One of the things that I like about family history is that you learn things about how a society worked.
For example I was researching the marriage of my great-great-great grandfather who I knew was named James Moncur.
I also knew that he was married because the birth record for his son from 1814 states
James Moncur in Moſside of Inglistoun had a child by his wife baptised and called James
Now as we know, the land tenancy system in the north east of Scotland was such that someone would take the tenancy of a farm for a number of years and then hire farm workers – fee in Scots – for a period of six months or a year at a time.
This meant that people did move around a lot, especially when they were younger and less likely to have acquired particular skills – for example a skilled ploughman could name his terms (within reason), but a general worker might have to scrabble to get a decent job.
So, while in 1814, James Moncur père might be living on a farm in the parish of Kinnettles, he might not be a few years previously. Equally, this was the early nineteenth century – while people did move between properties, they probably only moved a few kilometres at most as getting their next fee would depend on their reputation.
However searching for marriages involving a James Moncur anywhere in Scotland came up with exactly three results:
Notice something strange?
One record appears duplicated. This is because the banns (notice of marriage) were read in two separate parishes, most probably because one lived in one parish and the other in another.
However Kinfauns and St Madoes are adjoining parishes and some distance from Kinnettles while Airlie is not that far from Kinnettles.
So based on nothing more than wild supposition I went for the Airlie entry
which comes from the Kirk Session minutes of 01 December 1805, and just below the notice of a Day of Thanksgiving for victory over the French and Spanish fleet at Trafalgar is the entry we are interested in:
Jas. Moncur in the Parish of Eaſsie ⁊ Mgt Smart in this Parish were procld pro tem
and further down the page we have a second entry from December 8, 1805
Jas. Moncur in the Parish of Eaſsie ⁊ Mgt Smart in this Parish were procld pro 2 tem ⁊ pro 3 tem
Marriage in early nineteenth century Scotland was based on the principle of mutual consent, and most took place in private homes, albeit usually, but not always, in the presence of a minister. As a consequence, there may be no record of the marriage, but in James and Margaret’s case they were following procedure and giving notice of their intent to marry so we might expect a record of the marriage itself.
Normally there would be a second set of records from the parish of Eassie, but these seem to be missing – perhaps the rats got to it. If they married in Eassie, and the Eassie register is missing this would explain why there appears to be no record of the marriage itself.
And why do I think this is my great great great grandfather?
The parish of Eassie and Nevay adjoins the parish of Airlie – its about 8km between the two parish kirks. Kinnettles kirk is 10km from Eassie kirk, and these are the sorts of distances over which we might expect people to move.
Kinfauns, on the other hand is about fifty kilometres away probably more than a farmworker could easily move his family and effects …