s a clue why Allan McColl’s family emigrated. Other references tell us that Allan’s father, and his unmarried children had emigrated to British North America (later Canada) in 1831. It would be thanks to Allan’s brother Evan’s (baptised Hugh), who had an incredible poetic reputation, that so much detail has been preserved[ii].

Once again, I was so busy sleuthing out the primary records that when I turned to Google I was blown away to discover that Evan was well recognised as a Gaelic poet being called the Bàrd Loch Fìne (Poet of Loch Fyne) and later the “Gaelic Poet of Canada”. Evan is absolutely no genetic relation of mine but what a thrill to find out his reputation. A number of sites describe his and Allan’s parents thus:

Dugald MacColl who was possessed of “the richest store of Celtic song of any man living in his part of the country.[iii]” His mother, Mary Cameron, “was noted for her storehouse of traditional tales, legendary and fairy tales.” She was also said to be something of an ‘improvisatrice’ or maker-up of tales.[iv]

Dugald Maccoll was possessed of a manly presence, fine personal appearance and great natural intelligence…nothing delighted him more than to see the patriot flame fanned in the bosom of his young family….”. He was descended from “the Maccolls of Galdruim”…and “possessed superior natural endowments – physical as well as mental – and was reputed to be altogether as fine a specimen of the Highlanders as could be found in the whole county of Argyll in his day”. Dugald continued to wear Highland dress “long after it had ceased to be used by any other of the adult population of his native parish[v]. His wife, Mary Cameron, was the daughter of Domhnull mor a Gharbhchoirre of the Cowal district.

How fortunate were their children to have such a rich cultural heritage. Dugald was so committed to his children’s education that he is said to have provided a private tutor for his children and also to have purchased a bulk lot of books from a traveller looking for a sale. Of their home it was said “As one might expect, their house was one of the favourites for local ceilidhs[vi]. If Evan was the beneficiary of this forward thinking, then it’s without doubt that Allan would have been also, being only three years older. Suddenly it became clearer how it came about that Allan would work as a teacher in Canada, and his own son would become a medical practitioner.

It wasn’t only a life of song and poetry for the six boys in the family as they were required to help on the family tenant farm and during the winter herring season on Loch Fyne. Dugald also had a contract to repair the roads in some of the county and the sons also became road labourers on those projects.

Let’s return to the focus of my search – the family of Allan McColl and Catherine (Kathrine) McCorquodale. The couple had the following children, all born in Inveraray, Argyll before they left Scotland:

Mary (born 1830), Duncan (born 1831), Dugald (born 1833), Nancy (born 1835), Hugh/Evan (born 1838), Julia Mary/JulieAnn (born 1841), Fanny (born 1844) and a child with an indecipherable name, born about 1845.

Duncan#4 McColl’s 1851 letter to his cousin Duncan McCorquodale (son of Hugh) at Inveraray Castle refers to his family as being at Seymour in the Trent River area. This is confirmed by the 1851 census in which they family are shown with Archibald McColl, a farmer, almost certainly Allan’s Uncle Archibald who is also referred to in the letter.  Duncan mentions working with his father (Allan), and that his mother (Catherine) is in “better health than she has been for these ten years past”. He also refers to his uncle’s emigration from Liverpool “Uncle Evan came here the beginning of October he was only 28 days coming from Liverpool to New York and he’s at present up where John is[vii]. Other references refer to Evan’s earlier visit to Upper Canada stating he stayed with his brother at the Trent River[viii].

McCOLL Dugald Inverness Courier 26 Oct 1848 p2

Obituary Dugald MacColl, Inverness Courier 26 October 1848.

In Duncan #4’s letter to his cousin in 1857, there is no mention of whether his parents are still alive. He says that his brothers are at Kingston, which is where his uncle Evan is residing after immigrating. His sister Nancy has apparently relocated to the USA, perhaps no further than across the Great Lakes.

To date I have been unable to locate a death for Duncan’s parents, Allan and Catherine, or of his grandmother Mary. I had been hoping that a death for Catherine might reveal anything about her McCorquodale parents.  However, grandfather Dugald’s obituary travels as far as Scotland, largely due to his son’s poetic eminence. I have to wonder how someone who was such a Scottish patriot chose to emigrate to British America (later Canada) in 1831, taking his unmarried children with him.

