Tuesday, 10 August 2010

John McMeekin & Helen Flinn from Newton Stewart

Sorbie Kirk in Wigtonshire where John and Helen's banns were read

The McMeekins have been hard to find because of the number of variations in spelling. Nowadays we often get it spelt with CH instead of K but not once have I seen this in the past, We've had McMeken, McMeikan, McMikin, McMickan, McMeckan, McMiekan, McMeeking and similar combinations. I have now learnt to do "wild card" searches where an * represents any one or more letters eg m*m*k*n

John McMeekin (McMickan) was born on 10 Jan 1811 in the parish of Penninghame in Wigtonshire which turns out to be Newton Stewart or thereabouts. I can't find a marriage locally for his parents leading me to suspect they may have come over from Ireland.

He married Helen Flinn in 1835. Her father Peter Flinn was definitely from Ireland probably county Antrim. He was still alive in 1841, 1851 and 1861 censuses and buried in the churchyard above.

John was a shoemaker in Newton Stewart in 1841 and 1851. Some time in the 1850s the family moved up the road to Cumnock in Ayrshire and he carried on shoemaking until about 1863 when he is a labourer.

They had at least 8 children and 6 of them moved to Cumnock with them. Around this time there are several records:
1859 son David McMeekin a miner marries Margaret Cunningham in Ochiltree
1861 census John 58, Helen 59, Elizabeth 21, Mary 18, Jane 12 and 2 lodgers
1861 daughters Elizabeth and Mary McMeekin have illegitimate children
1862 son Andrew McMeekin a miner marries an English girl Mary Sparks in Cumberland but moves to Cumnock
1863 daughter Ann McMeekin marries Peter McCulloch a baker from Wigtonshire in Cumnock, moves back to Wigtonshire. Has 3 children in 8 years.
1863 daughter Elizabeth McMeekin marries miner John McKay and has 7 more children in the next 15 years
1863 David's wife dies of scarlet fever after birth of a daughter who also dies.
1864 Andrew is killed in a rock fall in a Cumnock pit. His wife and baby daughter also die that year.
1865 daughter Agnes McMeekin marries a miner John Ross in Cumnock. A baby is born before 9 months has elapsed and they are in bother with the Kirk Session. They have 8 children in 14 years.
1869 daughter Jane McMeekin marries a miner David Fraser, has 7 children in 12 years. They move to Liverpool (near her brother William) by 1881 where he works as a docker.
1869 son David dies of chronic bronchitis leaving 2 orphans
1870 eldest son William McMeekin, a sailor, marries Stewart Donnan from Monreith, Wigtonshire in Liverpool. He witnessed the 1869 marriage of Jane in Cumnock. He lived with his Flinn grandparents in Garlieston in 1841 and 1851.
1871 census John 68 is a mason's labourer, cannot work, wife Helen 70 are looking after the 2 orphaned grandchildren

John dies in 1876 of chronic bronchitis and Helen in 1880 of hemiplegia.

We are descended from Elizabeth's illegitimate son. I can find no mention of her in the Kirk Session records which may have given the father's name.

There are 2 other unusual things.

John was born in 1811 to John McMickan and Mary McCreddie. But they had another son John born in 1816. Quite often the first named died. It is however not unheard of to have 2 living children with the same name (big John and wee John)? In traditional Scottish naming patterns the first son is named after the father's father, the second after the mother's father, the third after the father's oldest paternal uncle and so on. So it is possible that this is what happened.

Secondly Helen Flinn is twice referred to as Alice Flinn. The first time was in the Old Parish marriage records. She was from Sorbie parish and the record there has Alice but the record in John's parish of Penninghame has her as Helen. All through the censuses she is referred to as Helen but on her death certificate she is Alice again. All very strange.

You can see them on my tree here

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