This page is an attempt to outline what I know about our Findlay ancestry in as "readable" format as possible. Please note whereas I try to ensure that what I publish is correct, and to differentiate between what is supported by documentation etc, and what is, in my opinion, a reasonable assumption, everything should be treated with caution. IF you have come across information that you believe is relevant to your own research please either verify it independently or drop me a line to confirm its validity. Equally if believe something is incorrect, or if you wish to add any details or discuss please get in touch using the Contact Form.
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The furthest we can trace our branch of the Findlays with any certainty is to the marriage of James Findlay, cartwright/ squarewright, and Janet Murray, on 3rd January 1786, in Forres, Moray. It is however possible that this is the same James Findlay who was baptised on 8th September 1758, the son of James Findlay, hirer, and Margaret Brown, who were married on 22nd October 1748, in Forres. They had at least another three children, William, baptised on 9th March 1755, John, baptised on 25th April 1761, and Margaret, baptised 28th July 1763. There are three main points that support this theory. - (i) The eldest son of James Findlay, cartwright/squarewright, is called James. As the eldest son was traditionally called after the paternal grandfather this would fit. (ii) The occupation of hirer probably involved the hire of horses and carriages/carts, which would fit with a son having an occupation of cartwright. (iii) If the assumption is made it would make James Findlay, cartwright/squarewright, aged 27 on his marriage which would be reasonable. However as there is no hard evidence to confirm this supposition, it must remain conjecture. (For possible ancestors of James Findlay and Janet Murray - See Appendix A.)
What can be stated with some certainty is that whoever the parents of James Findlay, cartwright/squarewright, were they would remember the time of the 1745 Jacobite Rising and the passing through Forres of Prince Charles army, en route from Aberdeen to Inverness at the beginning of 1746, two months prior to it's disastrous defeat at Culloden on 26th April 1746. As the battlefield was only twenty miles from Forres perhaps they, or, relatives, friends, or acquaintances went to spectate at, or even fight in, the actual battle.
By the time of the marriage of James Findlay cartwright/ squarewright and Janet Murray, on 3rd January 1786, (where we first started !!!), memories of the '45 would have already begun to fade. Certainly by the end of the 1786, James and Janet would have been more concerned with the future than the past, with the birth, in Forres, on 19th November of that year, of their first child, a son, James, the next generation in our family history. Over the next eleven years they had at least another four children, John born on 4th February 1789, Thomas born on 16th July 1791, Margaret born on 25th August 1795, and Janet born on 19th July 1797, all in Forres. (For further details of the children of James Findlay and Janet Murray where known - see Appendix M)
On 15th November 1808 in Canongate Parish, Edinburgh James Findlay, their eldest son, a journeyman mason and Catherine Sutherland, (daughter of Alexander Sutherland, a tailor) gave gave up their names for marriage. (witnesses - William Main and Walter Douglas). Catherine was born on 31st December 1787, in Forres, the daughter of Alexander Sutherland, a tailor in Forres, and Isabel Wright. (For details of Catherine Sutherland's parents - See Appendix B.) Why the banns were being read in Ediunburgh is unknown, but one would suspect that James was working there. However the first record of issue of this marriage was the baptism of their daughter, Janet, on 28th November 1812, which was recorded in the Forres parish register.
The baptisms of a further two of James Findlay and Catherine Sutherland's children were recorded in the Forres parish register, James on 3rd January 1816, and Catherine on 1st April 1821, but between the birth of Catherine and the birth of their fourth child, a son, Thomas, (the next generation in our family history), the family had moved to Inverness, as it is in the parish register of Inverness that Thomas's baptism, on 12th August 1823, is recorded. It is possible that James Findlay had moved to Inverness to work as a mason on the building of the Caledonian canal, as, although the canal had opened in 1822, the work at Clachnaharry, where the canal reached the sea, was not completed until later.
Once resident in Inverness, James Findlay and Catherine Sutherland's family continued to increase, with the baptisms of a further four children, John on 26th April 1825, Jane on 20th April 1827, Ann May on 4th August 1830, and Helen on 15th October 1833, being recorded in the parish register of Inverness. (For further details of the children of James Findlay and Catherine Sutherland - See Appendix C.)
