Back in 2019, I came across the intriguing story that a James Moncur had been a master mariner working out of Sydney in the 1840’s and had has a Maori wife, and two daughters who had both European and Maori names.
At the time I wasn’t able to tie it into my own family history, but recently I’ve got a little closer.
James was born in Stepney in London. No surprises there, that was a major shipping and dockside area. (interesting, Ann Salmond, my distant relation and Thomas Allen’s mistress was born a few years earlier in Hackney perhaps hinting at a family migration.
His father, also James, married in Marylebone in London but was born and christened in Dundee,
At this point the records start to run out.
His father is given as George Moncur who is said to have been born sometime around 1745 in Dundee.
However a search of Scotland’s People turns up only one George Moncur in the decade between 1740 and 1750, and he was born on March 29 in 1748 in Kirriemuir
with his father being either Joseph or John Moncur.
Kirriemuir is of course roughly in the area that my family came from, and while circumstantial this hints at a possible link to the New Zealand connection.
Of course, 1745 was a time of disruption with Bonnie Prince Charlie and all, and while Dundee was not subject to any serious damage it could be that the various Kirk session minute books from around that time were lost (or less romantically, that the rats got to them), but for the moment Kirriemuir it is.
The location, Burnmouth of Kintyrie, as seen in this 1860’s Ordnance Survey map, still exists, and is not that far from Cortachy castle, which I remember various elderly relatives talking about, so possibly there was some oral memory, now lost, of a connection to the Cortachy area.