When faced with an information ‘void’ it is understandable how and why researchers sometimes jump on ‘facts’ pertaining to familial connections freely available on the internet or published elsewhere. There are many reasons why these ‘blackholes’ may arise; nonconformity, a lack of heritable property or Wills, lost or damaged records to name but a few. Whichever way, if our ancestors were ‘ordinary’ law abiding folks they can often become tricky, if not impossible, to trace with any degree of certainty in the period before the Census and Statutory Registration.
There are, however, other measures that can be tried before resorting solely to the research of others! Broadening the net to catch as many potential relatives as possible and investigating their connections is just one way to ‘ring fence’ your own ancestors. I think of this as gaining access to the required information through the ‘side door’. Then, as now, family connections and the principle of ‘who’ rather than ‘what you know’ often played a pivotal role. Taking a closer look at fellow passengers, communicants of a specific church, or trades, occupations and residents in particular community may just pay dividends.
Johnston Case Study
The case in question is the search for the parentage of Andrew Johnston allegedly born at Berwick-upon-Tweed in 1766 for whom no baptism information has been identified, most probably due to the family’s nonconformity and gaps in the records. Returning to the other families who emigrated to Australia alongside the Johnstons aboard the Coromandel in 1802, the researcher is quickly bombarded by a surfeit of conflicting information from a variety of sources. For example:
Using DNA for early ancestor searches
For this latter dilemma, science can play a determining role if lucky enough to have a direct male Johnston descendant to test and a bank of well documented Y-DNA to compare it to. Broadening the search can help identify possible family groups with suitable male descendants to potentially approach regarding Y-DNA testing. It will likely involve a bit of detective work tracing family lines but might just pay dividends if the trail leads back to a known parish, community, or geographical area.
When searching for suitable descendants it is important to watch for breaks in the male line of inheritance. There are many reasons male lines can be broken but one that is often overlooked relates to inheritance. If a title or inheritance for some reason passes through a daughter or female line and surnames are changed to accommodate it, the historic line of Y-DNA has been broken and will no longer reflect the original blood line. If looking for a potential connection to a ‘landed’ family this is worth investigating to ensure the Y-DNA carried is in fact that of the surname expected!
It is a big ask for autosomal DNA (atDNA) to provide definitive answers at extremes of generational distance. Remember, due to the way autosomal DNA is transmitted, (and lost) with each generation that passes there is no guarantee we will have inherited any from our ancestors beyond 3rd great grandparent level. Any matches that do exist are going to be small, if indeed they exist at all.
Furthermore, if a search focus is narrowed to only one ancestor it is easy to lose sight of the fact that, if our line is free of cousin marriages, we have 64, 4th great grandparents and 128, 5th great grandparents. That is a lot of individuals from whom we might, or might not, have inherited autosomal DNA! Extreme care should be exercised when attributing DNA matches at this historic distance, particularly if a large amount of DNA is shared between testers or if several different ancestor families lived in the same geographical area. For example, Sprouston in Roxburghshire is synonymous with a branch of my paternal line ancestors, yet the first 5 atDNA matches that come up under the place name search are on my maternal, rather than paternal line.
Broaden the ancestral search
It is all too easy to fixate on a single ‘troublesome’ individual when perhaps the net should be cast wider to encompass siblings, cousins and other more distant family members. This unfurling of the family tree is essential if looking for clues amongst DNA matches.
The Mrs Johnston referred to in this extract from Rev Alexander Waugh's Memoirs cannot be his Grandmother, is not his only sister, and yet appears to be well acquainted with Alexander’s plans for study etc. Therefore, it is concluded that the lady to whom Mr Graham refers is a ‘relation’ of the Rev Alexander and quite possibly the mother of Andrew Johnston born at Berwick in 1766.
Whilst the ‘devil’ is often in the detail, more general patterns, particularly those of movement and relocation, can often hold vital clues and can be found in traditional paper-trail sources. When combined with DNA results, the armoury in a genealogist’s toolbox is significantly strengthened.
Possible Connections between Johnston, Mein & Turnbull Families
With a broader search in mind, looking at the pedigrees of fellow travellers aboard the Coromandel may yet yield some further clues. It is known that many of the individuals hailed from the same geographical area of the Scottish Border and North Northumberland and were united by their strong Presbyterian beliefs. It is therefore not unreasonable to speculate that some familial connection may also have existed. A generally held belief amongst researchers of the Hawksbury Settlers is that John Turnbull was not only related to fellow Coromandel passengers, James and Andrew Mein but also the Johnston family.
The theoretical relationships between the Turnbull, Mein and Johnston families is discussed by Albert Turnbull in his 2018 book ‘The Turnbull Pedigree’. This potential connection is certainly plausible and has been evidenced to a degree by an old family Bible bearing what is believed to be John Turnbull’s signature as a child, alongside that of his mother Margaret Mein. There is, however, a lack of clarity to the evidence as presented in the book that makes the theoretical paper-trail somewhat challenging to follow or replicate. It appears the Bible may be the only source of baptismal information for several of the children of William Turnbull and Mary/Margaret Mein. which again raises the possibility of nonconformity. A possibility that has not been explored by the book’s author.
It would be interesting to test Turnbull’s relationship theory against the information pertaining to the inheritance of James Mein’s estate. A nephew, John Stuart Mein, travelled from Scotland in 1834 to claim his inheritance on the death of his aunt in 1833. Clearly if Margaret Mein was a relative of James, her Turnbull offspring in Australia (John) appear to have been passed over in favour of those who had remained in Scotland. Once again there appears to be a degree of conflicting information to wade through from various sources, not least the year of James Mein’s birth recorded as both 1741 (which would have made him of an age with John Turnbull himself, and aged 61 when he left for Australia) and 1761 some 20 years later!
Turnbull’s same hypothesis refers to Janet Johnstone the wife of Nicholl Turnbull having been born at Earlston in 1677. As the Earlston records have not survived from this date knowing the source of this information would also be most helpful. It may eventually prove to be the case that she was the Janet Johnston baptised at Gordon in August the same year to a William Johnston farmer at Hexpath. Although William Johnston of Hexpath has yet to be firmly placed within the Johnston family tree, it is thought likely that a familial relationship existed between him and Margaret Johnston, mother of the Rev Alexander Waugh and her known connections at East Gordon.