In the census of 7th June 1841 James Findlay, mason, and his family are recorded as living at Clachnaharry, a small hamlet outside of Inverness, sited where the Caledonian Canal meets the sea.1841 Census (7th. June) Inverness (98) Book 14. Page 14.
|Thomas Findlay||15||Ship builder's apprentice||Yes|
On 4th December 1850, Thomas Findlay, their son, married Elizabeth MacDonald, the eldest child of Robert MacDonald, a teacher, and Margaret MacKenzie. (SEE ONLINE MACDONALD FAMILY HISTORY). Elizabeth was born in Dingwall on 25th July 1824, but sometime round 1839 her family moved to Inverness, and at the time of the her wedding were living in Muirtown, Inverness.
By the census of 31st March 1851, Thomas Findlay, now a full shipwright and in the employ of the Caledonian Canal Commissioners, was living in Muirtown, Inverness, a mile or so up the road from Clachnaharry, with Elizabeth, his bride of four months.
1851 Census (31st. March) Inverness (98) Book 15. Page 8.
|Thomas Findlay||Head||27||Shipwright||Clachnaharry, Inverness-shire|
|Elizabeth Findlay||Wife||26||Dingwall, Ross-shire|
For the same census, Thomas Findlay's father and mother, James Findlay and Catherine Sutherland, were still living in Clachnaharry itself, with had their youngest daughter, Helen
1851 Census (31st. March) Inverness (98) Book 15. Page 19.
|James Findlay||Head||64||Mason||Forres, Moray|
|Catherine Findlay||Wife||60||Forres, Moray|
|Helen Findlay||Daughter||18||Inverness, Inverness-shire|
|John Findlay||Visitor||25||Painter||Clachnaharry, Inverness-shire|
|Isabella Findlay||Visitor||24||Kingston, Moray|
|Catherine Findlay||Visitor||4 months||Inverness, Inverness-shire|
On the day of this census, James and Catherine had their married son John, visiting, along with his wife, Isabella Hutchison, and their baby daughter, Catherine.
For census of 8th April 1861 James Findlay and Catherine Sutherland, both now in their seventies, were still resident in Clachnaharry. James was recorded in this census as a mason, but I suspect that although that was his "profession", he was probably now working as a lockkeeper on the Caledonian Canal possibly on the locks at Clachnaharry. Lockkeeper was certainly given as his occupation on the marriage certificate of his daughter Helen married three years previous in 1858. Was this job connected to his work on the canal as a mason and how long had he been working in this role?
1861 Census (8th April) Inverness (98) Book 18. Page 10. (next entry but one)
Clachnaharry, Canalside, Inverness.
|James Findlay||Head||74||Mason||Forres, Moray|
|Catherine Findlay||Wife||72||Forres, Moray|
For this census son Thomas and his wife Elizabeth MacDonald had moved from Muirtown to be recorded in Clachnaharry next door to the Post Office and one door down from Thomas's parents James and Catherine. In the previous ten years Thomas and Elizabeth had had five children, James born on 9th February 1852, Elizabeth born on 30th December 1853, Margaret born on 15th November 1855, Thomas born on 27th August 1857, and Robert born on 12th May 1859. Certainly Thomas had returned to live in Clachnaharry by the birth of Margaret in 1855 as her birth was recorded there. Sadly Margaret does not appear in this census as she had died of a fever two months earlier, on 12th February 1861, aged 5 years 3 months. However the grief at this loss must have been lessened slightly with the birth of a son, John Alexander, born a month after this census, on 14th May 1861, their sixth child, and the next generation in our family history.
1861 Census (8th April) Inverness (98) Book 18. Page 10.
|Thomas Findlay||Head||37||Shipwright||Inverness, Inverness-shire|
|Elizabeth Findlay||Wife||36||Dingwall, Ross-shire|
|James Findlay||Son||9||Inverness, Inverness-shire|
|Elizabeth Findlay||Daughter||7||Inverness, Inverness-shire|
|Thomas Findlay||Son||3||Inverness, Inverness-shire|
|Robert Findlay||Son||1||Inverness, Inverness-shire|
On 16th January 1863 Thomas and Elizabeth, had a second Margaret, born on 16th January 1863, and on 23rd August 1864, Roderick, their fifth son was born.
