James Urquhart, flesher and pork-dealer, and Isabella McKenzie: an early family in Jemimaville

text by Dr Jim Mackay; photography as annotated under each image

Jemimaville and the Cromarty Firth; photo by Andrew Dowsett

James Urquhart settled in Jemimaville shortly after it had been initiated. George Gun Munro of Poyntzfield had established this model village for industrious tradesmen in 1822, naming it after his wife Jamima Charlotte Graham whom he had married that year. Here is an extract from one advertisement of this period:

Inverness Courier 11 January 1826

The Urquhart family was to reside in the village for a century. The first record we have of James Urquhart in Jemimaville, or Jamima-Ville as it was then known, is from 1826, so he was there nearly from the outset.

Militia List for the Parish of Resolis September 1826 (SC24/21/6/6)
James Urquhart flesher >30

As he is not present on the 1825 militia list, then we can tell that he had arrived in Jemimaville in late 1825 or early 1826. James appears in the 1828 and 1831 militia lists as “fleshmonger” and “flesher” respectively as well. A flesher in Scotland was either a butcher or a dealer in meat, and I think James Urquhart was a bit of both. It was a respected and lucrative trade. James was eligible to serve in the militia, although he was not one of those selected by ballot from the eligible men on the militia list. As you can see, he was first listed in the roll on September 1826. He had just turned 30 years of age. He had been born in 1797 just a couple of miles away, at Little Farness in the Parish of Cromarty:

Parish of Cromarty Baptisms
1797 … April 5th. James Urquhart Weaver in Little Farness had by his Spouse Ann Ferguson a child Baptized named James – Robt. Williamson Senr. Farmer in Little Farness & Robt. Wmson. Junr. also Farmer there Witnesses. Born 4th Cur.

Little Farness and Meikle Farness were both on the Cromarty Estate. Little Farness, where the Urquharts were in 1797, is now known simply as Farness; Meikle Farness became Davidston, and master weaver James Urquhart and his spouse Anne Ferguson were to move from Little Farness to Davidston. Their son James became a flesher, which seems quite a jump from the weaving trade, but in the Cromarty area there had developed a tremendous industry and therefore great opportunities in supplying meat.

plan showing most of the locations associated with the Urquhart family; they didn’t move much! The Parish of Resolis lies to the west of the burn at the east end of Jemimaville; the Parish of Cromarty lies to the east

We have already posted a story about Gilbert Ferguson here whose family were salted pork entrepreneurs, rearing and slaughtering vast numbers of pigs. Their barrels of cured pork were exported from Cromarty to all corners of the world. James Urquhart’s mother was a Ferguson, and I wonder if she was related to Gilbert and that is how young James made his start as a flesher. In any case, James was clearly an entrepreneurial type himself, although he does appear to have been chased for quite a number of debts in this early period (to be fair, it was sometimes the other way about).

I see from the Cromarty Sheriff Court small debts actions that James Urquhart was involved in litigation each year from 1828 to 1833 inclusive. One in 1830 is described thus “Debt: Kenneth McRae Kinbeachy v. James Urquhart, Flesher or Pork curer, Jemimaville – £6.14.8d”. This reference confirms that he was not just a butcher but was involved in the larger process of curing pork, the long term preservation of pork in barrels for wider distribution. Much later, in 1851, he is given as “porkdealer B Wtch” i.e. at this time he was supplying pork to the Black Watch, army deals always being lucrative ones. If anyone has experience of researching army meat suppliers please let me know!

officers of the Black Watch or The 42nd The Royal Highland Regiment of Foot in 1856, about the time when James Urquhart was providing the Black Watch with pork; photo courtesy of the National Army Museum

But in these early days of his enterprise, the Small Debts Court often saw him chasing others, or being chased himself, for recovery of money.

He also fell foul of the Resolis Kirk Session. He had gotten a girl in trouble. At least he took responsibility, unlike so many men who came before the Kirk Session.

