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52 Ancestors – Finding Andrew Brown’s Parents

Thankerton-Gardens-00027

Thankerton, photo by Frieda Oxenham, used with permission. Originally posted here.

 

Short lives, lived by people with common names, before civil registration began, are difficult to trace.

Difficult, but not impossible.

My fourth great-grandfather, Andrew Brown, led one of those short lives, with a common name, before civil registration.  Learning his story seemed impossible when I first began researching my Scottish ancestors many years ago.  But it was not, in fact, impossible – just slow and difficult.

For many years, the only trace of Andrew came from the records of his wife and children.  Until I found him on a marriage record, the first record I found in which he appears for an event about his own life.  As years passed, additional bits and pieces were gathered.  Some were promising, others confusing, and plenty were missing.  Last year I found a handful of records that tied it all together.  But I was still missing two highly desired documents.  Just last week, I found one of those two records.  The remaining item, still missing, was for his child.  But the record that was found helped clear up some mystery surrounding that child.  So now it is time to tell the story of Andrew Brown from the beginning.

 

A Challenging Beginning

 

Andrew Brown entered this world in 1828 at a disadvantage.  He was born to unmarried parents at a time when illegitimacy was considered shameful.  His baptism record states:

 

Brown       James Brown in the parish of Liberton and Margaret Thomson in this Parish a natural son named Andrew born August 18th bapd Decemr 21st 1828″1

 

Natural son.  Not lawful son.  A slightly kinder way to say that Andrew was illegitimate.

My Scottish family members were poor.  They were usually laborers, servants, or miners.  There were many illegitimate births in the Scottish branches of my tree.  Those children, precious to me, but labeled and shamed, were often raised by grandparents.  The mothers did not always go on to marry.  The stigma had a lasting effect.

But for Andrew, his birth did not prevent him from being raised by his mother.  Nor did it prevent his mother from marrying.

Six years after Andrew’s birth, his mother Margaret married John Baillie on the 17th of October 1834 in Wiston and Roberton, Lanark, Scotland.2

While discovering that marriage cheered my heart, finding Margaret, John, their children AND Andrew living together in Wiston and Roberton on the 1841 Census3 filled my heart to bursting.  Not only did John Baillie marry a woman who would have been labeled as a fornicatrix, but he welcomed her young, illegitimate, son into their home.  In my family, that is unprecedented and has been matched only once more.  At least, in the records I have found so far…

 

Beginning His Family

 

On the 15th of June 1849, Andrew married Mary Robertson in Wanlockhead, Dumfries, Scotland.4    Andrew was living in the parish of Wiston, Mary in the parish of Sanquhar.  A record for banns can be found in each parish.5

Mary was older, but exactly how much older is difficult to determine.  In reviewing the records of her life, she has an approximate birth year that ranges from 1821-1827 making her somewhere between one and seven years Andrew’s senior.

Andrew and Mary’s first known child is William Brown, born in about 1849 in Muirkirk, Ayr, Scotland.6

In the Spring of 1851, Andrew is found living as a servant in the household of David M Lapraik in Muirkirk and working as an agricultural laborer.7  Mary and William are also in Muirkirk, living in the village.  Mary is listed as a handsewer.8  Both Andrew and Mary are listed as married despite being in separate households.

Andrew and Mary welcomed their second child, Alexander Robertson Brown, 27 September 1851 in Pettinain, Lanark, Scotland.9  I hope this move provided a job and living arrangements that kept the family under the same roof.

Exactly twenty-five months later, a third son, Andrew Brown, was born to Andrew and Mary on 27 October 1853 in Covington and Thankerton, Lanark, Scotland.10  On the baptism record for Andrew, son of Andrew, an address of Mainz is listed.  This becomes very important in the quest to find Andrew Brown’s death record.

At this point in 1853, Andrew and Mary have three known children – William, Alexander, and Andrew.  In FamilySearch, there is a fourth child listed for Andrew and Mary.  A daughter named Catherine, ID# KNHZ-Z8V, who is listed as being born in 1854 in Scotland.  I can find no trace of Catherine.  Is she really their daughter?  I don’t know.

 

Death & Leaving Mary to an Uncertain Future

 

Three-hundred-and-sixty-four days after the birth of Andrew, Andrew Brown dies on 26 October 1854 in Covington and Thankerton, Lanark, Scotland.11  That record holds little information and reads:

 

Octr 26        Andrew Brown, Mains        aged 25

 

With the overwhelming number of death records for an Andrew Brown born in 1828, the address of Mainz/Mains was a crucial detail to tie this death record to my Andrew Brown.