Sadly, immediately after the birth of their next child, a son Alexander, on 8th March 1866, Elizabeth suffered a haemorrhage, and died one and a half hours later. The details are narrated by her father, Robert MacDonald, in a letter to his son, Roderick, informing him of the death of his sister.
A LETTER FROM ROBERT MacDONALD TO HIS SON RODERICK - 16th MARCH 1866
"It fell now to my lot
to send to you the sad & distressing Notice of your beloved sister
Elizabeth's death! On the morning of Thursday the 8th day of this month,
at 9 O'clock, she was delivered of a living son, but she died almost
immediately after it. The child is living, but his mother has gone to
her long home! A sad & sore stroke this is to poor Thomas & his
throng & weak family! The Midwife was sent for, but she was away
from home attending another wife. The doctor was sent for but he was too
late a-coming. Your poor mother, with Widow McKay, had to do their best
in the case. Thomas was from home tugging a ship on Lochness, & only
arrived home three hours after his dearly beloved wife's death!
(For a complete transcript of the letter from Robert MacDonald, Elizabeth's father, to her brother Roderick in Australia with the news and details of his sister's death - See Appendix D.)
Robert MacDonald, who had somewhat of a reputation as a poet, in both English and Gaelic, also wrote an elegy on the death of his daughter. This was included in the piece about him within the Rev. MacDonald's "MacDonald Bards".
ELEGY ON THE DEATH OF HIS DAUGHTER BY THE REV. MacDONALD. Extract from "The MacDonald Bards"
When she rose at early morning
Will ye trifle any longer,
Farewell, dear children, my life
Sadly the motherless Alexander survived only for four months dying on 4th July 1866. He was laid to rest in the graveyard of the Old High Church of Inverness, alongside his mother and sister.
Two years later, in 1868, both Thomas's parents died, James Findlay, his father, on 22nd September 1868, aged 81, and Catherine Sutherland, his mother, on 24th November 1868, aged 80. (Her death certificate gives her age as 77.)
For the census of 3rd April 1871 Thomas Findlay and his family were still resident in Clachnaharry, with his eldest daughter, Elizabeth, acting as house-keeper. James Findlay, Thomas's eldest son, is not recorded having left Inverness early in 1869 , to move to Glasgow and take up an apprenticeship as a ship's carpenter at Stephen's yard there.
1871 Census (3rd April) Inverness (98) Book 19. Page 12.
|Thomas Findlay||Head||47||Shipwright||Inverness, Inverness-shire|
|Elizabeth Findlay||Daughter||18||House-keeper||Inverness, Inverness-shire|
|Thomas Findlay||Son||14||Inverness, Inverness-shire|
|Robert Findlay||Son||11||Inverness, Inverness-shire|
|John Findlay||Son||9||Inverness, Inverness-shire|
|Margaret Findlay||Daughter||8||Inverness, Inverness-shire|
|Roderick Findlay||Son||6||Inverness, Inverness-shire|
By the early 1870's all Thomas's children were at school, the older boys, Thomas and Robert, at Bells School in Inverness, and the younger ones, Margaret, John Alexander, and Roderick at Clachnaharry school. According to letters sent from his grandfather, Robert MacDonald to his son in Australia, little Roderick seems to have been the brightest of the lot, although all get mention as "doing well".
By 1874, James, Thomas's eldest son, had nearly completed his apprenticeship. With one month left before he had served his time, he was afflicted with a bad cold. Rather than take his father's advice and return home, he soldiered on in Glasgow and got "his papers". Sadly this fortitude was to have dire consequences, the cold turning into presumably pneumonia, resulting in his death on 17th September 1874. James was also laid to rest in the graveyard of the Old High Church of Inverness, alongside his mother, sister, and brother. Once again the details were narrated by his maternal grandfather, Robert MacDonald in a letter to his son Roderick in Melbourne, Australia.
EXTRACT FROM A LETTER BY ROBERT MacDONALD TO HIS SON RODERICK IN AUSTRALIA. - OCTOBER 20TH 1874
"Thomas & his family had a long time of trouble in his house. James his oldest son was at Glasgow in a ship building yard serving his time as an apprentice, & had only one month left to serve when he took a severe cold, but his father sent word to him to come home, but he would not do that till he would finish his time, & that he would get good medicine where he was & remained till he finished his time, & got his certificate, & then he came here & his father brought him to two doctors & each of them considered him too far gone, & he lingered on for 4 months & then he died & was buried in his mothers grave. He was a promising young man, 22 9/12 years."
