Friday, December 19, 2014

52 Ancestors: #49 James McGregor/Gregor (???? – before 1852), immigrated to Canada from Scotland in 1834 with his family

Climbing My Family Tree: Scottish & Canadian flags pin
Scottish & Canadian flags pin
used with permission


This is my latest post for the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” challenge initiated by Amy Johnson Crow of the No Story Too Small blog. For more information about the challenge and links to the other blogs participating in the challenge, please click on the badge in the right margin.

James McGregor / Gregor, is my 3rd great grandfather on my father’s mother’s line. He was born in Scotland, but I don’t know exactly when, or where. I have been guesstimating backwards from the date of his first marriage, to about 1780, but it’s just a guess and could well be wrong. Also, right now, I have no idea who his parents were.

I’ve seen his name spelled as McGregor, Gregor, McGrigor, Grigor, and Gregory. He seems to have mainly used McGregor in Scotland and Gregor in Canada. (Likewise, those of his children who came to Canada used the name Gregor in Canada, and thereafter.) I mostly identified him as my James by the other people listed in the record or article with him, and vice versa. Putting together James’ story was like piecing a jigsaw puzzle where the box top is missing, and some of the pieces as well -- and there may or may not be pieces mixed in from another picture puzzle but right now it looks like they go with this puzzle based on the other pieces they fit in with. This is my current arrangement of the pieces I’ve found. The story is subject to change as more is found, or as it is found that “this piece doesn’t go there!”

Climbing My Family Tree: Jigsaw Puzzle
Jigsaw Puzzle
Photo by Enlightment Photography via  Photopin.comcreative commons license  


James married Lillias Addie/Eddie on June 25, 1799 in Canongate, Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland (near Edinburgh today). He is listed under the name James Gregory, a labourer – the reason why I’m sure it’s my James with his surname misspelled fits in the story later. Lillias was born on September 23, 1781 in Dunning Perth, Scotland, and baptized on the 30th of that month. She is the daughter of Hugh Adie and Sarah Flockhart; her father was a labourer in Clairridge, parish of Denoon.  

James and Lillias had three children: Hugh, John and Lillias. I‘m not certain of the birth order because the only one I know a birth date for is Lillias McGregor/Gregor. Well, actually, I know a baptism date. Based on the rest of such I’ve found thus far in Scottish records, she was probably born a week to ten days before she was baptized Lillias Steil Mcgrigor on May 6, 1804 in Dunning, Perth Scotland.  Her parents were listed as James Mcgrigor and Lillias Eadie.

James’ wife Lillyas must have died sometime before 1815, but I don’t have a record of it. He then married Grizel Drummond. I have no marriage record, but I have plenty of birth records showing the two as parents, and other records referring to them as husband and wife.  

Climbing My Family Tree: Drummond Castle
Drummond Castle (castle grounds were used as back drop for  1995 film, Rob Roy, starring Liam Neeson)
Photo by denisbin  via photopin.com  pursuant to creative commons license 
click to make bigger

According to “A Genealogy of Badenoch Families" by Llewella MacIntyre & Marjorie Clark, James Gregor was a forester at Drummond Castle, Craigcrook Castle, and at Harburn House near West Calder in Scotland. Grizzel may have lived in the area of Drummond castle given her last name, and they may have met while he was working in that area. I find it difficult to believe that she was a member of the named gentry. Upper class women marrying foresters tends to happen more in books than in real life, even without the complication of the centuries old feud between Clan McGregor and Clan Drummond. But, after two hundred years or so from the underlying cause (relatively succinct retelling of story here on a McGregor  website and here on a Drummond website), such political considerations are more the concern of the gentry than of the working folk, and the McGregors had been officially restored in 1775.

A forester’s job in Scotland in the early 19th century involved more than simply patrolling the forest like some sort of border guard looking for poachers. It involved planting trees and other plants to improve the land. Some Scottish landowners began to introduce foreign tree species from continental Europe such as sycamore maple, Norway spruce, larch and European silver fir, and to experiment with new planting methods. The experimentation and improvements were done with an intent to use their forest resources in ways that improved revenue for the estate. It was also important to the landowners that the esthetical beauty of the forest be maintained as well, allowing for multiple uses of the forest. Foresters in Scotland combined game management, commercial timber production and esthetic planting and were members of a respected profession. (To read more about Scottish Forestry in the 19th century, read this.) 

James and Grizzel had seven children that I know of (designated McGregor in the birth records & Gregor in any Canadian records): William born March 16, 1816 in Muthill, Perth, Scotland and died in 1834 in Hamilton Upper Canada; Ann was born October 14, 1817  in Muthill, Perth, Scotland and died in 1834 in Hamilton Upper Canada; James was born July 6, 1820  in West Calder, Midlothian, Scotland  and died in Wellington County, Ontario, Canada after 1891;  Grace Gregor Hawkins August 6, 1822 in West Calder, Midlothian, Scotland and died December 21, 1916 in Oxford, Ontario, Canada (she married Francis Hawkins March 16, 1849 in Montreal, Quebec); my 2nd great-grandfather Benjamin,  born May 14, 1824 West Calder, Midlothian,Scotland and died in Wellington County, Ontario, Canada on March 15, 1880 (he married Elizabeth Taylor); Janet, born April 3, 1826 in West Calder, Midlothian, Scotland - ??;  and Peter, born August 6,  1828 in West Calder, Midlothian, Scotland – died 28 April 1908 in Brant, Ont., Canada (he married Margaret Rintoul).

