Captain John Moncur

One thing that has puzzled me in recent years is why there are quite a few people in the Bahamas whose surname is Moncur.

Given that Moncur is a relatively unusual name, and the Bahamians with that surname are the (presumed) descendants of enslaved people, I was worried if my forebears had had an involvement in slavery.

The answer is probably not, they were simply too poor to be investors in sugar estates, and none of them seem to have had clerical jobs in the sugar trade, or indeed spent any time in the Caribbean.

But in the course of researching this I came across Captain John Moncur, who was a Royal Navy agent afloat in Caribbean in 1807 when the slave trade ended. (He also had an island off Tasmania named after him.)

(In 1807 it became illegal to trade in slaves in British Empire, but not to keep your existing slaves – slavery in all its forms became illegal in the British Empire on 01 August 1834),

As the British Navy had to do something with the captives they freed from slaving vessels, they settled them on various islands, including the Bahamas.

At the time I wondered if he had had something to do with the settlement of the captives, and that this was behind the prevalence of the surname on the Bahamas.

Well I don’t know, and I don’t even know if he is a relative.

But I thought I’d use my recently acquired MyHeritage subscription to do a little digging.

I didn’t find very much more than I didn’t already know, other than he had a wife, Katherine, who also seems to have left very little trace, and to confirm his date of birth.

So I tried something.

Knowing his birth date, I searched the Scottish Births register for boys named John Moncur born in 1743 (plus or minus a year).

There were exactly two births.

One was in the parish of Dunottar which then included the port of Stonehaven

Dunottar 177430202snip

The birth record is so brief as to be unhelpful as it doesn’t include where they were living or even more importantly the name of the mother.

The other was in Auchterhouse, which was the neighbouring parish to Glamis, where I know for definite some of my ancestors were living in Kinnettles in the early 1800’s

Auchterhouse 17430111snip

More usefully this entry gives the mother’s name as Agnes Andersen and that they were living in East Adamston, which is a fermtoun that is shown on the 1865 Ordnance survey map

east adamston

None of this of course means that either of these John Moncurs is a sibling of one of my ancestors, or indeed that either of them is Captain John Moncur – after all he could have been born elsewhere…

About dgm

Former IT professional, previously a digital archiving and repository person, ex research psychologist, blogger, twitterer, and amateur classical medieval and nineteenth century historian ...
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