Saturday, 30 October 2010

Solomon, John and Norman Sievwright (updated)

I have been sent a copy of a letter from cousin Lyndsay written in 1886 by Colin Sievwright to his grandson in New Zealand which details his family history. Gold dust - a primary source!
His father was Solomon born about 1776 which we knew. Solomon apparently was an officer in Nelson's navy and didn't return to Scotland until after Napoleon's exile in 1815. This fits with his marriage to Martha Burnett in November 1816.
I can't find any reference to Solomon to support this but no reason to think it is not the case. According to the letter, Solomon was the oldest son of John, the only son of the Rev Norman Sievwright. Since John was married to Helen Low in 1788, either John was married before or Solomon was illegitimate. There is no baptism for Solomon which is strange for the grandson of a clergyman. Mind you only 2 of Norman's 7 children have baptism records.
His grandfather Norman Sievwright was educated at Aberdeen University and was first a schoolmaster in Monymusk and then presbyter in the Scottish Episcopal church in Brechin from 1749 until his death 1790. My granny maintained she had an ancestor who was a Bishop! He was a learned scholar of Hebrew.
His son, Solomon's putative father, John was a writer in Brechin and appears to have been quite wealthy. I have seen (the transcript of ) his widow Helen's will dated 1828. They clearly had property, land and stock in the London Docks Company. Solomon does not get a mention in the will although he was still alive and living nearby until 1843.
Of John and Helen's children only 3 are mentioned in the will. Presumably the others were already deceased. Joseph Alexander who is living on a frustratingly illegible island*, Catherine who is married to a Frenchman Louis Apollinaire Pellerin and living in Paris and Marjory who remains unmarried until her death in 1874. I can't find any more about the Pellerins. But I have found Joseph Alexander in Canada - for another post.
John and Helen also had a son Colin b 1792 after whom Solomon may have named his son Colin, the poet. There is a reference to a Colin Sievwright, a fellow of the royal college of surgeons. I need to go through to Angus Archives for a look at that! Perhaps he too was in the navy and perished!
Now at least we can see that Colin, the poet, had brains in his genes!

My tree

* Since writing this I have purchased the original will and can see that it is the Island of Demerary. The mystery deepens and no such island exists in the present day. I think it is part of Guyana in central America.

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