At the Church of Resolis the 17 day Jany 1828.
A Delation for Fornication was given in against Mary Macdonald an unmarried woman & James Urquhart an unmarried man, both residing at Jemima Ville they were duly cited to this meeting. The said Mary Macdonald & James Urquhart being called compeared & being duly admonished & interrogated separately they confessed their guilt & were appointed to be publicly rebuked before the congregation for three successive Sabbaths & to which judgement the said Parties signified their compliance.
Closed with Prayer     Dond Sage Modr

I hope James, having accepted responsibility, provided some financial security for his and Mary Macdonald’s child. Almost two years later James married. His wife Isabella was the daughter of merchant Mr. William McKenzie and his spouse Mary McMillan. They had resided in the Inverness-shire parish of Kiltarlity, the largest settlement of which is the town of Beauly. At some point, at least Isabella, her brother Alexander and her mother Mary moved to the Black Isle and Resolis. I don’t know if the whole family had moved by 1829, but certainly Isabella was there at the time that she and James married:

Parish of Resolis Marriages
James Urquhart at Jamima-Ville and Isabella McKenzie at Aultdine both in this Parish were contracted and married in due time the 18th. day of December 1829

The small farm of Auldynie, where Isabella Mackenzie was residing in 1829, was part of the Braelangwell Estate; image from RHP1456 (1844) courtesy of the National Records of Scotland

James Urquhart and Isabella McKenzie had, in Jemimaville, Mary (1831), William (1833), James (1835), Ann (1839), James (1843), Alexander (1845) and Donald (1849). When his trade is mentioned in these baptism register entries, it is in each case as flesher. And that is how he was described in the 1841 Census:

1841 Census Return Jemima-Village
James Urquhart 50 flesher
Isabel McKenzie 32
Mary Urquhart 10 / William do. 8 / James do. 4 / Jessie do. 1 [an error by the enumerator, this should read “Ann” not “Jessie”]

A few households away were his brother-in-law and mother-in-law:

Alexr. McKenzie 25 Gardener
Widow McKenzie 60 F.S.
William McPherson Ag Lab / Kenneth McNab Ag. Lab.

Back in the Parish of Cromarty, James’s own parents were soon to pass away. His father was the first to die.

Parish of Cromarty Deaths
1843 … Augt. … 29 James Urquhart weaver an old man

His mother was now placed on the Poor’s Roll, which is surprising given that James and several other of his siblings (such as John, a ploughman in Ardoch, and Christian, who had married Donald Bain in Rosefarm) were around to provide some support. October 1844 is when I see first mention of her receiving relief, to the extent of four shillings. She was to die the following year.

Parish of Cromarty Kirk Session Accounts
1844 … Octr. 28 … Widow Jas. Urquhart -.4.-

Parish of Cromarty Deaths
1845 … Novr. … 20 Ann Ferguson widow of Jas. Urquhart P.P.

The “P.P.” means that her burial expenses were paid for from the parochial funds, and in fact all the details can be found on the Kirk Session accounts:

1845 … Novr. 20 … Paid Coffin for Widow Urquhart Davidstown 10/- Graveclothes 2/8 -.12.8
Paid Kirk Officer for digging her grave 2/-

In Jemimaville, the family of James Urquhart and Isabella McKenzie had increased, and James’s brother-in-law (married and widowed since the previous Census in 1841) was now next-door, so that in the 1851 Census we see:

1851 Census Return Jemimaville
James Urquhart head married 50 porkdealer B Wtch born Cromarty
Isabella Urquhart wife married 39 housekeeper born Invsh Kiltarlity
Ann Urquhart daur 11 born Resolis / James Urquhart son 7 born Resolis / Alexr Urquhart son 5 born Resolis / Dond Urquhart son 1 born Resolis
Alexander McKenzie head widower 30 common lab born Invsh Kiltarlity
Willm McKenzie son 4 born Resolis
Mary McKenzie mother widow 80 housekeeper born Invsh Urquhart

James’s brother-in-law, Alexander McKenzie, a labourer in Jemimaville, had married Flora MacLennan on 12 December 1845. They had one child, William, born on 11 March 1847, but sadly Flora must have died not long after. Alexander was to re-marry one Margaret Holm (daughter of John Holm and Ann McKay from this story here), and they had more children together. I assume that Alexander would have assisted James Urquhart with his pig business.

And here I initially intended to include some images of pig butchery and pork curing, but they are perhaps a little grim. Instead, courtesy of that elegant coffee table magazine Pig World:


James Urquhart was not to survive through to the 1861 Census, as he died in Jemimaville in 1860, not of a great age.

