52 Ancestors: Martha (Wilson) McKenzie 1778-1859

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.

This week I am going back more than 230 years to the birth of my 4X great grandmother Martha McKenzie (nee Wilson). The records of Martha that I have found are few but those detailing events of some significance do exist.

I know that on November 3, 1778 “Peter Wilson in Tillyreach and Isabel Emslie his wife had a daughter baptized, called Martha: witnesses James Bruce and Arthur Watson both in Tillyreach.” The preceding is my transcription of the entry found in the Old Parish Registers of Scotland and it is the first record of Martha and her christening in the Kirkton of Tough in the County of Aberdeen, Scotland. According to Wikipedia, this tiny hamlet is where the famous Aberdeen Angus breed of cattle was bred. I’m not sure how I feel about descending from the place known for good meat?

Martha’s father, Peter, was a farmer and on July 6, 1806, Martha married a farmer, Lewis McKenzie in Glenmuick, Aberdeen, Scotland. Although Martha was a farmer’s daughter who married a farmer, her life was not entirely spent on the farm for at least by 1841 when the first census of Scotland was taken, Martha’s husband Lewis was an innkeeper. I suspect that there was some land attached to the inn however, as in subsequent census records Lewis’ occupation is listed as innkeeper and crofter.

Together Lewis and Martha reared seven known children, born from 1810-1823.

As she eased into her 80’s, if ‘easing’ was even possible in the highlands during the late 1850’s, Martha developed dropsy or as it is known today, edema. She suffered with the dropsy for twelve months according to the doctor who certified her death on May 11, 1859 in the Parish of Cluny. Lewis, her husband of more than fifty years was the informant for the registration of her death. He knew Martha’s parents were deceased but he could not remember the name of his mother-in-law, at least not accurately as he offered up the surname Christie. 

Martha’s husband Lewis, my four times great grandfather signed the death registration and I always find it interesting to see the signatures of my ancestors, particularly those who lived so long ago.

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