A few years later, (1874 or 1876), according to a story later told in a letter from Thomas's son, John Alexander, to his Uncle Roderick MacDonald in Australia, that Thomas Findlay was instrumental in saving Queen Victoria's life. The story is told thus-
EXTRACT FROM A LETTER FROM JOHN A. FINDLAY TO HIS UNCLE RODERICK MacDONALD IN AUSTRALIA - 23rd JANUARY 1901
"It was at the time Her Majesty visited the Highlands in 1874 or 1876. When landing at Dochgarroch on the Caledonian Canal, the gangway leading on to the royal steamer slipped of the edge of the paddle box, just at the moment the Queen stepped on to it, and Father, noticing the danger called to the Captain to hold fast his ropes but this could not be done in time and in the emergency he called to his assistants opposite to hold up the stage while the Queen passed on otherwise the stage would have overbalanced and Her Majesty precipitated into the water between the two vessels with the stage on top of her. We oft time asked his permission to report the incident to head quarters but this he would not allow in his extreme modesty, and always stated that he wanted no publicity in the exercise of his duties. The incident was not noticed by anyone at the time, and out of respect for his wish we never brought it forward. But the fact remains true and we were all present on that occasion and heard him illustrate the particulars of incident on several occasions and I know exactly how to describe same according to his statements. It was John Brown, Her Majesty's attendant who ordered her forward before all was quite secure with the moorings. His words to Her Majesty were, "Come awa' woman, they're a' ready"!
By 1881 Elizabeth was still house-keeping for her father, her three younger brothers, and her younger sister. The family were now listed as living at the "Canal Offices Buildings", at Clachnaharry, which may have always been the case, although not specified previously. I suspect that the house came with Thomas's position as "foreman of works" with the Caledonian Canal Commissioners.
His second eldest son, Thomas, who would have been aged 24, is no longer listed, and was in Glasgow working as an engineer at this time.
1881 Census (4th April) Inverness (98) Book 19. Page 14.
Canal Office, Clachnaharry, Inverness.
|Thomas Findlay||Head||57||Ships carpenter||Inverness, Inverness-shire|
|Elizabeth Findlay||Daughter||27||House-keeper||Inverness, Inverness-shire|
|Robert Findlay||Son||21||Architect's assistant||Inverness, Inverness-shire|
|John Findlay||Son||19||Mercantile Clerk||Inverness, Inverness-shire|
|Margaret Findlay||Daughter||18||Inverness, Inverness-shire|
|Roderick Findlay||Son||16||Railway clerk||Inverness, Inverness-shire|
Thomas Findlay and his daughter Margaret
(circa 1880's ?)
Robert Findlay listed here as an "Architect's assistant" was at the beginning of an illustrious career as an architect. During his training in Scotland he worked on the Carnegie Public Libraries, Aldourie Castle, and Moy Hall. In 1885 he went to Montreal, Canada, and worked for various firms of architects before setting up his own partnership and going on to become one of the foremost Canadian architects, certainly in Montreal, of his day. The partnership was carried on in an equally illustrious manner by his son Frank. (For further details of Robert Findlay & his descendents - See Appendixs E & G)
Eight months after this census Thomas's eldest daughter and house-keeper Elizabeth married an Edward Jezzard, on 29th December 1881 at Clachnaharry. Edward was a Royal Marine based on H.M.S. Brilliant which as at Inverness at the time of their marriage, but was originally from Sandwich, Kent, where he was born circa 1852 to Frank Jezzard, a ships chandler - deceased by December 1881, and Elizabeth Farley.
Elizabeth remained on in Inverness at 44 Wells Street, for the birth of her first two children Elizabeth Francis, born 19th November 1882, and Margaret Ada, born 7th February 1884, but sometime after the birth of Margaret they moved to Edward's home town of Sandwich, Kent, probably on Edward's retirement from the Navy.
During the 1880s, as Foreman of Works, Thomas was in charge of the refurbishment of the whole of the Caledonian Canal, including the provision of new lock gates, and works at Corpach, (costing £20,00-00).
