The Hunt For Amelia Moir.

As any of you who have visited the King Street know there are lots of old photos stuck to the walls, these prints were made from a collection of glass slides donated to the society by Joyce Mitchell, the grand-daughter of Alexander MacKilligan who took them. We have used a selection of these photos as a feature of this website.

Among the photos is one entitled

Amelia Moir at Keig Mill.

As quite a few of you know I liked to help out in the King Street shop and this photo kept attracting my attention every time I went in. One day I decided that I really wanted to find out more, unfortunately the only info we had was the title and the knowledge that Alexander MacKilligan was an Aberdeen Journalist and avid photographer who lived from 1855-1946.

Luckily there was another photo in the collection that gave me a clue

Mr & Mrs Crole

This one was among the first photos to be printed from the MacKilligan collection. It wasn't the couple that attracted my attention but the shop in the background, you can just make out that the sign on the shop to the left of and above the couple and it reads Cardno & Dar.....

In one of these weird twists of fate that you meet in Family History, I was able to identify the shop as belonging to Cardno & Darling, Florists and Seedsmen, Exchange Street, whose shop was at this address between 1894 and 1904  and the reason was  because I had already researched Cardno & Darling as the Darlings who owned the business from about 1860 to 1906 were my only real connection to Aberdeen.

Anyway to get back to Amelia, it seemed a reasonable assumption that all the MacKilligan photos were taken about the same time, therefore it seemed sensible to have a look at the 1901 census for Amelia, using Ancestry.co.uk for which I have a subscription, I searched for Amelia Moir, Aberdeenshire and found a possible entry for her.

Amelia summary

but wait a minute - if we accept the dateline from the Cardno & Darling photo as putting the photos circa 1900 then given that Amelia looks about 10 in the photo then this can't be her, she is listed as being 29!!! Yet Amelia was not a common name for the time and the location fits so what's going on?

Over to Scotlands People and enter Forename : Amelia Surname :Moir From: 1900 to : 1902 and and I got two hits

One for RD Name Keig and one for Montrose
an expenditure of 6 credits (app. £1.20) on the Keig one and we have a copy of the actual census entry.

Amelia in the 1901 census

this is a clipping of the relative section, which makes much more sense.

1901 Census of Scotland
Parish   :  Keig
Street   :  New Burnside
Town    :   
County :  Aberdeenshire
Parish  :  692/00-5A-65
Name Gender Age Birth Occupation Relation Birth Place Spouse Father Mother Status
 James Mitchell   Male   52   abt 1849   Farmer   Head   Clatt, Aberdeenshire   Elizabeth Mitchell       
 Elizabeth Mitchell   Female   46   abt 1855   Farmers Wife   Wife   Keig, Aberdeenshire   James Mitchell   George Leslie     
 George Leslie   Male   83   abt 1818   Retired Wood Forester   F In Law (Father-in-law)   Kemnay, Aberdeenshire         
 Joseph Aithen   Male   73   abt 1828   Scholar   Boarder   Foveran, Aberdeenshire         
 Amelia Moir   Female   29   abt 1872   Scholar   Boarder   Tough, Aberdeenshire         
 Elsie Hay   Female   13   abt 1888   General Serv (domestic)   Serv (Servant)   Tullynessle & Forbes, Aberdeenshire         

Compare the two entries and you have a classic example of transcription errors, although it's fairly mild when seen alongside some of the blunders you will come across.

We have the following errors, looking closely at the image

Amelia's age is wildly wrong, she is 7 not 29.
The farm is New Burnside not New Buruside
Joseph Aithen is 13 not 73 and his name is Joseph Aitken
Elsie Hay is 18 not 13

Any of these errors could cause you to fail to find the person you require.

This also illustrates, what are in my book, the first two rules of Family History Research, READ THE ORIGINAL and read it carefully. It doesn't matter how good you are, errors can creep in and secondly, don't fall into the trap of trusting other people's work, ALWAYS CHECK YOUR SOURCES.