Parish of Resolis Deaths
James Urquhart flesher (married) died 12 March 1860 at Jamimaville age 62 parents James Urquhart weaver (d) Ann Urquhart m.s. Ferguson (d) buried Churchyard of Kirkmichael As certified by William Holm Sexton informant William Urquhart son (not present)

Although we know from this death certificate that James was buried in Kirkmichael, no memorial has survived. It may be that one wasn’t erected. But by 1860 you would expect an established tradesman in the area with several children who were making a living to receive a memorial, either at the time or after some years when the children were more established in their trades. Eldest son William had been working as a farm labourer in 1851 and as a carrier in 1861. James was a young ploughman in 1861. Alexander and Donald were just children when their father died, but in time became ploughman and carpenter respectively. Perhaps a memorial was erected but has been damaged and lost over the years.

Even more strangely, no trace of James Urquhart’s spouse, Isabella McKenzie, can be found following the death of her husband. On the assumption (not guaranteed, as he may have been widowed and have re-married between 1851 and 1860) that the “(married)” status on his death certificate refers to his still-living spouse Isabella McKenzie, you would expect to identify her in census returns or death registration thereafter. But she simply disappears. On the 1868 marriage certificate of William Urquhart to Alexandrina Munro his mother is given as deceased. If correct, then she must have died within the period 1860 to 1868, but I cannot locate her. It may be that she re-married, as she would have been only 48 when her husband died, but I have not picked her up in local marriages either. It is a puzzle that has defied descendants of the couple.

Another puzzle that defied descendants was to identifiy Isabella’s parents – challenging when her death certificate could not be found. However, at least I was able to crack that one, through the fact that son William as “nephew” of Alexander McKenzie acted as informant upon Alexander’s death in 1857:

Parish of Resolis Deaths
Alexander McKenzie agricultural labourer (married to Margaret Holm) died 27 July 1870 at Newhall Point age 53 parents William McKenzie general merchant (deceased) Mary McKenzie m.s. McMillan (deceased) informant William Urquhart nephew Jamimaville (not present)

As William Urquhart was Alexander McKenzie’s nephew, and as we know from census returns that both Isbella and Alexander McKenzie had been born in Kiltarlity, I think it is conclusive that Isabella’s parents were the same as Alexander’s and hence the following baptisms are the appropriate ones:

Parish of Kiltarlity Baptisms
1808 … Mr. William McKenzie and Mary McMillan his Spouse a Child born 4th April Baptized 8th May named Isabell Witnesses Hugh Cameron Blairfade & Alexr. Fraser Hugh’s town
1816 … William McKenzie Merchant in Augnagrintich and Mary McMillan his spouse a Child born 26th. June baptized 1st. July named Alexander witnesses the Congregation

There were also children Mary Mackenzie (1800) (who married grocer and later forester Hugh Munro in 1821), Murdoch Mackenzie (1802) and Ann Mackenzie (c1806) (who married farm manager Donald Wilson in Jemimaville in 1839). As we have seen, in 1851 their mother Mary Mackenzie ms McMillan was in Jemimaville with her son Alexander Mackenzie and next-door to her daughter Isabella Urquhart ms Mackenzie i.e. spouse of James Urquhart flesher. But, revealingly, in 1861 she was in residence with another daughter, Ann Wilson ms Mackenzie, at Balmuchy School, Parish of Fearn, in Easter Ross, suggesting perhaps that daughter Isabella was no more. Mary died at Balmuchy the following year. Despite identifying Isabella’s parents and tracing three of her siblings, I still have not located Isabella herself following her husband’s demise. It is a little unsatisfying winding up the life of James Urquhart flesher in Jemimaville and spouse Isabella McKenzie when one of the couple has disappeared from the radar. This story will be supplemented when the mystery is solved!

William Urquhart and Alexandrina Munro

Son William in his youth did not reside in Jemimaville. In 1851 he was living as a farm servant at nearby Ardoch with farm grieve Donald Paterson.

the farmhouse at Ardoch, with the village of Jemimaville below; photo courtesy of G. o’Ogle

By 1861, though, William had moved much further away and was residing with his uncle and aunt (his mother’s sister), Hugh Munro and Mary McKenzie (1800–1886), in Tomich in the parish of Kiltarlity. Hugh Munro was a grocer and William was recorded as “Carrier” presumably associated with the grocery business. William’s sister Ann was also in residence, as domestic servant. But in a few years William had returned to Jemimaville. He was back there by the time he married, in 1868. But in fact he had been the tenant of a property in the village since at least by 1859 (I see William on the Valuation Roll for Year 1859–1860 and thereafter). I do wonder if his parents were residing in his rented property.

