52 Ancestors: Mary Jane Glennie (nee Gaull) 1837-1925

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.

Mary Jane Glennie (nee Gaull) is my 3X great grandmother and one of several ancestors that I would love to have had a chance to meet. Mary didn’t invent anything for the betterment of mankind; she wasn’t famous at all but I have always had an impression that Mary was one of those ‘tough-as-nails’ on the surface but marshmallow interior individuals who all of us likely know at least one of. There is no singular incident that leads me to this impression. It based purely on my view of her life in it’s entirety.

Mary Gaull was born around 1837 in Broomhill, Kintore, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. She was the daughter, and unusually it appears the only child, of John Gaull, a farm overseer, and his wife Mary Christie. It is likely that Mary’s upbringing was comfortable for the times, but by no means extravagant, given her father’s farming abilities. But her upbringing was also likely rather strict as her father appears to have maintained high moral standards.

Life for Mary Gaull thus became more difficult when she gave birth to twin boys, out of wedlock, in February 1860. Mary named her sons George and John but the name of the twins’ father has not been found in any record to date. As was the practise in Scotland at the time, the birth registrations for the twin brothers clearly and boldly labels them to be “illegitimate” children. Mary’s father, John Gaull even decades later in his will referred to them as his “illegitimate” grandsons.

I have commented previously that I do not know the reason but it is clear from all records that Mary ‘gave’ one of her twin sons, George, to the family of James and Isabella Hoey (or Hooey or Howie) who lived in Inverurie. George would later change his surname to Irvine. Mary raised her remaining son John (one of my great great grandfathers) in her parents home, but only for a few months, for in August 1860, when the twins were just six months old, Mary married Alexander Glennie at Chapel of Garioch. 

Alexander Glennie was a farmer who settled his wife, her son, and eventually the five known children that Alexander and Mary had together on a 60 acre farm at Tillyfro, Cluny, Aberdeenshire. Was it possible that Alexander Glennie was the father of the twin boys? Absolutely, but there is no evidence found to date other than the circumstance suggested by his marrying Mary so soon after she gave birth to the boys.

Sadly, Alexander died in February 1879 leaving the farm to his wife. Mary was aided in the running of the farm with monies from her husband’s estate along with monies subsequently inherited from her father’s estate when he died in 1892. 

When John Gaull died, according to his estate file, he left money for his grandson George Irvine and ‘liferent’ on the Gaull farm at Cairnley to his other grandson John Gaull. The residual of the estate went to his daughter Mary Glennie, minus the amount of 250 British pounds which John claimed in his Will that Mary had borrowed to aid in settling her husband Alexander’s estate. Mary denied that she owed her father the money and John Gaull’s estate executors finding no “voucher” nor other corroborating documentation of any such loan noted their finding in the estate inventory, deducting a single shilling from the estate seemingly as a token gesture to John’s wishes. 

Mary thus continued to run the farm at Tillyfro, hiring farm hands as needed, until her own death at the age of 88 on the 30th of March 1925.  Mary Jane (Gaull) Glennie was laid to rest in the kirkyard of the church in Cluny, Aberdeenshire, in the same grave as her son James who had died six years earlier at the age of 51.

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3 thoughts on “52 Ancestors: Mary Jane Glennie (nee Gaull) 1837-1925

  1. Mary Jane on the census records changed the Gauld to Gaull. The father of the twins was from my research George Irvine the son of the blacksmith in Chapel of Garioch. George the twin when he married gave George Irvine as his father and even went so,far as to say Mary Jane and his father were married. My father always spoke of the Irvines and the split in the family and the 'making up' of the unusually spelt name Gaull which had been Gauld.

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  2. Mary Jane not only left the twins, one with her parents and one boarded out, but when she had children to Alexander Glennie called one of them John despite the fact that she had already borne a son of that name.

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  3. Not being surprised by anything that Mary Jane would do I did thoroughly check all the records and she didn't marry George Irvine the farm worker son of the blacksmith. So at least there was no bigamy committed!

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