Sunday, 15 June 2014

Thorburn ancestors

I've got a bit further in tracing the ancestry of James Thorburn who married Margaret Ramage.

From a previous post you will see that some family trees have his parents William and Mary emigrating to the USA about 1869.

They were married in 1855 in Galston, Ayrshire, Scotland. This is very fortunate. 1855 was the first year of statutory registration in Scotland and the records that year give more info than in subsequent years.

James Thorburn signed with his mark showing that he couldn’t read or write.

He was a 20 year old coal miner living in Church Lane Galston. Additional information is his date and place of birth.  He states he was born and registered on 6 Sep 1835 in the parish of Ayr.  I take this with a slight pinch of salt since I can find no record of him.
His parents are recorded as William Thorburn and Mary Thorburn maiden name Mary Bingham. I was a bit surprised at this as elsewhere  his mother was Begbie  or Bigby (a name which continues down through the generations) and Biggar.  Given that James was illiterate, you have to imagine him saying the name and the official, who was recording the information, interpreting what he heard.

I have found 2 sisters Mary and Jane/Jean recorded in Ayr to William Thorburn and Mary Jane Biggar so have another "wildcard" search on scotlandspeople for births tho*b* with parents William and Mary and there is one on 6 Sep 1835 the same date  as on the marriage certificate, but for William Thorburn to  William Thorburn and Mary Jane Biggar. I got the cert just to see with my own eyes. It definitely says William not James. Did the clerk get muddled up (wouldn’t be the first time) or did they name him William after his father, but called him James? I wondered if he was a twin but I think they would both have been recorded in the one record.  Anyway, it is the right record as the date matches. And proves that his mother was Mary (Jane) Biggar.

There is a marriage in January 1833 of a William Thorburn to Jean Bigger in Ayr.  I had previously discounted that, but Jane=Jean in Scotland and she is also recorded as Mary Jane.  I think this is their marriage.

I found a parish burial record for Mary Biggar wife of William Thorburn labourer was buried in Ayr in May 1837.  She was 23 years old and died of "fever".

I found a possible birth for Mary Biggar in 1814 in Ayr to John Biggar, 27th Regiment and his wife Jane Bell. 

On James's death certificate of 1907 he is recorded as James Bigby Thorburn son of William Thorburn and Margaret (!) Bigby.  This information was provided by his son Robert.

It is clear that the family believed Bibgy/Begbie to be the name of his mother. The name appears as a middle name in at least 7 descendants.

In her short lifetime however her name is recorded as Mary Biggar or Mary Jane Biggar or Jean Biggar and Mary Bingham.

Widowed William went on to marry Janet Stewart in Kilwinning in 1837. She must have died between 1851 and 1855* and William  moved his family to Loudoun (Galston) and stayed for a while with his brother Robert.  William drowned in the river Irvine at Loudoun in January 1870.

His son James Thorburn and wife Margaret Ramage followed their son Robert to Douglas in Lanarkshire after 1901.

* She didn't die. She must have left him as she turns up later in Dalmellington in 1881 and 1891 and died there in 1898.
Tree here