|Janet Soutar Brown 1856-1915|
In my own case the direct paternal line comes to an abrupt halt with the birth of my great grandfather Robert Collins in 1874 - if you want to know why, I wrote about it in a post called The cautionary tale of McIntyre.
I have been much more successful with my research in the opposite direction, where I can trace my direct female line back six generations. The severe looking lady in the picture is my great grandmother, Janet Soutar, and her great grandmother, Margaret McJannet was probably born in the 1750s or 1760s, more than a century before Robert Collins. Granted, I don't know anything about her, beyond the fact that she and her husband Andrew Drennan or Drynan were the parents of another Margaret, who was born in Carrickfergus, Co Antrim in the 1780s. This Margaret also married a soldier, William Charlton, and one of their daughters, called (guess what) Margaret, married a soldier, William Soutar, and they became the proud parents of six children, including my great grandmother Janet.
I have all the relevant birth, marriage and, crucially, death certificates. Plus of course parish register entries, census, military records and poor law applications to support my conclusions. And this is another advantage of being Scottish; there is a lot more information on certificates, and in particular you get details about mothers; for example, a marriage certificate in England and Wales gives details of the fathers of the bride and groom, but in Scotland you get the names of the mothers too, including their maiden names. Better still, if the mother has been married more than once you get all of her surnames. Death certificates give a wealth of information that English and Welsh researchers can only dream of; the full names of all of the deceased's spouses, and the names of both of their parents, including of course the mother's maiden name.
Searching for the deaths of married women or widows is also easier in Scotland, because they are indexed by both surnames. So even someone with the commonest of names is comparatively easy to find because you are looking for a pair of matching entries, rather like searching for a marriage. This is just as well, since Janet's married surname was Brown. Have you any idea how many Janet Browns have died in Scotland? Neither have I, but a Janet Brown cross-referenced with Janet Soutar wasn't hard to find. Finding her husband John's death was a lot more difficult! And I only know about Margaret McJannet in the first place because she appears on her daughter's death certificate; Margaret Charlton (nee Drennan/Drynan) lived long enough for her death to be recorded in Scottish civil registration. Registration began in 1855, and she died in 1858, aged 75.
|Death entry for Margaret Charlton 1858 RD 644/03 (courtesy of ScotlandsPeople)|
So let's hear it for mothers past, and their mothers, and their mothers' mothers. We wouldn't be here without them.