52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

52 Ancestors #26 James Marr

In week 15 my ancestor was my grandfather (my mum’s father), Wilfred Palmer Marr.  James Marr was his grandfather.

The first information I had about James was from a phone call from the daughter of one of my mum’s cousins.   In this phone call, I learned he was born 28 Feb 1827 in Dundee, Scotland, and had married Martha Richardson on 22 August 1845 at Dundee, Scotland, and that his father was Thomas Marr.   James and Martha had travelled to Australia in 1849, arriving in Port Phillip on the 19 May.  They travelled on the ship “Ann Miln”.  They had two children before leaving Scotland, Agnes and Peter.  Agnes died young.

From the records here in Victoria, Australia, I was able to confirm the details of his immigration, as well as finding information for his children, and his death.  The next thing to do was to confirm the marriage, and to find a birth/baptism record for him.

On the ScotlandsPeople website, I was able to find his marriage entry, which matched the information from the phone call, but there didn’t seem to be a baptism record that matched his birth details.  Without a baptism record, how was I to confirm who his parents were?

I decided to try the 1841 Scotland census at ancestry.  Since I had a birthplace of Dundee for him, I checked for a James Marr born 1827 in Angus, Scotland.  In ancestry, it came up with 3 likely entries:

  • James Marr, born about 1828, residence Dundee, Angus
  • James Marr, born about 1827, residence Arbroath Inverbrothock, Angus.
  • James Marr, born about 1823, residence Forfar, Angus.

Althoug there was one James in Dundee, I decided to look in more detail at the other two entries first.

The James at Arbroath was in the household of Thomas Marr age 40.  The next entry in the household was Jannet White, age 40.  A search of later censuses found this James still at Arbroath.  Since my James was in Australia by the time of the 1851 census, this ruled out this James.

The James at Forfar was in the household of Thomas Marr, age 55, and the next entry in the household was Jannet Marr, age 45.  I had found a christening for a James Marr born 25 March 1823, with parents Thomas Marr and Jannet Stirtan.  From the Family Bible, I had a birth date of 28 Feb 1827 for my James, so that rules out this James as well.

There were other entries for a James Marr on the 1841 census, but these were outside of Angus/Forfar.  I decided to check ScotlandsPeople, so that I could check for surname variants, to make sure there were no other possibilities in Dundee.  There was a James Marra age 15, and a James More age 20.  Both of these appeared to be too old to be my James.  I decided to have a closer look at the entry for James Marra, as the age was close,  This James was in the household of Samuel Marra, a spirit dealer who had been born in Ireland.  This James was also listed as born in Ireland, so that ruled him out as well.

That left me with the James Marr living at Dundee.  The census listed the following family members:

  • John Marr, age 49, shoemaker
  • Agnes Marr, age 49,
  • David Marr, age 27
  • Thomas Marr, age 15
  • James Marr, age 13
  • John Marr, age 9
  • Agnes Marr, age 11

The census doesn’t list relationships, but I have since been able to find death certificates for all the other children listed, confirming that their parents were John and Agnes.  James does not appear on any censuses after 1841, which would correspond with my James migrating to Australia in 1849.  I have been unable to find baptism records for any of the other children of John and Agnes either.

Although James’ death certificate, and family records, list James’ father as Thomas, his death certificate shows that his father was a shoemaker.  A search of the Dundee directories (on the Friends of Dundee City Archives website http://www.fdca.org.uk/) found only one Marr entry in 1840 – for a Robert Marr, agent and fish-monger.  In 1850 there was an Alexander Marr, flesher, John Marr, boot and shoemaker, and a Mrs Marr at Brook Street.  All this information leads me to believe that James’ father was John, rather than Thomas.