Parish of Resolis Marriages
7 February 1868 at Jamimaville after Banns according to the Forms of the Free Church of Scotland
William Urquhart common labourer (bachelor) age 33 residence Jamimaville, Resolis parents James Urquhart flesher (d) Isabella Urquhart ms McKenzie (d)
Alexanderina Munro her x mark Thos. McCulloch witness domestic servant (spinster) age 24 residence Jamimaville Resolis parents William Munro grocer & spirit-dealer Elizabeth Munro ms McKay
Dond. Sage Minr. Alexr. Fraser witness Colin McKenzie witness

His wife as you can see was the daughter of Jemimaville grocer and spirit-dealer William Munro and his spouse Elizabeth McKay. They had married way back in 1825 in Wick, and Alexandrina had been born in 1842.

Parish of Thurso Baptisms
1842 … April 13 Alexandrina l.d. of William Munro Overseer Forss by Elizabeth McKay w[itnesse]s. Wm. McKay & James Shearer Born 5th. Ulto.

William Munro at that time was a farm overseer, but when they settled in Jemimaville, sometime before 1861, William had become a grocer and spirit-seller. Their daughter Alexandrina had had an illegitimate child, Colin, in 1864 whilst residing at Whitebog, in the Parish of Cromarty, and young Colin is in household with William Munro and Elizabeth McKay in Jemimaville in 1871 (when he is called Colin M. McLennan, grandson) and 1881 (when he is called Colin Munro, grandson). The family remained in Jemimaville until their deaths, in 1885 (William Munro) and 1888 (Elizabeth McKay). Again, there is no stone in Kirkmichael to mark them. Jemimaville of course had a proper inn (the Poyntzfield Arms) but it had one or more “dram shops” or licensed spirits sellers. In William Munro’s case the premises were a grocery shop which had a licence to sell spirits.

There would have been strong family connections to persuade the newly married William Urquhart and Alexandrina Munro to remain in Jemimaville. All their children consequently were born there. They had Isabella (1868–1938), Elizabeth (1870–1922), Mary (1872–1931), William Munro (1874–1948), Jamima (1876–1951), Angus (1878–1932), Margaret Ross (1880–1964) and Alexander (1883–1967). I have mentioned that William had been renting a property in Jemimaville since at least 1859. He must have saved some money, as he was able to purchase this property from the owner (a shoemaker called Donald McDonald and his Resolis wife, Harriet Aird) about 1879. In 1885, following the death of his father-in-law, William Munro, as set out in the Valuation Rolls, he rented out his own property and resided in the larger property previously occupied by his father-in-law. He became for a time a grocer.

Licences to sell spirits ran with the licensee, not the premises, so the licence held by the now deceased William Munro would no longer be valid. Son-in-law William Urquhart, who had moved into the house, had to apply to the Cromarty Licensing Court for a new licence. As reported in the Invergordon Times and General Advertiser of 21 April 1886:

The transfer licence of Chas. G. Mackay, Poyntzfield Arms, Jamimaville, was granted; and the applications by Wm. Urquhart, grocer, Jamimaville, for grocer’s licence; John Mackintosh, for grocer’s licence, Jamimaville, refused. The licence of Alexander Macdonald, Bruachglass, was also refused.

Macdonald of Bruichglas (on the western edge of Resolis) wrote indignantly to the Editor, published in the next issue, to say with relation to the Bruichglas licence: “It was not refused. It was granted; and granted too, willingly, without note, comment, or dissent.”. However, on the assumption the report was correct with respect to William Urquhart, the crackdown on licences in Jemimaville was bad news. I presume this is why the owner of the property then decided to sell.

Invergordon Times and General Advertiser, 20 October 1886

And, alas, I see from the Valuation Rolls that by 1887 William had returned to his own house, his hopes of running a grocery and spirits establishment dashed. Despite this setback, William and Alexandrina remained in Jemimaville until their deaths. There is no stone in Kirkmichael to commemorate them. But of the children, their three sons are buried in Kirkmichael and do have their own headstones, all on the same line of memorials.

headstone locations for the three brothers, Alexander Urquhart (distant), William Munro Urquhart (closer) and Angus Urquhart (foreground) in Kirkmichael; photo by Jim Mackay

I have mentioned that William Urquhart had become proprietor of the house he initially rented in Jemimaville. Following his death in 1909, Alexandrina became proprietor in turn. More than this about William Urquhart and Alexanderina Munro I cannot say. They must have lived an uneventful life. I see nothing about them in the newspapers or court cases of the time. They passed away at Jemimville and, as I say, I presume they are buried in Kirkmichael, although there is no memorial to commemorate them.

