Of all the joys of genealogy finding that matching marriage record has to be in the top five doesn’t it?! But how can you tell if it is the right one? It can be an ongoing struggle, but do not despair! Here are some tricks that really helped me find the missing piecesof the puzzle. In this blog post, I will take you through how I found the husband of my 6thgreat aunt, Janet Campbell (1726-1793).
1.Location, Location, Location:
In Janet’s day, marriages were usually between people who lived in neighbouring parishes or counties, for example, it would be unlikely that a Scotsman from the Shetland Islands would meet a girl from Glasgow. However, if that Scotsman was from Paisley (a parish just outside of Glasgow) the chances of them meeting is much higher. Most travel was either done on foot or by horse/horse and cart. I used Google Maps to calculate the walking distance between locations and use the results to narrow my search.
In the 1700s, the usual minimum age for men to marry was 20-45, and women 15-30. Marriages outside of 30 for women were ofcourse possible, but since the ages of the couple were rarely recorded in 18th Century Scotland, I had to make a rough estimation,especially since Janet Campbell was such a common name. On most genealogy searches you can enter a timeline for the marriage,
I just added fifteen years onto her birth year for the minimum (1726+15=1741) then thirty years for the maximum
Since Janet’s father was a minister, it is very likely that he might have performed her marriage ceremony, but he died when she was only 16. Janet’s older brother Patrick, the last male sibling still living at home was the executor of their father’s will, thus making him guardian of his four younger sisters and mother, so it is most likely that the family stayed in their old home (her father’s income and church did not come with a manse) or at the very least in their hometown of Kilmodan and Glendaruel (the parishes were joint back then).
So, after considering all these points, I entered Janet’s information in the search bar and clicked the go button. Eight resultsappeared. This is my favourite bit, the information analysation. I always check each record one by one, so I don’t get muddled or confused.
After slowly analysing each fact, I settled on Archibald Black. Why?
2. Her age is logical – in 1748 Janet was 22, it was also the earliest entry in the timeline and location I selected.
3. The marriage was dated two years after the Battle of Culloden. Since at least three of Janet’s siblings are recorded have taken part in the Jacobite Risings, a marriage to a man from her hometown whom she knew well guaranteed a safe home and a different name.
Janet went on to have two sons, Malcom and Dugald, and a daughter called Marrion. She and her family lived around Craignish, Argyllshire, then shifted to South Leith in Edinburgh, where Janet died on the 30th of March 1793 aged 67.
Thank you so much for reading and I hope these tips help!