It appears this saga will continue over a couple of posts. It seems silly to have done so much sleuthing, attempting to coordinate it in my head, and then leave it undocumented.

McColl map Canada

Some of the places (starred) where the MacColl family lived.

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[i] http://glenaray.wikidot.com/kenmore-village

[ii] http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/maccoll_evan_12E.html

[iii] Alexander Mackenzie, ‘Evan MacColl – the Bard of Loch Fyne’, in The Celtic Magazine, Inverness: A & W Mackenzie, 1881, Volume VI, p.54. This is a three part biography: (1) No. LXII, December 1880, pp,. 54–58; (2) No. LXIII, January 1881, pp. 95–103; (3) No. LXIV, February 1881, pp. 139–145 (an extract from MacColl’s diary for 1838–39 of a tour of the Highlands).

[iv] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evan_MacColl and other sites.

[v] The couple were said to have six sons and two daughters so I have missed one. A, M. (1880). EVAN MACCOLL-THE “BARD OF LOCHFYNE.”. The Celtic Magazine, 6(62), 54-58. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.rp.nla.gov.au/docview/3215323?accountid=12694

[vi] https://dasg.ac.uk/corpus/textmeta.php?text=88&uT=y

[vii] Transcript of letters held by my Canadian cousin, Sheila.

[viii] Alexander Mackenzie, ‘Evan MacColl – the Bard of Loch Fyne’ op cit.

Thinking “out loud” online

Do you ever have the feeling that your more distant branches on the family tree are rather like Swiss cheese, full of holes with tenuous structure? Please bear with me while I think online – I’d be interested in any feedback other genimates can offer.

I’ve been revisiting my McCorkindale (aka McCorquodale and many variants) branches and correspondence with a Canadian cousin. In a lightbulb moment I’ve concluded, tentatively, that I was missing a sibling for my 2xgreat grandfather, James McCorquodale later McCorkindale.

I absolutely love Scottish Records for their broad information especially when one gets to civil registration from 1855. Another virtue is that the woman’s maiden name is retained in the documents (generally). McCorquodale etc is a relatively uncommon name except in their heartlands of Argyll so maiden names can be very helpful. And then there’s the traditional Scottish pattern for the children’s names. However, can you be sure you have the first, or only, marriage for your person?

Let me get down to nuts and bolts, but first let me give you a summary of the cast of this story. Throughout this post the surname McCorquodale can be implied unless otherwise stated.

The cast

I was lucky to have received a copy of my great-grandfather’s (James’s) baptism record from my grandmother. It was also obliging of him to state his birth place, on the census, as Inistrynich near Cladich on Loch Awe. This gave me confidence that Duncan McCorquodale at Cairndow was my correct ancestor.

This enabled me to find his parents Duncan#1 McCorquodale (aka MacQuorquodale etc) and Anne Campbell who married in the parish of Glenorchy and Inishail on 25 April 1791. Son James was born on 14 March 1808 and only today have I deciphered where the register says his parents lived: the Gatehouse near Cladich. Previously I had Drimuirk.

Given we’re in Campbell country my chances of pinpointing the correct parents for Ann are slim to none. Searching the LDS microfilm for the parish of Glenorchy and Inishail, I long ago identified the following children to Duncan #1 and Ann[i].

  Birth Christening Place Parish Married
Hugh 7 Nov 1791 9 Nov 1791 Tervean G&I Ann (Nancy) Bell
Mary 19 Jan 1794 20 Jan 1794 Achnacarron G&I Nicol McIntyre in Glasgow in 1823
Anne* 27 Dec 1798 Illegible G&I Unknown
Sarah** 4 April 1802 4 April 1802 Cladich G&I Unmarried to 1851
Betty 12 Feb 1805 13 Feb 1805 Cladich G&I John McDonald
James 14 Mar 1808 Drimuirk G&I Isabella Morrison

But wait, was Duncan’s marriage to Ann in 1791 his first marriage? And was his father therefore called Hugh?

There is another marriage of a Duncan#1 McCorquodale to Margaret Keith/McKeich and this couple had two children: Dougald b 8 March 1788 christened 20 March 1788 and Sarah b 2 Jan 1790 christened 4 Jan 1790, both in Glenorchy and Inishail.

