Seeing how rigidly my ancestors seemed to have adhered to a quite formalised pattern of naming their children – outlined very well by Judy Strachan at Judy’s Family Tree – I decided to see how far back I can trace my own name.
William, Susan and Elizabeth Elder. Photo taken in Kirkcaldy, Fife, probably around 1914-15
So far I’ve managed to track back through my paternal grandmother Susan Elder, to her maternal grandmother, Susan Forbes and on to her paternal grandmother Susan Foulis.
My great grandmother, Annie Nicholson. Her mother was Susan Forbes, her daughter, Susan Elder.
But now I’m stuck.
I know from the death certificate of my my 3x great grandfather David Forbes, that his parents were John Forbes and Susan Fowlis.
From Scotland’s People, I have a copy of OPR entry for the marriage of John Forbes and Susan Foulis (it’s handwritten, so I’m taking the spelling here from the Scotland’s People and Family Search transcriptions).
From that, I know they married on the 13 November 1806, in Abbotshall, Fife, and that David was born a year later on November 1, 1807.
It appears from Family Search that John and Susan had at least four other children, Arthur, Elizabeth, Thomas and William. There are actually two entries for an Arthur –one in 1811 in Kinross, where Susan’s last name is shown as Fowlis; and the other in Abbotshall in 1816, where her surname is given as Foulis.
In my mind, two children called Arthur means either the first died, and the second inherited the name – or that there were two John Forbes/Susan Foulis (Fowlis) marriages at around the same time.
I’ve searched Scotland’s People for another marriage between a John Forbes and someone called Susan between 1790 – 1816 (figuring that’s a reasonable time frame if they were still having kids in 1816), but my ancestors are the only likely one, so I’m going to assume that they had two sons called Arthur. Kinross is only about 15 miles from Abbotshall, so it’s possible that for some reason John and Susan moved there for a short time, before moving back to Abbotshall.
My hypothesis is supported by a burial record for “John Forbes son” in Abbotshall in June 1816 – just a month before the second Arthur was born.
“John Forbes son in the first grave south of Roderick McKinsie’s property also Thomas Forbes wife his grandmother”
The interesting thing about this extract from the Abbotshall Parish Register is the bit about Thomas Forbes wife. Whose grandmother? John, or his son?
The reason of course for all the digging into my ggg grandfather’s siblings is to try and figure out (based on that Scottish naming pattern) what John and Susan’s parents might have been called – vital since I’m having trouble finding their births. If the naming pattern holds, then John’s father should be a David (but was he a Thomas?); Susan’s an Arthur, and Susan’s mother an Elizabeth. As it seems John and Susan only had one daughter, I can’t really figure out what John’s mother’s name might have been.
At FamilySearch, I looked for a John Forbes born between 1760-1790 in Fife. Lots of hits but so little detail that it wasn’t helpful.
For Susan, I found a Susanna Fowls christened 20 June 1786 in Portmoak, Kinrosshire – father Arthur Fowls and mother Betty (Elizabeth?) Grieg. Portmoak is on the Fife side of Kinross – on the Leslie road in fact.
But now I’m into the realms of pure speculation, and lacking the resources to change that without going to the library (free use of Ancestry and FindMyPast) and the Family History Centre. So I guess I’ll have to squeeze one or both of those into the next week since I’m determined to compile a list of places (including churchyards) I should visit when I’m back in Scotland in September.