The Story behind the Stone – the families, estates and stories of Kirkmichael, Cullicudden, the Black Isle and beyond

Taylor of Burnside – and of Newmore, Teaninich, Balloan of Culduthel, Millcraig, Grafton in Ontario and Winnipeg

text: Dr Jim Mackay    photos: as annotated

with thanks to Andy Hickie, Avoch, for photogrammetry and, in Canada,
Cobourg Library, Alnwick/Haldimand Heritage Committee and Bonnie Mackeddie for advice and information

Kirkmichael Trust members strain to read the Taylor tablestone inscription; photo by Andrew Dowsett

This is the story of a family whose tablestone in Kirkmichael was one of the most challenging to read in the graveyard. Uncovering the story of the family itself proved equally challenging. But both challenges were eventually overcome, and the story of the Taylor family of Burnside in the Parish of Resolis has been put together for the very first time.

The Taylor family from Burnside spread out to include:

John Taylor of Grafton, Ontario
Smith Macbain of Invergordon, and his son Sir James MacBain, President of the Victoria Legislative Council
William Taylor, City Chamberlain of Winnipeg
Isaac Campbell QC, of Winnipeg
Realtor Frederick W. Heubach, Vice-Consul of Mexico and first Mayor of the Town of Tuxedo, Winnipeg (developed by a consortium led by himself)
Farms in the North including Burnside in the Parish of Resolis, Wester Teaninich in the Parish of Alness, Millcraig and Newmore in the Parish of Rosskeen, Broomhill in the Parish of Kilmuir Easter and Balloan of Culduthel in Inverness


Deciphering the Taylor inscription

The inscriptions in Kirkmichael have been recorded twice. Kirkmichael Trustee Mrs Helma Reynolds and her husband recorded many of them back in 1990s. I myself recorded most of them in the 1980s and 1990s. But in both surveys the inscription on the tablestone near the Grants of Ardoch enclosure thwarted us.

a challenging read; photo by Jim Mackay

In 2020, given our much greater experience with night-time shots floodlit from many different angles we decided to have another go at the tablestone. The results were encouraging. I was pretty sure the inscription started with “Erected by John Taylor…”. The problem was that in some areas the surface of the stone had come off, and there were also encrustations of lichen. We never scrape off lichen from sandstone memorials as it penetrates the stone and removal always damages the stone further.

the Kirkmichael Selfie Stick in action; photo by Jim Mackay

a great improvement in readability; one photo from 50 taken with lighting from different angles; photo by Jim Mackay

However, we had an idea. When Kirkmichael was being restored, the memorials adjacent to the building were encased in chipboard to protect them from damage. When the chipboard was removed the sandstone was in each case completely bare of growths. I presume this was due to the absence of daylight and rain for a year. We tried an experiment with the Taylor stone. Soil was heaped on to the section of the tablestone bearing the inscription and left for six months. In August 2021 the soil was removed, the stone washed and more night-time shots taken. It had worked to some extent. While more words could now be deciphered, such as “father”, nothing to help place the family could be distinguished.

soil placed on tablestone for six months; photo by Jim Mackay

and removed; photo by Jim Mackay

still a challenging read; photo by Andrew Dowsett

Friend of Kirkmichael and photogrammetry expert Andy Hickie tried his hand. The results gave just that little bit more than the night-time obliques. We could make out the word “Burnside”. Suddenly we could place the family – Taylor of Burnside. We could start investigating the family.

Andy and I kept working away at the inscription, comparing night time obliques with photogrammetric images. After days of work we had practically all of it except the numerals. The inscription reads:

photogrammetric image by Andy Hickie

ERECTED / by / John Taylor as a Testimony of Re… and / love for his late father William Taylor / late tacksman of Burn Side who d… this / life … July? 1813? 1815? aged 52? 58? years

the quality of the memorial, from the chamfered top of the tablestone, past the ornamental legs to the beautifully finished foundation slab, shows the status of the Taylor family; photo by Andrew Dowsett


Early days of the Taylor family of Burnside

The Parish of Resolis in the Black Isle has many examples of farming tenants coming in from Morayshire. And so it was with William Taylor. He married Margaret Sinclair, from the Parish of Rothes, in Lhanbryde (near Forres) in 1785.

Parish of St Andrews Lhanbryde, Moray, Baptisms
St. Andrews 15th December 1785 Then contracted William Taylor in this Parish and Margret Sinclair in the parish of Rothes

We can tell from later census returns that several of his children were born in Lhanbryde, although they are not recorded in any extant baptism register. However, at some point he moved to become the tacksman of Burnside and Capernach on the Estate of Newhall in the Parish of Resolis here in the Black Isle. And in Resolis there is a record of the baptism of one child.

Parish of Resolis Baptisms
1800 … October 15th William Taylor Farmer Burnside and Margaret Sinclair his Spouse had a Child baptized named Elisabeth

We don’t know exactly when William arrived in Burnside in the Estate of Newhall. He features in the Consolidated Tax records (E326/15/7, National Records of Scotland) which were for the period the 6th April 1798 to 5th April 1799. In this assessment, the house of “William Tayler Farmer in Newhall” is recorded as having seven windows (and hence the tax amounted to £0 12s 6d).

Burnside Farmhouse nowadays; photo by Jim Mackay

We know how much rent he was paying from the Newhall Estate rentals (HRA/D32/H1(a), Highland Regional Archives):

Copy Scheme in Valuation of Teinds of the Lands belonging to Donald McKenzie Esq. of Newhall in the United parishes of Kirkmichael & Cullicudden 29 June 1808

Burnside, p. William Taylor £64.4.-

By the next extant rental, 1816, William was no longer the farmer at Burnside. Instead, it was his son John, he who erected the tablestone in Kirmichael to commemorate his father.

Newhall Rental 1816

Burnside John Taylor 64 .4. -

Although these rentals say “Burnside”, they were in fact the combined rental of Burnside itself, to the west of Newhall House, and of Capernach, beside Gordon’s Mills. This is broken down in the 1818 Rental:

Newhall Rental 1818

Burnside & John Taylor 46.4.-
Kippernach Do. 18.-.-

And those were all the records I could find for the family. John Taylor was not at Burnside in the 1831 Newhall Rental. He had moved on. But to where? And why had he left Burnside? The answer lies in the family who became the tenants of Burnside following John Taylor.

In order to assist, a schematic of the Taylor family of Burnside will follow this story around!


The Next Tenants of Burnside: John Simpson and Janet Taylor


In 1819, Janet, a daughter of William Taylor and Margaret Sinclair of Burnside, married in Invergordon one John Simpson, cartwright at Burnside.

Parish of Rosskeen Marriages
1819 … John Simpson Cartwright Burnside parish of Resolis & Janett Taylor were married on the 6 February

Almost immediately, Simpson became the tenant farmer at Burnside. I believe the brothers of Janet Taylor would have facilitated this. By the time their first child was baptised, the family had moved up in status, with John Simpson recorded now as Farmer instead of Cartwright.

Parish of Resolis Baptisms
1820 John Simpson Farmer Burnside and his Spouse Janet Taylor had a Child born 7th. & baptized 11th of January named Margaret

They went on to have, in the Parish of Resolis, Janet (1821), Jane (1823), Isabel (1826), William (1828), John (1829), Ann (1832) and Alexander (1835), with John Simpson for most of those described as “Tacksman at Burnside”, and then, in the Parish of Kilmuir Easter, Thomas Stewart (1839) and George (1842).

In 1832, as a tenant paying more than £50 of annual rent, John Simpson put in a claim to be enrolled as a voter, and was admitted to the tiny group of men entitled to vote at that time.

John was a religious man and the Kirk Session records show him seeking to become a communicant in 1828:

At Resolis the 7th day of July 1828 years … Several individuals in the Parish having signified their wish to become communicants & being duly examined on their religious knowledge as well as respecting their motives for wishing to partake of this holy ordinance the following persons gave satisfaction both in regard to their views of divine truth & their life & conversation & were appointed to be added to the Communicants Roll viz. John Simpson Tenant in Burnside

And then he became an Elder, an important position in the community:

Thereafter the Session resolved unanimously that Mr Andrew Mackinzie Schoolmaster of Drimcudden and Mr John Simpson Tenant of Burnside as men in full communion with the church of Scotland & approved of for their personal piety sound views of the Truth & tried attachment to the Laws constitution & form of Government of this national church be ordained to the office of the Eldership.

The Elders, with the Minister, formed the Kirk Session and upheld the moral standards of the parish. They were meant to be men of great moral rectitude. So it is surprising to find that John Simpson was engaged in a long-standing bitter feud with neighbouring proprietor, John McLeod, the owner of Gordon’s Mill and the farmland around it.

A detailed grievance, much too long to set out here, but very entertaining, is to be found in the Newhall Estate material in the Highland Regional Archive. John Simpson, like the Taylors before him, was tenant of Burnside and Capernach. Part of the land of Capernach was claimed by Macleod. Here are just a few snippets.

List of Grievances and Complaints John McLeod of Gordon Mills Esq., Donald McKenzie Esq. of Newhall and David Welsh Esqr. his Trustee, and Alexander Mackenzie Esqr. Acting Exposer at the Sale of GordonMills for redress. Grv. 1st.
That although as far back as December 1819 John McLeod purchased of Newhall and his Trustee, Alexander Mackenzie Esqr. Acting Exposer, the Property of GordonMill with parts pendicles and privileges belonging to the same, paying the full price thereof– Yet true it is that a Scotch Acre of ground granted him by his Titles for Mill dams and Mill leads, has been and still is withheld, he never having received possession thereof, but is regularly crop’d by John Simson a neighbouring Farmer without, tho demanded, receiving redress or compensation.
That to appearance not contented with witholding from John McLeod said Acre to which he has an undoubted right to for Mill dams and Mill leads on the Lands of Newhall to westward of his property of Gordonmill by Titles and Charter of Confirmation Certain it is that the said John Simson has countenanced and supported in shutting up a lead John McLeod had since he came to Gordonmill, in the corner next to Gordon Mill of his said Acre, made for conveying away to the Burn of Newhall the surplus Water which would otherwise over flow the lands of Gordonmill and even injure John Simsons Crop on John McLeods Acre, done with the no good intention of throwing all the water east on Gordonmill– but not one word about delivering John McLeod the Acre, which would at once set every thing right in this quarter
John McLeod on purchasing Gordon Mill only received possession of certain parts of it, and his Titles being with held for several years, uncertain what they contained exactly – was in the mean time under the necessity of making up a Mill dam on the property of Gordon Mill or lose the advantage of the Woollen Mill, enclosing and deepening of which cost John McLeod several pounds which, had he received the Acre granted him by Titles for Mill dams and leads, there would have been no occasion to lay out, this expence John McLeod considers he has a right to recover,
John Simson complains that the Mill dam just mentioned on John McLeods property of Gordonmill has injured his crop on John McLeods Acre, to which John McLeod answers, had this Mill dam done so, it is rather bold of him to complain, having neither right or title thereto, but John McLeod has both, and should never been put under crop by him – whatever J Simson pretends this Acre could never be given him by Newhall – his complaint however is not founded on truth, John McLeods Mill dam did not injure his crop, the Lead to the Burn of Newhall above mentioned prevented that, tho’ he shut it up as long as the Water in the Burn of Newhall kept below the level of the Land, as it is always when the water rises above this level, which he or John McLeod, under present circumstances, cannot prevent, that John Simson and oftener John McLeod is injured by an overflow of water, of which John McLeod has more cause to complain than John Simson, as ever since a dyke has been erected round the Kepernack a part of John Simsons Farm and the lead already mentioned was shut up, the water rises higher than formerly, rolling east on Gordon Mill like a flood. John McLeod receiving possession of his Acre is the only cure however
John Simson not satisfied with shutting up this Lead to the Burn necessary for conveying away the Surplus Water, tho– on John McLeods own Acre, still countinanced and supported, proceeds to another act of violence, and cut a hole through John McLeods Western Boundary dyke, in order no doubt more effectually to throw all the water east on Gordon Mill, tho’ in direct opposition to John McLeods Titles, which say, Bounded on the West by a line of March Stones along which the Proprietor of Gordon Mill is at his own expence to build a March dyke separating the Lands hereby disponed from the remaining part of the Estate of Newhall, – When John McLeod came to Gordonmill this Boundary he found a Low sort of dyke, partly earth and partly stones with many breaches in it, this he repaired and heightened and it is through this dyke John Simson has dared to cut a hole–

John McLeod. / Gordonmill 7th. February 1831.

There is much more to the complaint. To be fair, I have seen separate plans from this period of Gordon’s Mill and of the Capernach, and each shows the same area of land – but included within each farm! How this dispute was resolved, I know not. It may be that the feud contributed to John Simpson’s decision not to seek a further tenancy of Burnside and Capernach, but to move to a new farm altogether.

The tenancy at Burnside expired. I presume that John Simpson had come in in 1819 on a 19 year lease which would have meant that he would have been seeking a new farm in 1838.

At the Church of Resolis the 30th day of March 1840 years … The Session find that since the dispensation of the Ordinance in August 1838 John Simpson Elder David Grant Officer of Excise and Hugh Murray Tenant in Cullicudden had left the parish

This is confirmed by an advertisement found in the northern papers:

Inverness Courier 14 March 1838
Farms on the Estate of Newhall, in Cromartyshire.
The following Farms on this Estate, are to be Let, on Leases for 19 years, or such numbers of years as may be agreed upon, from the term of Whitsunday, 1838,
Scotch Measure.
Arable Acres. Pasture Do.
1. The Farm of BURNSIDE, possessed by John Simpson 58 [Arable Acres] 20 [Pasture Acres]

Written offers will be received till 1st April next, by Colin Mackenzie, Esq. the Proprietor; or by Alex. Kelly, Writer, Dingwall, the Factor and Alex. Urquhart, Grieve at Newhall, will show the different Farms.
Dingwall, 1st March, 1838.

The Simpsons can next be found at Broomhill Farm, on the north side of the Cromarty Firth, just within the Parish of Kilmuir Easter, and very close to Invergordon. In the 1841 Census we can see John and Janet along with children Jessy, Jane, Isabella, William, John, Ann, Alexander and Thomas. There were three others in the household, presumably farm and domestic servants.

