Amy Johnson Crow introduced the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge on her No Story Too Small blog in 2014. This year she continued the challenge, but also added a weekly theme. This week the theme was Week 42 (October 15-21) – Proud: Which ancestor did something that made you proud? Which ancestor are you proud of finding?
I couldn’t think of any ancestor that fell under this category that I haven’t yet written about, so I decided to see if I could find the baptism record for my 4x great-grandmother, Janet Donaldson. The first thing to do was to review what information I already had for Janet.
The first event I had was her marriage to John Dandie in April 1797. There is an entry on 21 April 1797 at Kilmany, and another on 22 April 1797 at Logie. The entry on the 21st was probably the banns entry, while the entry on 22 April would have been the marriage.
John and Janet had 5 children:
- John christened 18 December 1800 at Kilmany
- Alexander christened 27 April 1803 at Kilmany
- James christened 20 March 1806 at Kilmany
- Margaret christened 24 August 1808 at Kilmany
- Euphemia christened 13 October 1810 at Kilmany
John and Janet appear together on the 1841 census at Ferry Toll in Ferry Port on Craig. Janet was 65 years old. Also with them were Margaret Dandie age 30 and John Dandie age 10. (Parish: Ferry Port on Craig; ED: 2A; Page: 6; Line: 420; Year: 1841).
By the 1851 census, Janet was a widow (her husband John died 27 March 1851). She was still living at Ferry Toll, and her occupation was domestic duties. She was listed as being 79 years old, and her birthplace was Leuchars, Fifeshire. Also with her were her granddaughter Janet Black, age 14, and a visitor Euphemia Ogilvie, age 7.
When I found her on the 1851 census, I wondered if she could possibly have died after 1855. When civil registration began in 1855, it was customary for the death certificate to provide the name of her parents. Given how common the surname Donaldson is, this would be a great help in locating a baptism record for her.
Fortunately, she did die after 1855 – she died 1 May 1860 at Scotscraig, Fife, Scotland, and was buried in the churchyard at Ferry Port on Craig. She was 88 years old. Her death certificate listed her parents as Robert Donaldson and Margaret Simpson.
I now had enough information to be able to find a baptism record for her. I tried FamilySearch first, because it’s free. When I searched for a Janet Donaldson, born about 1770, with parents Robert and Margaret, only one entry came up, in 1768. Most baptisms in Scotland list the mother’s maiden name, but on this entry, the mother’s maiden name wasn’t listed, so I wasn’t sure if this would be the entry for my Janet. I decided to try searching for the marriage of Robert Donaldson and Margaret Simpson. I wasn’t able to find a marriage entry at FamilySearch (although I did find baptism entries for two of their children). I then decided to try ScotlandsPeople. This proved to be more helpful, as I was able to find the marriage for Robert and Margaret, as well as the baptisms for 5 children.
Robert Donaldson and Margaret Simson were married 4 November 1768 in Leuchars, Fifeshire. Their children were:
- Janet christened 16 Jun 1771 at Leuchars
- David christened 4 July 1773 at Kilmany
- Elizabeth christened 25 Jun 1775 at Kilmany
- Robert christened 27 April 1777 at Forgan
- Alexander christened 10 Jan 1779 at Forgan
- William christened 1 Apr 1781 at Kilmany
- Hellon christened 27 April 1783 at Kilmany
The christening for Janet in 1771 matched the information I already had for Janet – this matches her age (88) at the time of her death in 1860, the birthplace matches the 1851 census, and her parents’ names (Robert Donaldson and Margaret Simpson) also match her death certificate. I have now not only found the baptism record for Janet, but the names and christening dates for 6 siblings, and her parents’ marriage details.
Finding the right baptism records for Janet’s parents will be harder to confirm – there were 4 entries for Robert Donaldson born/christened between 1730 and 1750 in Fife, and 28 entries for Margaret Simpson.