Mary Jane Gaull, Part 1

I’m certain that all families have them. You know, the characters. I am holding back using terms such as ‘black sheep’ or ‘nuts’ mainly because I remind myself that ‘the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree.’

My own lineage certainly has it’s share of interesting characters – those ancestors whom you want to have answer that one question – “Why?” or “What were you thinking?”

My second cousin, Pamela Gaull is currently visiting Toronto and after having met through Internet channels like Facebook and email, we have finally had a chance to meet face to face. In our meandering conversations so far, we happened upon our common great grandmother Mary Jane Gaull (2nd great grandmother to Pamela and 3rd great grandmother to me). We agreed that Mary Jane seemed to be a ‘character’ or at least a rebel in her time as far as her family relationships went. In order to get a better sense of Mary Jane’s life, I decided to use a timeline chart to tease out some of the interesting episodes of her life.

This first part will look at Mary Jane’s life from birth until 1881, a period of approximately 44 years or about half her lifetime.

Mary Jane was born around 1837 in Kintore, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, the only child of John Gaull (1806-1892) and his wife, Mary Christie (1818-1879). While it is hypothesized that John would have liked to have had a larger family and more specifically a son, Mary Jane remained his only child. Based on census reports and the last will of John Gaull, he appears to have been a strict, stern, hard working man. He left land and money through his estate to his family, something not everyone was capable of doing in 19th century Scotland. His dismay then, was likely somewhat strong when his only child, Mary Jane would have announced sometime in 1859 that she was pregnant.

In February 1860, Mary Jane gave birth to twin boys that she named George and John Gaull. No father was named, something that has lead to much speculation. When George (who lived most of his life as George Irvine) died in 1941, his daughter Margaret provided the information to register his death. Margaret indicated that George’s father’s name was also George Irvine.

My theory is that Margaret was informed at some time during her life of the name of her father’s father but there is no evidence to suggest that a George Irvine (Sr.) existed. In the 1861 Scottish Census, there is no George Irvine who seems a likely suspect to be the father. Presumably the George Irvine that Margaret named as her father’s father and whom she described as a farm servant, lived nearby the Gaull farm in Chapel of Garioch. Of the six George Irvines listed in 1861 Aberdeenshire, one is the year-old son of Mary Jane, two appear too old to be the father, and the others in my opinion lived too far away to likely be the father.

In any event, Mary Jane sent infant George to live in Inverurie with a family named Hooey and kept infant John Gaull to live with her and her parents on their farm. In spite of giving birth to the twins, Mary Jane’s maternal instincts didn’t really seem to kick in. Six months after becoming a mother, Mary Jane married Alexander Glennie on August 11, 1860 at Whitehaugh, Chapel of Garioch. Mary Jane and Alexander had five children between 1861 and 1873 yet neither of the twins factored in to their family life. In 1871 for instance, George continued to live with the Hooey family in Inverurie and John lived with his grandparents at Chapel of Garioch.

Interestingly the only Mary Glennie to found in Aberdeenshire in the 1871 and 1881 Scottish Census records that might match Mary Jane was an inmate or patient in the Aberdeen Asylum located at Old Machar. Could she be my great grandmother?

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