It’s been a while since I last posted on here, but I just wanted to share a short film made by Janet Baker about my 3x great aunt Alice Claire Macdonell (of Keppoch). She was a poet, Bardess to the Clan MacDonald Society, self-proclaimed Chiefteness of the Keppoch clan and contributor to the Celtic revival movement. Her poem Scotland at Nation was a plea for Home Rule for Scotland and the eliminating of the constant use if the word ‘English’ for ‘British’ which she felt threatened and entirely swamped the Scots existence as a nation. This formed part of her involvement in a movement seeking historic truth in the teaching of Scottish history in Scottish schools.
I am hugely grateful to Janet for putting this short film together. Alice is buried in Hove North Cemetry not far from where I now live in grave where the headstone has no epitaph. From what I understood she would have liked to have been buried in the ancestral graveyard at Cille Choreil, where I think her mother and possibly her father are both butired. Not sure that would be possible now and if I was more flush I would try and get an inscription for her headstone, but maybe that’s a fund that could be put together with help from Keppoch and other branches of Clan Donald. In the meantime, I have included her poem Scotland at Nation below:
As you may have seen in the last few posts, I am exploring my slave owning ancestors. It’s not quite the ‘Blood Legacy: ‘reckoning with a family’s story of slavery’ by Alex Renton that has been recommended to me, but that’s one I will check out (not least because its reckoning theme is part of what I am trying to do with this series of posts).
Most of my ancestors involved with the slave trade owned plantations on the Island of Nevis in the West Indies, and through marriage not only were they connected to most of the other plantation owners there but also across the Leeward Islands. What’s been difficult is to find out more about the family history of some these ancestors before they appear on these islands because what is publicly available is patchy.
From what I have been told that patchiness is the result of various fires, invasions and earthquakes that over the centuries have destroyed a lot of the original documents. For example, during the French invasion of Nevis in 1706 records were “burned in the street” hence the earliest record that the Endangered Archives Programme (EAP) are working on being from 1705.
In my recent post on the Russell Family, I explain 3 of 4 siblings identified so far were early settlers of St. Kitts and Nevis. I can’t find anything about their ancestry including where they hailed from, but am pretty clear that ancestor Lt. Col. Randal (or Randolph) Russell, arrived in about 1637 based on a deposition he made that is cited in The history of the island of Antigua, one of the Leeward Caribbees in the West Indies, from the first settlement in 1635 to the present time (1894) by Oliver, Vere Langford. And some idea of the later legacies relating to the plantations and slaves he and his brother James owned, as well as how that wealth was consolidated through marriages with related and other famlies in subsequent generations (see posts on Madan and Nisbet families). What has been less clear is how and when his broher James and sister Anne came to be there. In her case, the how is linked to her appearing to be the 3rd wife of Sir Thomas Warner who is noted for settling on Saint Kitts and establishing it in 1624 as the first English colony in the Caribbean (see wiki entry). What I don’t know is when she married Sir Thomas and if that was before or after her 2 brothers had settled there. I’ve found a few more clues about her brother James though in Colonising Expeditions to the West Indies and Guiana, 1623-1667 (2017) by V.T. Harlow
Following my previous Skeletons in the closet post, this is the first of a new series that looks at ancestor families with links to the slave trade. This one looks at the Madan family, but I think I may have got in a muddle about them. `I’ve now worked out that it was Martin Madan (1700 – 1756) who was the Colonel and MP, not his father who was also called Martin (1653 – 1704). The younger one married the English Poet Judith Cowper and they both have wiki entries (see his and hers):
Martin Madan the MP also has a biography on History of Parliament site, which explains that he was the 1st son of Martin Madan of Nevis, West Indies by Penelope, daughter of Col. Sir James Russell (member of the council of Nevis). The biography also explains that Martin Madan (the father) was from an old Waterford family, emigrated from Ireland to the West Indies about 1682 and acquired plantations in Nevis and St. Kitts.
In theory, there should be 32 ancestors in this generation, but two ancestors (Fitzherbert and Mary Wright) in the last generation were siblings so shared the same parents. And we can’t confirm the natural father of our great grandmother Annie Birtwistle (née Hartley), so that branch is currently a dead end. That means we not only have a duplicate pair of ancestors at this generation, but also a missing pair. And so there are actually only 28 possible ancestors we can currently trace in this generation.
This is second part of my housekeeping, where I am going through each generation of ancestors to see where there are ancestry dead ends, how much information we have about each ancestor, etc. You can read about Generation 1-3 here.
My cousin Hamish has kindly been adding my family history finds to his much bigger Maclarens, Birtwistles and Many Other Families tree of related families on rootsweb.
We’ve been collaborating on our mother’s Birtwistle family and other ancestors. But he has also added my patrilineal descent here. It’s helped remind me of all the loose ends, as well as those branches that go on and on and on.
This prompted me to see if could find another generation on at least one more branch. Not only did I find one more branch it took me back to the Vikings via Hervey and Percy families.
My McNab Ancestors Update post has create a lot of discussion. It mentions a letter written to the Clan Macnab Society in 1909 by Archibald Hearne McNabin in which he claims that the title of Clan Chief and being a descendant of John MacNab, of Shenaghart in Kintyre, and later of Sherrabeg in Badenoch, who is my 4 x great grandfather. The letter explains how John was the oldest son of Duncan, who was the oldest son of Alexander McNab, who commanded the clan through the Jacobite Rebellion. It also claims that heads of the other branches served under him, because the chief was in the Royalist (anti-Jacobite) army. Whether Alexander is the same MacNab that accompanied my ancestor Angus Ban Macdonell of Inch with the Bonny Prince during his wanderings after Culloden is not clear.
It appears that there are new papers from a reliable source that show that my 4 x great grandfather John MacNab, of Shenaghart, etc, was born in Callander 25 Jun 1765. There’s a John Macnab on FamilySearch.org shown as being baptized in Callander Jun 27, 1765, son of Duncan McNab and Christian Wright. So I’m guessing this is the same John son of Duncan.
Records also show that Duncan & Christian were married in Callander April 27, 1752; he of Callander parish; she of Aberfoyle:
Four children have been found as follows:
Mary baptized Feb 23, 1753
Margaret baptized Sep 3, 1754
Alexander baptized Oct 13, 1755
Margaret baptized Nov 24, 1756
These MacNabs are apparently a cadet branch of the MacNabs of Innishchewan. It’s not clear why they were in Callender, although they may have moved a bit after Culloden. It’s possible that Alexander being the name of the first born son confirms that Duncan’s father was Alexander – and if they did follow the naming tradition, then Duncan’s mother was likely Margaret. In any event, it’s another one tiny step closer to solving the MacNabs of Innishchewan mystery.
Susan Griffiths is one of my Ramsay cousins. We share common Ramsay and Hamilton ancestors. Basically, William Ramsay of Barnton the Edinburgh Banker is my ancestor. Peter Ramsay the Inn Keeper and Stabler is Susan’s ancestor. I think they are the sons of George Ramsay, Merchant and Stabler in Edinburgh who married Agnes Thom, but there is a family tree that shows that Peter and William were the sons of a Peter Ramsay (see more here). Peter the stabler was William the banker’s older brother and I’m not sure, but I think he also ran the family coaching business.