There are no further children to this couple and for some time I’ve considered the possibility that Margaret died after Sarah’s birth, and that Duncan’s marriage to Ann Campbell was his second. Unfortunately, our research at this time is constrained by the absence of burial registers and I found no indication of mort cloth rentals in the Kirk Session records for Inishail. This ambiguity will probably remain into the future.

I’ve managed to find marriages and/or death records for James’s siblings and there is a track record of longevity in the family.  Duncan#1 is shown as 80 on the 1851 census[ii], making it feasible that the marriage to Margaret could be his. Unfortunately he dies between 1851and the comprehensive certificates of 1855….drat!! However, his children’s death certificates (from Scotland’s People[iii]) all show his occupation as a weaver, even though he listed himself as an ag lab on the census records…possibly seasonal occupations.

Duncan and Ann’s son, James, my ancestor, married Isabella Morrison from Strachur in 1832. The family lived on/near the Ardkinglas estate on Loch Fyne for many years. James and Isabella’s children were:

Name Birth date Christening Place
Catherine 16 Aug 1832 Strachur
Anne 21 April 1834 Strachur
Euphemia 3 July 1836 Kenmuir
Malcolm 15 Sept 1839 Strachur
Duncan #3 31 Oct 1841 Baichyban
Janet (Jessie) 16 Feb 1845 Kilmorich
Isabella 14 Sept 1847 Kilmorich

You’ll notice that Duncan #3 here is the second son, named after his father’s father whereas the first son is named after Isabella’s father, Malcolm Morrison. James’s brother Hugh had also had a son named Duncan #2 who was born on 20 Feb 1832 at Inveraray.

My Canadian cousin sent me two transcribed letters ten years ago. Somehow, at the time I missed the relevance of a key point in the letters. In 1851 Duncan McColl (Duncan #4) writes to his cousin Duncan#2 McCorquodale at Inveraray Castle where the latter worked as a gardener. In his letter Duncan#4 McColl speaks of his own family and their experiences since arriving in Ontario, Canada in 1850. His cousin had asked him about gardens where he lived in Ontario and Duncan#4 McColl refers to Kenmuir (Kenmore) where his family had lived before emigrating. He also tells his cousin that “We all join in sending our kind love to your Father, Mother and Sister not forgetting yourself and our friends at Cladich and Grandfather and all enquiring friends”. The mention of Cladich and grandfather in one sentence rang bells with me and sent me off tracing Duncan McColl’s family. But first…

The cousin written to, Duncan McCorquodale #2, is the son of Hugh (above) and grew up near the McColls and was a similar age to Duncan#4 McColl. Duncan#2 was a gardener. He is found with is another cousin, Malcolm (born Strachur, son of James) working as a gardener with Duncan #2 (born Inveraray) at Kilbride in the parish of Dunoon, Argyll in 1861. Malcolm and Duncan#2 are cousins[iv], which tends to imply that Duncan#4 McColl is also a cousin of Malcolm’s[v], my ancestor James (Malcolm’s brother), and Duncan #3[vi]. The nice thing is that Duncan#2, who received the letters, is the great-grandfather of my Canadian cousin.

1861 Census McCOrquodale Duncan and Malcolm

1861 Census Piece: SCT1861/510 Place: Dunoon & Kilmun -Argyllshire Enumeration District: 3
Civil Parish: Dunoon & Kilmun Ecclesiastical Parish, Village or Island: Dunoon
Folio: 0 Page: 58 Schedule: 318, Address: 12 Kilbride on freecen.org.uk

So, my question became: Is Duncan#4 McColl a cousin through his father or his mother? Allan McColl had married Catherine McCorquodale in 1829 in Inveraray and Glenaray Parish. By the time of the 1841 census, they had four children: Duncan#4 born 1830, Dugald born 1833, Nancy b 1835 and Evan born 1838. Catherine was 35, making her YOB between 1801 and 1806[vii].  The family don’t appear in the 1851 Scottish census and this is clarified by the notation on Canadian census records[viii] which state Duncan#4 McColl arrived in 1850.