Twenty-five years is a short life.  Andrew spent his years as an agricultural laborer or ploughman.  For part of those years, he lived in the beautiful area of Covington and Thankerton as seen above.  I am glad to know he lived and worked in such a lovely place.

His death left Mary as the widowed mother of at least three young children.  She would go on to have a daughter named Christina Greenshields Robertson, twenty-eight-and-one-half months after the death of Andrew.12  Like Andrew, Christina was illegitimate.  For many years, other genealogists listed Christina as a Brown, daughter of Andrew and Mary.  But she was not.

Like Andrew’s mother Margaret, Christina’s illegitimate birth did not prevent Mary from going on to have a second marriage and additional children.  But that is Mary’s story, not Andrew’s.

In just twenty-five years, Andrew was able to experience work, marriage, and fatherhood.  I hope that he experienced joy.  I hope that he loved and was loved.

At the end of his life, Andrew left behind a widow and at least three sons.  Those three sons would go on to give him a large posterity.  The last time I counted in 2014, I knew about 169 descendants of Andrew.  As of today, I have identified 188 descendants.  There are likely many, many more, but Andrew left behind sons with the surname of Brown and tracking everyone down has not been simple.

Thank you, Andrew, for being part of my story.  And thank you for helping me find the details of your birth, childhood, and adulthood.  I felt your nudges and now your story has been told.

 

 

 

Happy Monday, I hope you make a fantastic genealogy discovery this week!  Have you considered joining the 52 Ancestors challenge?  You can learn more here.

 

 

Thankerton photo originally posted here.

 

 


  1. Scotland, “Search Old Parish Registers (OPR) Births and baptisms (1553-1854),” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 25 May 2017), entry for Andrew Brown baptism, 21 December 1828, Wiston and Roberton Parish; citing OPR Registers no. 660/ 20 24, p. 24 of 130. 
  2. Scotland, “Search Old Parish Registers (OPR) Banns and marriages (1553-1854),” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 25 May 2017), entry for John Baillie marriage, 17 October 1834, Wiston and Roberton Parish; citing OPR Registers no. 660/ 20 109, p. 109 of 130. 
  3. 1841 Scotland Census, Lanarkshire, Wiston and Roberton, enumeration district (ED) 1, page 14, line 920, Newton Toll, John Baillie Household; database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 23 January 2018); citing Original data: Scotland. 1841 Scotland Census. Reels 1-151. General Register Office for Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland. 
  4. Scotland, “Search Old Parish Registers (OPR) Banns and marriages (1553-1854),” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 25 May 2017), entry for Andrew Brown marriage, 15 June 1849 in Wanlockhead, Banns registered in Sanquhar Parish; citing OPR Registers no. 848/ 20 196, p. 196 of 209. 
  5. Scotland, “Search Old Parish Registers (OPR) Banns and marriages (1553-1854),” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 23 January 2018), entry for Andrew Brown marriage, 15 June 1849, Wiston and Roberton Parish; citing OPR Registers no. 660/ 20 123, p. 123 of 130. 
  6. 1851 census of Scotland, Ayrshire, Muirkirk, 607/ 2/ 14, p. 14 of 37 (stamped), lines 4-5, Village, Mary Brown Household; image, Scotland, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 23 January 2018). 
  7. 1851 census of Scotland, Ayrshire, Muirkirk, 607/ 4/ 11, p. 11 of 15, line 10, 36 Hall, Andrew Brown in Household of David M Lapraik; image, Scotland, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 23 January 2018). 
  8. 1851 census of Scotland, Ayrshire, Muirkirk, 607/ 2/ 14, p. 14 of 37 (stamped), lines 4-5, Village, Mary Brown Household; image, Scotland, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 23 January 2018). 
  9. Pettinain Parish (Lanarkshire, Scotland), Old Parish Registers OPR 653/1-3, p. 66, Alexander Brown baptism, 2 November 1851; FHL microfilm 1,066,603, item 3. 
  10. Scotland, “Search Old Parish Registers (OPR) Births and baptisms (1553-1854),” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 5 November 2010), entry for Andrew Brown baptism, 6 November 1853, Covington and Thankerton Parish; citing OPR Registers no. 634/00 0020 43. 
  11. Scotland, “Search Old Parish Registers (OPR) Deaths and burials (1553-1854),” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 14 July 2009), entry for Andrew Brown death, 26 October 1854, Covington and Thankerton Parish; citing OPR Registers no. 634/ 20 66, p. 66 of 66. 
  12. Scotland, “Statutory Births 1855-2016,” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 14 July 2009), birth entry for Christina Green (Greenshields on image) Robertson, 12 March 1857, Pettinain in Lanark; citing Statutory Registers no. 653/ 6.