As the Turnbull Pedigree also claims that the young John Turnbull spent time at Banff Mill, Sprouston, it put me in mind of my own, again sadly neglected, Turnbull connections. A paternal 5th great grandmother, Christian Turnbull, was born in 1717 at Easter Softlaw Farm, Sprouston, where her father John Turnbull was tenant. It did not take me long to remind myself why I give this early branch of the family a wide berth! There were simply so many of them in Sprouston parish; John and George Turnbull tenants at Easter Softlaw, James Turnbull tenant in Nottylees, Robert Turnbull tenant in Lurdenlaw and another James Turnbull tenant in Lempitlaw Eastfield. Some 85 years later from the Militia Lists of 1801 some of these Turnbull families were still resident at Lurdenlaw, Lempitlaw and Lempitlaw Eastfield. In my brief revisiting of this branch of Turnbulls and indeed the other entries in the Sprouston register, no connection between a Turnbull and Banff Mill was apparent. Indeed, a re-reading of this chapter of the Turnbull Pedigree left me somewhat cold.
‘Banff Mill is a tiny village on the river Teviot, opposite Kelso/Sprouston, but in the parish of Berwickshire which is renowned for its poor or missing records’
The efficacy of the Berwickshire records and record keepers aside, the number of errors packed into this single sentence must be a record!
Sadly, this has rather left me questioning the credibility of other conclusions that have been drawn within the relevant chapters of this book. By the time of a potential sibling’s baptism in 1752 the putative parents were living at Overmains, close to Kennetsideheads in Eccles Parish, not as the author would suggest close to Banff Mill. This surely makes any ‘memory’ or link John may have had to Banff Mill from birth to the age of 4 rather tenuous? With time at a premium the Turnbull connection has been left in abeyance for now.
Johnston Baptisms at Wells St Church 1775-1826
It is also my experience that delving deeper into available records in areas to which a family has relocated often provides evidence of siblings or other connections. With this in mind the records of Wells St Church in London between 1775 – 1826 were trawled for further clues pertaining to the Johnston family. (It should be noted that as a nonconformist church it was unable to host weddings under the Marriage Act of 1753. Nonconformist couples wishing to marry in England had to do so in an Anglican Church until the introduction of Civil Registration in 1837.)
In 1782 Wells Street Church passed into the pastoral care of Rev Alexander Waugh, a known and established relative of Andrew Johnston. This was also the first year the number of baptisms at Wells Street achieved double figures at a total of 12. By the year 1784 the number of baptisms had more than doubled to 27. From this point forward the numbers steadied in the mid- 30s with a few years rising above 40; the highest number of baptisms recorded was 48 in 1815, and the lowest just 19 in 1808. Thus, it can be concluded there were, very approximately, 50/60 couples of child-bearing age amongst the congregation during this period.
The occupational and other information provided by the entries also makes interesting reading.
NB. Only baptisms which took place at Wells St are listed.
1. Andrew Johnston and Hamilton Bruce
Name Baptism Date Parents Names Parish of Abode Occupation
John 6th Oct 1811 Andrew & Hamilton Johnston St Marys Hornsey Carpenter
Hamilton 17th Mar 1814 Andrew & Hamilton Johnston Hornsey Implement Maker
Janet 26th Sep 1816 Andrew & Hamilton Johnston Hornsey Ag Implem. Maker
Andrew 9th Aug 1818 Andrew & Hamilton Johnston Hornsey Ag Implem. Maker
This Andrew and his wife Hamilton Bruce have been traced back to Berwickshire. Their two eldest children Mary 1806 and Margaret 1809 were baptised at Chirnside. From the 1851 census Andrew’s date of birth was circa 1780/81 and the place is recorded as ‘Berwick, Scotland’. Berwick is often mistakenly referred to as Scotland in the southern census records, but equally, Berwick may also mean Berwickshire. Andrew died in 1852 and left a Will.
2. Andrew Johnston and Elizabeth Fairbairn
Name Baptism Date Parents Names Parish of Abode Occupation
Andrew 25th Feb 1812 Andrew & Elizabeth Johnston Marylebone Carpenter
Elizabeth 1st Feb 1814 Andrew & Elizabeth Johnston St John Westminster Carpenter
Janet 29th Feb 1816 Andrew & Elizabeth Johnston St Johns Westminster Builder
James 20th Nov 1818 Andrew & Elizabeth Johnston All Saints, Isleworth Architect
Margaret 20th Nov 1818 Andrew & Elizabeth Johnston All Saints, Isleworth Architect
This Andrew rose quickly from Carpenter to Builder then Architect. He and Elizabeth were not the easiest to trace but his line has been validated back to Roxburghshire and parents Patrick/Peter Johnston and Janet Dods who were married at Stichill 25th May 1771.
Compeared Patrick Johnston
And Janet Dods both in this
Parish & craved proclamation in
Order to Marriage They produced
Patrick Jeffrey Cautioner for the man
& Nicol Dods for the woman 
The family became dispersed when Andrew died circa 1833 and is of particular interest due to the name ‘Waugh’ being adopted by daughter Margaret in later life. It is also believed there are living male descendants on this line with whom we would be particularly keen to make contact.
Whilst it is very early days, it is hoped this second line of enquiry into Johnston births at Wells St. may tighten the ring fence around Andrew Johnston’s potential parentage still further. If you believe you are connected, to either of the Andrew Johnstons mentioned above or indeed the Andrew Johnston who emigrated to Australia aboard the Coromandel in 1802 we would love to hear from you.
