Where there’s a will … (part 2)

Where there’s a will … (part 2)

Ok, so the second mystery. It’s not as juicy as the significance of the mysterious John Boyd – but I’m curious all the same.

Susan’s three Trustees were John Boyd, William Nicholson (her youngest child – and given that he was born 23 years after her first child, probably something of an after-thought), and David Forbes Nicholson, Susan and Andrew’s eldest surviving son.

What I’ve learned about David so far is that he was their third or fourth child, and the first to survive more than a few weeks. He was born in 1865 while the family was living in Glasgow. The 1881 census shows 16 year old David as an apprentice bank clerk. He then disappears from the Scottish records until the 1901 census. There is neither a mention of him in the 1891 census, nor a marriage record, although I know he did marry. I suspect he was living in England for at least part of the period (why? I’ll tell you in a minute).

By the 1901 census David has reappeared and is living at Rosslyn Villa, Windmill Road, Kirkcaldy with his wife, Minnie and a servant named Elizabeth Penman (who I’m sure is related to David’s brother-in-law and my great grandfather, Thomas Elder). Minnie’s place of birth in the census is given as Guernsey, Channel Islands. That makes her the first member of my ancestral family that I’ve found who was born outside of Scotland . David’s occupation is given as Inspector of Poor, Collector of Rates and Clerk to the School Board – probably not the most popular man in Kirkcaldy!

In the 1911 census, he and Minnie are still living at Rosslyn Villa, but now have a servant called Helen Marshall. Minnie’s sister Louisa Warry is also living at the address. David’s occupation is now given as Inspector of Poor, Parish Council.

The reasons I suspect that for at least some of the years between the 1881 census and the 1901 census, David Nicholson lived in England are first of all that Minnie is English. According to Susan’s Will, Minnie is actually called Mary Ann Clementine Warry. In those days I don’t imagine single women had the same freedom to travel, so I’m guessing they met closer to Minnie’s home than David’s. Also, a search of the English census records for 1891  in FindMyPast gave me an entry for a David Nicholson, aged 26 (tick), working as a bank clerk (tick) and living as a lodger at 42 Rectory Road, Hackney. The problem is that his place of birth is listed as Kirkcaldy, Scotland and I know that while the family is from Kirkcaldy, David was born in Glasgow. However, the other person listed as living at the same address is also a bank clerk from Kirkcaldy, so it is possible that there was a mix-up in either listing or transcribing the birthplace. I did this search in a rush at the library, so will have to go back and investigate further.

Anyway, I’m curious about David and Minnie. I don’t know when or where they were married, and whether they had any children. There are no children living with them in either the 1901 or 1911 census, but it’s possible they did have one or more kids who did not survive.

One of the reasons I’m interested is that in Susan’s Will she left three portraits in oils to David. These were of Susan Forbes, Andrew Nicholson and Andrew’s father Alexander Nicholson. Since I have no photos of any of these people, I’m utterly fascinated by the idea that there were portraits in existence. Since it seems that neither David or William had surviving children, I wonder what happened to the paintings. My guess is that they’ve been destroyed, and this makes me incredibly sad.

paint brushes

Photo credit: photo credit: deflam via photopin cc

David Nicholson died on 16 January 1946, at a nursing home in Burntisland, Fife. he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and cardiac failure. His brother William is given as the informant of his death, and his usual address was given as Ladysmith Cottage, Windmill Road. This was the house his mother retired to and the house that William lived in, and inherited from Susan. Minnie had died in 1934, and it seems the two – apparently childless – brothers shared their mother’s house after that time.

William died in 1964, at the age of 81. When I mentioned to my dad that I’d been looking into this part of the family (his maternal grandmother’s line), he remembered both his great uncles Bill and David. He’s never mentioned the two great aunts, Elizabeth and Mary – so I guess I’ll have to check them out next.

Where there’s a will …

Where there’s a will …

… there’s a mystery (or two).

Apologies for the terrible pun, but I’ve just been looking through my 2 x great grandmother’s Will. Susan Forbes died in 1912, leaving what seems like (certainly for my family) a reasonably tidy estate.

The first page of Susan Forbes' Last Will and Testament

The first part of Susan Forbes’ Last Will and Testament

1912 being well before the advent of “plain English” Wills, I’ve struggled a wee bit to unpick all the jargon and get to the juicy bits – who got what! In fact, I’ve actually been a bit sidetracked by a couple of mysteries.

Who was John Boyd?
Susan Forbes named three Trustees in her will; her sons David and William Nicholson – and also John Boyd, Teacher, Dysart.

I initially assumed that John Boyd was a son-in-law since, as well as her two sons, Susan had three daughters (Mary, Elizabeth and Annie) who survived to adulthood. All three are named in her Will along with their husbands. Mary married a George Brown, a Joiner; Elizabeth married a David Oliphant, a Grocer, and my great grandmother, Annie married Thomas Elder, an Ironmonger. So no John Boyd there.

The 1911 census shows a John Boyd aged 64, School Master, living at 33 Normand Road, Dysart along with his wife of 34 years – Jessie – and three adult daughters. John’s place of birth was Perthshire, and although I’ve found branches of my family in that region, the Forbes-Nicholson lot seem to have been in Fife (in fact in and around Kirkcaldy) for generations, so there’s no obvious Perth connection. Jessie Boyd, however, was shown as having been born in Dysart.

My next thought was that Jessie Boyd may have been a sister of either Susan Forbes, or her husband, Andrew Nicholson. That didn’t seem to be the case, so I used some of my dwindling supply of Scotland’s People credits to try and find the marriage of John and Jessie. The only one I found that fitted the time-frame (I assumed they married in Fife on the basis that it seemed more likely he or his family had travelled from Perthshire to Fife (like so many others looking for work)  than that she had travelled to Perthshire, married then come back to Fife).

It’s testimony to how much I love a mystery that I actually used up my last credits to see the extract of the Marriage Register. It looks like the right John Boyd;  the age matched the census and his occupation was given as Public School Teacher. Jessie’s maiden name is Watt, and that’s not a name I’ve found anywhere in my family tree so far. John’s mother’s maiden name was Scott. I was about to write that this hasn’t appeared in my family tree either EXCEPT THAT …

… my great grandmother Annie Nicholson (daughter of Susan Forbes of the cryptic Will), had an illegitimate son in 1894, named Andrew Scott Nicholson. His father is not named on his birth certificate and I had wondered where the Scott came from. At the time Annie was a Public School Teacher – the same as John Boyd.

Is it too far-fetched that my 2 x great grandmother named as a Trustee in her Will the married-to-someone-else father of her illegitimate grandson? Susan Forbes seems to have raised her grandson – despite his mother living around the corner with her husband and legitimate children. She also left Andrew £100 in her Will. Actually, she left it in Trust – earning interest until Andrew reached majority (not sure what age that would be – 18 maybe?). The more I learn about Susan, the more I realise she was a very canny woman.

So there’s my first mystery? Who was John Boyd and why did Susan Forbes make him a Trustee?

I know that the Fife County Archive has Minute Books for schools in Dysart that cover the period my great grandmother was a teacher there. If I ever get my UK trip organised, I’ll have a look and try to find out if John Boyd was a colleague. Meantime, I’ll try to think of other connections that I might be able to verify.

Any suggestions about this very welcome!

And so to the second mystery …

where does time go when I’m blogging? Actually that’s not it, but I’ve just seen the clock, and I’ll have to make the second mystery another post.

Bye for now.

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