Broomhill Farmhouse nowadays; photo courtesy of G. o’Ogle

And by 1851, the family had in addition gained another youngster, George. In 1851, the Census began to report the parish of birth of each person. John Simpson himself, now 67, had been born in Resolis. But Janet, given as 53, had been born in Elgin Morayshire (the two names were equivalent for Moray). You will remember that her parents, John Taylor and Margaret Sinclair, had come from Moray originally. The area of Broomhill Farm is given as 100 acres, so it was somewhat larger than Burnside, but not of course of the same land quality.

However, this was to be the last Census in which John would appear as he died at Broomhill the following year, on 23 November 1852.

John o’ Groat Journal 3 December 1852
DEATHS. … At Broomhill, Kilmuir Easter, on the 23d ult., Mr John Simpson, farmer.

Janet moved west to reside in Invergordon where she died in 1860, aged 64. Her death certificate confirms her parents:

Parish of Rosskeen Deaths
Simpson Janet (widow of a farmer) died 14 November 1860 at Invergordon age 64 parents William Taylor farmer (d) Margt. Taylor ms Sinclair (d) [burial place] Kirkmichael Churchyard Certified by William Holm Sexton [informant] Thos. Simpson son (not present, Glasgow)

Note that she was buried in Kirkmichael. No inscription has survived mentioning either her or her husband.

It is almost inconceivable that a substantial farmer and Elder of the church and his wife should not have a memorial. There were certainly plenty of children, several of whom were doing well for themselves, who could have contributed. Perhaps a memorial did exist but has been destroyed. Given that John Simpson was a native of Resolis, and given that Janet Taylor was buried in Kirkmichael, you would think that he too would have been buried there and they would both be commemorated on, most probably given the timeframe, a headstone.

John’s parents were James Simpson, farmer in Kinbeachie, Parish of Resolis and his spouse, Margaret Holm, who are commemorated on a tablestone in Cullicudden Graveyard erected by John’s brother Robert Simpson. This connection has been made through an article in the Ross-shire Journal in 1904 in appreciation of Thomas Stuart Simpson. It is set out below and states that Thomas Stuart Simpson was the cousin of the Rev. Duncan Murray Simpson. With that information, it would be possible to expand the Simpson story! For instance, Hugh Simpson, born in Resolis, but working in the Parish of Nigg and married to Grace Fraser, was another brother of John Simpson – an additional reason why John Simpson might have moved from Burnside to the other side of the Cromarty Firth.


The Children of John Simpson and Janet Taylor

The daughters of John Simpson and Janet Taylor received an annuity which reduced financial pressures on them.Whether related to this or not, it is a fact that most of them did not marry, but lived together with their brother Thomas Stuart Simpson and several other of their brothers in Glasgow. The one daughter who did marry (Ann) does not appear to have had any children. The two sons who did marry (Thomas Stuart and George) appear each to have had only one child, a son in each case. There may be families associated with some of the children I have been unable to trace but I have rarely seen such a large family result in so few children.

Margaret Simpson (1820–)
I have been unable to find any records of Margaret following her baptism. But she may well have married and moved away from the area.
Janet or Jessie Simpson (1821–1896)
Jessie never married She died at 26 Carrington Street, Glasgow. Informant was her brother Thomas who was present. She made a will, dated 1 May 1877, with her sister Isabella Simpson of the same address, as executrix. Value of Estate £685.
Jane Simpson (1823–1874)
Jane never married. She died at Gowanbank Cottage, 332 Gairbraid Street, Maryhill Road, Glasgow. Informant was her brother Thomas, who was present.
Inverness Courier 14 May 1874
At Gowanbank Cottage, Maryhill Road, Glasgow, on the 6th inst., Jane, third daughter of the late Mr John Simpson, Farmer, Broomhill, Ross-shire.
Isabel or Isabella Simpson (1826–1897)
Isabella never married. She died at 26 Carrington Street, Glasgow. Her occupation on her death certificate is given as “Bank shareholder”. Informant was her brother Thomas, who was present.
William Simpson (1828–)
I have been unable to find any records of William after his appearance in the 1851 Census in Kilmuir Easter.
John Simpson (1829–1872)
John o’ Groat Journal 12 September 1872
DEATHS. … At Kingstown, Demerara, on the 2d ult., John M. Simpson, second son of the late John Simpson, Broomhill, Ross-shire.
Ann Simpson (1832–1906)
Ann was a dress maker when she married journeyman ironmoulder Robert Wilson in Invergordon in 1871. She died at 90 North Watson Street, Glasgow in 1896. The informant was her husband. No children are present in the household in any of the Census returns so it would appear there was no issue from the marriage.
Alexander Simpson (1835–1894)
Alexander never married. He died at 26 Carrington Street, Glasgow, when he was described as a Drapery Warehouseman. Informant was his brother Thomas. He made a will, with brother Thomas Stuart Simpson, Bank Teller, of the same address, as executor. Value of Estate £1,845.
Ross-shire Journal 12 October 1894
DEATHS. … At 26 Carrington Street, Glasgow, on 8th inst., Alexander, third son of the late John Simpson, farmer, Broomhill, Ross-shire, aged 59 years.
Thomas Stuart Simpson (1839–1915)
Thomas was a bank clerk when he married Mary Margaret Young in 1867 at Partick. They had one child. However, Mary seems to have had mental issues, and was institutionalised, dying in Gartnaval Royal Asylum, Partick, in 1925. From evidence of the 1881 Census and onwards, Thomas lived for decades in Glasgow with his son and his unmarried brothers and sisters, as head of household, informing the Registrar in turn as each of them died. It was an unusual arrangement. In 1911 strangely Thomas was by himself in Hove, Sussex, but was back in Glasgow by the time of his death. He died at 31 Broomley-drive, Giffnock, Glasgow, described as “Bank Teller (retired) (Married to Mary Young)”. The informant was his son. He died testate, and William Neilson Simpson bank clerk and Jeanie Ford or Simpson (wife of the said William Neilson Simpson) were confirmed as executors. The estate was worth £3,462.
Ross-shire Journal 18 November 1904
Mr [Thomas Stuart] Simpson, Late of Invergordon
Ross-shire has sent many sons to take part in the active, busy, commercial life of Glasgow, and your readers in the Invergordon district will be interested to know something about one of them. I refer to Mr Simpson, a gentleman who the other day retired from a head tellership in the Commercial Bank here after the long service of 33 years. He was born at Broomhill farm in the early thirties, and educated in the Free Church School, Invergordon, under the late Mr Fraser. He entered the service of the Commercial Bank in Inverness in 1856, and in 1860 was transferred to the head office in Glasgow, where he has since remained. He joined the Rifle Volunteers here, and was a first-class shot, winning among many other prizes Ensign Wemyss’ splendid tropy presented in 1862. He is a member of College United Free Church, of which Dr Reith is now pastor, his former minister being Dr Robert Buchanan. He is a cousin of the late Sir James Macbain, Chairman of the Legislative Council of Victoria, and the Rev. D. Murray Simpson, minister of Moy and Dalarossie, Inverness-shire. Mr Simpson is still hale and hearty, and I am sure his fellow-natives hope he may be spared for many years to come to enjoy his well-earned retirement. I may mention that his son is an active and most enthusiastic member of the Glasgow Ross and Cromarty Association.
Ross-shire Journal 3 March 1905
RETIREMENT OF A BANKER– Mr Thomas Stuart Simpson, who has been in the service of the Commercial Bank of Scotland Limited since 1856, has just retired from active service. Mr Simpson was brought up on the farms of Burnside and Broomhill in Ross-shire, and began his banking career in Inverness. For the past thirty-two years he has been in the head office in Glasgow, and he rose to a high place in banking cirlcels in the city. His cousin, Sir James MacBean, H.C.M.G., of Melbourne, was chairman of the Legislative Council of Victoria. Mr Simpson and his son, Mr W.N. Simpson, are old members of the Glasgow Ross and Cromarty Association.
George Simpson (1842–after 1911)
George resided with brother Thomas and several of his sisters in Glasgow. In the 1881 Census he was with them and described as a “Linen draper assist.” However, there was more to George than met the eye. He had been in London in 1871 as a “Drapers assistant” and was back there from 1891 until at least 1911. He married Elizabeth “Lizzie” Mockett (1861–1918) in Thanet, Kent, in July 1887. They had one child, John, who in 1911 was a 22 year old commercial traveller in florists’ supplies. On several of the census returns in England, instead of the unhelpful “Scotland” as place of birth, George had put “Kilmuir Easter” – sound fellow!


Smith MacBain (1788–1872) and Christian Taylor (c788–1843)


Well, even I can spot a clue such as “cousin of the late Sir James Macbain”. Wiki says about Sir James:

Sir James MacBain KCMG (19 April 1828–4 November 1892) was a politician in colonial Victoria (Australia), President of the Victorian Legislative Council. MacBain was the youngest son of Smith MacBain, of Invergordon, Ross-shire, Scotland, and was born at Kinrive in that county in 1828. He served a business apprenticeship in Inverness. In 1853 he married Jessie Smith, youngest daughter of William Smith, of Forres, and sister of the late Duncan Smith, manager of the Oriental Bank Corporation at Bombay.

Smith Macbain, presumably those shiny shoes were made in his own premises

Sir James MacBain KCMG

Well, with a distinctive name like “Smith MacBain” you are not going to go far wrong locating him. Smith was a shoemaker, but not an ordinary shoemaker. For decades he had a large business in Easter Ross, employing five men. He survived long into the era of civil registration and has a granite memorial to himself and his wife in Rosskeen Cemetery. And the name of that wife: Christian Taylor.

Parish of Rosskeen Marriages
16th Decr 1809 Then were married Smith McBain & Christian Taylor both in this Parish

Christian’s parents, William Taylor and Margaret Sinclair, married in 1785, so Christian would have been one of their oldest children. Smith and Christian had many children themselves, and I note one of them was named “William Taylor McBain” and another “Margaret” so Christian’s parents were commemorated.

They had, all within the Parish of Rosskeen except for William, David and James:
Margaret (1811), Jean (1812), Katharine (1814), Janet (1817), William Taylor (1818), John (1820), Alexander (1822), William (1824 – Kilmuir Easter), David (1826 – Kilmuir Easter), James (1828 – Kilmuir Easter) and Christian (1832).

Smith is usually recorded as shoemaker but in fact he did try farming for a while. He took on the tenancy of one of the Kinrive farms, just to the east, in the Parish of Kilmuir Easter, in the 1820s, before returning to his shoemaking business. So Smith was a farmer at the time of the birth of his celebrated son James, he who became President of the Victorian Legislative Council:

Parish of Kilmuir Easter Baptisms
1828 24th. April Smith McBain Farmer Kinrive had by his wife Christian Taylor a child born of this date and baptd. on the 10th June and named James

However, when the tenancy was over in 1830 he returned to his previous business.

Inverness Journal and Northern Advertiser 18 December 1829
The FARM at KENRIVE, as presently possessed by Mr. Smith Macbain, and some smaller ones, on Kindeace Estate. Apply (if by letter, post paid) to Charles Robertson, Esq., Kindeace House, Parkhill, Ross-shire; or to William Paul, Esq., 9, Howe Street, Edinburgh. Kindeace, 1st December, 1829.

He retired in 1858, passing the reins – or should it be bootstraps – onto his son Alexander:

SMITH MACBAIN, in returning sincere thanks for the large amount of Public Patronage vouchsafed him during the Fifty years he has been in Business, begs to intimate that he now RETIRES in favour of his son.
In reference to the above, ALEXANDER MACBAIN respectfully announces, that he carries on the BUSINESS, in all its Branches, in the former Premises; and trusts, by strict and prompt attention to orders, to merit a continuation of the Patronage so long enjoyed by his Father.
Invergordon, 24th August 1858.

When their son Sir James Macbain died, the story of his early years, originally in the Invergordon Times, was reproduced in many newspapers.

Inverness Courier 11 November 1892
The Invergordon Times contains some particulars of the early life of the late Sir James Macbain, Melbourne, whose death we noticed in our last issue. Born on 21st April 1828, at the farm of Kinrive, on the Kindeace property, Ross-shire, James Macbain was the sixth son of a large family, of whom only three now survive, namely, David Macbain, farmer, Leighton-Buzzard, England; Alex. Macbain, East End, Invergordon; and Kate Macbain. Mr Smith Macbain, Sir James’s father, was a worthy man in his day, and both he and Mrs Macbain (Christina Taylor) worked arduously together to give their children a good upbringing, the result being that practical sagacity which characterises the whole family. The late Mr R. B. Æ. Macleod of Cadboll, at a banquet given in the Invergordon Town Hall on the occasion of Sir James becoming President of the Legislative Council of Victoria, in June 1886, said:– “And well I remember his (Mr Smith Macbain’s) bring up my son’s first pair of shoes, and saying– ‘Now, I am proud of having made shoes for four generations of the Cadboll family.’ And whilst I could get his shoes I wore no other in the country.”
James attended the old parochial shool at Invergordon, which was then taught by Mr Rose, and afterwards went to the independent school, which stood where Mr Barnett’s shop now stands. His elementary education was finished in Mr Forbes’s school, Kilmuir. With small learning, but a soul filled with honour and integrity, James went, at the age of fourteen or fifteen, to serve his apprenticeship as a clothier with Baillie Andrew Smith, Inverness. The relations which existed between master and man were of a most cordial kind, and it was while serving his apprenticeship that he became acquainted with Miss Jessie Smith, Forres, sister [other sources say niece] of his employer, whom he subsequently married, But James was not content to remain a clothier, and tried several trades. In course of time becoming a commercial traveller for a firm in Bradford. He kept at this occupation for three years, and married in 1853 the lady above mentioned. James saw that this country was not likely to afford sufficient scope for his business activity and ambition, so he sailed with his young wife soon after they were married. He arrived in Melbourn in October 1853, by the once famous liner, “Great Britain.” After the gold fever broke out, Mr Macbain accepted a post in the Bank of New South Wales as a clerk, and retained his connection with that institution until 1857, when he relinquished the appointment, and visited his native land. Durin this visit he resided chiefly in London, but paid Invergordon two visits. He went back to Melbourne as the local managing partner of Messrs Gibbs, Ronald, & Co., a mercantile and squatting firm, and under his direction the business assumed very large dimensions. In 1865 it was merged into the Australian Mortgage Land and Finance Company, of which Messrs Macbain and Ronald became managing directors. About 1880 Mr Macbain resigned the direct management, but as Chairman of the Australian Board he still retained a general supervision.
[Sir James is still remembered by many old citizens of Inverness. Mr David Urquhart was well acquainted with him, and for several years taught along with him in a Sunday School at Culcabock. Sir James was a member of the Bible Class taught by Mr Thorburn, the first pastor of the Free High Church.]