Parish of Resolis deaths
William Urquhart labourer married to Alexanderina Munro died 7 November 1909 at Jemimaville age 76 parents James Urquhart flesher (d) Isabella Urquhart ms McKenzie (d) informant Alec Urquhart son (present)
Alexanderina Urquhart widow of William Urquhart labourer died 24 July 1920 at Jemimaville age 78 parents William Munro grocer (d) Elizabeth Munro ms McKay (d) informant William Urquhart son Balmucty Farm Fearn

The children of William Urquhart and Alexandrina Munro of Jemimaville

This series of Story behind the Stone does not seek to intrude into more recent lives, so the following are merely brief notes on the descendants of William Urquhart and Alexandrina Munro of Jemimaville.

Jemimaville from a postcard postmarked 1909; thanks to Angus Bethune for the loan of his postcard

Isabella Urquhart (1868–1938)
Isabella married twice. In 1891 she married water bailiff James Beddie, who died in Inverness in 1894. She moved with her children back to Jemimaville to reside with her parents, working as a laundress. In 1905 she married, in Jemimaville, a carter from Spean Bridge, Charles McRae; later to become an engine fireman. She died in 1938 in Jemimaville and he died there in 1955.

Elizabeth Urquhart (1870–1922)
Elizabeth married in Jemimaville in 1887 Udale ploughman John McDonald. They moved to Cromarty Mains, a bit further away, but still not that far from her family home in Jemimaville. Elizabeth died at Cromarty Mains on New Year’s day 1922.

Mary Urquhart (1872–1931)
Mary married in Jemimaville in 1899 schoolteacher Alexander Greig McMichen. He at the time was the schoolmaster in Newhall School, but soon left to become schoolmaster at Lunnasting in Shetland. He seems to have been a keen teacher from the one snippet of information I have:

Highland News 22 January 1898
NEWHALL – EVENING SCHOOL. – An evening school has been set on foot in Newhall School by Mr Macmichen, the new headmaster, and will be held on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. It has largely been taken advantage of by the young people of the parish. Among the subjects taught are arithmetic, composition, mensuration, shorthand, and vocal music.

the infant class in Newhall School in 1906, just a few years after Mr McMichen had left; photo courtesy of Mrs Sheila Macdonald Avoch

Newhall School before it closed; the toilet block may appear rather utilitarian, but I can personally testify: it was a vast improvement; photo by Jim Mackay

I believe he departed for Shetland in 1900, but why he left Newhall so soon I know not. For a long time in his later life he was schoolmaster at Boarhills, near St Andrews, Fife, and was an elder and the organ player in the parish church. He made the national press when a dispute broke out. This is what the Daily Record of 17 October 1921 had to say:

A new development took place yesterday in the extraordinary church wrangle, which has brought the quiet Fifeshire parish of Boarhills, near St Andrews, into the limelight.
       The village schoolmaster, Mr. Alex. Greig Macmichen, who insists that he is still the rightful organist, in spite of his dismissal from the post, took possession of the organ the previous Sunday, and, as a result, the Communion service had to be abandoned. Yesterday, at the first toll of the church bell, Mr. Macmichen entered the church. He had intended taking possession of the organ again, but found that instrument was not in the usual place in front of the pulpit – it was locked in the vestry. Mr. Macmichen, however, sat in the organ seat and rested his books on the Communion table. He was prepared to lead the praise, but the minister, the Rev. R.H. Mackey, confined the service to prayer, reading the Scriptures, and his sermon. The service only occupied half-an-hour, and was attended by 30 persons. A week ago, 60 parishioners assembled for the Communion service. The Communion, postponed for a fortnight, will be dispensed next Sunday.
       The village is meantime divided into opposing camps, and the scene enacted on the regular Communion Sunday is the subject of animated debate.
       It appears that up to nine months ago the organ, or, more correctly, the harmonium, was played by the dominie [i.e. the schoolmaster], who is also an elder and manager of the kirk. He had presided at the instrument for something like sixteen years, but for some reason the Kirk Session decided to dispense with his services, and notice to that effect was duly conveyed to him. During the last nine months the organ has been played by the minister’s wife, although at various intervals Mr. Macmichen disputed the action of the Session, maintaining that his dismissal was illegal. Under these circumstances one can readily imagine the flutter of excitement and speculation created in the congregation when on Communion Sunday he resumed his place and commenced to play the voluntary.
       That there was something far amiss had already been suggested to some of the congregation as they filed into the church by the disconcerted face of the miller, who had apparently scented trouble. The next incident was the arrival of the minister, hat in one hand and umbrella in the other, followed hot foot by the beadle, who had brought the tolling of the bell to a hasty finish. Going up to the organist, who was still playing, the minister startled the congregation by exclaiming– “I’ll give you five minutes to leave – this is a breach of the peace!” The dominie rose from his seat and faced the minister, stating that he considered that he was still the official organist, whereupon the minister repeated his ultimatum, and retired to the vestry, to return a few moments later with the announcement– “My friends, you see the position of affairs. There will be no service here to-day.”
       The dominie was still at the organ, but when he saw the congregation gradually filing out again he left as well. The good folk had only gone a few steps down the road when they heard the bell tolled again. Some of them returned, the dominie leading. But he found his re-entry barred. Nothing short of a scuffle ensued, from which the dominie emerged with a disturbed collar and tie and his coat disarranged. Under these dramatic circumstances the second attempt to hold the Communion service, to which numerous members had walked several miles, had to be abandoned.
       Now apparently the service is to be conducted without music until some settlement is reached between the dominie and the church authorities.

This was only one matter of dispute between Mr McMichen and the remainder of the Kirk Session, and I see in 1927 another dispute between them being heard at Cupar Sheriff Court, and an appeal that same year by him to the Established Church Synod of Fife against the judgment of St Andrews Presbytery. It was clearly an exciting period for Boarhills.

Mary Urquhart, Alexander Greig MacMichen’s wife, died in Fife in 1931, at 4 Bowling Green Place, Crail, the informant being her son, James McMichen. Their eldest son became Captain James McMichen, R.A., and their second son, George, became a minister, Rev. G. McMichen, B.D. I note one of their daughters was named Mary Urquhart McMichen, so their mother’s name was continued.

William Munro Urquhart (1874–1948)
William Munro Urquhart was a ploughman at Allerton, Cromarty, when he married in 1900 in Jemimaville Henrietta Skinner, daughter of a Cromarty fisherman. It is good to see that the tradition of the fishing folk and the farming folk of Cromarty never mixing could be upset. Good for William and Henrietta!

They moved to Easter Ross, and when William Munro Urquhart died in 1948 he was a retired farm servant, residing at 2 Back Street Hilton.

A red granite memorial commemorating William and Henrietta stands in Kirkmichael. It reads:

In loving memory of our dear parents
WILLIAM URQUHART who died at Hilton Fearn on the 5th April 1948
HENRIETTA SKINNER who died at Lower Tullich Delny on the 18th December 1963

William Munro Urquhart and Henrietta Skinner headstone in Kirkmichael; photo by Jim Mackay

Jamima Urquhart (1876–1951)
Jamima, or Jemima as she was later known, married at Jemimaville in 1896 road contractor Roderick Paterson (1874–1943), whose family was then resident in the village. His father, Alexander Paterson, was a road contractor too although he also worked as a mail driver. In 1901, in the household of Roderick and Jemima in Jemiaville, younger sister Margaret Urquhart was actually acting as house-maid to Jemima, no doubt a great assistance with Roderick being away at the time.

In 1910, Roderick Paterson’s sister Margaret married James Forsyth Forbes in Jemimaville, and a photograph of the event by Cullicudden photographer Donald Fraser has survived. I imagine that Jamima and Roderick will be two of the faces within this photograph.

