Tuesday, 14 February 2012

52 weeks of abundant genealogy - Historical documents - Week 7

Helen Forsyth nee Thomson, daughter of Jean Hay.
The historical document I was so excited about getting was a transcription of the Kirk Session minutes for Turiff, (St. Ninians) Aberdeenshire, Scotland.   NAS- CH2/871/2

These minutes were badly damaged by water so are very very patchy but enough information could be gleaned to get the general drift of the happenings.

My 4th great grandmother was Jean Hay born at Alvah, Banffshire, Scotland to James Hay and Janet Christie.
James Hay, being such a common name in the area, was a bit difficult to research.

Finally, through the process of elimination, the Church records for Alvah  and most importantly the Turiff Kirk session minutes it was revealed that James Hay had first married a Margaret Dustan in 1784.  They had 2 children, Catherine born 1784 and James born 1786.  No death for Margaret has been found so I researched Catherine and found she had married a George Webster at Turiff in 1820.

James married Janet Christie in 1791.  No birth registration has been found for Jean Hay but heaps of further records of her life have come to light.

Jean was always listed as a midwife and Unmarried in all the census.
Her daughter, Helen Thomson, was born in 1825 at Turiff.

Helen married Robert Forsyth in 1847 at the Manse of Aberdour.
In the 1861 census, Jean Hay was head of household at 59 High Street, New Aberdour, Aberdeenshire, Scotland.  Also living there were, Alexander and Jean Forsyth, the parents-in-law of her daughter Helen.

Photos courtesy of Patrick and Dorothy Forsyth of Fraserburgh.

A James Thom(p)son, seemingly of Huntly, was brought before the Kirk to answer to allegations by Jean Hay that he was the father of her child.

The patchy transcription is as follows:

November 7th 1874

------------------------   that James Thompson lately-----------------in Turiff-----by Jean Hay in Turiff as the--------------------------------------- and lodged with -----------------------------in Huntly and instructions ----------------------------------------------to appear be ------------------------------ the 26th day of December
                   Closed with Prayer.

26th December 1824   (next entry)
-----------------------------------------------confirmed lately------------------------- ---------Turiff and now ------------------------------------the charge brought --------------Jean Hay in Turiff on the 31st day of ------------------(denying?) that he is the father of ------------------------had any criminal connexion ------------------------her former child of which-----------------------------------himself the father.

Being further interrogated he declared that he has not (been?) with the said Jean Hay nor Thomson in her sisters house since the birth of her former child and never was there with her alone. That he never was in her own house by night or day since the birth of her former child except upon the Sunday evening previous to his leaving Turiff about the end of --?   
But when he called in consequence of receiving a letter from her regarding---------------------that he never----------------------------------------the said Jean Hay to meet her-------------------since the birth of her former child.
He was then directed to call on her again this? Day week and the officer------------------------------the woman to attend at the same time.
                          Closed in Prayer

27th January 1825  (next entry) 
(entry on Davidson then:)
Compeared Jean Hay----------------------------- accusing James Thompson------------------child
The said James Thompson-----------------persistent? in his former objections.
Thereupon the ----------------------------------------last to two of ---------------------------------------- as she can--------------------------------------------who will---------------------------------------------here this day---------------------------------------- the parties were-----------------------------------
                    Closed in Prayer.

? January 1825
The Session being --------------------------------Jean Hay  who----------------------------------As the father of her child-----------------------

Being called upon to bring forward any witness she might have to consolidate her accusations.
Compeared Mary Shine? Wife of Charles Bly, the late servant to rt Chisholm in Turiff, who being interrogated stated that she lived before Whit Monday 1824 in the same house with Catherine Hay, spouse of George Webster, carter? in Turiff - that she the declarant frequently saw James Thompson and Jean Hay together and that it is consistent with her 
----------------that they not only met but were often in the house by themselves.
Compeared Catherine hay, Spouse of George Webster in Turiff and upon being interrogated declared  that James Thompson and her sister frequently met in her? House - that she has often left them there, and found them there, -----and positive that either in the one case or the other they were alone .
Compeared Isobel Stuart, residing in Turiff who being interrogated declared that on passing
---------------------she accidentally called there ---------------------Whit Monday 1824 - that she then found James Thompson & Jean Hay , and -----------------------in the house, and that she ---------------------------------------------------------.

                    Closed with Prayer. 

I was told that normally the kirk would strongly instruct the couple to marry unless of course the male involved was already married.

I would dearly love to fill in all those gaps!


  1. Great reading this brings people to life. If you have the original scan why don,t you post it .Then someone who is familiar with this area may be able to help. Ministers etc followed set patterns so a look at the entries before or after may help. Then post a link to an Aberdeen notice board. or Aberdeen Family history Society facebook page.

  2. I don't have the original scan Haz, it was transcribed for me by a researcher in Scotland a few years ago.

  3. That is a pity , Now that these records have been digitalised and with a reference you may be able to get a copies direct from the National Records of Scotland. Not sure about this, I live in Scotland and once in a blue moon I manage a trip over to Edinburgh. However more and more of this type of record is being moved from On site only to Scotland's people.
    Good luck

    1. Thank you for letting me know this Haz. I feel a bit silly for not knowing the records had been digitised. I am a member of Scotland's people so I will check it out. Again many thanks