To add to this picture of the early years of Sir James, it is mentioned in the Dictionary of National Biography, 1921–1922 (Sir Leslie Stephen, Oxford University Press) that “While he was still an infant his family moved to Scotsburn, and thence to Invergordon. His education was much interrupted by delicate health, arising from a fall from a horse.”

I have not researched the children of Smith Macbain and Christian Taylor in depth, but suffice to say they scattered around the world. William Taylor McBain (1818–1899) emigrated to Canada. He was in Lobo, Middlesex County, Ontario, in the 1851 Census, married Catherine Colvine, and died there in 1899. I wonder if during that time he met up with his Canadian Taylor relatives!

Smith Macbain himself died as recently as 1872 at the age of 84, and his death certificate states his parents were William MacBain Farm Grieve and Margaret MacBain ms Campbell. However, his entry in the baptism register for Inverness states “1788 July … 31st. William McBean in Kinmilies & his spouse Margt. Denoon had a Child baptized … called Smith”. This was the usual Highland story of aliases or patronymics. The parents of Margaret Campbell alias Denoon are buried at Fearn Abbey:

Sacred to the memory of Mr DAVID CAMPBELL alias DENOON of Hilltown parish of Tain died 25 May 1793 aged 65 years
Also ISABEL CAMPBELL alias MACGREGOR relict of the above died 13 Feb. 1797 aged 70 years
Also Mr HENRY CAMPBELL grandson of the above who died on his passage from London 17 July 1796 aged 4y 4 months and 15 days.
The above in life respected and in death lamented.
Erected by their affectionate son ANDREW CAMPBELL of London 1839

All this does not tell us much about mother Christian Taylor. The poor lady had at least 11 children in 20 years. We learn little about her. The family gravestone in Rosskeen Cemetery carries the inscription:

Sacred to the memory of SMITH MACBAIN Invergordon who died on 17th August 1872 aged 84 years and of his beloved wife CHRISTINA TAYLOR who died on 23rd March 1843 aged 55 years.

the Smith Macbain headstone in Rosskeen Cemetery; photo by Davine Sutherland

That would indicate her being born about 1788; she married in 1809 in the Parish of Rosskeen with which so many of her family were associated. Her entry in the 1841 Census provides little useful information, except that she was born outside the county. She had died by the time of the 1851 Census, but there is an interesting member in the household in Invergordon at that time. The head of the family is of course Smith McBain, but there is also:

Robert Sinclair Nephew Unmarried Male 24 Druggist born Elgin or Moray

The presence of a nephew of Moray origins suggests strongly that one of Robert’s parents was a sibling of Christian Taylor. And this leads to the next child of William Taylor and Margaret Sinclair of Burnside.


Margaret Taylor and Robert Sinclair, Merchant, Lossiemouth


And now for a rather sad family story.

Robert Sinclair, the 24 year old nephew who appears in the 1851 census return for the family of Smith Macbain and Christian Taylor, was indeed born in Moray, in the Parish of Drainie in 1826:

Parish of Drainie Baptisms
Decr. 17 Mr. Robert Sinclair, Merchant, Lossiemouth, had his lawful Son by Margaret Taylor born this date and baptised 22nd December 1826 and named Robert. Witnesses Robert Dean, son of Mr William Dean, Lossiemouth, and William Sinclair, Fodderty, Ross-shire and also Helen Sinclair, Bishopmill.

Lossiemouth served as the port of the town of Elgin and the neighbouring region. It was an important harbour with cargos of salt, coal, timber, oats, slates, and barley being imported with whisky, herring, timber, potatoes and stones being the main exports.

Cargo ships at Lossiemouth harbour using both sail and steam; photo courtesy of

In turn, the marriage of merchant Robert Sinclair (senior) and Margaret Taylor in 1824 was easily found:

Parish of New Spynie or Spynie
Robert Sinclair in this Parish, and Margaret Taylor in the Parish of Rosskeen, Ross-shire, were married 13th July 1824

Well, here we are back in Rosskeen again. I presume that Margaret was residing with her older sister Christian and brother-in-law Smith Macbain when she married Robert Sinclair. Margaret’s own mother was a Sinclair, so no doubt Robert was related to her already.

Alas, the baptism of Robert Sinclair junior is the only baptism to the couple that I can find. And the fact that Robert Sincliar junior in 1851 was in residence with his uncle in Invergordon in 1851 suggests that his mother had died and he had been “farmed out”.

Robert remained in Invergordon for the rest of his life in the same occupation. He died as recently as 1903:

Smith Macbain’s headstone (within blue ellipse) and Robert Sinclair’s headstone (within red ellipse), Rosskeen Cemetery; photo by Davine Sutherland

Parish of Rosskeen Deaths
Robert Sinclair Supervising Chemist widower of Margaret Munro died 11 October 1903 at High Street, Invergordon age 76 parents Robert Sinclair Timber Merchant (d) Margaret Sinclair ms Taylor (d) informant Jeanie Graham Housekeeper (present)

Robert junior married Margaret, daughter of provision merchant William Munro, in 1859 but she died still a young woman in 1876. All three of their children died young, Margaret Helen (1860–1865), Robert William (1865–1883) and Alexandra Taylor (1870–1901). Alexandra resided with her father all her life.

sandstone headstone commemorating the eldest daughter, Margaret Helen, adjacent to the family red granite headstone, Rosskeen Cemetery; photo by Davine Sutherland

It is indeed a sad story.

Robert Simpson junior’s gravestone in Rosskeen bears the phrase “Upright in business” rather than anything about the family, which is very telling.

To step back in time to 1829 in Lossiemouth, a couple of years after the death of his first wife, Robert Sinclair senior remarried.

Parish of Drainie Marriages
1829… March 14. Mr. Robert Sinclair Lossiemouth and Isabel Dean, Greens of Oakenhead were matrimonially contracted and married

They had three daughters and two sons. The second daughter, Margaret, married Invergordon shipping agent Thomas Cameron and had a large family, but I have not followed the other members of the family. Their father, Robert Sinclair, died in 1857:

Inverness Courier 19 March 1857
At Lossiemouth, on the 7th inst., Mr Robert Sinclair, Coal Merchant, aged 60.

Parish of Drainie in the County of Elgin Deaths
Robert Sinclair Shipping Agent (married) died 7 March 1857 at Lossiemouth age 60 parents Robert Sinclair farmer (d) Margaret Sinclair ms MacWilliam (d) Phthisis Pulmonalis buried Michael Kirk Burying Ground as certified by George Adam undertaker informant Geo Sinclair son Druggist Invergordon

I confess I was not entirely sure that this was the correct Robert Sinclair (senior) and would not have pursued – until I noted that the informant was son Geo Sinclair “Druggist Invergordon”. Young George clearly was being introduced to the druggist trade by his half-brother Robert in Invergordon. George was a druggist in Lossiemouth in 1861, by now having learned his trade.

Robert Sinclair (junior), son of Robert Sinclair and Margaret Taylor, is commemorated in Rosskeen Cemetery, but I have not found a memorial to commemorate his mother or his father.


Alexander Taylor of Wester Teaninich and Newmore


Alexander, the son of William Taylor and Margaret Sinclair of Burnside, was associated with three farms during his life, Wester Teaninich and Newmore in Easter Ross and Balloan of Culduthel beside Inverness. However, it was his time at Newmore with which he was most closely associated, and decades after his death members of the family were said to be the children of “Taylor of Newmore”.

But he made just a great a success of Wester Teaninich. When a journalistic farmer toured the country in 1846, reviewing agriculture, he said of Ross-shire:

Inverness Courier, 15 July 1846
Amongst the best-farmed farms we have seen are those of Mr Shirreff Barnyards, near Beaulv; Mr Baxter, Rosskeen, near Invergordon; Mr Taylor, Teaninich; Captain Munro, Coul; and Messrs Middleton, from Northumberland.

Wester Teaninich, one inch to the mile, published 1965

Alexander Taylor was in Wester Teaninich for a long time. The farm is now swallowed up in the expansion of the town of Alness, but at that time lay to the west of the village. I don’t know exactly when his tenancy commenced, but he was there in 1824 when he married his first wife, Jane Campbell Cameron.

Parish of Alness Marriages
1824 … August … 5 … Married Mr. Alexander Taylor Teaninich and Miss Jane Cameron Dunkeld

There were to be only two children from this union as poor Jane died not long after her second child was born. The first child is very important to this story as he proved to be the piece of the jigsaw that allowed the whole family to be joined together.

Parish of Alness Baptisms
1825 … Augt. … 6 … Mr. Alexander Taylor Teaninich and his wife Mrs. Jane Cameron had a child baptized named William

The baptism of the second child must have been a fraught occasion.

Parish of Alness Baptisms
1827 … June … 27 Mr. Alexander Taylor Farmer Teaninich and his wife Mrs Jane Cameron had a child born on the 1st June and baptized of this date named Jane Cameron Campbell

By the time of the baptism, mother Jane Cameron was already dead. The choice of name of the infant is very revealing. The first boy, William, had been named after Alexander’s father as would be expected. But Alexander with his first girl, instead of commemorating his wife’s mother as usual, chose his wife’s name.

From the death notice I note that her father was the late Evan Cameron, Esq., Writer in Fort William. I have seen entire unsupported genealogies on Ancestry collapse due to that one crucial death notice.

Inverness Journal and Northern Advertiser 29 June 1827
At Teaninich, Ross-shire, on the 22d instant, Mrs. Jean Cameron, wife of Mr. Alexander Taylor, Tacksman of that place. and daughter of the late Evan Cameron, Esq., Writer in Fort William.


Evan Cameron Esq., Writer in Fort William and his daughters Jean Campbell and Beatrice

That lawyer Evan (or Ewan) Cameron has proved rather elusive to track down. I see from one notice that amongst other duties he acted as factor for the Estate of Letterfinlay (“Ewen Cameron, writer at Fortwilliam, factor on the estate” – Caledonian Mercury, 16 January 1796). The first two entries relating to the family in the Parish of Kilmallie (Fort William) baptism register call him “Baillie Ewen Cameron” so he was one of the baillies of the town.

His spouse was Jean Campbell.

Parish of Kilmallie Baptisms
1795 … July … 31 Jean Campbell Daugr. of Baillie Ewen & of Jannet Cameron Maryburgh [the original name for the settlement surrounding the Fort]

A second daughter was baptised in 1797, but her name was not known at time of baptism:

Parish of Kilmallie Baptisms
1797… Feby … 18 [blank] Daugr of Baillie Ewen & of Jannet Cameron Maryburgh

However, when that second daughter married in 1820, her name is revealed as Beatrice. And she married from Culcraigie, which was, with Millcraig, to be farmed by Alexander Taylor’s brother John. This could not be coincidence.

Scots Magazine
1820 … August … 14. At Culcraigie, Alness, Mr James Calder, Tain, to Beatrice, second daughter of the late Ewen Cameron, Esq. writer, Fort William.

Now, in Culcraigie at this time – well, I’ll let the memorial in Alness graveyard speak for itself. It is a tall red granite pillar within an enclosure. Its inscription has been recorded with errors on several “gravestone” websites.

Sacred to the memory of
Captain ALEXANDER CAMERON born at Lundavra near Fort William in the year 1759 died at Culcraigie in this parish 26th June 1826
and of his first wife ISABELLA CAMERON
and their children JAMES, MARY, and JOHN CAMERON
the latter was for many years a solicitor in Dingwall was born at Dalmore 19th Sept. 1793 and died at Dingwall 17th February 1858
his second wife JANE GRANT born at Inverness 20th Oct. 1784 died at Rhynie Fearn 6th May 1867
all of whom are interred here.

Ewan (sometimes recorded as Evan, and sometimes even as Hugh) Cameron died in Fort William in 1808, when Jane Campbell and Beatrice were 13 and 11 respectively. The Scots Magazine of 1808 (Volume 70) gives: “1808 … Aug. … 15. At Fort William, Mr Ewan Cameron, messenger there.” I imagine either Captain Alexander in Culcraigie or his first wife Isabella Cameron must have been a close relative of the girls and were looking after their interests. They would have been resident at Culcraigie for some of the time. And that is how Alexander Taylor, farming close to Culcraigie at Wester Teaninich, would have met Jane Campbell Cameron and that is why Beatrice Cameron was married from Culcraigie.

This isn’t the place to follow Beatrice. Suffice to say that James Calder’s excise role took the family all over Scotland, the family expanding as they went, and they emigrated to New Zealand in the 1850s. Beatrice is buried in Wakapuaka Cemetery at Nelson there. The inscription on her gravestone reads “In Memory of Our Father and Mother JAMES CALDER born at Thurso, Scotland died at the Manse Nelson January 13th 1867 aged 73 years / BEATRICE CAMERON CALDER born at Fort William Scotland died at the Manse Nelson March 4th 1869 aged 70 years The Gift of God is Eternal Life Through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Romans 6.23.”

Beatrice Calder headstone in Wakapuaka Cemetery; photo by Peter Stocks courtesy of

Jean Campbell Taylor ms Cameron died shortly after the birth of her second child, and is buried in Alness cemetery. Her tablestone stands, appropriately, beside the red granite pillar commemorating Captain Alexander Cameron’s family.

photo by Jim Mackay

photo by Jim Mackay

Her inscription reads:

Erected to the memory of Mrs Jane Cameron, wife of Alexr. Taylor, tacksman of Wester Teaninich who died on the 22nd June 1827 in the 30th year of her age.

photo by Jim Mackay

Alexander was now a widower with two young children to care for. It wasn’t long before he married again.

In October 1829 he married Miss Mary Campbell. Their union is recorded in the Marriage Registers of both their home parishes.

Parish of Alness Marriages
1829 … October … 26 Married Mr. Alexander Taylor Tenant Teaninich and Miss Mary Campbell Parish of Dunfermline

Parish of Dunfermline Marriages
1829 … October … 25th Mr Alexander Taylor Teaninich Ross-shire and Miss Mary Campbell residing in this Parish, gave in their names for proclamation in order to marriage, Being three times Proclaimed, and no objections made they were married

Mary’s father was Captain Duncan Campbell (1764–1845), paymaster of the 88th Regiment. He had pots of money. Duncan never married, and Mary was his illegitimate daughter from a liaison whilst he was in Jersey with his Regiment. His brother was Lieutenant-General Sir Archibald Campbell of Ava and New Brunswick, Bart., G.C.B. (1769–1843).