1910 wedding of Margaret Paterson and James Forsyth Forbes outside the Paterson home, East End of Jemimaville; photo courtesy of Mrs Sheila Macdonald, Avoch

I am indebted to grandson of Roderick and Jemima, George Hamilton, for providing me with additional information about his family. Roderick and Jemima moved away about 1901 from Jemimaville to Airdrie for a number of years, returning to the village after the birth of George’s uncle Rod in 1910. They had 14 children, with George’s mother Annabella (Nan) being born in Jemimaville in 1913. She grew up in the village, attending Newhall School before working at Poyntzfield House as a domestic servant, before leaving for the south and training as a nurse at Stonehouse Hospital, Lanarkshire. She met George’s father in Stonehouse, and they married in 1933 at Columba Hotel in Inverness. I am treading into more recent times which I rarely do, but I cannot resist including the small piece below on a double marriage of another two Paterson sisters – from their Christian names you can see that their parents had been keen to retain family links! I also include a photograph of Roderick Paterson’s “Road Gang”, provided by George.

Dundee Courier 29 April 1922

The Paterson “Road Gang”, courtesy of George Hamilton, grandson of Roderick and Jemima Paterson

When Jamima died in 1951 her usual residence was in Campbeltown, albeit she died in Killearn Hospital in the County of Stirling. George tells me how his grandparents ended up in Campbeltown, and it is a lovely story. He was told his grandfather and his road gang worked the road A82/A83 down to Campbeltown and when he finished he decided to retire there!

Angus Urquhart (1878–1932)
Angus always resided in Jemimaville, save for his army service. He was a traction engine driver most of his adult life. Angus had served in the Royal Garrison Artillery, no doubt where he learned to become a traction engine driver. During the Great War he was called up to serve the Seaforth Highlanders for a short time in 1916, but was discharged that year as it was felt he could not discharge his duty efficiently on medical grounds.

a mill powered by a traction engine at Whisky Park in the 1940s; Kirkmichael just intrudes on the right; photo courtesy of Mrs Sheila Macdonald, Avoch

Mechanisation was to continue to transform agriculture and I assume that Angus, as an expert traction engine driver, would have found ready employment. In his leisure time, Angus seems to have been a great draughts player, according to this small piece in the local paper which gives a wonderful snapshot of life in the village at the time:

Ross-shire Journal 28 February 1896
Resolis – Draughts Competition.– There was a good deal of interest displayed in the Jamimaville Reading-Room during the past week owing to a number of prizes being offered to be competed for by the draught players. Thirteen players entered the competition, each player to play three games a-piece. The following are the winners:– Angus Urquhart, Jamimaville, 27 games, challenge cup and silver-mounted pipe by Mr B.R.S. Prichard, Udale House; 2 D. Macdonald, gardener, Poyntzfield, 26 games, silver appendage; 3 Roderick Paterson, Jamimaville, 22 games, silver-mounted walking staff …

You will note that in third position was Roderick Paterson, soon to be Angus’s brother-in-law. With the greatest local drama being a draughts competition, it points to a very quiet existence. The later experiences of World War 1 must have been a terrible contrast.

Angus married Mary Jane Munro in 1905, at nearby Rose Cottage, Newhall, in Resolis, the home of the bride’s parents, blacksmith John Munro and wife Annie Dawson. John Munro and Annie Dawson are commemorated by a large headstone close to the Lady Ardoch Tomb in Kirkmichael.

the imposing memorial of the John Munro and Annie Dawson family in Kirkmichael; photo by Jim Mackay

In memory / of / our father / JOHN MUNRO, / blacksmith, Newhall, / died 23.May 1904, aged 66. / and our mother / ANNIE DAWSON, / died 11.July 1904, aged 62. / Also their daughter / JOHANNA MUNRO, / died in Boston, U.S.A. / 22.Jany 1926, aged 56. / (interred here.) / and their son / ALEXANDER, / died at Teachatt, / Foulis, Evanton, / 1.April 1936, aged 68. / Also his wife / MARY McCULLOCH / died 20th January 1952. / aged 72 years / [Base] Their grandchild / JOHN MUNRO, died at Rarichie 2. January 1897, / aged 4 years.

Angus and Mary Jane continued to reside in Jemimaville; they had two children, John Munro Urquhart and William Urquhart.

I note from the Valuation Rolls that in 1930 Angus Urquhart, as well as occupying his rented house in Jemimville had actually become the owner of a ruinous house nearby, perhaps with a view to re-building it. However, he died in 1932, at the relatively young age of 54.

Parish of Resolis Deaths
Angus Urquhart traction engine driver married to Mary Jane Munro died 18 October 1932 at Jemimaville age 54 parents William Urquhart labourer (d) Alexanderina Urquhart ms Munro (d) informant John Munro Urquhart son TeaChatt Kiltearn

Mary Jane died in 1954, and son John Munro Urquhart erected a grey granite headstone in Kirkmichael to commemorate his parents and his brother William.

