Wednesday, 11 September 2013

My brick wall

Solomon Sievwright is my great, great, great, grandfather born about 1776 in Angus, probably in Brechin. You'd think with such a distinctive name he would be easy to track!

The first record I can find for him is his marriage in 1816 to Martha Burnett in Brechin.

In 1841 Solomon 65 is a linen handloom weaver in Cadger Hillock in Brechin. Nothing out of the ordinary, so far.

Their son, my ancestor Colin, was born in 1819. He was a weaver but strangely also a published poet so must have had some education.

One of his sons went to New Zealand and a cousin there sent me a copy of a letter dated 1886 which outlines his family line for his grandchildren. His father Solomon was an officer in Nelson's navy on a man o' war. His father was John a lawyer and his grandfather was Rev Norman Sievwright an Episcopalian minister in Brechin. This ties in with what my granny told me. The Scottish Episcopalian Church is part of the Church of England.

The problem is Colin doesn't mention Solomon's mother. He is too old to be the son of John's marriage to Helen Lowe, so either John was married before or Solomon was illegitimate. I think it must be the latter since if he was the oldest son and heir he would have been mentioned in the will of Helen Lowe who survived husband John the lawyer and died in 1838. She was very wealthy while Solomon was working as a weaver just  along the road.

Buying him a commission in the navy would have got him out of the way but I can find no record online for him as an officer in the navy. His return to marry in 1816 fits in with the end of the Napoleonic war.

I found another letter tying him in to the line of Rev Norman Sievwright. His great grandson had his ordination papers. I wonder if Solomon was brought up in his grandfather's household. There he would have got an education. Rev Norman was an esteemed scholar, but was not in the least wealthy. I found some correspondence from 1767 which said he had £40 a year and the Archbishop of Canterbury sent him £10 to help out.

The family wealth came from John the lawyer and his wife Helen Lowe.

I would love to find some earlier reference to Solomon, a birth, a mother, naval record, a burial. He died in 1843 according to Colin's letter to New Zealand. This is before statutory records began in Scotland, so no help there.

Solomon on my tree

Any suggestions as to next steps appreciated!

Update April 2016
Findmypast has released Royal Navy pension and service records and I found Solomon mentioned in 10 records. Most of them are paybook entries.

He served for 15 years and 1 month in the 1st DRM division of Royal Marines and was pensioned out in 14 Sep 1815 when he was 39 years old. The last record has a date of 25th June 1844 and I reckon this was his date of death after which the pension would cease. Son Colin had said in the 1886 letter that he died in 1843 so this seems right.

Update 2018
A cousin found this blog and had a note of Solomon's birthdate on his old family records. The value of sharing information online!

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