Monday, 22 March 2010

100 year old Perthshire photo album

I've been researching my Scottish ancestry for some ten years now, and a decade on, enormous strides back in time now tend to be replaced by little progressive achievements as I slowly continue to chisel my way back in time. Today, however, I received a cracker of a surprise!

Last week on an online discussion forum, a poster asked if anybody had a connection to a John Kinloch or a William Comrie, as she had just found a photo album in her attic which she wished to dispose of. The album was not connected to her family, but in researching her own tree she knew how valuable it could potentially be. The names rang a bell, and after consulting my tree I realised that they were possibly related to my McEwan line in Perthshire. I contacted her and she very kindly offered to post the album to me.

The album arrived today, with dozens of wonderful images taken between the 1860s and the 1890s, but at first glance there seemed to be little to go on. Only a handful of the images, mainly carte de visit format, had names scribbled onto the frames, but in teasing the images out of their holders I've discovered that a few have additional info written on the backs, as well as vital information on the photographic studios where they were taken, which can help to date them.

About half way through the album, however, I came across the following image:

Now I know this lot only too well...! The picture shows Alexander Comrie, his wife Mary Paterson, and their children Annie McCowan Comrie, David Paterson Comrie, Jessie Paterson Copeland Comrie, Peter William Comrie, Helen Hardy Comrie and Alexander Comrie, as taken in approximately 1890. The reason I know this is that a few years past a distant cousin sent an almost identical image to me - the only difference being that Alexander senior's hand is not placed on Alexander junior's shoulder in the earlier version I have.

Alexander's grandfather, Andrew McEwan, was the brother of my four times great grandmother, Janet McEwan, who married Andrew Henderson and went on to have several children, including my three times great granny Janet, who was murdered in 1866. This image has therefore confirmed that the album is one that was held by someone connected to my family almost a century ago - the question now is who?

There are several clues - an image of the Reverend William Comrie, who died in Auckland in 1884 is labelled 'Uncle William', whilst another is labelled 'William Comrie Cousin Schoolmaster', and there are other names which should help to narrow it down a bit.

However, there are many images without descriptions, some taken in Ayrshire, others in Glasgow and New Zealand. In a few weeks time (once my next book is out of the way) I will digitise the images in the album and place them online with as much information as I can confirm. Hopefully other descendants of the McEwans and the Comries can find them of use, but also come forward to perhaps help identify some of those shown within them.

So if you are connected to the McEwans of Madderty or the Comries of Crieff and Fowlis Wester, and perhaps have some images yourself, please do drop me a note and I'll keep you appraised of when I am able to get this rolling.

More soon!

(And a huge thank you to the heroine of the hour - Mrs Susan Barnett in Dundee!)

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MerRhosyn said...

Chris - You helped me quite some time ago with a project (Simmonds family in Hampshire). I've followed your blog every since and this post caught my eye as I've got some McEwans in Perthshire in my line. I've gotten stuck with Catherine McEwen born about 1770-80 in Perthshire who married Alexander McCulloch/McCulley/Mackully in 1793 in Monzie. She was living in Forgandenny in 1841. Would love to touch base if you think there's any relation.

Chris Paton said...

Hi Meredith, good to hear from you, and hope you managed to get further with the Simmonds!

I've had a look at my lot, and can't find a connection. McEwan was quite a common name around Crieff, Muthill, Madderty and other areas in Perthshire (a variant is McCowan).

Sorry no link as yet, but if I come across Catherine I'll drop you a note. You could try a post on the Perthshire Rootsweb group at - it's a good group, with friendly folk!


Carol said...

My McEwan line comes from Perthshire and ended up in Stirlingshire and Glasgow area. I'll have to take a gander at my info and see if there is a connection.