I’ve recently been transcribing the copies of some pages I got on the Inishail Kirk Session records when I was in Scotland late last year. My focus was on trying to dig out a little more on my earliest ancestor in that area, Duncan McCorquodale. I had searched the fencible lists in the Argyll Archives at Lochgilphead without success so decided to switch my focus on whether there was anything in the records regarding his status as a pauper at the time of the 1851 census.
The Kirk Session Records include, inter alia, reports on Delinquency -all the ones I saw were illegitimacies; and Scandal -where there might have been an actual or perceived misbehaviour/breach of church rulings and the Poor’s Funds, which I’ll post on separately.
I was lucky in all these areas. I knew one of his daughters had had two illegitimate children & I found the brief report on one of these pregnancies: all dealt with fairly quickly and without a great deal of fuss, except for the £2 fine payable by the acknowledged father. On the down side it didn’t add much to what I’d already found out in the parish baptismal records.
A Delinquency report on the illegitimate birth of another McCorquodale girl from the northern side of Loch Awe involved various members of my own McCorquodale branch and their families. In the course of this very extensive Kirk Session Report various family connections were mentioned but so were many other residents from both sides of Loch Awe. So even though any given report on illegitimacy might not involve one’s own ancestry, the reports can be a gold-mine of information about other people from the area including their occupations, residences, places of employment. Sometimes people placed the timing of an event in terms of another event eg Mrs Walker late of Annat’s Roup (auction of belongings) or Angus Sinclair’s late at Barcheanvoir’s death, pinpointing years of death for people completely unrelated to the case in point.
The issue of Scandal was also something of a gold mine: the Session focused on a report of inappropriate behaviour by Sarah McCorquodale and a man from across Loch Awe who was visiting at Cladich.
What did I learn?
1. That my 3x great grandfather lived in a “small house” at Drimuirk near Cladich –I had known where he lived from the census but the repeated reference to his small house highlights that it must have been tiny even by the standards of the day.
2. That on the evening under discussion, the McCorquodale family had an Irish pedlar staying with them – having recently seen the surviving footprint of the house, it defies the imagination that three or more adults and one child could live there, let alone have a “visitor” staying there
3. There was a reference to my 3x great grandmother being present at the time, as well as Sarah’s small daughter
4. That my 2 great-grandfather was apparently also present at the Cladich Inn on the night in question
5. That people moved readily back & forward across the Loch for work or socialising, making me feel much more comfortable about the fact that Duncan & Ann’s first children were born on the north side & the last few on the southside. The Kirk Session ultimately exonerated Sarah McCorquodale and the man in question of wrong doing but advised them to be more circumspect in their behaviour in future.
About this point in my reading I thought of how my Scottish McCorkindale grandmother had a habit of watching the activities in the street from behind her curtains –shades of her family’s history in the Highlands perhaps?
These documents are only available at The National Archives of Scotland in Edinburgh and are reference CH2/968/1.