52 Ancestors: John Shand (1825-1906)

Amy Johnson Crow of the No Story Too Small genealogy blog suggested a weekly blog theme of ’52 Ancestors’ in her blog post “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.” I decided to take up the challenge of the 52 Ancestors blog theme as a means to prompt me into regularly sharing the stories of my ancestors. So over the course of 2014 I will highlight an ancestor, sharing what I know about the person and perhaps more importantly, what I don’t know.

The subject this week is one of my paternal 3X great grandfathers, John Shand about whom there is probably more I don’t know than I do know.

Scotland’s Old Parish Registers record that John Shand was born 20 Feb 1825 in Aucharnie, Aberdeenshire, the son of John Shand and his wife Jean Anderson. He was baptized at the church in Forgue, Aberdeenshire two miles north of his parent’s home one week later on 27 Feb 1825.

The records show that John was a worker, a farm servant specifically. By 1853, he was working on a farm in Fyvie, some 13 miles east of his parental home. In that year, John married Isobel (sometimes her name was recorded as Isabel or Isabella) Morrison. I have no idea as to how John and Isobel met or courted given that she lived in Huntly about 35 miles away from where John was living and working. For my sake, I am glad they did meet and marry – or there would not have been a ME! But meet and marry they did, on 22 Jul 1853 according to their marriage registration in the Huntly Old Parish Register.

John seems to have worked hard to support his family and rose from being a farm servant to being a tenant farmer or crofter by 1890. Over the course of the first twenty years of their marriage, John and Isobel welcomed into their family nine known children, the first born in 1854 and the ninth born in 1874. Their family consisted of seven boys and two girls. Their second daughter, Helen, born in 1864, would become my great great grandmother.

By 1900, John was running the Clinkstone Croft in the village of Insch. That is when life seems to have taken a real downturn for John. First, his wife of almost 47 years, Isobel (her death registration records her name as Isabella) died on February 10th due to bronchitis. John was approaching his 75th birthday at the time and I am certain that work would not have be easy for John. His death registration record shows this clearly. 

John died on 17 Apr 1906 in Aberdeen, his death the result of chronic heart disease. Sadly, it apears John was not surrounded by loving family members at the time of his death as many modern obituaries record. He died alone in the West Poorhouse which I suspect was not, even at the best of times, not a happy place to be.

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