1841 freecen McColl

Image from freeCen.org.uk

Allan McColl is the son of Dugald McCall and Mary Cameron so that eliminates the cousinship at paternal first cousin level at least. This in turn adds weight to Catherine McCorquodale being a sister to Hugh and James, and daughter of Duncan#1 and Ann Campbell. The birth years of the other children don’t preclude her being part of this family, but it’s unfortunate that I’ve not found a suitable baptism for her when I trawled the parish registers. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to locate a death for Catherine McCorquodale McColl in Canada…this may be down to my novice experience with Canadian records, or her death may fall in the pre-1869 period when civil registration didn’t apply (experts please feel free to add/correct).

I’ll be writing more about the McColls in another post. However, meanwhile I’d appreciate my genimates’ opinions on the logic behind my argument, thoughts for proving it somehow, and any other feedback. And if you’re confused about all those Duncans and Hughs, you’re not alone…and that’s without getting into the Catherines, Euphemias etc. How I’d love to visit the Duke of Argyll’s archives at Inveraray Castle…one day.

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[i] Parish records of Glenorchy and Innishail, microfilm 1041008, Items 1 – 3

[ii] Piece: SCT1851/512 Place: Glenorchy-Innishail -Argyllshire Enumeration District: 6
Civil Parish: Inishail Ecclesiastical Parish, Village or Island:
Folio: 401 Page: 7 Schedule: 31 Address: Drimuirk on freecen.org.uk

[iii] https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[iv] Verified by Scottish Marriage certificate 1859 644/7 124 of Duncan (#2) McCorquodale and Jane Ann Shaw in Glasgow.

[v] As an aside, Malcolm and his wife would later migrate and raise his family in Nailsworth, Gloucestershire before emigrating to Sydney, Australia. Throughout Malcolm retains the original surname spelling of McCorquodale. I wondered sometimes if this was too big a leap of faith in the connection, however his death certificate in Sydney records his parents correctly as James and Isabella. Not at all coincidentally he had named his home “Cairndow” after the home of his youth.

[vi] Meanwhile, James’s second son, Duncan#3 (confused yet?) migrated from Argyll to Glasgow, typical of the era. Duncan#3 was my great-grandfather. He died in Glasgow but his widow and all but one of his family emigrated to Australia in 1910.

[vii] This census rounded down the ages of adults to the nearest 5 years.

[viii] 1901 Census, Ontario, District 95 Northumberland, Village of Campbellford.

Exciting news for genealogy & DNA fans world-wide

UTP DNA picIn breaking news from Unlock the Past, I’m excited to learn that the genealogy conference to be held in Seattle USA, will now be livestreamed to DNA enthusiasts world-wide. The presenters will be Blaine Bettinger (USA), Maurice Gleeson (UK), Cyndi Ingle (USA) and Wayne Shepheard (Canada). What a stellar lineup!

The program features:

  • One whole stream (five talks) on DNA – by Blaine Bettinger (US) and Maurice Gleeson (UK)
  • Three Irish talks – by Maurice Gleeson (UK)
  • The hidden web: digging deeper – by Cyndi Ingle (US)
  • Genealogy and the Little Ice Age – Wayne Shepheard (Canada)

Unlock the Past is now offering an online package which enables us to watch all the talks presented in Seattle, either in real-time or subsequently for those of us in very different time zones. Of course for those who can readily travel to Seattle there’s the option of attending in person – lucky people.

At $US65 ($A90 or Euro57 or GBP51, approx) for 10 livestreamed presentations, it looks like a tremendous bargain to me. No matter where we live we can share in the experience and learning with those at the venue. I know I’m going to be watching the presentations, either live and/or afterwards and I now feel like I’m not missing out on all the fun.

You can read all about it here, check out the program here, and book for the livestreaming through this link.

Isn’t it great how technology lets us all share in these events?

Enter the date in your diaries:  Thursday 6 September 2018, 9am-5pm (Pacific Daylight Time)

Diary of a Genea-Cruise: Day 6 – Motion on the Ocean

Before I tell you a little about Day 6 of our genea-journey, for those who are interested, the slides from my talk Becoming a fan of FANs is now on a separate tab on my blog under Presentations. Here is a quick link to it.420 shreck

Day 6 of our adventure was a sea-day en route between Adelaide and Hobart. The Captain warned us there’d be “motion on the ocean” but it was pretty good. By the time we got to Hobart we were swaying on land, not ocean.

