Thursday, 16 February 2012

Happy Birthday dear Alexander...

Pretend that I wrote this yesterday, in commemoration of Alexander Cameron’s birthday. Which Alexander Cameron’s birth, you ask?

Given that the tradition of naming sons after fathers and/or fathers’ fathers is a favoured practice in our family, there are quite a few so you’re forgiven any confusion!

The Alexander Cameron I refer to, who was born yesterday, the 15th February but back in 1825 was the second child (and first son) of Alexander Cameron born 1793 and Janet Cramond born 1800. [1]

This makes him our Robert’s older brother as well as John, James, Jessy and Elspet’s and younger brother to Jane and my 3rd great grand uncle. 

On 27 February 1825 [1], at just over a week old, Alexander was baptised in the parish Speymouth (aka Urquhart), the same parish where  his parents married [2]. Witnesses to the baptism were an Alexander Anderson, connection unknown, and Alexander Cameron Snr, his grandfather and namesake (I presume). 

Between this date and the Census in 1841 I have no other documentation about Alexander – at the moment!

The census was conducted on the night of 6 June 1841 by which time 16 year old Alexander was a shipwright apprentice, following in the footsteps of his dad Alexander (who had died in 1840) who was also a ship carpenter. It was an occupation he continued with and which took him to Aberdeen within a decade [3]. Like Garmouth, Aberdeen was also a major port for shipbuilding in the mid to late 1800s.

Alexander returned to Urquhart parish and on 31 July 1852 “after regular proclamation” married Ann McDonald, a local of the parish who was born in Elgin about 1825. She returned with him to St Nicholas in Aberdeen where their first child, a son they named  (can you guess? that’s right…) Alexander was born almost a year later on 24 July 1853. Another son, James, followed on 2 July 1856 and then two daughters. The elder daughter Margaret was born on 14 June 1860, at which time the family were living at 2 Fish Street in St Nicholas [4]. It’s possible that their second daughter and youngest Janet Ann was born there too on 15 August 1863 but by 1871 [5] the family had moved to Bannermill Street.  Alexander lived there until his death at age 62 of apoplexy [6].

Alexander followed in his father Alexander’s footsteps as a ship carpenter (as did our Robert) but this family tradition ended with him. Based on the various census records, all of his kids went to school: his Alexander became composite printer, James a teacher (I think!) and Janet a milliner. I’m still hunting down Margaret.

I’m not sure how much contact Alexander would have had with his brother (our Robert) after Robert emigrated to Australia but I imagine the caught up on his return to Scotland for his wedding to Betsy in 1862. By this time our Robert was an uncle at least three times over thanks to Alexander and Ann and I can only hope got to meet some of his extended family before returning to Australia for good.

[1] 1825 Baptism records for Speymouth, Morayshire, Scotland.

[2] I'm guessing a little at this because I can't find the wedding reference but given this is where they lived, it makes sense.

[3] I think this is the case because at the time of the next census was in 1851, it appears Alexander was not still living with the rest of the clan, who were still based in Garmouth and at the time of his wedding in 1852 he is described as being part of the parish of Old Machar, which is in Aberdeenshire.

[4] 1861 Scotland Census

[5] 1871 Scotland Census

[6] Apoplexy is a rather outdated medical term for a stroke

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