Distant Relations make contact

Been quite busy recently with letters, emails and even a meeting with distant relations. I’ll try and go into more detail later but met up last week with Rafael Madan in London with my brother Hugo. Rafe had previously sent me the picture he had found below of my ancestor Penelope Madan, who married Hon. Sir Alexander Maitland, 1st Bt:

Madan y Cowper, Penelope
Penelope Madan

Rafe works at the US Department of Justice and we had a very heady conversation that covered, among other things, philosophy, theology, economics, jurisprudence and history. Hugo and I did our best to ask questions in order to look like we had had a modicum of a classical education – I think Hugo did a better job than myself, but then he had at least been educated by monks whereas I think my education on the Morayshire coast was more like training for the SAS. Then again it might just have been the wine in my case, but enjoyed the ?s versus !s type banter immensely. Anyway, I think Rafe took pity on the pair of us, possibly because of our lapsed Catholicism, and very kindly picked up the bill, which was most generous and quite unexpected. He also created a tree which shows how we are related, which I’ll try and include sometime.

I’ve also had a letter from Father Dom Bede (Keith Bede Maitland) at Downside Abbey. His father Angus was my great grandmother’s brother, and I’d asked if he knew any family stories from the Maitland side of the family as I knew little about them. I was particularly interested if he knew any from their time in Ceylon as my grandfather Claude Alfred Reginald Claude) had been born there. He mentioned that a favourite story of his father from his time in Ceylon was that he buried a small hatchet under a tree in Ceylon when he was told that he was returning to England, and that he would return to collect it one day. As far as he knows it is still there.

He also mentioned that his ‘granny’ (Christina Mary Theresa McDonell of Keppoch) was wonderfully kind and quiet, and she wore a dress which extended to her toes, and he and his brothers and sisters (as children) never knew whether she had socks on, or stockings. In fact, she always had the same black dress.

Lastly, he mentioned that he had received an important looking letter telling him that he was eligible to be Chief of Keppoch. Not sure what the current Chief would make of that, but he explained to them that as a monk and priest and didn’t do that sort of thing, so they went and found someone else. Would be interesting to know who approached him.

More recently I’ve been in contact with Jana Ramsay Best from Ontario. As mentioned back in September (William Ramsay of Barnton), I’d found a post below by her on Rootsweb from June 2000:

“… George Ramsay, Merchant and Stabler in Edinburgh who married Agnes Thom about 1745. They were the parents of the banker, William RAMSAY of Barnton.”

Funny thing was that I actually left a message on her answerphone because my original email to her bounced. Amazingly, she got in touch after my mad ramble and explained they have somewhere a very official-looking printed Tree of the Ramsays of Barnton and this is where she got the information about ‘George Ramsay, Merchant and Stabler in Edinburgh, and his wife Agnes Thom’. That’s good enough for me, not least because I had read the following snippet about my Ramsay ancestors via Google Books from Stage-coach to John O’Groats‎ by Leslie Gardiner (1961):

“One was William Ramsay of Barnton, whose father, years ago, had made a small fortune out of inns and stabling in Edinburgh’s Canongate and whose brother had more recently cornered a a useful slice of the stage-coach and mail business on the Dumfries and Carlisle roads.”

I love to see a copy of the tree she has, but she also mentioned that her sister, Eila, who lives at Balquhidder, has just sent Jana the text of a plaque that their grandfather, Captain Iain Ramsay of Kildalton, had mounted with an old Post Horn:

Post Horn
Used on the Edinburgh to Dunfermline stage coach.
This coach was at one time horsed by Ramsay of Barnton
The horn was used daily by the guard who on the last journey of the coach threw it under the wheel to destroy it.
It was saved by a passenger and in after years presented to Iain Ramsay of Kildalton.
It was saved from the Kildalton fire in 1915.

I wonder if this was from the Defiance Coach mentioned in The History of the Linlithgow and Stirlingshire Hunt. The coach was was instituted in the summer of 1829, by Captain Barclay of Ury and William Ramsay Ramsay who is the son of my ancestor George Ramsay of Barnton. Apparently, both Captain Barclay and William Ramsay Ramsay would both drive the coach from Edinburgh to Aberdeen. Anyway, it would be great to also see in picture of the Post Horn. In the meantime, I though Janna might like this picture of William Ramsay Ramsay:

William Ramsay Ramsay of Barnton

During my conversation with Jana, I’d also been in touch with Robin Kinloch who had got in touch with me through my Valda Mary Kirby and Lt.Col. Alexander Shepstone Godley mystery? post. He had mentioned that according to The Peerage, Lt. Col. Alexander Shepstone Godley married Margaret Kathleen Connell, dau of Lt Col. [James] Charles Walter Connell, on 29 Jan 1946. I’d explained that I’d been helping Darryl at The Peerage join some of the dots with some help from Simon Godley (son of Alexander Shepstone Godley aka Sandy) in this instance.

Robin explained he’s distantly related to James Charles Walter Connell (1877-1958) who may possibly have been the father of Margaret Kathleen Connell, if The Peerage reference is halfway correct. He went on to explain that JCWC was certainly a Lt Col (KOSB) and DSO, and his was a Dumfries family (Auchencheyne House, Glencairn, and before that Conheath House, Caerlaverock), but how many times he married and whether he had children are his current mysteries.

He asked whether Simon Godley could confirm whether JCWC was indeed his grandfather. If so, it would tie up some loose ends as far as JCWC being married first to Mary Blanche Lake in 1903 (she died in 1904), then in 1910 to Maude Scrymgeour Wedderburn (she died in 1925), and possibly to two others, in 1925 (Nicholls/Bates) and 1944 (Stephens)? So if JCWC was the father of Margaret Kathleen, her mother would presumably have been Maude Wedderburn.

By this time my head was beginning to spin, so I introduced Robin to Simon. Turns out that JCWC was Simon’s grandfather, and Maude Scrymgeour Wedderburn was his grandmother but he’d never known them as they died before he was born. Simon was also able to fill in some gaps about JCWC’s descendants and explain that he seemed to get along with his ex wives as they used to send Simon and his sister Christmas presents from the UK.

It also turns out that Simon and Robin are distant cousins by virtue of the 18thC marriage of Rev James Connell, Rector of Sorn, to Ann Farquhar – her brother James Farquhar, merchant at Edinburgh, was Robin’s x-times grandfather. So glad to have been able to have been of some service to others as I’ve had so much help from others with my ‘research’.

Last but by no means least I was contacted by Tim Birtwistle, who responded to my Re-thinking the Birtwistles post. He’d commented saying about how is great great grandfather Arthur Birtwistle was son of William Birtwistle, and how it was this William that had owned the Norseman and SY Olaire I had mentioned that my grandparents had spent their honeymoon on.

I’m assuming that he’s descended from the William Birtwistle and his son Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Birtwistle, who lived at Billinge Scar.

There’s some confusion as my great grandfather is also called William Birtwistle and he also had a son called Arthur. As mentioned, in myRe-thinking the Birtwistles – Part 2 post, it turns out that both Birtwistle families are descended from James Birtwistle, of Stoops (1753-1832) and his wife Betty Eddleston.

I’m descended from their son David, as in DavidWilliamAlbertJames Astley (my grandfather

If Tim is descended from Col (later Brig Gen) Arthur Birtwistle then he’s descended from James and Betty through their son Richard, as in RichardWilliamMicahWilliamArthur

I wonder if the Henry Read Birtwistle mentioned on The Peerage site is a relation of Tim. Would be fun to tie that Birtwistle dead-end up on The Peerage site.

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