If we can skip momentarily ahead to look at Mary’s death certificate from 1887, we can see what was said about her mother:

Parish of Newington, Edinburgh, Deaths
Mary Taylor widow of Alexander Taylor farmer died 27 Febrary 1887 at 36 Grange Loan Edinburgh age 82 parents Duncan Campbell major in the army (d) Mary Shrimpton Campbell ms Perfetto (d) informant William Murdoch occupier (present)

Now, adding the father’s surname such as “Campbell” here to the mother’s name was a common device used to disguise illegitimacy, so we can take it that the mother was Mary Shrimpton ms Perfetto (and I have to say another reader of the atrociously written death certificate made it “Perfelts” so I do not guarantee my take on it). Daughter Mary’s place of birth in various census returns is given thus: 1841 “English”; 1851 “England”, 1861 “Jersey”, 1871 “England”, and 1881 “Sussex”. I have been unable to trace any mariage of a Mary P to a Shrimpton at all, in either Sussex or Jersey. It might be thought that the informant at Mary’s death, being simply the occupier of the house in which she died, would not be a reliable source. But in fact William Murdoch was intimately associated with members of the family over a long period.

Similarly, I have not been able to discover how the widowed Alexander Taylor in Easter Ross came to meet Mary Campbell, daughter of Captain Duncan Campbell, residing in Dunfermline. I can only think that she was visiting relations in the area when they met.

By his will, signed on 30 October 1843, Captain Duncan Campbell made the following settlement:

To Mrs Mary Taylor Wife of Alexander Taylor Farmer at Ross-shire or her heirs executors or successors of the sum of Three hundred pounds Sterling

This was a substantial sum of money for the time. But in fact various unmarried nieces received considerably more than his own daughter! The value of his inventory came to £3,532 Sterling, so being the Paymaster of a Regiment was obviously very well recompensed, one way or another.

The codicil, signed on 28 December 1843, is of even greater interest:

I Captain Duncan Campbell before designed Considering that some of the family of Mrs Mary Taylor within mentioned are about to go abroad and that means were required for setting them out in life I have this day paid for that purpose to her husband Alexander Taylor within mentioned the sum of Three hundred pounds being the Legacy extended for her under the within written Settlement therefore I now do hereby revoke and cancel said Legacy

We shall return to that codicil when we are considering which of the family were about to go abroad!

The children born to Alexander Taylor and Mary Campbell were:

Duncan Campbell Taylor (1830), Margaret Sinclair Small Taylor (1831), Jess (1834), John (1836), Alexander (1838), Ewan Cameron Taylor (1840), Archibald Campbell Taylor (1842), Mary Anne Dundas Cameron Taylor (1844) and Janet Christina (1847).

Now, following the naming pattern applied fairly consistently by families in Scotland in this period, we have already had by the first marriage “William Taylor” for the father’s father, but then a step out of the normal in “Jane Cameron Campbell Taylor” to commemorate his deceased first wife. The names from the next marriage follow logically.

We have “Duncan Campbell Taylor” for his second wife’s father. This follows the pattern.

And then we have a portmanteau name of “Margaret Sinclair Small Taylor.” Alexander’s mother was Margaret Sinclair, which follows the pattern, but as Captain Duncan Campbell’s mother was Margaret Small, the “Small” was added to hit two targets at the same time.

I shall not try to second guess the more popular names. But “Ewan Cameron Taylor” commemorated the father of Alexander’s first wife. And “Archibald Campbell Taylor” commemorated the father of Captain Duncan Campbell. It all helps to support the structure of the family relationships being investigated. And when your father-in-law is the Paymaster of a Regiment it is as well to keep in with him.

The children attended Tain Academy. They would have been in lodgings, at least during the school week. And they certainly seem to have done well. There are many examples of the Taylor children featuring in the prize lists in the Academy. This is just one where Jane and William are awarded prizes. Bear in mind that William, the eldest child, was very strong in the writing department as that signalled his role in life.

Inverness Courier 26 July 1837
TAIN ACADEMY … prizes were awarded … GRAMMAR CLASSES. 1st Junior Class. Jane Taylor, Teaninich, dux. … WRITING DEPARTMENT. 1st, or Highest Class – Boys. Walter Ross, dux. 2d Class, do. William Taylor, Teaninich, dux.

All their children were born whilst the Taylors were farming at Wester Teaninich. They can be seen there in the 1841 Census, always remembering that except for children ages were inexplicably rounded in this Census.

1841 Census Return Parish of Alness – Wester Teaninich Farm
Alexander Taylor 40 farmer [born in county] no
Mary do. 35 [born in county] no English
William do. 15 yes / Duncan do. 10 yes / John do. 5 yes / Alexander do. 3 yes / Jane do. 14 yes / Margaret do. 8

Alexander had been born while his parents were still in Moray, before the family arrived at Burnside, and this is recognised in the Census Return.

They were soon to move east a mile or so to their new farm of Newmore, with which they would be forever associated., albeit they resided in Wester Teaninich for a longer period. I see a reference to them being there in 1850, and in 1851 there is an advertisement:

Inverness Courier 6 February 1851
Estimates Wanted, for Executing the Mason, Carpenter, Slater, and other Works of Alterations and Additions to Newmore Farm House and Steading.
Plans and Specifications to be seen with Mr Taylor, at Newmore, and tenders to be addressed to James F. Gillanders, Esq., Balavil House, by Dingwall, on or before the 1st of March next.
The Employer does not bind himself to accept of the lowest offer, unless in all respects unexceptionable.
3d February, 1851.

It can be seen that Alexander Taylor was not satisfied with the condition of Newmore when he arrived as the new tenant and had persuaded the owner, Gillanders, to pay for improvements. Was he required to contribute himself? In 1843 he had been paid £300 Sterling by his father-in-law to assist his children’s emigration. I imagine some of that would have been retained.

Newmore Mains on the right, to which Alexander Taylor moved; on the left can be seen Rosebank where John Taylor’s father-in-law, John Watson, was tacksman. Six inches to the mile, published in 1880.

Later that year we can see:

1851 Census Return Parish of Rosskeen – Newmore
Alexr Taylor head mar 50 farmer of 450 acres born Morayshire
Mary do. wife mar 45 born England
Jane do. daur u 23 farmer’s daur born Alness / Margaret 19 do do / John son 14 scholar do / Alexr 12 scholar do / Evan 10 scholar do / Archd. son scholar 7 / Mary A.daur scholar 6 / Jessie 3
Ann Menzies Servt. u 21 do. do. / Cath: Fraser do. 25 do. do.

Further improvements at Newmore were planned, with the Architect in this case being the famous Andrew Maitland of Tain, who himself had spent several years in the Parish of Resolis back in the 1840s.

Inverness Advertiser and Ross-shire Chronicle 27 June 1854
ESTIMATES are WANTED for the Mason, Carpenter, and Slater Works of ADDITIONS to NEWMORE FARM STEADING.
Plans and Specifications will be seen with Mr Taylor, at Newmore; and offers will be received by A. Maitland, Architect, Tain, up till Saturday , the 8th July.
Tain, 24th June 1854.

Was there a reason why they moved to Newmore in particular? Well, there was a strong family connection. If we step back to some evidence presented to the Commissioners of Supply:

1818 … Thereafter Compeared Mr John Watson Tacksman of Rosebank in the Parish of Rosskeen & County of Ross, … Depones that he is a married man and about fifty years of age and being interrogate Depones That since Mr McLeay’s Purchase of the Estate of Newmore, the Deponent has acted as Manager, & has been present at all the Settlements with the Tenants thereof

John Watson was the father-in-law of Alexander’s brother, John. He had died back in 1829, and John Taylor had in fact purchased a plot for his tablestone in Rosskeen Cemetery, and the Watson sons continued a close liaison with John Taylor. Alexander would have been very aware of the potential of the farm.

There are many agricultural references to Alexander Taylor in the press during this period, commanding good prices at the marts, not to mention the duties associated with being a respected member of society. Taylor of Newmore was an important man in the area. The children were doing well, albeit several succumbed to the diseases that were so prevalent then.

But the tenancy was due to expire. This was the bugbear of all tenant farmers. He would spend years building up the quality of the soil, improving the buildings, breeding quality stock – and then the tenancy would end and the farmer would have to start all over again on a new farm.

And so it was with the Taylor family. We read:

Inverness Advertiser 6 April 1867
The farm of Woodlands, near Dingwall, has been taken by Mr Thomas Middleton, Farness, and the outgoing tenant of Newmore, Mr Taylor, has become the tenant of Balloan of Culduthel, near Inverness.

Alexander was quite elderly now and I’m sure taking on a new farm would not have been his choice. But he got settled in. His younger children now started attending Inverness Royal Academy instead of Tain Academy.

Inverness Courier 6 July 1868
[art] The first pupil, however, in point of merit is Miss Taylor, Balloan ; but as she took the medal last year she was excluded this year from the competition.

I include that particular item as the pupil concerned, youngest child Janet Christina (or Jessie C.), described herself in 1881 in London as an “Artist (Painting in oils” so she had further developed her prowess in art!

The family were in Balloan for the 1881 Census return which I shall include as a snapshot of the family at the time.

1871 Census Return Inverness – Balloan Farm
Alexander Taylor Head Married 71 Farmer of 166 acres of which 140 arable employing 3 ploughmen born Morayshire Langbride [Lhanbryde]
Mary Taylor Wife Married 66 born England
Jane Taylor Daughter Unmarried 42 Farmers daughter born Ross-shire Alness
Margaret Taylor Daughter Unmarried 39 Farmers daughter born Ross-shire Alness
John Taylor Son Unmarried 33 Farmers son born Ross-shire Alness
Archibald Taylor Son Unmarried 28 Farmers son born Ross-shire Alness
Jessie Taylor Daughter Unmarried 23 Farmers daughter born Ross-shire Alness
Ann Beaton Servant Unmarried 28 General servant domestic born Ross-shire Poolewe

I don’t know when he decided to retire, but the family moved for a period to, surprisingly, London! And sadly his oldest daughter, Margaret Sinclair Smaill Taylor, died there in September 1874 and is buried in St Mary, Acton, in Ealing. Alexander can be seen in London in 1881 as “Annuitant”, with his wife, son Archibald and daughter Jessie C., the “Artist (Painting in Oils)”.

But Alexander died much closer to home a few years later, just outside Edinburgh.

Banffshire Journal and General Advertiser 18 March 1884
At Upper Dean Park Cottage, Balerno, on the 8th instant, Alexander Taylor, late of Newmore, Ross-shire, aged 84 years.

The informant at the Registrar’s was his artist daughter, who had forgotten her grandmother’s name.

Parish of Currie, Edinburgh, Deaths
Alexander Taylor retired farmer married to Mary Campbell died 8 March 1884 at Upper Deanpark Currie age 84 parents William Taylor farmer (d) informant Jane C. Taylor daughter present

There is so much confirmatory evidence that Alexander’s mother was Margaret Sinclair that Jessie’s forgetfulness can be forgiven. However, I can never understand why anyone would go to the bother of visiting the Registrar’s without checking the parents of the person whose death you are reporting.

Widow Mary continued to reside in Edinburgh, and died at Grange Loan there three years later in 1887. The family are commemorated on a headstone in Currie Cemetery, Edinburgh. It reads: “In memory of ALEXANDER TAYLOR, Farmer, Newmore, Ross-shire, who died 8 March 1884, aged 84. And MARY CAMPBELL, his wife, who died 26 Feb. 1887, aged 81. Also JESSIE CHRISTINA TAYLOR, their daughter, who died 28 May 1885, aged 38. Here also lies JANE CAMERON CAMPBELL TAYLOR, daughter of the said ALEXANDER TAYLOR & JANE CAMERON, who died at Edinburgh on 10th July 1893, aged 66 years.”

The Taylor family headstone in Currie Cemetery; photo by Glenlivet, courtesy of


Children of Alexander Taylor and his first wife Jane Campbell Cameron and his second wife Mary Campbell

A brief summary is provided of the children to show “what we did next”.

