More family history news:
The family history legend had been that we had been tenant farmers for a very long time. Obviously not every son got to be a farmer, so some had gone off to do other jobs.
So far so good.
Now I’d kind of assumed that all this had happened in the St Cyrus area as that’s where the immediate family connections were, and where I knew my great grandfather had had a farm.
Not a bit of it.
The 1871 census recorded place of birth as well as where people lived and my great grandfather’s place of birth was Forfar.
My great grandmother was listed as being born in Montrose.
My great grandfather was listed as being a crofter, so I’m guessing that sometime in the 1860’s he moved to the St Cyrus area to take up a tenancy.
Now obviously there’s a bit more work to do here, but I had a bit of luck.
I’ve been using a free account on one of these commercial ancestry sites, MyHeritage, as I find their family tree graphing tool fairly intuitive to use. and what’s more they allow you to export your data in Gedcom format, which most genealogical software can read.
Now, quite often they tell you about possible matches in an effort to get you to sign up, but this time they offered a free match to a family tree based on my great uncle, which took me back a generation, to 1814 no less, when my great great grandfather was born in Kinettles near Forfar.
The information is a bit sketchy – birth marriage and death records where not kept officially until 1854, and there are only partial census records before 1841 – so there’s going to have to be a bit of detective work to fill in the blanks.
It’s also complicated because the land tenure system was such that most of the farms were let to tenants, and the tenant farmers would in turn hire – fee in Scots – farm workers – who were termed farm servants – and other sorts domestic servants for a fixed term – often six months, sometimes a year.
The consequence was that people did move about in their area between fees and tenancies.
But what we do have is the Horse Tax and Male and Female servant tax records, organised by parish, from the 1790’s.
A quick and dirty search shows a number of Moncurs – both male and female employed as servants in the area, and at least one man, Peter Moncur of Kirkton by Tealing, who had to pay the horse tax, and who I might guess to be a tenant farmer.
However more work, much more work, is required …