On 28th February 1879, my great-grandmother, Jessie McWilliam married
Alexander Napier Hunter.
Jessie was 18, Alexander was 5 years older.
Jessie's parents were
Robert McWilliam and Mary Wason.
Robert and Mary married in Girvan on 17th September 1848. Mary was 17, Robert was five years older. Their first child, Marion, was born 17th June 1849, nine months to the day after their wedding. The child was named after her maternal grandmother, Marion Paterson.
Robert McWilliam was born in 1826 in Wigton, where his mother had come from. He became a coachman.
In 1851 he and Mary lived at 117 Dalrymple Street, Girvan, where their immediate neighbours were a sheriff officer, a butcher, a handloom weaver, and a ropemaker. Further along Dalrymple Street, at Number 58, lived Robert's mother, a 71 year old widow. She was Jane McChesney, who had been a cotton winder. Robert's father was Archibald McWilliam.
Mary Wason, Robert's wife, was born in Girvan on 8th August 1831.
Ailsa Craig from Ballantrae Harbour
Ann Turnbull, an Australian descendant of Mary's young sister, Janet - or Jennet - has kindly sent me details of Mary's siblings and their families:
Andrew Wason, born in 1833, died at the age of seven.
Jean Wason was born in 1835.
James Paterson Wason was born in 1839, and died , aged 61, in Ballantrae, where he had been an Inspector of the Poor, a postmaster, and a baker. In 1881 James employed one man, two boys (apprentice bakers) and one woman. He and his wife, Jane, had nine children.
Christine and Keith from Ballantrae have very kindly sent me this photograph of the Main Street showing Wason's Bakery on the right.
According to the 1891 Census, and to his death certificate ten years later, James was, in addition, the local Registrar, Clerk to the Board School, and Clerk to the Parish Council. He had a grisly end - with gangrene in the toes of his left foot, but he had a very full life!
The Wason Family grave at Ballantrae
So highly respected was he by the local community, that they erected gates in his honour at Ballantrae Cemetery. Built across the top of the gates, in wrought iron, are the words
Janet Wason emigrated to Australia on 24th July 1865, at the age of 22. It took almost four months to sail on the "Samarang" from Glasgow to Brisbane.
Peter Wason was born in 1845. He became a baker. He and his wife, Jeanie Kirkland, had seven children, all born in Girvan.
Hugh Wason, the youngest, was born in 1850, 19 years after Mary. Hugh, seen below, emigrated, like Janet, to Australia, and followed her to Queensland. In 1882, aged 32, he married 18 year old Sarah Ann. Sixteen years later they had twins, Sarah and Henry.
Mary Wason died on 6th August 1896, aged 65, at 9 Portland Street, Kilmarnock, of mitral disease of the heart.
Her father was Henry Wason.
Henry was born in 1801. He became a coal carter. On 28th April 1829, in Dailly Parish Church, seen below, he married Marion Paterson.
In 1851 they lived at 96 Old Street, Girvan,where Henry died four years later, on 22nd February 1855. He died of cholera, and was buried in Girvan Churchyard.
Henry's parents were Henry Wason, a carter from Old Dailly, and Jean McCulloch.
Henry's wife, Marion Paterson, was born on Hogmanay, 1801. She survived him by 12 years, dying of cancer of the womb at Turnbull's Land, Main Street, Duntocher, Old Kilpatrick.
Marion's parents were Peter Paterson, a farmer, according to Marion's death certificate, a weaver, according to Girvan Old Parish Records.
On 20th December 1798, at Dailly Parish Church, the back of which is seen below, he married Janet Campbell.
Janet was born on 27th October 1775. No doubt, she attended the school in the village, in which English, Latin, French, writing, arithmetic, and book-keeping were taught. The number of scholars was usually from 40 to 60. According to the Statistical Account, there was "scarcely an individual in the parish who has not been taught to read and write." Janet died at Dailly on 8th November 1823.
Janet's father was Jeremiah Campbell. Jeremiah was a coachman at Kilkerran, near Dailly, seen below.
His employer was Sir Adam Fergusson, who was for many years the Member of Parliament for the County of Ayr. His descendant, Sir Charles Fergusson, kindly invited me to Kilkerran to look at his family papers. In Sir Adam's fascinating Accounts Books I found frequent references to Jeremiah, as can be seen here on the top line.
Jeremiah earned £8 per annum, which was rather better than Mary McCracken, the dairymaid, who earned £2:17/-.
The local minister, describing life a few years later in the Statistical Account for Scotland, refers to
"the rising wages of common labour and domestic service"
It is clear that he is not wholly enthusiastic about this. He declares, rather grudgingly,
"It ought, by an indifferent spectator, to be regarded as one of the happiest effects of increasing industry and opulence."
The sting in the tail, however, tells us that the reverend gentleman was in reality most unhappy about the domestic servants among his flock receiving higher wages than they did in times gone by. His congregation, incidentally, comprised all the inhabitants of Dailly, with the exception of five or six seceders. By 1790, the population of Dailly was 1600, comprising fewer than 400 families. Of these, only 170 people lived in the village; the others lived on the land or on the five main estates, of which Kilkerran was one.
"The advanced wages of labour have had an obvious tendency to cherish the idle vanity of dress, and sometimes even the more ruinous appetite for dissipation."
In the Parish of Dailly at that time, there could be found one Butcher and Baker, three Millers, nine Shoemakers - and eighteen Alehouse Keepers and Retailers of Spirits!
It is interesting to note that the minister earned about £80 per annum, ten times Jeremiah's pay! In 1785 he accepted an increase of £25 a year. It is to be hoped that this did not lead to any form of dissipation!
The manse was built in 1758, and cost about £150. The church at Old Dailly, seen below, which was established in the 13th century, was abandoned in 1696. The new church in Dailly village, where Jeremiah's daughter, Janet, was married, was built in 1766, and cost £600.
At the gates to Kilkerran still stands the little bridge , which Jeremiah must have known well.