Saturday, 12 January 2013

Adopting a New Approach

The 1881 census first told me that my second great grandfather, Alexander Gibson REID (also featured in my post, Dating Photographs) was adopted. I found it very interesting but soon realised that this created a problem for my research.

Alexander Gibson REID on a family outing circa 1928
see Dating Photographs post for more information

Finding Alex on the 1871 census confirmed the adoption and cemented the final stone in a very solid brick wall.  Unfortunately, it will probably take a minor miracle to break this one as there were no adoption records in the 1860s.  In fact, there were no scottish adoption records at all until 1930. This problem is not unique to Scotland either as many family historians have no doubt discovered.

REID family on the 1871 census

Both censuses state Alex was born in Dunoon, Argyllshire about 1863.  I have tried searching for birth records under that name but have got no results.  This indicates to me that Alexander may have been renamed by his adoptive family; which also indicates that he was probably adopted very young.  Possibly from a family member, possibly from the victim of a colliery accident, possibly this, possibly that... There could be so many other explanations - too many for me to list all the possibilities here.

In the hopes a miracle will be bestowed on me, I want to gather as many clues as I can by studying the adoptive family.  The key (or sledgehammer) may just lie in the family names or newspaper reports from the places they lived.

REID family on the 1861 census

Gibson REID had been a coal miner since he was at least 15 (source - 1841 & 1851 censuses) but by 1861, he was a colliery clerk in New Kilpatrick, Dunbartonshire.  He lived with his wife, Agnes (nee GIBB) in Knightswood (now part of Glasgow but then still a rural area with small scale mining source).

Gibson was 35 years old, born in Crichton, Midlothian; Agnes was 36, born in Bothwell, Lanarkshire.  They were living in Knightswood Cottage with their children; Mary, Alexander, Janet, Robert & Isabella, who were aged between 1 & 13 years of age.  All the children were born in Bothwell, Lanarkshire except the youngest, Isabella, who was born in New Kilpatrick the previous year.

Death certificate of Gibson REID - 27 Jan 1872, New Kilpatrick, Dunbartonshire

A brief timeline of Gibson REID:
About 1826 - born in Crichton, Edinburgshire.
1841 - living in the HOGG household (William and Euphemia) with Robert, John & William REID (siblings?) & 50 year old, Agnes REID (mother Agnes listed on death certificate)
Sometime after 1841 - moved to Bothwell, married Agnes and had their first child, Mary in 1848.
Between 1851 and 1860 - became a colliery clerk and moved to New Kilpatrick.
Between 1863 and 1871 - adopted Alexander Gibson.
1871 still living at Knightswood Cottage.
1872 died of chronic bronchitis.

Next Steps:
Search for male births (first name Alexander, blank surname) for familiar or possible mother names
Check Argyllshire newspapers for local tragedies
Check 1841 census for Agnes Gibb and her family found 4 possible matches - 1 most likely in Bothwell (sisters Catherine & Jean?)



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