Do we have any Scottish ancestors in our family tree?
QFamily legend has it that we have Scottish roots. I’ve managed to get back as far as John Cleghorn (born about 1717) who lived in Middlesex and married Isabel Courage in 1748. During my research, I came across a letter written in 1879 by Harriet Nisbet (née Cleghorn), one of my ancestors. She mentions John (“our great grandfather”) and Isabel, and states that John’s father was George, a farmer from Midlothian. I can’t find any proof. Where was John Cleghorn born? Jackie Lowe, by email
AThere does not appear to be a source for Harriet Nisbet’s claim that brothers George and John Cleghorn were the sons of George Cleghorn, a Midlothian farmer. However, Harriet was much closer to the 1700s than any of the researchers inputting the same family on Ancestry today, so I based my research on the premise that her statements were grounded in fact passed down.
I searched Midlothian birth indexes, 1700-1722, looking for a Cleghorn couple with sons George and John. There were only two options: Richard Cleghorn and Christian Cleeland, St Cuthbert’s parish; and William Cleghorn and Helen Pullans or Pillans, Cramond parish. The St Cuthbert’s birth of John was in 1708, while the Cramond John was born in 1712, the latter was a better match, especially as somewhere along the line 1712 could have been misread as 1717. A search of the baptisms of the Cramond children of William and Helen Cleghorn showed: Helen, 1709; Robert, 1711; John, 1712; William, 1713; Elisabeth, 1714; George, 1716; and Agnes, 1718. So John’s father was unlikely to be George. A closer look revealed that Richard Cleghorn was a tailor, ruling that family out. My suggestion therefore is that John’s father might have been William.
Was William a farmer in Midlothian? Yes, he was! The baptism for his daughter Agnes in 1718 stated “Daughter to William Cleghorn Tennent in Grantoun Mains and Helen Pullans his spouse”. Witnesses to the Cleghorn children’s baptisms were “Robert Pillans in Roystoun Mains and John Cleghorn in Muirhouse Braehead”. Another witness to the baptism of Robert Cleghorn in 1711 was “George Pillans” – perhaps this is where the George confusion began?
William and Helen married in 1708 – “July 12th 1708, Betwixt William Cleghorn and Helen Pillans both in this paroch. Consigned half a Guinea of gold, Married July 23rd 1708”.
Helen Pillanes was baptised in 1686 – “Daughter to Robert Pillanes in Lauristoun and Elisabeth Flint his spouse” – Lauriston is also in Cramond parish, not far from Roystoun, where the Pillans lived later.
William Cleghorn was baptised in 1681, the son of James Cleghorn and Helen Nimmo – “son to James Cleghorn in Muirehouse Braehead and Helen Nimmo his spouse”. Janet Bishop
Jackie’s grandmother Caroline Cleghorn (right) always spoke of the family’s Scottish roots