 Albert Turnbull, The Turnbull Pedigree,
 Scotlands People, Marriage Patrick Johnston & Janet Dodds 1771 ScotlandsPeople_OPR808_000_0020_0235Z
When a case crosses my desk that also contains a significant element of local history it really piques my interest. When it concerns a family that skirts the perimeters of my own this interest is somewhat exacerbated. So, when approached to look into the Johnston family that formed part of a small group, mainly made up of folks from the Scottish Border Country and Northumberland, who after a period living in London, sailed to Australia in 1802 aboard the ship the ‘Coromandel’ I knew I was in for both an interesting and challenging journey. Particularly as this little party were followers of the Presbyterian Secession Church, so therefore ‘Dissenters’ or ‘Nonconformists’ in both Scotland and England making them more difficult to trace. Furthermore, the surname Johnston just happens to have ranked 6th in occurrence per 100,000 of the population in Berwickshire in 1841, so there was a lot of them about!
There are several branches of Johnstons who touch the perimeter of my own family tree. In this particular case it is the Johnstons linked to the Waugh family that farmed at East Gordon for many generations. If you know or even suspect your family of Johnstons hailed from Gordon in the 18th century we would love to hear from you. Chances are that you, like my clients are faced with a black hole of information necessary to join the dots! It like a polo mint of family information but nothing to join them in the middle!
Other Johnston Families of Berwickshire
Back in July 2014 I recounted the sad affair of Johnston descendants in Ballarat during the gold rush, where 4 members of one family lost their lives. The last of which, it could be argued rather insensitively, met his end courtesy of a hangman’s knot. These were descendants of Peter Johnston and his wife Margaret Thomson through their son Lt Col James Johnston and his wife Matthew Jane Trotter. Amongst Peter and Margaret’s numerous other children was Dr George Johnston MD of Berwick upon Tweed. For anyone familiar with the history of the town, Dr Johnston will be a well-known name, not least for being a founder member and the first president of the Berwickshire Naturalists Club and Mayor of the town no less than three times.
The Johnston family of Swinton and Simprim was closely linked to the Johnston family of Whitsome, which is the ‘branch line’ above the Youngs of New Ladykirk. Their joint family pedigree is outlined in just one table stone in Eccles Kirkyard, albeit with a misleading transcription of the inscription in Cargill’s book for the Border Parishes of Berwickshire:
William Johnston, tenant in Ednam Mains 3.11.1699 50 yrs, spouse Betty Morton 26.1.1721 77 yrs also Janet Dickson 28.10.1737 43 yrs spouse to Patrick Johnston, tenant in Little Swinton who d. 29.1. 1732 69 yrs. Peter 30.6.1751 1 yr. Helen 1.5.1752 3 yrs. Thomas 1.3.1760 2 yrs. George 6.1.71 16 yrs children of William Johnston tenant in Simprim 12.5.1796 82 yrs. Margaret Fairbairn his spouse 14.3.1800 82 yrs. James 12.1.1788 son of Peter Johnston tenant in Simprim his son Matthew 14.3.1802 4 months above mentioned father late tenant in Ilderton 11.12.1803 51 yrs his 2 inf. Children James 12.4.1788 11 months. Matthew Trotter 5.11.1802 4 months. Margaret 13.9.1811 26 yrs. Margaret Thomson relict of Peter Johnston 18.1810 [sic] 78 yrs. James who d. 12.?.1788 1 yr.
Peter Johnston of Ilderton’s 1st cousin, Patrick Johnston and his wife Margaret Johnston, farmed at Kimmerghame Mains with its links to the families of Hogarth and Clay. Their son George took the tenancy of West Newton before moving to Stichill where their own son also named George married into the Johnston family of Rumbleton Law, Gordon.
Putting the Rumbleton Law family line to one side for the present it is another Johnston family of Gordon that is of particular interest to this current line of research, especially those with historic connections to the farm of East Gordon and its numerous inter-marriages with the Waugh family, historically of the same place.
Johnston Family & the Coromandel
Much has been written about the intrepid voyagers aboard the Coromandel in 1802, not least what has been written by R M Arndell in his book ‘Pioneers of Portland Head: Builders of Ebenezer Church and School, Early Settlers of the Hawkesbury and Hunter Rivers, and Squatters of the North-West New South Wales and Southern Queensland, including Family Genealogies.’ The general consensus would appear to be that there were between eight and ten original emigrant families. These included:
1. Zachariah Clarke, his daughter Ann. Zachariah Clarke died 5 December 1804. Ann Selby and Isabella Suddis [Perhaps not on this voyage]
2. Andrew Johnston and his wife Mary Beard Johnston and children, Thomas aged 10 years, William aged 8 years, John aged 5 years, Alexander aged 3 years and Abraham aged 8 months.
3. George Hall and his wife Mary and children, Elizabeth aged 9 years, George aged 7 years, William aged 5 years, John aged 6 months
4. John Johnston and wife Elizabeth Lewins Johnstone. Find out more about the John Johnston - Windsor and Richmond Gazette 2 April 1926 [This obituary is not the correct John Johnston! The gentleman referred to in this instance is in fact the son of Andrew Johnston and Mary Beard. It is thought the John Johnston aboard the Coromandel travelled as a single man.]
5. John Howe and his wife Frances and child Mary aged 3 years
6. James Davison and his wife Jane Johnston Davison and children John 3 and a half years, James20 months. Select here to find out more about the family of James Davison who settled at Portland Head. [He called his holding Alnwick!]
7. James Mein and his wife Susannah Skein Mein [From Melrose, Scottish Borders, source Australian National Biography].
8. Andrew Mein, brother of James Mein
9. William Stubbs and his wife Sarah and children William aged 5 years, Sarah aged 3 years, Elizabeth aged 1 year.
10. John Turnbull and his wife Ann Warr [Waugh?] Turnbull and children, Ralph aged 10 years Mary aged 5 years, James aged 4 years and Jessica aged 19 months. [Allegedly from Annandale]
The Coromandel was a convict transportation ship captained by William Stirling, who is alleged to have been the uncle of George Hall, one of the free settler passengers named above.