William Taylor (1825–1878)
William is dealt with under his own head as he is a crucial link in the chain joining this family together.
Jane Cameron Campbell Taylor (1827–1893)
Jane resided with her parents most of her life. She died in Edinburgh, and left a will signed on 29 June 1893 leaving the remainder of her estate, after debts and expenses, “between my two brothers Archibald Campbell Taylor, Edinburgh, and John Taylor now in America share and share alike”.
Dr. Duncan Campbell Taylor M.D. (1830–1868)
Student in Aberdeen in 1851, joined 56th (West Essex) Regiment of Foot as Assistant Surgeon in 1853. Served some time in India. Married Charlotte Dunne (1840–) at Kilcullen, Kildare, Ireland in 1864.
Inverness Courier 9 January 1868
At Sheffield Barracks, on the 4th instant Duncan Campbell Taylor, M.D., Staff-Surgeon, second son of Mr Alex. Taylor, Balloan Culduthel, Inverness.
Margaret Sinclair Small Taylor (1831–1874)
Resided with her parents all her life. Died in London in September 1874 and is buried in St Mary, Acton in Ealing.
Jess Taylor (1834–)
Born in 1834, she does not appear in the 1841 Census, so one has to assume she died as an infant.
John Taylor (1836–)
I have last spotted John in household with the Taylor family in the 1871 Census as “farmer’s son”. His sister Jessie C. in her will signed on 29 June 1893 states he was “now in America”.
Dr. Alexander Taylor (1838–1872)
Alexander Taylor became a medical practitioner. I first see him in this context being appointed as house-surgeon at the Northern Infirmary.
Inverness Courier 10 March 1859
Northern Infirmary.– A meeting of managers of this institution was held yesterday in the Board Room of the Infirmary – Provost Lyon-Mackenzie in the chair. The subject of the meeting was to appoint a successor to the late house-surgeon. Five candidates appeared – namely, Mr W. Reid, of Glasgow; Mr Thomas Tolmie, now acting as house-surgeon in the Infirmary; Mr Alexander Taylor, Newmore; Mr John Mackenzie, Edinburgh; and Mr Lennox Robertson, Balmoral Cottage, Aberdeen. … A further amendment was moved by Mr David Fraser, Huntly Place, and was seconded by Bailie Ross – namely, that Mr Alexander Taylor, Newmore, be appointed. Two divisions took place, the result of which was that the leet was reduced to Mr Taylor and Mr Tolmie, and on a division the appointment was conferred upon Mr Taylor, Newmore, who carried it by 7 to 6. A vote of thanks to Mr Tolmie for the manner in which he had discharged the duties as interim-surgeon was agreed to unanimously.
He then set up as a general practitioner in Invergordon.
Inverness Courier 15 January 1863
DR ALEXANDER TAYLOR begs to intimate to the Inhabitants of INVERGORDON and surrounding districts, that he will commence the Practice of his Profession on the 21st January current.
Invergordon, 12th January 1863.
He often appears in the local papers in the context of “Dr Taylor Invergordon was sent for…” “Dr Taylor was summoned but …” I see him in the 1871 Census as a lodger in the establishment of one Eliza McKay on the High Street, “M.B. Genl. Practitioner” born Alness, aged 32. When Dr Ross, who was medical officer for the four parishes of Rosskeen, Resolis, Alness and Kilmuir Easter, found himself unable to service those parishes due increasing age, “he resigned the parishes of Alness and Rosskeen, and two years later those of Resolis and Kilmuir, in favour of the late Dr. Taylor with whom he was intimately acquainted.” (Invergordon Times, 17 December 1879).
Dr Taylor must have enjoyed working in the same neighbourhood where he had grown up. And then:
Inverness Advertiser and Ross-shire Chronicle 14 June 1872
INVERGORDON.– TESTIMONIAL OF £300 TO DR TAYLOR.– A movement to present Dr Taylor with a testimonial to testify the appreciation in which he has been held in Invergordon and surrounding country was set on foot, immediately on its becoming known that he was to leave for Jamaica. There was less canvassing and solicitation than has been for any matter of the kind in this part of the country, yet the subscription papers, during the fortnight for which they were exhibited on the bank counters in town, were filled up to the amount of £300. This amount was presented in sovereigns, within a handsome purse, to the Doctor, at a public meeting in the Town Hall, on Monday afternoon last. Mr Munro, banker, presided, and made the presentation in suitable and appropriate terms, which was feelingly and tastefully acknowledged by the worthy Doctor, who very expressively thanked his numerous friends for their kindness, and bade one and all a cheerful farewell.
This was possibly the worst possible move that Alexander Taylor could have made. Why do it? one has to ask. And inevitably, the bad news came in:
John o’ Groat Journal 13 February 1873
At the Castle, Annotto Bay, Jamaica, on the 23rd December, in the 33d year of his age, Dr Alexander Taylor, for several years a medical practitioner in Invergordon, Ross-shire.
He had lasted six months.
Ewan Cameron Taylor (1840–1859)
Ewan Cameron died as a young man, and a curious example of the interchangeability found with his name (which has also been observed with his namesake, the father of Alexander Taylor’s first wife) can be seen in two death notices:
Inverness Advertiser and Ross-shire Chronicle 23 August 1859
At Newmore, by Invergordon, on the 13th inst., Evan Cameron, son of Alex. Taylor, Esq., Farmer.
John o’ Groat Journal 25 August 1859
At Newmore, by Invergordon, on the 13th inst., Hugh Cameron, son of Alexander Taylor, Esq., farmer.
The informant at the Registrar’s was his brother John:
Parish of Rosskeen Deaths
Taylor, Ewan Cameron (single) died 13 Aug 1859 at Newmore age 19 parents Alexander Taylor farmer Mary Taylor ms Campbell cause of death Phthisis buried Alness Burial Place Certified by Dond. Forsyth Grave digger Rosskeen informant Ino. Taylor brother (present)
Archibald Campbell Taylor (1842–1916)
Archy remained in household with the family until eventually only he was left. He has left no trace of his personality or activities. Curiously he can be seen to have been a lodger with the same family (William and Agnes Murdoch) in Edinburgh in the 1891 (incorrectly entered as Alex C Taylor), 1901 and 1911Census returns, and when he died in 1916, William Murdoch acted as the informant. Archy’s mother had died in William Murdoch’s household back in 1887. And yet I can find no connection between the two families. A mystery to be solved!
Mary Anne Dundas Cameron Taylor (1844–1865)
Died aged only 20, and the death certification and informant was Alexander Taylor M.B., her own brother. In the 1861 Census she can be seen with her sister Jessie and another scholar boarding with Reverend William Ross whilst attending Tain Academy.
Janet Christina “Jessie C.” Taylor (1847–1885)
The youngest of the Taylors, I see her doing well in school in both Tain and then Inverness at English and Art. Talented as an artist in school, she described herself in 1881 in London as “Artist (Painting in oils”. It would be marvellous if one of her paintings would turn up.She remained in the family household until she died of TB in Edinburgh in 1885.


John Taylor (–1860), tenant of Millcraig


John Taylor disappeared from Burnside in the Parish of Resolis at some point between 1818 and 1820, to be replaced by his brother-in-law John Simpson as the new tenant of Burnside. But where was John now the tenant?

There were relatively few Taylor families in the region at the time, so I felt it was worth exploring several of them. One stood out: John Taylor, tenant of Millcraig. The earliest date I found for this John Taylor in Millcraig was 1 May 1820. An advertisement offered the Mains of Milncraig for let from Whitsunday 1821 “all as now possessed by John Taylor.”

It looked likely that this was the correct John Taylor, ending one tenancy at Burnside, and commencing another at Millcraig, a short distance away across the Alness Ferry. Millcraig or Milncraig (owned by Chamberlains Farms nowadays) lies at the back of Alness, just to the east of the Alness River. It is a few minutes walk to Wester Teaninich where Alexander Taylor was the tenant farmer.

Millcraig, 1 inch to the mile, published 1881

The evidence did eventually appear, in a rather surprising fashion, but we’ll come to that. The advertisement already referred to sets out the sizeable and desirable nature of Millcraig. I assume that John had taken on Millcraig on a per annum basis until the formal lease was advertised and he could offer more than other potential bidders.

Inverness Courier 11 May 1820
DESIRABLE FARMS IN ROSS-SHIRE, TO BE LET. Entry at Whitsunday, 1821.
The MAINS of MILNCRAIG, with the MILL and MILL LANDS, &c. all as now possessed by Mr John Taylor. This Farm contains about 560 Acres, whereof 200 are Arable; the remainder, of which a part is highly inproveable, consists of excellent Pasturage. The Farm is well enclosed and sheltered; and is accommodated with capital roads in every direction. The Arable Lands are of the best quality and have a fine southern exposure. The local situation is also central and convenient, being within a mile of Alness Village, and 3 from Invergordon harbour; and there is abundance of fine marle in the immediate vicinity. Suitable repairs will be made upon the House and Offices, and every accommodation afforded to a good tenant.
2d. ROSS-HILL or TOLLIE, which …
Further particulars may be learned, by applying to David Ross, Writer, Tain; to whom, or to the proprietor (to the care of Joseph Gordon, Esq. W.S. Edinburgh) written offers may be addressed.
Tain, 1st May 1820.

The adverts for farms always make them sound like paradise on earth. However, I think this one was probably more accurate than most. What it didn’t say, of course, was that the land bordered with that owned by sociopath Murdo Mackenzie Esq. of Ardross. The only farmer who would find a worse Neighbour from Hell would be one sharing a boundary with Hugh Rose Ross of Glastullich and Cromarty, and I have always sympathised with Kenneth Macleay of Newmore who had both of them to contend with. Between challenges to duels and long-running court cases, life with them was a nightmare.

You will note that the adjacent land of Tollie or Tolly was also offered for let in the previous advertisement. It crops up in the following wild and wonderful advertisement, placed, of course, by Murdo Mackenzie Esq. of Ardross.

Inverness Courier 18 May 1820
On the night of Friday the 5th current,
DAVID ROSS, son of the late Captain David Ross of Milncraig, accused of House-breaking, Theft, Arson and meditated Murder. He is about 27 years of age, 5 feet 6 or 7 inches in height, slender in person with dark eyes and complexion, a thin visage, and has a small hole or scrofulous wound in the left cheek. He served some time in the Ross-shire Militia, and afterwards in the Corps of Artificers, and resided lately in the House of Finlay Munro-beg, in Tolly in the Parish of Rosskeen. He wears a red Coat, old grey Pantaloons, and Plaid, and carries a bundle. It is possible he may be seen in a new Drab dread-nought great Coat, which he lately stole. It is supposed he has proceeded to some seaport. The crimes of which he is accused are of so deep a dye, and so novel in this country, that is is hoped Clergymen will give warning in their respective Parishes, to their parishioners to be on the look out to discover him. Whoever will apprehend and secure the said DAVID ROSS in any Jail in the Kingdom, or give such information to M. Mackenzie, Esq. of Ardross, by Bonar Bridge, as may lead to his apprehension, shall receive A REWARD OF FIFTY POUNDS STERLING.
Inverness, May 9, 1820.

John Taylor must have wondered what kind of neighbourhood he had moved into. David Ross, son of the late proprietor of Millcraig, was re-arrested and appeared at the Inverness Circuit Court in May 1821. He was soon acquitted on a technicality based on the nature of that very advertisement placed by Murdo Mackenzie Esq. of Ardross.

The current owner of Millcraig, another David Ross, had had the temerity of building a house on his own land at Tollie Muir which Murdo had thought constituted trespassing. He had lost that case in the Court of Session in Scotland but was pursuing it in the House of Lords (“Murdo Mackenzie, Esq. of Ardross, appellant v. David Ross, Esq. of Milncraig, respondent.”) He lost that long running case in the House of Lords in 1822 as well.

Anyway, whether or not having Murdo Mackenzie as a neighbour was a factor, Millcraig was often offered for sale. This must have been unsettling for tenants like John Taylor. Your rights were protected provided the tenancy agreement was written appropriately, but who could tell what kind of landlord you might get? The Estate of Millcraig however came with a strong selling point at a time when very few people were entitled to vote, and when a prospective Parliamentary candidate would spend a fortune buying votes. The advertising wasn’t subtle.

Inverness Courier 3 August 1820
THE ESTATE OF MILNCRAIG, comprehending the LANDS and MILL of MILNCRAIG, with the Thirlage thereof, and the LANDS of TOLLIE or ROSS-HILL, lying in the Parish of Rosskeen and County of Ross.
This valuable and beautiful Property is centrically situated in the highly cultivated district of County which extends from Strathpeffer to the extremity of East Ross, being distant 10 miles from Dingwall, 12 from Tain, and 14 from Inverness by the Ferries of Alness and Kessock.
The Lands of Millcraig have a fine southern exposure, commanding a noble prospect of the entire expanse of the Cromarty Frith. The Arable Lands on this Farm, wich extend to 200 Acres, are of the best quality, yielding excellent crops of Wheat and other grain; they are well enclosed and subdivided; and great additions may be made to the quantity now under tillage at a moderate expense.
The farm of Tollie is also well enclosed; and it has a good range of Muir and Woodland Pasturage attached.
The FIR WOODS on the Estate are valuable; their extent, exclusive of Hardwood, is upwards of 180 Acres; and they are for the most part of about 60 years standing.
Both Milncraig and Tollie abound with Game; and the Woods are frequently the resort of Red Deer and Roe. The River Alness which bounds them for several miles, is an excellent Fishing Stream, and affords along its banks a variety of the most picturesque scenery.
The Great North Roads by Tain and Bona skirt the extremities of the property, making the access from every direction as convenient as could be desired; the Lands are accommodated with good cross roads; and there are shipping places with 3 miles.
Possession of the whole may be had at next Whitsunday, when the present leases expire.
The Property holds of the Crown, and affords a FREEHOLD QUALIFICATION in the County.
Further particulars may be learned on application to the Proprietor, David Ross, Esq. Advocate, 53 George square Edinburgh, or to Joseph Gordon, Esq. W.S., with whom are the title deeds. The tenants will shew the Lands.
N.B. If not Sold before next Martinmas, these Lands will then be Let on new leases to the best offerers, pursuant to former Advertisement.

Millcraig didn’t sell on this occasion but ads would appear from time to time as Ross tried to offload the estate.

However, John Taylor would have had other things on his mind. He was barely into Millcraig when he was marrying. His bride was Ann Watson,eldest daughter of John Watson and Helen Ross.

Parish of Rosskeen 1822 Marriages
Mr. John Taylor Tacksman of Milncraig and Miss Ann Watson Rosebank were married on the 26th March

Inverness Journal and Northern Advertiser 29 March 1822
At Rosebank, on the 26th inst. by the Rev. David Carment, of Rosskeen, Mr. John Taylor, Tacksman of Milncraig, to Miss Ann Watson, eldest daughter of Mr. John Watson, Tacksman there.

John Watson was very much someone who benefited from his friendship with important people, particularly friends and proprietors William Baillie Rose of Rhynie and Kenneth Macleay of Newmore. He was careful to ensure that William Baillie Rose in particular was aware of his appreciation – he named one of his children after him. All the recorded children, born in Tain, were Gilbert (1790), Ann (1793), John (1800), Jean Pedaty (1803), Roberta (1805), David (1807) and William Baillie Rose (1810). I assume he came into Rosebank, or Guisach as it was known before Kenneth Macleay renamed it, through William Baillie Rose. I have already quoted the piece where he states he acted as manager of the Estate of Newmore from the time Kenneth Macleay purchased it (about 1806). John Watson often crops up in the Kirk Session records for Rosskeen (CH2/1136/2) representing the Estate of Newmore (and John Taylor Tacksman of Milncraig attended too, representing the Estate of Milncraig, so the two would meet formally as well as through the family).

the farm of Millcraig above Alness, December 2021; photo by Jim Mackay

In 1822, John Taylor had formalised his tenancy of Millcraig, going for a lease of nineteen years, with opportunity for either side to break at the end of seven and twelve years. We know this from yet another advertisement to sell the estate, this time in 1824:

The Scotsman 3 April 1824
The ESTATE of MILNCRAIG, comprehending MILNCRAIG and TOLLIE, or ROSSHILL, situate in the Parish of Rosskeen and Shire of Ross.
This Property is adjacent to, and partly intersected by, that part of the Estate of Ardross now advertised for sale, and various circumstances, besides their mutual localities, render a joint purchase of them particularly eligible.

The Tenant of Milncraig entered at Whitsunday 1822, on a new lease for nineteen years, with breaks, optional to both parties, at the end of seven and twelve years.

For further particulars apply to Gordon and Stuart, 26, London Street, Edinburgh, who have powers to conclude a bargain.

The seven year break option was in fact exercised.