Although we were so preoccupied with the many presentations in the conference room I occasionally caught a glimpse of the featured DeamWorks characters which are a feature of Voyager of the Seas so I grabbed photos of them for the grandchildren.

Kerry Farmer: Convicts from trial to freedom

Although I have no convicts in my ancestry (no royalty here or abroad! Just a peasant), I just had to listen to Kerry Farmer’s talk on Convicts. Kerry is such a good presenter and sets out information clearly and concisely. Ancestry and FindMyPast both have good convict records. I was interested in the Parramatta Female Factory information and especially the Roman Catholic orphanage.

She reminded us too, that it was secondary offenders who ended up in places like Moreton Bay, Port Arthur and Norfolk Island. However, there were exiles (the later convicts circa 1840s) who went directly to Moreton Bay receiving a conditional pardon on arrival.

Key messages (for me): this will be useful when it comes time to do Mr Cassmob’s convict research. Convict deaths may not be registered in the normal death indexes for NSW.

Jill Ball: Free Australian Websites.

Jill gave us a whirlwind tour through the websites she loves to use and it’s amazing just how many wonderful sets of information are online. I’m sure some were familiar were to listeners while others were great reminders of ones we may have visited once upon a time, but had disappeared into the maw of our bookmarks or forgotten. Others provided new points of research. I found I was making notes to myself about following up different aspects of my own research through the websites.

Key messages: Try the ABC (radio) podcasts, searching for genealogy. Visit Mapping our Anzacs (an ANZAC site) which is apparently being taken down “soon”. You can download the whole file so if you want information from there, do it NOW. Don’t forget Family Search wikis for information on your places.

Jane Taubman: Family Historian – Reports

Strange as it may seem I don’t much like genealogy programs as I tend to feel straight-jacketed. I generally prefer to have narrative instead which allows for more nuances.

However I’ve been using an Australian program Relatively Yours for many years because it offers the opportunity to add more personal information and allows for nuances in relationships which the bigger programs don’t always do. Having said all that, I like the clean format of Family Historian which tends to appeal to me.  Because I have yet to decide between these two programs and The Master Genealogist, I attended some of Jane’s talks. When I get home I’ll be playing around with it a little while I decide.

Key message for me: Come to grips with which program I want to use, and which suits my purposes best.

Thomas MacEntee: Google Alerts and Books

817 Thomas MacEnteeAs always Thomas’s talk was full of tips for making our genealogy research more organised and efficient. I knew some of this already from reading Thomas’s and other blogger’s posts on the topic.

Do you have alerts in place for your family’s street addresses, towns, your own website or blog, your areas of interest?

Don’t forget you can set up a Bookcase of books which you find on Google Books and mark them private or public. Don’t shy away from “limited view” books and also use more common phrases to look at other pages.

Key message: Use alerts and Google Books to the max. Kudos to Thomas for always repeating the question from the audience so everyone knows what was asked.

Geneareaders Circle hosted by Jill Ball

This was such a fun activity with a group of people sharing their favourite genealogy or history books. It was interesting to see even relatively esoteric books were held by others in the group.

Apart from the joy of learning about new books to follow up, it was a pleasure just to share with like-minded people.

It was both heart-warming and amusing to see Maria Northcote from Genies Down Under nearly fall off her chair when one of the participants, Alan Jones, talked about his SAG thesis on Kilmihil, the very place in Clare where Maria’s ancestors came from. You can imagine the chat that ensued!

Genies Down Under

After the circle, Jill Ball and I were interviewed by Maria for the podcast which was fun as well. Maria’s included her chat with Jill and I, as well as Alan Philips, Chris Paton and Joy Avery in her March podcast here. It’s very obvious we were having a good time and no longer noticed the ship was working its way through the captain’s famous “motion on the ocean”. Maria is just a delight to chat with, and so calm and quietly confident.

Key message: A great opportunity for attendees to get involved and share their love of books. Thanks Jill for this inspired idea. If you’re going on a genea-cruise do make sure you add this to your list of “must attend” events.

Sorry this has been so long arriving – it’s been sitting in my drafts waiting for the photos to accompany the story..and now can’t find ones I’m happy with…except a great photo of Thomas on the welcome night. I did better when I was on board ship.

art work

Anne Daniels from Drawing on the Past, offered sessions on photo collage for family history.