It would seem, however, the reality is that very little is really known about the genealogy of the Johnston family before they landed on Australian soil and ‘definitive works’ such as that referred to above contain inaccuracies, which when combined with family legends begin to bear little resemblance to actual ancestral fact. The head of the Johnston family which is the subject of the latest research was Andrew Johnston whose birth date and place was recorded in a letter from his wife Mary Beard to their daughter Jane Suttor dated 1 December 1856:
My dear Jane you wish to know birthday.. your dear father was born at Berwick-on-Tweed on 17 March 1766. Myself was born at Highgate, Middlesex 17 October 1768, we were married on the 18 September 1789 in the same church, and by the same minister, that married my mother and father 34 years before us. We have had eight sons and two daughters, was married 60 years wanting 17 days and your dear father has been dead seven years this day
A longstanding and widespread family legend persists that Andrew was the illegitimate son of George Johnston 3rd Marquis of Annandale, a ‘fact’ strongly refuted by the Annandale family in an article which appeared in the Windsor and Richmond Gazette Friday (Aus) on July 23rd 1926. It would appear they were right to do so as Y-DNA testing on Johnston male lines to date would suggest two entirely different, unrelated haplogroups. Therefore any possible link to the Johnston family of Annandale, legitimate or otherwise, can be ruled out – or can it?
Whilst digging about into the Johnston family groups at Whitsome, an old pedigree of ‘Johnston of Hilton in the Merse’ came to light. Just what was the fate of the ‘other’ children of Patrick Johnston Merchant Burgess in Edinburgh? Is it conceivable there was an historic connection between this family and the Johnstons who returned as tenants to Kimmerghame & Whitsome or this a random twist of fate? And, is the marriage of Merchant Patrick’s cousin Sophia, just another tempting red herring? In truth I have not a clue, and all I can do is deal with the facts of the case as they stand, but the pedigree does make an interesting aside if nothing else. A connection through a female line would, however, potentially explain a difference in male Haplogroups.
No record of Andrew Johntson’s baptism has survived, if it ever existed, within the Berwick and surrounding area’s Presbyterian record collection. Nor are there any ‘obvious’ marriage or burial records observed to date that may pertain to this family. Berwick also had its own branches of Johnston/Johnson families, which from Guild Records, show that some date back to the early 17th century. A lengthy trawl of the Berwick records at this stage was unlikely to bear fruit.
It is believed that a record of stamp duty paid on an apprenticeship in 1785 does relates to Andrew. At 19 years of age he was quite old to have commenced an apprenticeship. He was apprenticed to John Home, Carpenter of Norham in 1784. The entry is dated 13th September 1785 and his apprenticeship ran for four years from 1 Dec 1784 giving a completion date of Dec 1788. The duty paid was £4 and 2 shillings. Sadly, no actual copy of the indenture agreement, which would undoubtedly held crucial information, appears to have survived.
By 1789 Andrew had moved to London where he married Mary Beard at St Johns Hampstead on 18th September. Witness to his marriage was a John Johnston, again about whom little is yet known. He may have been a relative of Andrew, his fellow passenger in 1802 or even perhaps both. Andrew and Mary’s first 6 children, all sons, were born in London and baptised at Wells St, Scotch Church, Marylebone. The officiating Minister was one Rev Alexander Waugh DD, born at East Gordon to Thomas Waugh and his wife Margaret Johnston in 1754.
An extract from a Waugh Association newsletter, provided at the outset, holds some vital clues. It contains a transcribed copy of a letter written by Thomas Waugh, a son of the Rev Alexander, living at 8 Park Buildings, Camberwell Grove Surrey, dated Sunday Night 22nd Nov 1840, and addressed to Andrew Johnston snr in Australia. It concerned a work placement in Australia and introductions there for his own son Thomas Scott Waugh b. circa 1821. The letter firstly refers to a niece of Andrew’s:
‘It is now 3 years since at my mother's request I and your niece Ellen wrote to you …’ It is believed that Ellen may be the letter writer’s daughter thus inferring more than just a friendship existed between the two families. Such a relationship is further suggested in his closing paragraph:
Now my dear friend farewell. The shades of evening are closing in on us both don't let the night set in without at least one communication from you, as my Father's eldest relative and friend in a distant country…full of intelligence on subjects (your own and your family comforts) and dear to his kind and affectionate heart.
Ebenezer Church 1809
Andrew Johnston was also instrumental in the design and construction of Ebenezer Church, which is the oldest church in Australia. A Waugh newsletter also contained the following information:
Ebenezer Church is not of Northumberland design, as stated. The church was designed by Andrew Johnston, whose family descended from generations of Johnston/ Waugh connections in the Gordon area of Berwickshire. The renown Rev. Alexander Waugh of Wells St. Scotch Church in London was Andrew Johnston’s cousin. [Whoever penned this response was not exaggerating the potential family connections.]
[Whoever penned this response was not exaggerating the potential family connections!]
For this first cousin relationship to have existed Andrews parents must have been siblings of the Rev Alexander’s parents. The Rev Alexander Waugh’s parentage of Thomas Waugh and Margaret Johnston of East Gordon is left for posterity by his own hand in his memoirs. It can therefore be deemed to be reliable.
A Waugh Society member proposed to two relationship trails to Andrew, unfortunately only one, the most obvious stemming from an unknown sibling of his mother Margaret Johnston was published. It would be interesting to have sight of the second theory, as ‘cousin’ in Scotland may refer to a more distant relationship than first thought.
Notes written by Alexander Waugh’s great great Grandson Evelyn Waugh also pointed to the family’s occupation of land at East Gordon as being of some longevity:
Extract from 'A Little Learning' by Evelyn Waugh
Alexander's father, Thomas, joined the Secession. He held the rather bleak upland farm of East Gordon, near Greenlaw in Berwickshire, as had his forebears for four generations certainly, probably longer. But he was the last to do so. His elder son, also Thomas, on his succession sold up and bought a larger farm in the far more clement district on the banks of the Tweed, and his son emigrated to Australia...
[Thomas Waugh junior’s son Alexander married Margaret Middleton in 1830, and from this point forward the Waugh’s become my own distant, but nevertheless blood relatives as 2c 3r cousins]
It was at this ‘known’ point of familial relationships for Margaret Johnston that the research into Andrew’s Johnston’s line commenced. Evelyn Waugh was certainly not wrong about the duration of his ancestor’s occupation and bears out the earlier reference to numerous Waugh/Johnston connections.