In 1834, James gathered his family and immigrated to Canada. According to “A Genealogy of Badenoch Families" by Llewella MacIntyre & Marjorie Clark, he joined several other Scottish families [the Beattie, Cockburn, Todd, Walker, & McFarlane families] on the “Alfred of Alloway” to Quebec, Canada.  The voyage lasted 9 weeks and three days.

The Dictionary of Scottish Emigrants to Canada before Confederation, by Donald Whyte, cited the passenger record as showing that “James Gregor” [note the change to “Gregor”] arrived in Quebec in 1834 with the following family members: “Wife Grizel Drummond, Child William [died later that year], Child Ann [died later that year], Child James, Child Grace, Child Benjamin, Child Janet, Child Peter, Child Hugh [from first marriage], Child Lilias [(Linn), with son-in-law (James Linn) & three grandchildren (Alex, James, & John Fleming)] and Child John [from first marriage].” From this document I deduced that James’ daughter Lilias had been married twice, one to a man named Fleming (turned out to be John Fleming) and at that time to James Linn. This is also the only document I’ve found, so far, that mentions Hugh and John McGregor, James’ sons from his first marriage.

The “Genealogy of Badenoch Families” states that James brought with him a letter of recommendation to Adam Fergusson at Woodhill near Waterdown. With this document, he obtained work in Hamilton, Upper Canada, working on the grounds of Dundurn Castle. He later worked on the grounds at Victoria Park, in Niagara Falls.

Climbing My Family Tree: Dundurn Castle, Hamilton, Upper Canada as seen in 1835
Dundurn Castle, Hamilton, Upper Canada as seen in 1835
In the Public Domain
Click to make bigger


Tragically, shortly after the family moved to Hamilton, James’ two oldest children, William and Ann, contracted cholera and died. It must have been very hard to have come so far from home to see your children die within the first year. In addition, James’s daughter from his first marriage, Lillias (McGregor) (Fleming) Linn, died in 1835. James and Grizel took in her infant daughter Lillias Linn and the three Fleming boys (all James’ grandchildren) and raised them.

After working on Victoria Park, James moved his family to the Puslinch settlement in Upper Canada to be near the other families from the same area of Scotland, including some who had arrived on the same ship that they had. I expect it granted them a feeling of home in this strange land. They settled on Lot 33, rear Concession 8, and began clearing the land and farming.

Climbing My Family Tree: Map of Puslinch Twp, Wellington County, Ontario original concessions and lots,
Map of Puslinch Twp, Wellington County, Ontario original concessions and lots,
Published in 1860 Historical Atlas of Wellington County,  In the Public Domain.
Click To Make Bigger

I have only found one more reference to James and Grizel Gregor, to date, in a history of the Badenach portion of the “Scotch settlement” in Puslinch Township, Wellington County, Upper Canada (now Ontario) found on the ClarksofTomfad website (“Badenach to Badenach”). It notes that James and Grizel Gregor were said to be buried on the hillside of the front field of their lot, near the road, but that the stone piles that marked their places had disappeared. I don’t know when they died, nor of what. I think they likely died before 1852, because I found a 17 year old Lilly Linn living with James (30), Benjamin (25), Janet (23), and Peter Grigor (21), with no sign of their parents in this census.

If you know anything more about James McGregor or Gregor or Grizzel Drummond or their children, I would love to hear from you. Please contact me through the email address on my Contact Me page or  leave me a message below  (even if just to tell me to check my junk email if you've tried the other way and haven't heard from me - it does that occasionally, but these comments do end up in my email.)

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Ancestry.com. Midlothian (Edinburgh), Scotland, Extracted Parish Records [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2001; Scotland, Marriages, 1561-1910. Salt Lake City, Utah: FamilySearch, 2013; “A Genealogy of Badenoch Families" by Llewella MacIntyre & Marjorie Clark (1999); http://www.scotweb.co.uk/info/gregor-or-macgregor; Dictionary of Scottish Emigrants to Canada before Confederation by Donald White (Toronto: Ontario Genealogical Society, 2002); From Badenach to Badenach, Emigration - http://www.clarksoftomfad.ca/FromBadenochtoBadenoch.htm; Conquering The Highlands: A history of the Afforestation of the Scottish Uplands, by Jan Oosthoek (Canberra: ANU E Press, 2013), chapter 2 - http://press.anu.edu.au//wp-content/uploads/2013/02/ch021.pdf; 1851 (taken in 1852) Census of Canada East, Canada West, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.

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