I have not seen evidence of the union of John Taylor and Ann Watson being blessed with children. But Ann had her younger siblings nearby at Rosebank, John had his Taylor nephews and nieces nearby at Wester Teaninich, Simpson nephews and nieces at Burnside, and MacBain nephews and nieces at Invergordon. And when John Watson retired he and his wife, Hellen Ross, moved to join their daughter and brother-in-law at Millcraig. His retirement is signalled by the advertisement of Rosebank.

Inverness Courier 11 March 1824
FARM IN ROSS-SHIRE TO LET, WITH ENTRY AT WHITSUNDAY FIRST, TIIE FARM of ROSEBANK, in the Parish of Rosskeen, containing 100 acres or thereby, of Arable Land, as presently occupied by Mr John Watson. Apply to W. B. Rose, Esq. of Rhinie, by Tain.

Alas, he did not enjoy his retirement long. He died at Millcraig on 25 August 1826.

On 28 August 1826, three days after John Watson’s death, John Taylor purchased ground in Rosskeen Churchyard, consisting of three graves, as recorded in the Rosskeen Kirk Session records:

28 Augt. 1826. I Simon Fraser Kirk officer of Rosskeen do hereby declare to have sold to John Taylor Esq. Milncraig and to his Heirs for ever, that Ground in the Church yard of Rosskeen, consisting of Three graves, Twenty one feet from the South west corner of the Church, bounded on the East by the Burying ground of the Heirs of John Fraser Rhicullen and on the West by that of William Sutherland Mason at Saltburn…

John Watson’s tablestone at Rosskeen; photo by Jim Mackay

Fellow trustee Davine and I spent much time in Rosskeen with a measuring tape and old plans of the original church figuring out where the South west corner had been. We were looking for a memorial to a Taylor, and it took some time for the penny to drop that the burial area was not for a Taylor at all but for John Taylor’s father-in-law who had died three days earlier. The distance in fact isn’t quite right, but near enough for us to identify what was intended. A beautifully carved tablestone stands there:

Erected to the Memory of the deceased Mr. John Watson who died at Milcraig on the 25th. Augt. 1826 Aged : 68 years.
[on west support of tablestone “Mr. J. W.”]
[on east support of tablestone “1828” – the year the tablestone would have been erected]

photo by Jim Mackay

photo by Jim Mackay

You can always tell the aspiring citizen by their use of “Mr” – and you’ll note the unusual use of the “Mr” on the west support as well. I think when John Watson retired to Millcraig that it was to a separate house from the one occupied by his daughter and son-in-law. I think this is the case from the content of the following advertisement.

Inverness Courier 4 October 1826
On Friday the 13th October next, there will be Sold there, that belonged to the late Mr Watson, A Beautiful 3 year old FILLY, half-bred, and standing about 13 hands high, and an excellent dark bay MARE fit for Saddle or Harness; the whole HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE, consisting among others, of two elegant dining Tables, a Sofa, a dozen excellent Parlour Chairs, Carpets, some quite new; four Feather Beds and Matrasses, Blankets, and Bedsteads, an elegant and complete set of Table China, Fenders, Fire Irons, &c.; the whole Kitchen Furniture; and several Farming Implements, such as four good Ploughs, a Turnip Roller, and Barrow, &c.
The Sale will begin at 12 o’clock, A.M. and four months Credit will be given to all purchasing to the amount of Four Pounds Sterling.
Tain, 28th Sept. 1826.

John Watson had died intestate. The roup realised £91.3.7 but the sum was not utilised by his spouse, Hellen Ross, at this time. Only in 1830 did she apply to become executor dative and by then that sum had grown to £122.1.2 due to interest. I realised eventually that she was doing this to realise her assets because John and Ann, with several of the younger Watsons, were emigrating. Perhaps she went with them, as I have not discovered her whereabouts following 1830.

However, that was in 1830. In 1827 the estate was yet again offered for sale, in conjunction with Ardross.

Inverness Journal and Northern Advertiser 20 July 1827
Day of Sale Postponed. / Upset Prices Fixed. / LARGE AND VALUABLE ESTATES, / IN THE / COUNTY OF ROSS, / FOR SALE.
To be Sold, by Public Roup, within the Royal Exchange Coffeehouse, Edinburgh, on Wednesday the 29th day of August next, at 2 o’clock P.M. (unless previously disposed of by Private Bargain.)
I. The contiguous ESTATES of ARDROSS and MILNCRAIG, consisting of between 11,000 and 12,000 Acres, Imperial measure, situated in the Parish of Rosskeen.
II. The very extensive District or Country of STRATHCONAN…
Further particulars … or to Mr. Baigrie, Factor upon the Estates, at Ardross, by Invergordon ….

Now, in 1829 the option to end the lease was exercised. On 7 May 1829, a roup to sell everything that John Taylor had bought during his tenancy was held.

FARM STOCKING / To be Sold, by Roup, at Milncraig, Parish of Rosskeen, Ross-shire, upon Thursday the 7th day of May, 4 Pair of HORSES, 4 PLOUGHS, 5 COUP CARTS, and all kinds of HARNESS connected with these; several Young HORSES, some rising to the Draught, and some promising fair for the Saddle; 12 MILCH COWS; 30 Two Year Old and 30 One Year Old CATTLE; with complete and good Assortments of BARN and DAIRY UTENSILS.
The Work Horses are young, heavy, handsome, and hardy; the Cows are of a fine Highland Breed, of considerable weight, and all either in calf or after calving; the Young Cattle are very select, all matched, and genuine Highlanders, in excellent order.
There is a BULL of the very first stamp to be exposed.
Immediately after the preceding are Sold, there will be exposed, from Milncraig House, a very Handsome GIG, with HARNESS, and a great variety of excellent articles of HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE, consisting of Carpets, Rugs, Bedsteads, Beds and Bed Clothes, Chests of Drawers, Chairs, Tables, Fire Irons, China and Crystal, and a complete assortment of Kitchen Utensils. These were recently, and very carefully, selected, in the best Markets.
Should there be no time on the evening of the 7th, the Furniture will be exposed on the 8th of May.
Nine months credit.
9th April, 1829.

So John now had money to use as capital for starting a new business. Ann Watson put in motion the process to realise the money from the sale of her husband’s property. In retrospect I should have seen very clearly that emigration was on the cards.

Now, whilst John Taylor’s lease of Millcraig had ended and he had moved out, the last grain crop he had harvested was still in storage at Millcraig in April 1830 and was yet to be sold. It was all lost in a terrible fire that burnt down the entire steading at Millcraig. Two widely different accounts of the blaze were published, one where the fire was accidentally started by a young boy who died, and one where the fire was accidentally started by a young girl who survived. I hope the second account was the more accurate one.

Invereness Journal and Northern Advertiser 9 April 1830

Inverness Courier 14 April 1830

The two accounts may vary greatly but they do confirm that the Hercules Insurance Company was going to pay for John Taylor’s stored crop of grain. This would have had its advantages as one straightforward payment instead of the prolonged process of organising sales of batches of grain and recovery of money.

And then in 1830 I lost sight of John Taylor.


Grafton, Canada West

King Street, Grafton, Haldimand Township, Ontario

The disappearance of John Taylor following the end of his tenancy at Millcraig at Whitsunday 1829 stumped me. I think he was still in the area in April 1830, when the unfortunate fire at Millcraig destroyed his stored grain, but thereafter I can find no evidence of him in the North. He was clearly a significant person whom you would expect to come across in the records of this period. Eventually I was reduced to searching for variants of the word “Millcraig” in case I had missed some reference. And I had.

Banffshire Journal and General Advertiser 31 July 1860
DEATHS … At Grafton, Canada West, on the 6th inst. John Taylor. Esq., formerly tenant of Milcraig and Culcairn, Ross-shire.

Similar notices were found in the Elgin Courier and the Nairnshire Telegraph and General Advertiser for the Northern Counties. Well that certainly explained the disappearance of John Taylor. The “Esq.” indicated that he was a person of some consequence in Grafton. And so it proved.

Cobourg Library kindly provided me with some extracts from the Cobourg World (Cobourg is just west of Grafton, along the northern shore of Lake Ontario), which had run some historical pieces on Grafton back in the 1930s. I’ll let these extracts tell the story.

The Cobourg World 1 June 1934.
Grafton Historical Notes (3) By T.R.M.
[reproduction of letter to the Editor of the Cobourg “Star” of 1832]
Grafton, March 22, 1832.
Mr Chatterton,
Sir:– The improved and flourishing state of the township of Haldimand has led to the rapid foundation of a village about the place which was formerly known as “Grover’s Tavern;” and in conformity to the usage, several gentlemen of the neighbourhood met by appointment at that place on Wednesday last for the purpose of giving it a name. After considerable discussion, that of Grafton was unanimously agreed upon, as will appear by the resolution herewith sent you.
Benjamin Ewing, Esq., in the chair.
John Taylor, Esq., was appointed secretary.
Moved by James G. Rogers, Esq. seconded by Eliakim Barnum, Esq.– That in consequence of the rapid increase of population and the establishment of a P.O. in this place, it is expedient to give it a name. Carried.
Moved by Mr. Clark Spalding, seconded by Mr. Robert D. Roger:– That this village be called Grafton.
It was agreed that Messrs. Taylor, Barnum and Rogers be a committee to draft and form a communication founded on the foregoing resolutions, to his Excellency Sir John Colborne, respectfully requesting his approbation.
After the business of the day was closed, we were regaled in Mr. Pepper’s best style and among the numerous loyal toasts given on the occasion were the following:
The Village of Grafton,
The King and Constitution.
Sir John Colborne and the Province of Upper Canada.
May nae war be among us.
The Constitution under which we live.
Many others, equally loyal and patriotic were given – the whole affair going off with greatest cordiality and good feeling.
John Taylor, James G. Rogers, E. Barnum.

John Taylor was one of a group responsible for the creation of the St Andrew’s Presbyterian (now United) Church, Grafton

In the following extract, note the names of D. Watson and W.B. Watson cropping up in association with John Taylor. Two of John Taylor’s brothers-in-law were David Watson (born 1807 in Tain) and William Baillie Watson (born 1810 in Tain), and the inference is that the Watson brothers preceded John and Ann.

The Cobourg World 26 April 1935.
Grafton Historical Notes (22) By T.R.M.
When the Cobourg Star began publication in 1831 references to early storekeepers begin to be more numerous. On Feb. 11, 1831, the following advertisement appeared:– “For Sale – That well known house where Mr. Watson lately kept store in Haldimand. John Grover.”
In October 1831, the following notice was printed:–
W.B. Watson takes this opportunity to thank his customers in Haldimand and Cramahe for their liberal patronage, and begs leave to inform them that his business shall be transacted on a more enlarged scale, and every description of goods suitable for town and country customers sold on as low terms as any of the stores in the surrounding villages, at his new store in Haldimand.
“N.B. All sorts of produce taken in payment.”
W.B. Watson seems to have had a store previous to 1831. In that year he dissolved partnership with John Taylorand opened his new store. In 1833 he dissolved partnership with D. Watson and in October of that year Lot 6 with dwelling and store was offered for sale by D. and W.B. Watson. After this date no further reference to the Watsons is to be found.
As has been noted, John Taylor separated from Watson, and on Sept. 20, 1831, the following advertisement appeared:–
“The subscriber respectfully informs his Friends and the Public that he has opened store in Mr. Johnson Grover’s New House near Mr. Pepper’s Inn, in Haldimand where he intends constantly keeping on hand a general assortment of dry goods hardware and groceries which he will sell on very cheap terms for Cash or Produce.
“John Taylor.”
For thirty years, until his death about the year 1860 John Taylor was one of the Village’s most prominent citizens. During theyse years he continued to keep store, and he held the position of Postmaster from 1846 [actually from 1833]. In later years his nephew William Taylor was associated with him. A large number of letters and accounts regarding the Taylor’s business have been preserved and are in the possession of Major Gordon Taylor. At one time he owned a saw mill near Eddystone, and as the accounts show he supplied great quantities of lumber to Campbell and Pym when the Distillery was in a flourishing condition. He also contributed to the business of Grafton Harbour in its earlier years. It is probable that he was the builder of the present store of R. Lawless and sons, and both his name and that of his nephew William are connected with the building of the fine residence now owned by the Rev. William Temple.

The Cobourg World 14 September 1934
Grafton Historical Notes (9) By T.R.M.
The period from 1830 to 1870 was the heyday of the local brewery and distillery in the more thickly populated Upper Canadian townships. Grafton and vicinity appears to have had more than its share of this industry as the following quotations show:–
In February, 1831, T.J. Grover of Haldimand advertised in the “Star” for a “first rate practical distiller,” that is, a distiller who had learned the trade from the bottom up, an observant man of long experience. …
In the 1850s the store of John Taylor in Grafton was supplied with liquors from the Haldimand Distillery as old account sheets, still extant, testify. By this time the industry had grown to such proportions that the place was known as Campbelltown, a name that lingers to the present day. …

The reference to a nephew of John Taylor called William was a breakthrough I could not have anticipated. The eldest son of Alexander Taylor back in Easter Ross, William by name, had disappeared sometime after the 1841 Census. I was looking for evidence that John and Alexander were brothers and here in the shape of missing nephew William was strong supporting evidence. When it emerged that the age of the Scottish William and the Canadian William were the same then I was well pleased.

There was a census in Canada East and Canada West in 1842. However, it is of limited use for tracking families as it simply identifies heads of families. The census forms were badly designed, containing many columns of mostly negative information. But to summarise from what there is in that census, John Taylor is recorded as a merchant. In household there were three people from Scotland and one from Ireland. In the household there were four people belonging to the Church of Scotland. The column entitled “Number of years each person has been in the province when not native thereof” has the entry “7 2/11” which I think must mean that one person had been in the province for seven years and another couple (presumably John and Ann) had been there for 11 years.

The 1851 Census is much more helpful and shows that both John and Ann were alive at that time, and that nephew William had joined them.

1851 Census Return, Township of Haldimand, Northumberland County, Province of Ontario
Frame house, one storey with one family residing in it. John, Ann, William Ross and William Tailor are given as members of family. Elizabeth Caverhill and the two servants are given as not members of family. William Ross is given as a member of family, but what the relationship is I cannot tell. Ann’s mother was a Ross, so William Ross may well have been related through that route.
John Tailor Post Master [born] Scotland [religion] Free Church [age next birthday] 55
Ann do. [born] do. [religion] do. [age next birthday] 54
Elizabeth Caverhill [born] do.[religion] do. [age next birthday] 65
William Ross [born] do. [religion] do. [age next birthday] 86
William Tailor Merchant [born] do. [religion] do. [age next birthday] 25
Elizabeth Dodd Servant [born] Ireland [religion] R.C. [age next birthday] 28
Sarah McGuire do.[born] do. [religion] do.[age next birthday] 24

In Scotland, in 1843, the great “Disruption” had occurred, when vast numbers of Scots left the Established Church and joined the new Free Church, free from the influence of land “proprietors”. The people, and not the lairds, could now select who would be ministers in a parish themselves. I note that John Taylor had followed this process himself in Canada, changing from Church of Scotland in 1841 to Free Church in 1851.