In 1886, John Alexander Findlay, the next generation in our family history, joined D. M. Stevensons, Shipping Agents, and moved to Edinburgh, and by the census of 1891 all Thomas's children had flown the nest, with the exception of Margaret, who had taken on the role of house-keeper.
The Flora C. Bryce born in New York in 1874/75 and recorded in this census a granddaughter of Thomas Findlay, was in fact his grand-niece, being the grandaughter of his sister Catherine Findlay (born 1821) on a visit from the family home in Glasgow.
1891 Census ( April) Inverness (98) Book 20. Page 17.
Clachnaharry, Canalside, Inverness.
|Thomas Findlay||Head||67||Shipwright||Inverness, Inverness-shire|
|Flora C. Bryce||Grand-daughter||16||New York, British subject|
Down in Edinburgh John Alexander Findlay, the next generation in our family history, was living in lodgings near Dudingston Loch.
1891 Census ( April) Dudingston (684/2) Book 1. Page 3.
Lochside Cottage, Dudingston
|John Alex. Findlay||Boarder||28||Chartering Clerk||Inverness|
On 8th November 1893, two and a half years after this census, Thomas Findlay died, aged 70. According to John Alexander, Thomas's son, in a later letter to his Uncle Roderick MacDonald in Australia, his father intended retiring at the end 1873, "on the completion of his jubilee as a Government Official, but fate decreed otherwise". The local paper "The Scottish Highlander carried an obituary.
THOMAS FINDLAY'S OBITUARY FROM "THE
" At Canal Buildings, Clachnaharry, on 8th inst., Thomas Findlay, aged 70 years, (50 years a faithful servant of the Caledonian Canal Commissioners). Funeral at High Church Yard - Saturday 1 p.m. - no letters."
Thomas Findlay was laid to rest in Inverness Old High Church graveyard, overlooking the River Ness, alongside his two sons, James and Alexander, his daughter, Margaret, (the first), and of course his wife Elizabeth MacDonald. It would seem that Thomas was laid to rest in a lair belonging to Robert MacDonald his father in law. Presumably this would have been where is wife Elizabeth MacDonald, had been laid to rest (and the 3 children that had predeceased them along with his father in law Robert.) The fact that this was the MacDonald lair is stated in a letter written by Alexander MacDonald, Thomas's brother in law, from 4 Millar St, Partick, Glasgow on 20 August 1899 to his brother Roderick MacDonald in Australia, bemoaning the fact that he had had handed over the title deeds to the lair to the Findlays so that Thomas may be buried there, but they had not kept their promises to have a railing put round the grave, despite being considerably better off than himself.
Extract from a letter from Alexander MacDonald from 4 Millar St, Partick, Glasgow on 20 August 1899
Tom Findlay and his wife was here last Sunday and they are all well,
and as for John and Maggie Findlay they never come to see me or never acknowledge my sister Maggieís death, never came to see her even when she was lying ill, what I am referring to here is when their father died Tom wrote for his sister Maggie Findlay asking me to bury his father in one of the Lairs, which I gave the title deeds of my fatherís lair in the High Church yard Inverness, which I give her leave. She offered herself to put a railing around the graves. I know she is able enough to do it because her father left her 100 pounds and household effects and she will not do anything to it expecting her other brothers and sisters to contribute to it. I think her brother in Montreal could do a little to help and as for John Findlay and herself they are never done galanting and spending money all over the country about this season of the year. It annoyed me very much to see my fatherís burial place forgotten.
The Findlay headstone was raised either at the time of Thomas's interment or possibly sometime later as Thomas Findlay's name appears first. This would explain the error in his daughter, Margaret's, date of death of 5th November 1854 on the headstone. Her actual date of death was 12th February 1861, but it is possible that the error came about as a result of the date being copied of an existing temporary wooden grave-marker onto the new granite headstone, and an almost illegible birth date, 15th November 1855, not only being mistaken for Margaret's date of death, but also being mis-read as 5th November 1854.