The Gordon Parish records are tricky to interpret as there were several fathers with the same Christian name, no mother’s name is given in any of the baptisms and burial records are non-existent. It has been possible, however, to sketch Margaret’s immediate family as follows:
Then all goes blank – not because the families moved, but rather, as indicated in Evelyn Waugh’s extract, the family left the Established Church in favour of the emerging dissenting Secession Church. These records are not available online and with the current Covid19 restrictions on movement and work, the records that may hold some clues to fill the current void of vital information have yet to be consulted.
Paul Brough and his team at Hawick Archives have the request in their ‘to do pile’, but given the current environment, it is somewhat larger than usual and with only a skeleton staff on hand there may be an understandable delay. Whilst we are waiting to hear back from them, we would love to hear from you, if you know or even suspect your family of Johnstons hailed from Gordon in the 18th century. Chances are that you, like my clients, are faced with a black hole of information necessary to join the dots!
If you would prefer to contact me privately rather than leaving a public message you can email me here
 Free Settler or Felon, Convict Ship Coromandel 1802
 Extract from R M Arndell, ‘Pioneers of Portland Head: Builders of Ebenezer Church and School, Early Settlers of the Hawkesbury and Hunter Rivers, and Squatters of the North-West New South Wales and Southern Queensland, including Family Genealogies’ Sydney, 1984.
Other Useful Links
Historic Ebeneezer Church since 1809
Memoir of the Rev. Alexander Waugh, D.D., with selections from his epistolary correspondence
by Hay, James, 1770-1849; Belfrage, Henry, 1774-1835, joint author
A Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain and Ireland, Volume 2
Trove, Windsor and Richmond Gazette (NSW: 1888 - 1961) Fri 29 Jul 1927 Page 1 EBENEZER PIONEERS OF THE HAWKESBURY.
All of the images of Manorial documents are the copyright of Berwick Record Office and by their kind permission were incorporated in examples to be used at Family Tree Live. They are not to be copied or reproduced in any way without express permission from Berwick Record Office .
The transcriptions are my own and likewise may not to be copied or reproduced without my express permission.
Many of my regular readers will have seen me refer to Manorial Records, but before now I haven’t taken the time to explain exactly what they are and the types of useful information they may contain. I had prepared some information sheets with examples on this subject for the Family Tree Live event in April, which sadly like all other events has been forced to cancel for this year. Now is perhaps an opportune moment to share a small part of that information .
First, consider all the different types of records we use for family and local history research. With only a few exceptions, these resources served an administrative function and were created as a result of ever evolving administrative systems. Simply put; at the top there is central Government or prior to this the Crown; then devolved government, so within the United Kingdom the governments of Scotland, Ireland and Wales; then county or local government such as County Councils right down to a specific village Parish Council.
The various systems, and who was responsible for their administration changed over time. A prime example is modern day ‘unemployment benefit’ which is controlled by central government, but its origins lie at Parish level with ‘Poor Relief’. Understanding how administrative systems have evolved throughout history will help enormously when searching for records in archive repositories.
In addition to the above, another tier in the various systems of administration included the Manor. It is unclear exactly when the Manorial system came into existence, but it is thought to have been well established by the time of William I in 1066. At this time and throughout the Medieval period ALL land was owned by the Monarch, who made grants of land, which became Manors, to his followers making them Lords of the Manor. The land farmed ‘in hand’ by the Lord of the Manor was known as the ‘Demesne’ with other lands within the Manor rented out to tenants of which there were two types: free and unfree.
Freehold. The freeholders or 'free tenants' of a manor held their land in perpetuity, frequently just paying a rent instead of providing a service to the Lord. Freeholders were largely unencumbered by the Manor but were still obliged to attend the Manor Court.
Unfree Tenants. The unfree tenants of the Manor were known as Bondsmen or Villeins, and often provided a service such as a certain number of days labour to the Manor Lord in addition to a monetary payment. By the 16th century, payment by service had largely died out. This class of tenant became known as a ‘customary tenant’ and leases based on the ‘customs of the Manor’ were introduced. These comprised:
Unfree or Customary tenants were subject to the rules of Manor governing the maintenance of their properties. Failure to comply could result in a fine or even eviction.
All tenants whether free, unfree or customary were obliged to appear in Court and absence without leave to be so resulted in a fine known as an ‘amercement’. Those with a valid reason for non-attendance were charged a nominal fee known as an ‘essoin’. The tenants' names appeared in the Court ‘Call Books’ which were often annotated with either ‘amerc’ or ‘ess’, or in later documents 'app' or 'ab' to indicate whether they were present or absent at the meeting of the Court.
It is worth remembering that ‘The Manor’ differed from an ‘Estate’ as it had the right to hold a Court, and that an ‘Estate’ may have contained several different Manors. Whilst the Manor was predominantly a rural entity it was not exclusively so, nor was one village or town included in a single Manor. For example, Norham had two Manors: Norham Town and Norham Castle. Below is an extract from the Call Book for Norham Town in 1835
In this later example from 1835 (where the names are easy to read) the abbreviations used are:
app = appeared ab = absent
All matters relating to the transfer of property within the Manor were heard at the Manor Court and entered in the Court Rolls. There were two types of Court which dealt with matters concerning land; The Court Baron dealt with freeholders and the Court Customary which dealt with land matters for other tenants. In practice these two courts were regularly merged, and business was conducted collectively by the Court Baron and often include admittance to land and its surrender. These courts met frequently, in some cases every fortnight, although their regularity started to dwindle in the late 18th early nineteenth centuries. Admittances and surrenders were usually accompanied by a ‘fine’ or fee payment. Where they have survived these documents contain valuable sources of information for the family historian.