Now, you will have noted from the above Census return and from the previous information in the Cobourg World that John “Tailor” was the Postmaster in Grafton. The Canadian Government Library and Archive service have useful records on the postal service and the early details of Postmasters at Grafton are easily found here. From their files (PSFDS03-(11560) and PSFDS03-(1884)) note the quite extraordinary record of John Taylor, 44 years in post:

Benjamin Ewing Post Master in 1832 [date of vacancy] 10 September 1833
John Taylor Post Master [date of appointment] 11 September 1833 [date of vacancy] 7 October 1857 [cause of vacancy] Resignation

John Taylor in 1856 purchased a plot and built a house, completed in 1857, known in heritage documents to this day as “John Taylor’s House”. I think this would have been his retirement home, given he had withdrawn from his position as Post Office Master in Grafton. No doubt he looked forward to having a long and quiet retirement there. It was first named Blink Bonnie, no doubt as it commanded a fine sunny view, then Heathfield and finally became known as Twin Gables.

John Taylor House in Grafton; photo courtesy of Alnwick/Haldimand Heritage Committee

Grafton is a quieter town nowadays, but it once had a much higher population, and was a bustling area with flour mills, distilleries, brick yards, churches, stores, inns and taverns. According to a leaflet promoting Grafton village:

The area north of Grafton, particularly Academy Hill, was the first home of the Massey family. The tombstones at the top of the hill overlook Lake Ontario. These are the ancestors of Hart Massey, founder of the Massey-Ferguson empire; Vincent Massey, Canada’s first native-born governor-general; and Raymond Massey, the actor.

Any excuse to bring up some pictures of Massey Ferguson tractors; the writer and son Gavin

brother George turns up at Kirkmichael with the old Massey Ferguson

daughter Kirsty turning hay with a Massey Ferguson

Well, John Taylor may have retired to newly-built Blink Bonnie, but he was not to enjoy it for long as he died on 6 July 1860. He must have been only about 63 years of age. As yet his gravestone has not been found, and we do not know if his wife Ann Watson pre-deceased or survived him. We have not seen any evidence of children to John and Ann, born either in Scotland or Canada. It is quite understandable why his nephew William should have been invited out to Canada to be part of the family.


William Taylor (1825–1878) City Chamberlain of Winnipeg

We do not know when William arrived in Grafton. He is present (aged 15) in the 1841 Census return for the Parish of Alness, on his father’s farm of Wester Teaninich. And he is present (aged 25 next birthday) in the 1851 Census return for Grafton. At some point between these two dates he emigrated. Now, we know from the codicil to his will that back on 28 December 1843 Captain Duncan Campbell had paid £300 to Alexander Taylor because “some of the family of Mrs Mary Tayler are about to go abroad and that means were required for setting them out in life”.

William was therefore emigrating with capital in pocket. And it points to 1844 being the year he emigrated.

Nephew William was not married at the time of the 1851 Census in Grafton, and from the ages of his children in later Census returns, he must have married about 1855. His bride was the daughter of local gentleman Archibald Campbell and wife Marjory McInnes. “Archy” had been a Captain in Quebec, and had settled in the Grafton area.

Now, the records on John Taylor state that he had owned a sawmill at nearby Eddystone. Following his death it was (according to the 1861 Census return) owned for a time by nephew William. On that return, some more details of the sawmill emerge.

I noted that some of the pages of the 1861 Census for Haldimand are out of order, so where a family spills over two pages, you have to go find the second half of the family! I doubt if anyone has ever put the Taylor family in 1861 together before. Here it is.

1861 Census Return Haldimand, Ontario
Frame house, 1½ stories, 1 family living in house; all listed are given as members of family. Note that L.C. is Lower Canada i.e. Quebec and U.C. is Upper Canada i.e. Ontario.
Wm. Taylor Clerk & Mill Owner [born] Scotland [religion] C.S. [age next birthday] 35 [married or single] m [name of business or manufacture] Saw Mill [annual product of business or manufacture] 250,000 ft lumber @ $8,00 p U.[?]
Jane do. [born] L.C. [religion] do. [age next birthday] 27 [married or single] m
Magery do. [born] U.C. [religion] do. [age next birthday] 6
Alexander do. [born] do. [religion] do. [age next birthday] 5
[end of page; the family continues at the top of a page some sheets away]
Archabeld Taylor [born] U.C. [religion] C of S. [age next birthday] 3
Donald do. [born] do. [religion] do. [age next birthday] 1
Sarah Campbell [born] L.C. [religion] do. [age next birthday] 19 [married or single] s [Jane’s sister]

I think William saw his future career developing through being a Clerk rather than operating a saw-mill, but I do not know when he disposed of the enterprise.

But it was as a Clerk that he is next picked up, in the 1871 Census return for the County of Mariposa, well to the west of Grafton, away up at Kawartha Lakes. And we find that his duties as Clerk there extended to his being the census enumerator for his own sub-district in Mariposa. He recorded his own family, so we can be assured that those details are correct!

1871 Census Return Mariposa, Victoria South, Ontario
Taylor William [age] 45 [born] Scotland [religion] C of Scotland [origin] Scotch [profession] Clerk Div Court [married or single] m
Taylor Jane [age] 37 [born] Q [religion] C of Scotland [origin] Scotch [married or single] m
do. Marjory [age] 15 [born] O [religion] do. [origin] do.
do. Alexander [age] 14 [born] do. [religion] do. [origin] do. [profession] clerk
do. Archibald [age] 12 [born] do. [religion] do. [origin] do.
do. Donald [age] 10 [born] do. [religion] do. [origin] do.
do. Jane [age] 8 [born] do. [religion] do. [origin] do..
do. Annie [age] 6 [born] do. [religion] do. [origin] do.
do. Mary M [age] 4 [born] do. [religion] do. [origin] do.
[dates of operations and remarks] 29th April Wm Taylor Enumerator

Note that William was not just any clerk, but had an official, administrative position. Daughter “Mary M” went by “May” or “May Belle” later in her life, and as her father would have known what he was doing when he wrote “Mary M” I think it likely that her full name was something like “Mary Mabel”. Civil registration began in Ontario in 1869, so the only child to be recorded in the official registers was Kate, born in 1874. I include this entry in full for that very reason.

Ontario births – Births No. 019948
born: 30th September 1874 name: Kate Campbell Taylor
father: William Taylor mother: Jane Campbell
rank or profession of father: Clerk
signature, description and residence of informant: Wm. Taylor clerk Lindsay
registered: 24th October 1874 name of accoucheur: Dr. De. Grassie

William was residing in Lindsay, it can be seen. Lindsay is close to Mariposa (in Victoria County which is now the city of Kawartha Lakes) where the family were in 1871. Lindsay is the “seat” of the city of Kawartha Lakes, the hub for business and commerce in the region.

However, William was ready for a more responsible role. Son Alex established himself in distant Winnipeg in 1872, and I think all the family were there by early 1876. This emerges from the marriage details of the eldest daughter, Marjory or Madge.

Manitoba Free Press 5 February 1876.
BENSON–Taylor – On Thursday 27th inst., by Rev. Mr. Robertson, Mr. J.R. Benson, formerly of Peterborough, Ontario, to Miss Madge Taylor, formerly of Lindsay, Ontario, eldest daughter of Mr. Wm. Taylor, all of this city.

I shall return to the remarkable John Robinson Benson, but for now note that the family was established in Winnipeg at least as early as February 1876. In May of that year, William applied for the post of City Chamberlain in the City of Winnipeg. It was to be a short-lived position because he tragically would die a year and a half later. We can follow the saga in the Manitoba Free Press.

Manitoba Free Press 20 May 1876
City Council. Monday, May 15.
All the members present – the mayor in the chair.
Applications for the office of chamberlain were received from Messrs. Wm. Taylor, John Emslie, and C.E. Steele. …
The appointment of a chamberlain was then taken up, and after some discussion as to the mode of the election.
Ald. McMicken moved the name of Wm. Taylor, which was carried, on a vote of 8 to 4.
A by law was passed confirming the appointment.

Manitoba Free Press 20 May 1876
Local and Provincial. … The agony is over. Mr. William Taylor has been appointed chamberlain.

Manitoba Free Press 27 January 1877
The city chamberlain has tendered his resignation.

Manitoba Free Press 5 January 1878
Mr. Wm. Taylor, ex-city chamberlain, died at his residence Tuesday morning. The announcement of his decease will be learned with feelings of regret by a large circle of friends.

Manitoba Free Press 12 January 1878
TAYLOR– On January 1st, 1878, William Taylor, ex-city chamberlain, aged 52 years, 2 months and 25 days.

At 52, William was still a relatively young man. As civil registration did not begin in Manitoba until 1882, we cannot learn what was the cause of his early demise. I note that the precise “aged 52 years, 2 months and 25 days” is not quite accurate. His baptism record in the Parish of Alness reads:

1825 … Augt. … 6 … Mr. Alexander Taylor Teaninich and his wife Mrs. Jane Cameron had a child baptized named William

I calculate that it should have been something like 4 months instead of 2.

A large white pillar commemorating William and Jane stands in Kildonan Presbyterian Cemetery, Winnipeg. His son Alex is buried immediately adjacent, and there are several other memorials within the cemetery to commemorate daughters and their families.

photo by Del Barkley courtesy of

photo by Del Barkley courtesy of

Wife Jane did not survive long after William’s passing. She is present as a widow (“W”) in the 1881 Census in Winnipeg:

1881 Census Return Winnipeg, Province of Manitoba
Taylor Alexr. [age] 23 [born] O [religion] Presb. [origin] Scotch [profession] Stationer [married or widowed] –
do. Jane [age] 42 [born] do. [religion] do. [origin] do. [married or widowed] W
do. Donald [age] 20 [born] do. [religion] do. [origin] do. [profession] Merchant Clerk [married or widowed] –
do. Jennie [age] 18 [born] do. [religion] do. [origin] do. [married or widowed] – [born c. 1863]
do. Annie [age] 16 [born] do. [religion] do. [origin] do. [married or widowed] –
do. May [age] 14 [born] do. [religion] do. [origin] do. [married or widowed] –
do. Katie [age] 7 [born] do. [religion] do. [origin] do. [married or widowed] –

The only child not present is Archie. He was still in the Province, but carving out a career for himself: He was in the household of a family called Boyd.

1881 Census Return District Marquette, Sub District Portage no. 5, Manitoba
Taylor Archie 21 [born] Ont [religion] Presb [origin] Scotch [profession] Merchant

Jane died in 1886. I have not found any announcement, or, even more curiously, a death registration for Jane. There must be a reason for this. Her sons were doing well, and by the time of her death several more of her daughters had married respectable men of position. There is a story there, which may yet be revealed.

The inscription on the family gravestone, a large white marble pillar in Kildonan Cemetery, reads:

In / Loving Memory / of / William Taylor / Died Jany. 1. 1878. / Jane Taylor / died July 23. 1886 / Whilmenia / Infant Daughter. / TAYLOR

It thus reveals the existence, albeit she did not survive to adulthood, of another daughter, named presumably after William. Another daughter, who did not marry, is commemorated on a side face of the memorial:

In / Loving Memory / of / Our Sister / Annie Murray / Taylor / born Mar. 17. 1867 / died Aug. 24. 1912.

And nearby, a white marble cross commemorates Alex, who drowned in the Red River in 1899:

In Loving Memory / of / Our Brother / Alex Taylor / aged 42 years.


The family of William Taylor and Jane Campbell

A short summary of the lives of the children of William Taylor and Jane Campbell follows.

I am grateful for notes on the “Memorable Manitobans” pages of the Manitoba Historical Society on several of the family members following. It says something about the status of the family that there are so mentions of “Memorable Manitobans” within this section!

First of all, a brief re-cap of the lives of William Taylor and Jane Campbell.

William Taylor ((baptised) 6 August 1825–1 January 1878)
Son of tenant farmer Alexander Taylor and his first wife, Jane Cameron at Wester Teaninich, Parish of Alness, Ross-shire, Scotland. Emigrated probably about 1843 to join his uncle and aunt, John Taylor and Ann Watson, in Grafton, Township of Haldimand, Northumberland County, Province of Ontario, Canada. From owning a sawmill and working on projects with his uncle, William moved within Ontario to become a clerk at the District Court at Lindsay, residing in Mariposa County. In the 1871 census he, as a census enumerator there, recorded his own family. He moved to Manitoba before 1876, and in that year successfully applied to take up the position of City Chamberlain at Winnipeg. His son Alex was already well established in Winnipeg. William had to retire in 1877 from being City Chamberlain after only half a year in post, presumably of ill-health, as he died on 1 January 1878. He and his wife are commemorated by a memorial in Kildonan Presbyterian Cemetery, Winnipeg.

Jane Campbell (15 May 1832–23 July 1886)
Daughter of Archibald Campbell and Marjory McInnes, born in 1832 and baptised a year later at the Township of the Augmentation of Grenville in the Province of Quebec. The family later moved to Haldimand Township in the Province of Ontario. Of her siblings, there were three sisters who, like Jane, much later moved yet again to Winnipeg, Province of Manitoba. Their lives naturally entwined. All three of those sisters married in the same year, 1874.

Annie May (8 August 1836–11 April 1918)
Annie initially married a man named Halliday, and there appears to have been at least one child to this marriage, as an eight year old Thomas Campbell Halliday, who died in 1865, is commemorated on the Campbell obelisk in Lakeport Cemetery and appears with her at Grafton in 1861. Annie May subsequently married at Colborne on 9 Dec 1874 Dr Edward Benson M.D. (22 April 1843–26 August 1904). For more on Edward Benson, see this page here. Both died in Winnipeg.

Dr Edward Benson M.D.; source: Memorable Manitobans

Sarah (8 November 1839–28 March 1917)
Sarah married at Haldimand on 24 March 1874 Dr Alexander Norman Bethune (1831–1874). He died in Northumberland, she died in Winnipeg. The name Bethune in Scotland has been closely associated with medicine down through the centuries, and it is interesting to note this tradition continued in Canada!