Inscription on Findlay headstone in Inverness Old High Churchgraveyard (righthand headstone)
NOTE - The headstone to the left of the Findlay one is in memory of Robert MacDonald (died 11th May 1875), and his family. The MacDonald stone marks the actual sie of the burial of Robert, (and his daughter Catherine), as identified in family letters of that time. Originally unmarked, the headstone was raised in 1999 by his great-grandson Roderick MacDonald, a noted Architect, of Melbourne Australia , thereby fulfilling a wish of his Roderickís great uncle Alexander voiced in the letter of 1899
SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF
WHO DIED AT CLACHNAHARRY
8th NOV 1893 AGED 71 YEARS
AND HIS WIFE
DIED 8th MARCH 1866 AGED 41 YEARS
#1# DIED 5th NOV 1854 AGED 5 YEARS
DIED 4th JULY 1866 AGED 4 MONTHS
DIED 17th SEP 1874 AGED 22 YEARS
Margaret, who had looked after her father until his death, moved to Edinburgh, to live with her brother, John Alexander, at 2, Inverleith Ave. Along with her went her father's spaniel "Pyro". (For further details the children of Thomas Findlay and Elizabeth MacDonald - See Appendix E.)
After the death of his father John Alexander entered into correspondence with his Uncle Roderick, the son of Robert MacDonald, John Alexander's maternal grandfather, in Australia, and it is from this correspondence, plus letters from Robert MacDonald to his son Roderick, 1868-1874, making reference to the Findlay family, that some of the preceding detail is taken. Copies of these letters have been made available by "Uncle Roderick's" Grandson, Roderick, who lives near Melbourne, Australia. (For copies of the letters written by John A. Findlay to his Uncle Roderick MacDonald in Australia - See Appendix F. - For copies of Robert MacDonald's letters to his daughters, Georgina, and Elizabeth, and to his son Roderick MacDonald in Australia - See MACDONALD FAMILY HISTORY - Appendix B.)
For the census of 1901 John A. was living at 2 Inverleith Avenue, with his sister Margaret acting as his housekeeper. Sadly the census does not record whether "Pyro" was still with them!
1901 Census ( 7th April) Edinburgh (685/2) Book 134 Page 23
2 Inverleith Avenue, Edinburgh
|John A. Findlay||Head||39||Shipping Clerk||Clachnaharry, Inverness-shire|
On 15th October 1906, in Edinburgh, at Greenside parish church John Alexander Findlay married Isabel Dougal, the second youngest daughter of James Dougal and Isabella Johnston. (SEE ONLINE DOUGAL & JOHNSTON FAMILY HISTORIES).
John Alexander Findlay and Isabel Dougal had their first child, a daughter, Isabel Edythe Johnston born on 27th January 1907, at 4 Anwoth Villas, Corstorphine, Edinburgh, the new family home. Shortly after this happy event they had a visit from Frank Findlay, son of John Alexander's brother Robert, who had emigrated to Canada. (For transcripts of Frank's letters home and a further letter form his parents to Frank when they visited the UK in 1913 - See Appendix G.) Two years after the birth of Isabel, John Alexander and Isabella had a son, named for his father, John Alexander Findlay born on 11th March 1909.
Alexander Findlay (L)
and his wife Isabella Dougal (R)
along with their children (Left to Right)
Jack, Alfred, Edythe, Beatrice
For the census of 1911 John Alexander Findlay, identified as a Shipping Agent, was recorded as living at 4 Anwoth Villas, Corstorphine with his wife and two young children, Isobel and John Alexander.
1911 Census (2 April) Corstorphine - 678 Book 1, Page 1
4 Anwoth Villas, Corstorphine, Edinburgh (5 Rooms with 1 or more windows)
No of Children
|John Alex. Findlay||Head||49||Shipping Agent - Worker||Clachnaharry, Inverness-shire|
|Isabella Findlay||Wife||30||6||2||2||Bathgate, Linlithgowshire|
|Isobel E. J. Findlay||Daughter||4||Corstorphine, Midlothian|
|John A. Findlay||Son||2||Corstorphine, Midlothian|
|Grace Stobbart||Servant||15||General Servant Domestic - Worker||Corstorphine, Midlothian|
A couple on moths after the census John Alexander and Isabella had a second son, Alfred George Findlay born on 20th June 1911 (my wife Eileen Findlay's father), and their family was completed four years on with the arrival of a second daughter Beatrice Bernice Findlay born on 24th January 1915, at 4 Anwoth Villas, Corstorphine, Edinburgh.