William Thorburn was born in Stranraer in 1814. His parents were Robert Thorburn a sailor and Mary Millwrick. He had brothers, John, Theobald and Robert the latter of which was born in Ayr in 1824. Sadly there is no further information on Theobald or John.
In 1833 in Ayr he married Mary Begbie (also recorded as Mary Jane Bigger (and various other combinations). This is not unusual at this time when ordinary people were illiterate and officials wrote down their name as they heard it. They had 3 children quick succession. Jane, Mary and James. The girls both succumbed within a few weeks of their births but James survived. Sadly wife Mary died of a fever in 1837. (more about Mary on previous post here )
We pick William up again in 1841 census in Kilwinning when he is living with Janet age 15 (= in the range 15-19) and James age 5 and baby Margaret 3 months. This is second wife Janet Stewart whom he married in 1839 in Kilwinning). He is a coal cutter born in Scotland but not Ayrshire. Two more children are born in Kilwinning in the 1840s - William and Daniel.
In 1851 census they have moved to Galston at Holmes colliery. This gives William’s birthplace as Stranraer and Janet’s as Patna, born about 1824.
In 1861 William and son Daniel are at Loudoun Kirk near Galston living with his brother Robert and family. Wife Janet doesn’t appear in the 1861 census but I couldn’t find a death between 1855 (when statutory recording began) and 1861 so presumed she died between 1851 and 1854. This turns out not to be the case as we will see later.
His other sons James and William were both married and living in Galston. Daughter Margaret was married to James King and also living in Galston.
In 1870 William fell into the river Irvine near his home while inebriated and in the company of an unnamed woman. His body was found weeks later. This is reported in newspapers. His death certificate gives no relatives. The coroner was the informant.
His wife Janet Stewart (calling herself Janet Trainer) turned up in Dalmellington in the 1891 census in the company of daughter Margaret Thorburn (wife of James King). In the 1881 census she is at the same address alone. She died in Dalmellington in 1898 and the informant was her grandson Daniel Thorburn of Galston. I cannot find her in the 1861 or 1871 censuses under any of those names. She is "Trainer" on her death certificate. Margaret Thorburn or King also appears to have left her family. James King was living with another woman Marion Scott in 1881. Margaret is unaccounted for in 1881 and 1901*. She died in Kyle Union poorhouse in Ayr in 1910 of a stroke. Her usual address was Dalrymple. Informant was her son William King of Skares.
So the questions still to be answered are:
Why was Janet calling herself Trainer? I have looked for a marriage in vain.
* Where was the daughter Margaret Thorburn King in 1881 and 1901. Update: she was living with James Masterton in 1881 in Wakefield. In 1901 she was living with a cousin at Carcluie Farm in Ayr.
Janet on the family tree here