Clara Jane or Clara Jessie (20 May 1851–26 June 1917)
Clara married at Haldimand on 19 March 1874 dentist Dr James Lee Benson (2 March 1849–3 July 1926). ), Clara’s birth year varies dramatically with source, but I have selected the earliest as that often proves to be nearest the truth. For more on James Lee Benson, see see this page here.

The parents of these Campbells, Archibald Campbell and Marjory McInnes, are buried in Lakeport Cemetery, Ontario, just east of Grafton, where they are commemorated on an imposing red granite obelisk. They went through a formal marriage ceremony in Quebec as late as 6 May 1844, and had daughter Ann (born in 1836) baptised on the same day. Perhaps they were unsure if an earlier marriage ceremony had been formal. At their marriage they are described as “Captain Archibald Campbell of Harrington and Margery McInnes”. Harrington is further north in Quebec.

I see no other reference to Archibald Campbell having been a Captain, but no doubt those wishing to research further would find more in the military history of Canada. However, in the 1861 Census return for the Township of Haldimand (in Grafton), where his home is just a few houses away from William Taylor’s, I note that “Archey Cambell” is given as “Gent”. William Taylor, then, was marrying into a distinguished family.


Children of William Taylor and Jane Campbell

The traditional naming pattern of children in Scotland followed this sequence:

first boy after the father’s father
second boy after the mother’s father
first girl after the mother’s mother
second girl after the father’s mother.

William and Jane followed this tradition rigidly with Marjory, Alexander, Archibald and Jane commemorating William’s parents (Alexander Taylor and Jane Cameron) and Jane’s parents (Archibald Campbell and Marjory McInnes).

Marjory or Madge Taylor (15 April 1855–30 December 1924)
Madge married on 27 January 1876 John Robinson Benson (26 October 1841–31 March 1912). He was the greatest of the Winnipeg livery stable owners. For 40 years he was the undisputed champion in Winnipeg of a strange contest. Each season there was great competition as to who would take the first sleigh ride after the first snowfall of the winter. J.R. Benson even took to instructing his night stableman to keep a watch for the first sign of snow and to wake him when the “beautiful” began to fall. Madge and John Robinson had a large family. Some of their children who died as infants are commemorated in Kildonan Presbyterian Cemetery, but many others grew up to have families of their own.

John Robinson Benson; source: obituary, Manitoban press 1912

John R Benson advertisments; top Manitoba Liberal 8 June 1872, bottom Manitoba Herald 17 July 1877

Alexander or Alex. (c1857–26 June 1899)
Alex owned stores stocking stationery, books and the like in Winnipeg. He was an early merchant in Winnipeg, arriving, it is stated in the piece below, in 1872. There are literally hundreds of advertisements in the Winnipeg papers featuring his wares.

advertisement from the Winnipeg Daily Sun 23 December 1881

advertisement from the People’s Voice 21 December 1895

advertisement from the Morning Telegram 16 June 1898

He did not marry, and drowned in the Red River in 1899. He is buried in Kildonan Presbyterian Cemetery. The account of his death includes a short biography of his life. I have pruned the text slightly.

Morning Telegram 29 June 1899
The friends of Alex. Taylor, the well known stationer in the McIntyre block are getting uneasy as to his whereabouts, as he has not been seen since about 8 o’clock on Monday evening, when he was noticed in front of his own store on Main street. They are unable to account for his prolonged absence and enquiries are being made.

Morning Telegram 30 June 1899
The many friends of Alex. Taylor had been disturbed by his prolonged absence, being last seen on Main street on Monday evening, about 8.30 o’clock, and last night the community was shocked by the circulation of a report that the body had been found floating down the Red river.
A man named Walter Woonisky was fishing on the bank at the N.P.R. round house, just south of Broadway bridge, and had a line thrown out into the water. About 7.15 o’clock a boy, Warren Webster, in the vicinity drew the attention of Woonisky to what appeared to be a coat floating with the current, and the garment catching on the line it was drawn toward the shore. As it neared the water’s edge both were startled on realizing that it was the body of a man. A telephone message was promptly sent to the police station, when Policeman E. Blair was dispatched to the scene, and Undertaker Thomson requested to repair there, while information was given Coroner Benson. As people gathered the remains were identified as those of Alex. Taylor, and the news rapidly spread over the city.
There is no clue as to how deceased came into the water. He was in his store on Monday, apparently in usual health, and left the regular hour in the evening. Nothing peculiar was observed in his behaviour during the day, and his business affairs were not in a condition to occasion worry or anxiety. Many theories are prevalent, but no authentic information can be elicited to present a rational cause of the drowning.
The remains were removed to the establishment of Thomson & Co. In the pockets of the deceased was found a gold watch, which had stopped at 11.45 o’clock, and from this it is inferred that he fell into the river some time Monday night. There was also a roll of bills and other articles. The funeral will be private, from the residence of his brother-in-law, Mr Heubach, to Kildonan cemetery.
Deceased was one of the best known citizens, and very popular. He came here in 1872, entering the employ of W.H. Lyons, with whom he remained for some time, and was promoted to take charge of a branch store at Poplar Point. Shortly after he returned to the city and was in charge of the stationery department of N.S. Donaldson till entering into business for himself, in partnership with Mr. Jos. Benson. Alex. Taylor has been continuously in business here, some eight years ago selling out his store on Bannatyne street to Mr. Davis, but immediately acquiring the stock and premises of Ferguson & Co., in the McIntyre block. Deceased was a bachelor, about forty years of age, and was living with his sister, Miss K. Taylor [I think should be Miss A. Taylor], in the Assiniboine block. There are three other sisters living in the city, Mrs. F.W. Heubach, Mrs. John Benson and Mrs. Niles, and one at Hamiota, Mrs F. Boulton, and there are two brothers, Donald, at Mine Centre, and Archibald, in Montreal.
The news of the drowning caused a gloom in many circles, and the bereaved relatives have the sincerest sympathy of a large number in their affliction.

Morning Telegram 1 July 1899
The funeral of Alex. Taylor, aged 42 years, who was found drowned in the river on Thursday, was conducted from the residence of his brother-in-law, F.W. Heubach, yesterday. The procession was followed to the grave by a large turnout of friends. The services were conducted by Rev. Canon Matheson.

Archibald Taylor (c1859–)
Archie was a book keeper initially and then merchant. Last heard of in Montreal in 1899.

Donald Taylor (25 March 1861–)
Donald was a merchant as well, by which is meant that he owned a store. The last point when I noted him was in 1901 at Mine Centre, Ontario, when he was listed in the Census as a general merchant, in partnership with a younger man.

Jane or Jean Clara or Jane Clara Taylor (15 May 1864–16 March 1944)
Married on 18 Oct 1882 in Winnipeg Frederic William Heubach (15 December 1859–1 July 1914). Fred W. Heubach, an accountant and realtor, was for a period General Manager for the Winnipeg Industrial Exhibition. The couple are buried in Saint John’s Anglican Cathedral Cemetery, Winnipeg. Their birth dates vary a little between the 1901 census and their gravestone inscriptions, and I have chosen the 1901 census dates.

“Memorable Manitobans” says this of Heubach:

Born at Ottawa, Ontario on 15 December 1859, son of George and Bessie Heubach, he came to Winnipeg in 1879 and acted as private secretary to Charles John Brydges, Land Commissioner of the Hudson’s Bay Company, until 1893. At that time he became manager of the Winnipeg Industrial Exhibition. In 1902, he formed a partnership in real estate with William John Christie, a company which was instrumental in developing various districts of Winnipeg. In 1907 he became the senior partner in the real estate and financial firm of Heubach, Finkelstein and Heubach, which firm controlled and partially owned Norwood and Tuxedo. In 1909 he was appointed Vice-Consul of Mexico.

In 1882, he married Jean Clara Taylor (1864–1944) at Ottawa, Ontario [actually, in Winnipeg]. They had two children: Claude Campbell Heubach and Dorothy Claire Heubach (1894–1969, wife of Raymond Marwood-Elton Carey). He was Mayor of Tuxedo from its incorporation in 1913. He was a member of the Lakewood Country Club and St. Charles Country Club.

He died at his Winnipeg home, 195 Roslyn Road, on 1 July 1914 and was buried in the St. John’s Cathedral Cemetery. He is commemorated by Heubach Park in the Tuxedo area of Winnipeg.

Frederic William Heubach; source: Archives of Manitoba

source: “Manitobans As We See ’Em”, 1908 and 1909

May or May Bell Taylor (1 May 1866–26 February 1940)
Married on 14 Janury 1891 Donald Campbell Niles (26 October 1854–27 June 1896, a prominent man in Winnipeg. The Niles family were present in Haldimand Township in the 1850s, so there is an earlier connection there with the Taylor family. According to “Memorable Manitobans” he was born at Colborne, Ontario [just east of Grafton], went to Manitoba and built at Portage la Prairie one of the largest biscuit factories in the West. In 1883, he began working for dentist J. L. Benson at Winnipeg [note that May’s cousin, Clara Jane Campbell had married J.L. Benson], doing gold work and regulating teeth by means of bands. He became one of the charter members of the Dental Association of Manitoba. They had two children, but Niles died young and is buried in St James’ Anglican Cemetery in Winnipeg. I have been unable to locate a picture of his memorial.

Donald Campbell Niles; source: The Canadian Album, Men of Canada, Volume 3 (1894)

Donald Campbell Niles advertisement in Le Manitoba, 28 December 1892

Daily Nor’Wester 29 June 1896
Death and Burial of One of Winnipeg’s Prominent Citizens.
Dr. Donald C. Niles, who has practised in this city for some years as a dentist, died at his home, 279 Donald street, on Saturday, after an illness of over two months. At the time of his death, which was due to a complication of diseases, deceased was a partner of Dr. Emmons. He leaves behind him a widow and two children. Mrs. Niles is a sister of Mrs. J.L. Benson, Mrs. F.W. Heubach, and Mr. Alex. Taylor. The funeral took place at 1 p.m. today. Wreaths were sent by the Misses Barrett, A.G. Yuill, R.Y. Howden, Mr. and Mrs. C.H. Allen, etc. The burial service of the Church of England was read at the house by Ven. Archdeacon Fortin, and at the grave, in St. James’ cemetery, by Rev. C.C. Owen. The pall-bearers were W.L. Mackenzie, A.A. Andrews, Chas. H. Allen, R.A. Harvey, W.D. Matheson and A. McT. Campbell.

May subsequently married in 1908 prominent barrister Isaac Campbell Q.C. (19 June 1853–13 August 1929). Isaac was a very well-known figure, and his Wiki entry reads:

Isaac Campbell, QC (June 19, 1853–August 13, 1929) was a lawyer and political figure in Manitoba. He represented Winnipeg South from 1888 to 1891 in the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba as a Liberal. He was born in Morpeth, Kent County, Canada West, the son of Duncan Campbell, and was educated there, at the Canadian Literary Institute (later Woodstock College) and at Osgoode Hall. Campbell was called to the Bar of Ontario in 1878, to the Bar of Manitoba in 1882 and to the Bar of the North-West Territories in 1889. He practised law in Winnipeg with John Stanley Hough; this partnership later became the basis of the legal firm Thompson Dorfman Sweatman. From 1886 to 1906, Campbell was solicitor for the city of Winnipeg. In 1890, he was named Queen's Counsel. From 1891 to 1898, Campbell was president of the Law Society of Manitoba; he also served as president of the Manitoba Bar Association and as vice-president of the Canadian Bar Association. In 1891, Campbell resigned his seat in the Manitoba assembly to run unsuccessfully for the Winnipeg seat in the Canadian House of Commons, losing to Hugh John Macdonald. He also was a director for the Winnipeg General Hospital. In 1908, he married Mary B. Niles (née Taylor). Campbell died at home in Winnipeg at the age of 76.

Isaac Campbell, Q.C.

May Bell Taylor and second husband Isaac Campbell

Nettie May Niles, daughter of May Bell Taylor and Donald Campbell Niles

Although there were no children from the marriage, the two young Niles children (Lilly May Nettie Niles (1891–1964) and Donald Campbell Niles (1895–1967) were in family with them. The daughter married the distinguished Brigadier General Gerald Purves Loggie (1884–1973), and many of their charming family pictures (from which the above are drawn) can be seen on Flickr here.

wedding day of Nettie May Niles and Gerald Purves Loggie 21 September 1921

Isaac and May Bell are buried in Kildonan Presbyterian Cemetery, Winnipeg. Their inscriptions read: “Isaac Campbell / June 19, 1853 / Aug. 13, 1929” and “May Bell Campbell / May 1, 1866 / February 26, 1940.”

Annie Murray Taylor (17 March 1867–24 August 1912)
Did not marry. Resided with brother Alex until he died. Buried in Kildonan Presbyterian Cemetery, Winnipeg.

Kate Lillian Campbell Taylor (30 September 1874–1956)
Married Frederick John Boulton (14 October 1871–23 September 1948), banker, on 22 September 1897. They resided at various locations including Winnipeg and Victoria, British Columbia, where Frederick John is buried. Kate, as a banker’s wife in Winnipeg, moved in newsworthy social circles. As “Mrs Fred Boulton” she often appeared in the pages of the Winnipeg papers, entertaining guests at bridge parties and reported as attending family or social occasions, sometimes in company with her sister “Mrs Isaac Campbell”. It must have been a wrench to leave Winnipeg. On her husband’s death in British Columbia, the informant was son “FM Boulton” or Frederick Murray Boulton of Winnipeg. He too, as “Murray Boulton”, crops up within countless Winnipeg news items – for his golfing prowess! Murray and his wife, Thora Agusta Storm, were later to move to London, Middlesex County, Ontario, and his mother must have come to reside with them as that is where she died. Kate Boulton ms Taylor is burried in Woodland Cemetery, London, Middlesex County; her memorial makes her two years younger than she was. Kate was the youngest of the Taylor children and the last to pass away.

source:; Thora Storm’s memorial lies here too

Whilmenia Taylor
Died in infancy. The unusual spelling of “Whilmenia” is as given on the family gravestone, and I imagine it was based on her father’s name, William. She is commemorated in Kildonan Presbyterian Cemetery where many of her family are also buried.

And so I shall end this story of the Taylor family here, in the burial grounds of Winnipeg and Ontario, far far away from Kirkmichael in the Black Isle Parish of Resolis where William’s grandfather, William Taylor of Burnside, is buried.


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