52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 1.

A “do something with your genealogy instead of letting it sit in your genealogy software” challenge. Started by Amy Johnson Crow (https://www.amyjohnsoncrow.com/52-ancestors-in-52-weeks/): “You’ve worked hard on your genealogy. You’ve made some fantastic discoveries. But what do you actually do with it? Those discoveries don’t do much good just sitting in your file cabinet or on your computer. That’s where 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks comes in. It’s a series of weekly prompts to get you to think about an ancestor and share something about them. The guesswork of “who should I write about” is taken care of”.” 

So I’m going to try and do it … I have so many stories, some already published on this website and some in the three (almost four) family history books I’ve already published. And there’s some more research I want to do.

The theme for Week 1 (January 1-7) is “I’d like to meet”.

I’d like to meet my Great Great Great Great Grandmother (ie, 4xG Grandmother) Ann Kerr.

First some background, mostly from my published book about the Cochranes (https://au.blurb.com/b/11115249-cochrane-and-lyle): Ann was born on 21 April 1733, most likely in Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland. She was the daughter of John Ker(r) (born about 1700) and his wife Margaret. She had three brothers John, Patrick and one other boy. John left an elaborate will, very helpful in identifying the correct family!

Ann married Thomas Cochran(e) on 16 April 1756 in Paisley. When Ann married she bought a huge bible in which she gradually recorded the names of all their children.

‘Thomas’ and ‘Ann’ being such common names, the bible entries have been absolutely crucial in identifying their children (and also in trying to correct numerous incorrect entries on websites such as Ancestry and MyHeritage and Genenet). The bible is a large ornate volume with gold-stamped leather spine and richly embossed cover, not something a poor family could afford. Most likely the Kerrs were an affluent family, perhaps her father was a merchant or manufacturer. If only Ann had recorded her parents’ names and dates as well! It is possible they originally came from Campbelltown, Argyllshire where Ann’s nephew (named in John Kerr’s will) resided. In the 18th century there was a great influx of people to Paisley following the Highland Clearances.

Thomas Cochrane is thought to have been a master weaver, quite a prestigious social position in those times.

Ann and Thomas had ten children, almost all of whom reached adulthood. After their marriage in 1756 Ann and Thomas Cochran(e) most likely resided in or near Paisley. The baptismal records of some of their children show that they were living in the village of Eaglesham to the south of Paisley and Glasgow at least between 1765 and 1771. Eaglesham was noted for handloom weaving, at least until the establishment of a water-powered cotton spinning mill in 1791. (It is also famous for being the landing place of Rudolph Hess during WW2 when he mistook Eaglesham House for Dungavel House near Srathaven.)

At some time before 1785 our Cochrane family moved to Paisley. Ann (Kerr) died there in 1789. She was 56 and had borne 10 children in 19 years. That was the same year the Seven Year War with France began, when George II was the reigning monarch.

In 1785 a coach ran from Paisley to Glasgow 6 times a day. Didd Ann ever take advantage of this to visit family, particularly her daughter Margaret born 1760 who married weaver Peter Stewart Donald in 1780 in Glasgow (I share some DNA with a descendant) or her daughter Ann born 1763 who married weaver John Houston in 1787?

Two of her sons emigrated to America some time before 1798 as they are not mentioned in the will of their uncle John Kerr. John born 1758 died in Savannah Georgia in 1799 aged 41 and Thomas born 1774 died “in easy circumstances” in Patterson, New York in 1850 – both facts added to the bible by Ann’s grandson Dr. Thomas Lyle.

Ann did not live to see two of her grandchildren marry each other on 31 May 1821 in Glasgow – Dr. Thomas Lyle (son of Mary born 1765) and Margaret Cochrane (daughter of James born 1771). Such cousin marriages were relatively common in those times. Three of Margaret and Dr. Lyle’s children emigrated to Tasmania, Australia in the 1850s. I am one of the descendants.

1 thought on “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 1.

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