So in 1901, Amelia, aged 7, is a boarder at the farm of New Burnside run by James Mitchell. This infers that her parents were unable to look after her so now that we have an approximate year and place of birth, we see if we can find them.
Scotlands People or your local Registrars Office  are the only places you are going to find  the details of a birth  around 1883 so Scotlands People it was, I searched for

Surname: "MOIR"; Surname Option: Exact; Forename: "AMELIA"; Forename Option:Prefix; Sex: "Both"; Year From: 1890; Year To: 1900; County: ABERDEEN;
Note that I although from the census we would calculate her birth year as 1894 it is better to bracket the date to allow for errors, a lso even if you think the person lived in the city of Aberdeen always choose Aberdeen (shire) as it will also pick up people in Aberdeen City.

and got 1 result MOIR AMELIA  F TOUGH /ABERDEEN 244/00/10016 - this yielded her birth certificate
Amelia's Birth

It's not easy to read so here's a transcription

Reference : 244/00-0006-0016
Date : 18 Oct 1893 11h 0m A.M.
Place : Glentough, Tough
District : Tough, Aberdeen
Person : Amelia Edward Moir  
Sex : Female
Father :  
Father's Job :  
Address :  
Mother : Hannah Moir Domestic Servant
Marriage :  
Informant : Hannah Moir Mother
Registered : 14 Dec 1893
Place : Tough
Registrar : Chas. Stewart
Notes :  

However there is some writing in the margin which reads

Paternity of child found by ~~~~~
See 'Register of Corrected Entries" Vol.I page 22
July 15th 1894

The 'Register of Corrected Entries' holds any changes made to the certificate after is has been recorded.

In addition, above the image iit says There have been 1 corrections identified with this entry: this means that the entry in the 'Register of Corrected Entries" is available, this will cost a further 2 credits
Amelia Birth RCE

This shows that Hannah went to the Court to get them to accept the fact that Amelia's father was one George Reid.

The Sheriff agreed with Hannah that the baby's father was one George Reid, Farm Servant, Rochard, Kemnay, Aberdeenshire. (- I have been unable to find any trace of him.) Presumably now Hannah could chase George for child maintenance. - Rather surprisingly there is no record in the Parish Poor Records of either Hannah or Amelia.

So if Amelia was a boarder in 1901 where was her mother? - I found her earning a living as a Domestic Servant on the farm of James Donald at Greystone, Alford, about 51/2 miles away so Hannah couldn't look after Amelia .

Next question is "Where was New Burnside?". Looking at the OS map of 1888-1913, there is no New Burnside to be found and yet the census of 1901 says they were there!! Referring back to the census form, the entry before New Burnside refers to  Meiklehaugh and the one after to Braehead. So given that the enumerators usually took a direct line round their route then looking at the map there are only two possibilities,  Crossroads and Auchreddachie and actually visiting Crossroads would cause the person to backtrack so we are left with Auchreddachie.  When we look at a modern OS map we find

Burnside Farm

and although the New appears to have worn off, it's fairly obvious that New/Burnside and Auchreddachie are one and the same and here is

Auchreddachie Farm

and we can even put a face to the people who took Amelia in
The Mitchells
Mr & Mrs.Mitchell - in other photos Mr Mitchell is shown in various farming activities, and there was an  index which came with the photos which lists all the people in the photographs and it lists Mr.& Mrs.Mitchell of Auchreddachie.

Further investigation shows her mother, Hannah, getting married to an Alexander Adam Robertson on 6 Jun 1908 in Dyce. Alex. already had two daughters and a son so maybe Amelia would at last have a happy home.
Unfortunately not, poor little Amelia died at Auchreddachie three weeks later on the 29 June 1908 of a Sarcoma, but at least it looks her mother was by her side when she died as Hannah reported her death and stated she was present at the time.

Hannah went on to have at least one child with Alex. Robertson, Alexander and died in 1958 in Fettercairn, Kincardineshire. Her son Alexander Robertson died in Aberdeen in 1989 so it is very possible that poor Amelia has a great niece or nephew living in Aberdeen today.

As an aside I tracked Amelia's family back 3 generations and Hannah was also illegitimate and in another twist of fate was born three farms away from where I used to live in Rickarton outside Stonehaven, albeit separated by about 100 years.

I'll close this sad little story with a better picture of Amelia, presumably the one she was waiting for in the opening picture.

Amelia at Keig Mill

Niall R. Scott
19 Dec 2014

Photos © 2014 ANESFHS & Gryphon Software.