In / loving memory / of / my father / ANGUS URQUHART, / died at Jemimaville, 18th Dec. 1932 / aged 54. / And my brother / WILLIE, / died 3rd July 1931, aged 22. / And my mother / MARY JANE MUNRO, / died at Ross Memorial Hospital, Dingwall, / 31st May 1954 aged 73.

memorial to Angus Urquhart and Mary Jane Munro in Kirkmichael; photo by Jim Mackay

Margaret Ross Urquhart (1880–1964)
I am not sure why “Maggie R.” was given the middle name of Ross as I do not see any close Ross relatives. However, John Urquhart (c1790–1885), the uncle of Maggie’s father William, had resided near Jemimaville as a ploughman at Ardoch. His first and second wives (he married three times) were Margaret Ross and Jane Ross respectively, and I wonder if William named daughter Margaret Ross after his uncle’s first wife. William acted as informant on his uncle’s death, and must have known the family well given how close their homes were.

Margaret had been working as a domestic servant in Johnstone near Glasgow when she married widower Archibald MacKinlay, a fireman in Govan. They were wed in the United Free Church Hall in Jemimaville in 1911.

the United Free Church Hall in Jemimaville in which Margaret and Archibald were married in 1911; photo by Jim Mackay

They had four children, the youngest being Neil, born in 1925, commemorated on a plaque in front of the headstone of his uncle, Alexander Urquhart, in Kirkmichael. Maggie Urquhart died as recently as 1964.

small plaque commemorating Neil MacKinlay in Kirkmichael; photo by Jim Mackay

1964 Deaths in the District of Glasgow South
Margaret Ross MacKinlay (widow of Archibald MacKinlay Fire Brigademan) died 3 March 1964 at 42 Kinmount Avenue Glasgow (Usual Residence Springhill, Innellan) age 83 parents William Urquhart labourer (d) Alexandrina Urquhart ms Munro (d) informant A McNeil daughter

Alexander Urquhart (1883–1967)
Alexander or Alick was another long time resident of Jemimaville. Prior to the Great War, in the Census Return of 1911, he is given as a mason’s labourer but he was to become a road roller driver. He clearly learned to drive big equipment when he joined up. I wonder if brother Angus, who was a traction engine driver, also learned his trade with the army?

a traction engine pulls a wagon-train of Highland Light Infantry equipment and kit into Dingwall in 1908

Alick married Louise Grace Blakeman in 1916, but I note they knew each other well long before then, as they were witnesses at the marriage in 1905 of Alick’s sister Isabella Beddie ms Urquhart to Charles McRae – “Alick Urquhart witness L.G. Blakeman witness”.

The war-time marriage of Alick and Louise Grace is of such interest I include it in full:

17 May 1916 at St Michael’s Episcopal Church, Govan, Glasgow after Banns according to the forms of the Scottish Episcopal Church
Alexander Urquhart Traction Engine Driver (Company Sergeant Major Royal Garrison Artillery) (bachelor) age 33 usual address The Castle, Broughty Ferry parents William Urquhart Farm Labourer (deceased) and Alexanderina Urquhart ms Munro
Louisa Grace Blakeman (spinster) age 34 usual address Russell Street, Govan, Glasgow parents Frederick Blakeman House Decorator (deceased) and Eliza Ellen Blakeman ms Fenton
(Signed) Walter Riches Rector of St Michael’s Episcopal Church Govan (Signed) Donald Munro Witness Alexandrina Beddie Witness

He and his wife are commemorated on a grey granite memorial in Kirkmichael.

headstone commemorating Alexander Urquhart and Louise Grace Blakeman in Kirkmichael; photo by Jim Mackay

In loving memory of my beloved wife LOUISE GRACE BLAKEMAN who died 24th February 1953 aged 70 years.
Also her husband ALEXANDER URQUHART who died 17th April 1967 aged 84 years.

And here we conclude the story of this Urquhart family, fresh into Jemimaville when the settlement was just starting to develop in the 1820s. In the early 1900s there were numerous branches of the family living in and around the village. Nowadays the descendants of the family are spread all over the globe and the only physical remembrances of them in the area are the gravestones of those buried in Kirkmichael, across Udale Bay from Jemimaville.


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