To this Court came John Nealson (present Bayliffe of this
Mannor) who nowe occupyeth a Horse Milne Situate near the
Bridge end in Tweedmouth within this Mannor Late in the
tenure of John Nealson his Father deceased (who held the same
by Copy of Court Roll of the Lord of this Mannor), Containing in
Length and in Breadth
And in the same Court the said John Nealson
surrendered into the hand[es] of the Lord[es] by their Steward All his
estate & title in the premises with that intention that it would
please the Lord[es] A graunt thereof into him the said
John Nealson to make. And in the same Court the said
John Nealson came & tooke out of the hand[es] of the Lord[es]
by their Steward the said Horse-Milne or Tenement with
the app[ur]tan[en]ces To have and to hold the said Tenement
and appurtenances to the said John Nealson his heirs and assigns
for ever according to the Customs of the Mannor aforesaid
By the rents Customs & services therefrom heretofore due
and of right accustomed And for such estate and
entrance so thereof to be had the aforesaid John Nealson
Gives the Lord[es] for fine two shillings And so is admitted
Other payments that may be unfamiliar were; the ‘Heriot’, a fee that was payable on the death of a tenant, and the ‘Merchet‘ a fee payable for the permission for a tenant’s daughter to marry.
In addition to land matters some manors could hear minor criminal cases such as affray, nuisance, failure to maintain property, trespass and debt at a ‘Court Leet’. The Court Leet was often combined with the View of Frankpledge, whereby tenants swore to uphold the Kings Peace. One particularly bloody affray was heard at the Tweedmouth Manor Court in May 1661
Presentments of the Jury upon their Oathes
George Scott a blood & affray upon Bartho[lomew] Potts his wife 00:08:00
Henry Morise for being Drunke 00:02:06
Henry Morise for a blood & affray upon Patrick Forriste wife 00:02:06
Henry Morise a blood & affray upon his own wife 00:02:06
William Shirnside an affray upon George Moore 00:01:08
William Shernside an affray upon Rich[ard] Given 00:01:08
George Moore an affray upon William Shernside 00:01:08
George Moore an affray upon W[ilia]m Dunken 00:01:08
George Moore an affray upon Isabell Dunken 00:01:08
An example of the typical matters heard at the Manor Court of Norham Town in 1706
W[illia]m Marshall is presented by Rees Strother for delving in a part of the
Grounds he Farms of Alexander Stuart Gent[leman] at a place Called Easter Countriggs 1s viij d
John Stewart Pinder presents Roger Abernethy for his beasts Trespassing
frequently on the Corn belonging to the Town of Norham 1s viij d
Alice Abernethy is presented by the Pinder for Cutting of Grasse belonging
To Thomas Tynlin and throwing to her Sons beasts 1s viij d
George Purvis is presented by John Pawlin Constable for Sowing a piece of
Ground w[i]th lyes at a place Called the Wax Law and reaping Corn of it
tho’ it belongs to W[ilia]m Marshall 1s viij d
David Hume Ba[il[i]e of the Mannor presents Isabel Henderson
for Entertaining an Inmate in her house that Bore a Bastard Child
and amerced xxxix s xj d
Thomas Tynlin is presented by James Fullerton and Rob[er]t Marshall Constables
for his Fences being out of repair adjoining the Towns Loaning 1s
Ordained that the Sev[era]ll Inhabitants within this Town doe
repair the Causeys on their Sev[era]ll Forefronts of the Houses at or before
Christmas next or be Amerced each xx s
The Ba[i]ll[ie]s to See it done
NB. Pinder = kept the manorial pound/pinfold, Inmate= a lodger or subtenant which was severely fined at 39 shillings and 11 old pence, just under £2, approximately £214 as at 2017.
From the Tudor period onwards much of the Manor’s administration was absorbed in the new systems of local administration and powers transferred to the Justices of the Peace, parish and town officials. Common and statutory law began to replace customary law rendering the judicial role of the Court Baron obsolete. Therefore, by the 17th century, the main responsibility of the court was to deal with the transfer of land and minor cases of debt under 40 shillings. This function and the holding of the Court Baron continued right up to the 1920s when copyhold tenure was abolished. (It was this transfer of Copyhold to Freehold that George Aynsley Smith undertook in his capacity as Clerk to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in Durham at the Halmote Court.)
In addition to their value to family historians, Manorial Records are a mine of information for local historians too. Just a small example is some of the field names I remember as a child, such as The Riggs, [High] Mill Lands and Eels Pools appear on an old map for the Manor of Longhoughton at the top of this blog. The records for Longhoughton Manor date back to 1474.
The surname Elder that appeared on the Alnwick Muster Roll of 1514 is still associated within living memory of the Village today.
https://www.flodden1513ecomuseum.org/project/the-campaign/31-the-alnwick-muster-roll (If you would like a transcription of any part just let me know!)
How to find a Manor in the Manorial Documents Register
To find the archive repository that holds the Manorial records which may be of use to you, they can be found in the Manorial Documents Register online at The National Archives. Here is the link to the page containing the surviving records for Manors in Northumberland.
Clicking on the records of the individual Manor will give the name of the repository that holds the records. Many of Northumberland’s records are held at Alnwick Castle, which as it is a privately funded archive is neither straightforward (but not impossible) nor at £55 per day, cheap to visit.
The records for Durham have not yet made it to the online register, but as a work in progress will be coming soon.
Other Useful Links
Aside from the records mentioned above, and rather than list them all here, Lancaster University has an excellent website which although its focus is the Manors of Cumbria, it contains a wealth of information covered in far more detail than I have here.
An extensive Glossary of unfamiliar terms and phrases in Latin, can be found at the University of Nottingham https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/manuscriptsandspecialcollections/researchguidance/manorial/glossary.aspx
Sadly, this is a question that is not asked enough! All too often circumstantial evidence is added to family trees and suddenly square pegs are sitting uncomfortably in round holes. Most of these errors are largely avoidable and have crept in unwittingly. There are many reasons why ancestors can’t be located, or the wrong ones appropriated, very briefly here are just a few:
Of course, there are other reasons too, but it would be impossible to cover such a huge topic in one short blog! In many cases, however, basic errors stem from a lack of understanding of the records that were kept and the laws that governed them. Often, the errors start to appear in the period prior to Civil Registration; 1837 in England, 1855 in Scotland, when evidence of familial relationships is sought in Church records. After all, birth marriage and death form the backbone of genealogy. Even after the introduction of Civil Registration in England, problems can still occur.
