52 Ancestors: James Hadden (abt 1804-1871)

James Hadden is my 4X great grandfather. I really don’t know that much about the life that lead but various records tell me that he was born about 1804 in Fetteresso, Kincardineshire. 

I have searched Scotland’s Old Parish Registers and could find no baptismal record for James. This suggested to me that either the register book containing the baptismal record for James no longer exists or James’ parents, William Hadden and Agnes Robb were not ‘church going’ people and the baptism of their son was not a high priority for them.

What the Old Parish Registers do inform me is that James Hadden married Mary Smart on May 25th, 1833 in Inverurie, Aberdeen, Scotland. James was about 29 years old and his bride, Mary was 25 years old.

The young couple settled into life together in New Hills, Aberdeen, Scotland, a small village near the location of the present day Aberdeen Airport. James seemed to do well working as a farm overseer. Mary and James also started a family; their first child, a daughter whom they named Mary was born December 31, 1833. A son, Alexander ‘Bean’ Hadden was born in 1837 and another daughter, named Jane was born in 1837.

Their apparently happy existence was cut short however when Mary died suddenly in 1840. Eventually James re-married. His second wife was Janet or Jessie Jamieson and unfortunately I could find no record of their marriage in the Old Parish Registers of Scotland but other records do provide confirmation that they were married, likely around 1847 as their first of two known children (both sons – James George Wood Hadden and William Hadden) was born in 1848.

James continued farming up until his death from bronchitis on March 12, 1871 in Aberdeen.

Curiously, several years ago while suffering from a concussion that caused severe headaches and an inability to focus for more than 20 or 30 minutes at a time, I decided to ‘kill some time’ by searching Google for images of James Hadden. I had no realistic expectation that I would find a ‘photo’ of my 19th century ancestor but what I did find astonished me nonetheless. A photo was found of James’ gravestone!

The photo had been taken by Colin Milne in St. Peter’s Cemetery on King Street in Aberdeen. Colin had taken photos of several gravestones that he referred to as ‘strays’ and then posted them on his website in the hope that family members might one day find them. I contacted Colin and he kindly provided me with a copy of the original digital file for my use.

James Hadden gravestone, St. Peter’s Cemetery, Aberdeen, Scotland (photo courtesy of Colin Milne)

I then contacted City of Aberdeen staff who informed me that the people listed on the gravestone do not represent the names their records show are buried in the plot. The gravestone lists seven family members: Mary Smart, William Hadden (James Hadden’s brother), William Hadden (son of either William or James), James Hadden, James G. W. Hadden, Jessie Jamieson, and Alexander ‘Bean’ Hadden.

As it turns out, Mary Smart is not buried in this plot. Her name on the gravestone is a ‘memorial’ only. The same is true for James’ brother William Hadden. James Hadden and Jessie Jamieson are buried here along with James George Wood Hadden, Helen B. Smith McKnight, James Reid, Elspet Scott, John McKnight, and Christian Mackie. 

The City of Aberdeen staff informed me that James Hadden bought the plot in section 39 of the cemetery in 1842. “In the olden days in Aberdeen it was not uncommon for family’s to use graves for close friends or even neighbours as money was so tight.”  I was able to identify that John McKnight was James’ step-son so perhaps Helen was John McKnight’s wife and I have no idea as to who Elspet Scott, James Reid and Christian Mackie are? Identifying them and their relationship to James Hadden is another task to add to my genealogy to-do list!

52 Ancestors: William Mathieson (about 1794-1839)

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.

William Mathieson, my four-time great grandfather, was born according to family sources around 1794 and died in Fyvie, Aberdeen, Scotland on 28 Jun 1839. William was the son of William Mathieson (senior) and Elspet Mackie. 

I specifically mention the lack of sources of records for William because the database search engines for the records of Scotlajnd do not sufficiently allow for a detailed enough search to narrow the results down to ‘my’ William Mathieson. There are four William Mathiesons who were born in the 1790’s and who died after civil registration commenced in 1855. The Old Parish Registers that cover the period before civil registration tend to be spotty and a search of those records produces twenty-one William Mathiesons, three of whom died in the county of Aberdeen and none of whom died between 1835 and 1845. Looking at births, there were at least eighteen William Mathiesons born in Scotland between 1790 and 1815, six of whom were born in the county of Aberdeen. It’s a similar problem for the marriage records, both pre and post civil registration. At some point in my journey, I will examine each of these records, in turn, until I hopefully find ‘my’ William but for now, there is nothing promising about these records and the cost of examining each of the records is a factor.

In spite of my dismay at not locating ‘my’ William’s birth and death records, I do know of my connection to William because of the records about his daughter, one of my great grandmothers, Jane, or sometimes Jean, Mathieson. Jane’s death registration from 1887 tells me that she died at the age of 55 as a result of breast cancer and that she was the daughter of William Mathieson, a deceased farmer and his wife, Jane Scott.

Jane Scott’s death registration from 1867 tells me that William had predeceased her and that he was a crofter.

Although there isn’t as much evidence as I would like, and while the search for additional evidence continues, I know that William Mathieson married Jane Scott sometime in the first half of the 19th century. They had a daughter named Jane Mathieson who married Alexander Hadden and then several generations later I appeared. And I hope they know, someone still remembers them.