Sunday, 5 April 2009

Irvine to Dunbar

This last week the Scottish Record Office in Edinburgh has put on line for the first time records of deaths to be found in the Old Parish Records (OPRs), that is records prior to 1855. A search for our clan name in all its variants produced only two entries of interest. The first is regrettably almost unreadable, for a Peter McHagan who died on 6th February 1786 in Edinburgh. I think this is possibly an entry for a child and doesn't link up with any other information we have. Any other McHagans are later and are in the USA. Of course an Edinburgh family may have emigrated.

The second is certainly known to us. In this blog on 5th February I wrote about a family who emigrated to New Zealand. I named a Samuel McElhago son of Robert and Elizabeth, of Irvine. Samuel was born in Dundonald, Irvine, but moved to Dunbar on the east coast of Scotland where he married Janet White on 1st June 1825. It was John the son of Samuel and Janet who emigrated to New Zealand, and it was Samuel whose is the second OPR death published last week. Although son John moved first to Leith near Edinburgh, probably in the early 1850s, from where he emigrated, his parents initially remained in Dunbar. Samuel died there on 24th June 1852. The one line entry in the Dunbar Register simply reads 'June 24. Samuel McElhago. Old pauper'. He was in fact 58 years old! I wonder when and why he ceased being the 'seafaring person' which is his occupation stated in the Dunbar Marriage Register? We may speculate that some physical condition, perhaps caused by an accident at sea, deprived Samuel of his living and that he found himself a 'pauper', reliant on local charity. His wife Janet died four years later, on 25th April 1856 at Cable Wynd, Leith. She was 54 and clearly had gone to live with her son John and his wife Christina whom he had married two years before.

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