Quick Note re Civil Registration
When Civil Registration was introduced in England in July 1837 the onus for collecting records was initially placed on the Registrar of the Registration District in which the birth took place. This resulted in omissions, sometimes due to parental objection to the registration of births, which distorted both regional and national data. To rectify this, the Births and Deaths Registration Act of 1874 was passed which placed the onus on the parents, rather than the Registrar, and the parents could now be fined for non-compliance or late registration. This may be just one reason why a birth certificate is proving elusive during the early years of Civil Registration, particularly if the issue of illegitimacy has been ruled out.
In Scotland when Civil Registration was introduced in January 1855, it was a statutory requirement to be performed by the parents or person in charge of the child from the outset. There is also the ‘Register of Neglected Entries’ which holds records of vital events dating from between 1800 and the enactment of the new law in 1855, but not registered elsewhere else i.e. a church register. Although they are very few in number those that do exist can be accessed through the Scotland’s People Website. This NRS Guide contains some helpful information.
Tracing Ancestors in the Border Region
Tracing ancestors in the Border regions can be particularly tricky. This is due to the different laws of each country and movement of people across the border. Although England and Scotland are part of the Kingdom of Great Britain, and have been since 1707, many of the laws in the two countries were different and continue to be so today. It might seem crazy after blogging for so many years to be writing about something quite so basic, but as it is something I regularly need to explain I thought it might be of use to a wider audience.
Another important fact that needs a bit of clarification is what Old Parish Registers actually are and what they cover. Simply put they are the records of the Established Church of each Country.
‘On 17 August 1560, the Parliament agreed to a Reformed Confession of Faith, a fundamental step away from the Roman Church, and on 24 August it passed a series of Acts that entirely destroyed the Roman Church in Scotland. The celebration of mass was made punishable by a series of penalties up to and including death, and all Papal jurisdiction in Scotland was repudiated.’
All religions other than the Established Church in both countries were known as non-conformists or dissenters, with Roman Catholics referred to as ‘recusants’. Because the Parish Records are the records of the established churches in each country, they do not as a rule of thumb, include the baptism records for other religions. Where they do, particularly in the late 18th and early 19th century they may be marked ‘Diss’ or noted as Dissenters. The registers will, however, contain some marriages and nearly all burials until the introduction of Civic Cemeteries. Some notable exceptions to this rule were Jews and Quakers.
Presbyterian Records in England
2nd Lieutenant ‘Jack’ McDougall 1911-1981 at enlistment in the uniform of the Canadian Black Watch. A documentary film maker in civilian life for Associated Screen News, Lieutenant Jack McDougall led the Canadian Film and Photo Unit (CFPU) in WW2. It is reported ‘they filmed 1.5-million feet of footage and over sixty thousand still photos’ which included the D-Day Landings on Juno Beach. He retired with the rank of Major.
As some of my readers will know, in the summer I became the voluntary co-administrator of the ‘McDougall Surname DNA Project’ and whilst the project aims to help descendants of McDougall families from throughout Scotland, there are a few testers within the project who are particularly interested in their heritage in the Scottish Borders – and rightly so say I – as the Borders occupies a unique space in Scottish history!
There are over 10,000 group projects such as this hosted by Family Tree DNA and led by volunteers who are there to help and advise their members explore their ancestral heritage both within a traceable genealogical timeframe and beyond. Whilst most surname or clan projects focus on Y-DNA (fatherline) or mtDNA (motherline), many also accept members who have test their atDNA only, so it is always worth asking the question! All Group DNA projects are completely free, but to be eligible to join a project a tester must have a bone-fide interest in the project’s subject and aims which can be found on their homepage. In addition the tester must have either tested their DNA with Family Tree DNA or transferred in their results from another DNA testing company. Transferring results is easy to do and is also free of charge – if unsure how to go about this, drop me a line and I shall talk you through it.
Even if you are not interested in joining a project, transferring your DNA results to FTDNA can often provide a whole new set of matches and is undoubtedly a worthwhile exercise!
- John McDougal: was born on 25th July and baptised at Coldstream 25th August 1805.
- Isobel McDougal: was born on the 6th May and baptised at Coldstream on 7th June 1807.
- William McDougal: was born on 13th February and baptised at Coldstream on 19th February 1809.
- Robert McDougal: was born on 15th May and baptised at Coldstream 18th July 1811.
- David & Isobel McDougal, Twins: were born on 9th February and baptised at Coldstream 8th March 1813.
- James McDougal: was born 19th November and baptised 25th November 1816.
- Elizabeth McDougal: was born 21st March and baptised at Coldstream on 5th April 1819.
- George McDougal: was born 25th March and baptised at Coldstream on 21st April 1822.
In memory of John McDougels son William who died 21.7.1804 aged 1 year 4 months, also his daughter Isabel who died 21.4.1808 aged 11 months, also his son James who died 27.3.1814 aged 14 years. Reverse: In memory of William M__ who died ?4.1805 aged 80 years.
McDougall’s Flour and other connections with Coldstream
Other Border McDougall families.
Aside from those known to have tested their DNA, another John McDougall born at Kelso, Roxburghshire in 1802 emigrated to Ontario in the 1850s - their family home is now open to the public. But perhaps most intriguing of all is yet another John McDougall born in Berwickshire circa 1826 who also emigrated to Quebec and who was the owner of the Caledonia Ironworks. To date researchers have been unable to determine if the two families of Iron Foundry fame, who were clearly in close contact, were in fact related.
McDougalls in North Northumberland
McDougall Families in Berwickshire
Note re Scottish Parish Registers
“The parish minister or the session clerk usually assumed responsibility for maintaining the registers, but since there was no standard format employed, record keeping varied enormously from parish to parish and also from year to year. As a result, the information may be sparse, unreliable and difficult to read. The oldest register dates from 1553 (baptisms and banns from Errol, Perthshire), but although there was a requirement from 1552 that parishes record baptisms and marriages, many did not commence until much later, and some more remote areas only have registers from the early 19th century. Some registers have been lost or destroyed and the condition of the surviving 3500 is variable.”
