Visiting My Ancestral Homelands (Part 1)

I have just returned from two weeks away in Scotland and Ireland, my ancestral homelands.

But first, I should point out that this was not a ‘genealogy trip.’ I did not go to Scotland and Ireland with the intent of conducting any research. Rather, the purpose of the trip was to visit family and friends.

The trip to Scotland was primarily a chance to visit with my youngest daughter, Jenna, who is completing her Masters degree at the University of Aberdeen. It just so happens that Aberdeen is that part of Scotland that my Hadden ancestors lived in for many generations before my great-grandfather, Alexander Shand Hadden, moved his family that included my grandfather John Gaull Hadden to Canada.


My wife Ellen is greeted by Jenna Hadden at the Aberdeen International Airport on April 27, 2015

The trip to Ireland, Dublin specifically, was to visit friends, former neighbours, who had moved back to Ireland after many years living in Canada.

Those purposes were met and the expectations of them exceeded. And admittedly, I did sneak in a little bit of genealogy. In fact, I was encouraged to do more genealogy related research activities but resisted.

Genealogy for me is more than records and documents. It includes experience and the senses. It was enough for me to walk where my ancestors walked, to see the views that they saw, to touch what they touched and smell what they smelled. I can feel somewhat more connected to them having that shared experience.

Our trip did not get off to good start with flight delays on top of flight delays, rescheduled connecting flights that were rescheduled once again from unplanned destinations. Eventually, through the layers of security checks and passport checks and customs questions, we did arrive in Aberdeen, Scotland. And the look of joy and excitement on my daughter’s face at the airport made the journey worth while.

Over the next few posts, I will share some of the sights and highlights of journeying back to my ancestral homelands.

Hadden – Where Alexander Got His Bean

Alexander Bean Hadden is my 3X great grandfather and I recently was asked by Hadden cousins to share my ‘theory’ on where his middle name of Bean came from, so here is what I think is a reasonable conclusion in the absence of any contradictory evidence.

The odd thing about Alexander is that he was commonly known with a middle name of Bean however, I have found no records in which his name is recorded as Alexander Bean Hadden. Records simply provide his name as Alexander Hadden.

Below is a list of the records in which I have found Alexander:

  • Alexander Hadden christening record (O.P.R. 249/0020 0079 Udny)
  • 1841 Census of Scotland (Census 1841 225/00 002/00 007)
  • 1851 Census of Scotland (Census 1851 225/00 011/00 011)
  • Marriage registration for Alexander Hadden and Mary Smart (Statutory Marriages 223/00 0008)
  • 1861 Census of Scotland (Census 1861 097/00 009/00 005)
  • 1864 birth registration for daughter Mary Hadden (Statutory Births 173/00 0066)
  • 1866 birth registration for son John Hadden (Statutory Births certificate 3919892 CE)
  • 1867 birth registration for daughter Ann Hadden (Statutory Births 173/00 0045)
  • 1871 Census of Scotland (Census 1871 234/00 001/00 010)
  • 1881 Census of Scotland (Census 1881 203/00 004/00 013)
  • Marriage registration for Alexander Hadden and Ann Fraser (Statutory Marriages 207/00 0007)
  • 1891 Census of Scotland (Census 1891 203/00 004/00 013)
  • 1911 Census of Scotland (Census 1911 168/01 005/00 005)
  • 1914 death registration for Alexander Hadden (Statutory Deaths 168/03 0167)

As can be noted, I have yet to find Alexander in the 1901 Census of Scotland. The hunt for that record is still in progress.

So Alexander in all of those records is simply record by the name Alexander Hadden. No Bean name is recorded nor is there a middle initial of ‘B’ used. So where could Alexander have received the middle name of Bean by which he seems to have become commonly known by, but unrecorded? Evidence that he was known by Alexander Bean Hadden is found, for example, in his daughter Mary, naming her first son, Alexander Bean Hadden Wright, ¬†after him.

My theory is based on Alexander’s baptismal registration from 1836, shown below:

HADDEN Alexander

(Note: I apologize for the small size of the image but I’m still getting used to the new blog platform!)

The names of the witnesses to the baptism of the infant Alexander were a man named Alexander Bean and a second man named Alexander Smith. I imagine that Alexander Hadden’s parents James Hadden and Mary Smart chose these men carefully for their first, and as it turns out only known son. So my theory is simple: Alexander Hadden was called Alexander Bean Hadden, his middle name being ‘adopted’ in honour of his godfather Alexander Bean. Further, in Scottish naming tradition, Alexander as the first son would have been named William, after his father James’ father. As it happens William was also the name of Alexander’s mother’s father. But William wasn’t used and instead James and Mary Hadden named their first son after someone who must have been very close to them but as far as I know not related by blood nor marriage.

So that’s my ‘story’ and I’m sticking to it, that is, until evidence presents itself that causes me to have to re-think the issue of ‘Bean.’