A detailed list of the Parish Registers and notes regarding their coverage can be downloaded as a PDF from the National Records of Scotland - do you use it! Also bear in mind that Baptisms and marriages outside of the Established Church of Scotland will not appear in the Parish Registers - double check records for non-conformists too.
McDougalls in the 1841 Census for Berwickshire
Number of Inhabitants & Households
2 Individuals in 2 separate households, both aged women.
10 Individuals in 2 Households – 1 ‘Male Servant’ living apart from their family.
16 Individuals in 7 Households, 3 ‘Females Servants’ living apart.
4 Individuals in 1 Household.
26 Individuals in 7 Households, 1 (Blacksmith) living apart.
4 Individuals in 1 Household = The McDougalls of Trois Rivieres
51 Individuals in 13 Households, 2 living separately.
2 Individuals in 1 household, David McDougall a Miller and his wife.
6 Individuals in 2 Households, 1 living apart
10 Individuals in 2 Households
3 Individuals – A widow and 2 small children.
Of the 76 females - 9 were born in Scotland but not in Berwickshire and 2 were born in England.
Of the 62 males – 4 were born in Scotland but not in Berwickshire and 4 were born in England.
McDougall Occupations in Berwickshire where stated
- 16 Agricultural Labourers
- 3 Farmers: 2 at Gordon, 1 at Lauder
- 3 Shoemakers
- 2 Millers: 1 at Hutton, 1 at Foulden (Trois Rivieres family)
- 1 Wright/Joiner
- 1 Saddler
- 1 Tailor
- 1 Hand Loom Weaver
McDougall Families in Roxburghshire
McDougalls families in the 1841 Census for Roxburghshire
Number of Inhabitants and Households
19 individuals in 5 households, 1 ‘Female Servant’ living apart from her family.
4 individuals living in 1 Household.
36 individuals living in 11 Households 3 living apart.
4 individuals living in 1 Household. (The McDougall Brisbane family of Makerstoun House have not been included.)
8 individuals living in 3 Households 2 living apart.
6 individuals living in 2 Households, 1 not born in County living separately
3 individuals living in 3 different households.
Of the 44 Males 4 were born in Scotland but not in Roxburghshire and the birth place of 1 was ‘Not Known’.
McDougall Occupations where stated
- 9 Agricultural Labourers
- 3 Farmers, 2 at Eckford, 1 at Ancrum
- 2 Shoemakers
- 5 Cabinet Makers inc 1 Turner & 1 Joiner
- 2 Saddlers
- 1 Surgeon (Melrose)
- 1 Tailor
- 1 Hand Loom Weaver
- 1 Pauper (Eckford)
 Scotland’s People, Baptisms, Coldstream OPR 733/ 30 103.
 Scotland’s People, Baptisms, Coldstream OPR 73/ 30 111.
 Scotland’s People, Baptisms, Coldstream OPR 73/ 30 129.
 Scotland’s People, Baptisms, Coldstream OPR 73/ 30 132.
 Scotland’s People, Baptisms, Coldstream OPR 73/ 30 149.
 Scotland’s People, Baptisms, Coldstream, OPR 733/ 30 160.
 Scotland’s People, Baptisms, Coldstream, OPR 733/ 40 13.
 Scotlands People https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/guides/church-registers
How land and associated property tax records can aid family & local history research.
Cargey Connections with Kiplin Hall Estate
A brief overview of Manorial Records
The Cargey Family of Ponteland
Roman Catholic Register & Land Tax
names, lands, tenements, the names of the tenants, or those in possession of the said lands, the yearly rents thereof, particulars of leases, fines (admittance fees) paid on renewal of such leases. The certificates were to be brought to the Clerk of the Peace either by the landowner in person, or by others to who he had given Power of Attorney, and enrolled in Court in parchment books to be subscribed by him or them, and laid up with the records of the county or shire.
 A list of Guild Records for Newcastle upon Tyne available from Tyne and Wear Archives is available online as a pdf. A William Cargey a butcher & likely uncle of Gilbert Cargey 2nd was admitted as a Freeman of Newcastle upon Tyne in 1747. The Freemen records for Newcastle upon Tyne can be accessed online through The Genealogist.
 The Manor of Ponteland was sold circa 1774 to George Silvertop of Minsteracres. High Sheriff of Northumberland d. 1831. The advertisement for the sale appeared in the Newcastle Chronicle on the 8th October.
or 'The ancestor who refuses to be found'
Reliability of Sources
The Marriage Certificate
Post Marriage Census Records
- 1861 Middlesex, London Age 33
- 1871 London, Age 43
- 1881 Scotland Age 53
- 1891 Not Known, London, Age 62
- 1901 Middlesex, London, Age 73
Death & Burial
Birth or Baptism Record
Mary Ogilvie Davison
 The Genealogist.co.uk Non Parochial BMD Database RG4: Non-parochial Registers 1567-1858,RG5: Protestant Dissenters' Registry,RG6: Quaker Registers 1578-1841,RG7: Fleet Marriages 1667-1777,RG8: Non-Parochial & Miscellaneous Registers,RG32: Registers Abroad and on British & Foreign Ships 1831-1969,RG33: Foreign Registers & Returns 1627-1960,RG34: Worldwide Foreign Marriage Returns 1826-1921,RG35: General Register Office: Miscellaneous Foreign Death Returns - 1791-1921,RG36: Registers & Returns in the Protectorates etc of Africa & Asia,BT158: Registers compiled from Ships' Official logs of passengers at sea 1854-1908,BT159: Registers of Deaths at sea of British and other nationalities 1875-1888,BT160: Registers of Births at sea of British Nationals 1875-1891
Other useful Links for Alnwick
Family Search Wiki Page contains a comprehensive list of resources for researching ancestors from Alnwick
Non Conformist records from The National Archive Code RG series are available through The Genealogist