Monday, June 4, 2012

My biggest brick wall smashed: John SCOTT was really John CONACHER

A surprise phone call from a relative a few weeks ago has helped me smash my biggest genealogical brick wall. She had found some old letters dating back to the 1850's from SCOTT relatives in Scotland.

For over 25 years I had been searching for my 2nd great grandfather, John SCOTT, a baker at Creswick in Victoria, Australia during the 1850s who married Susan ASHMORE at Creswick in 1857. When he married, John gave the names of his parents as Alexander SCOTT and Margaret LAMB, his place of birth as Dunkeld, Scotland and his age as 30. John's brother, Alexander also came to Victoria and married.

I had never been able to find John and Alexander's birth or baptism or the marriage or even existence of their parents. The records just weren't there. The newly found letters, however, provided details of brothers and sisters and importantly where they were living in Scotland from the 1850s to 1870s. A letter written in 1855 told of the death of a sister, Susan.

I set to work checking ScotlandsPeople and other sites for the SCOTT family, but still no luck! Surely Susan's death would have been registered in 1855 and the family should have appeared in the various census records. I had another look at the letters and noticed that father Alexander's surname wasn't there. He signed his name Alexander at the bottom of one letter but the part where his surname would have been written was missing due to a tear - perhaps this was deliberately torn. Maybe the brothers had changed their name.

More searching for the first names of the family in the census indexes finally brought results. The family's surname was actually CONACHER. There was a family story that John and Alexander had left Scotland to get away from their father who was a strict Calvanist. Their mother was Margaret SCOTT who married Alexander CONACHER at Dunkeld in 1824, so the sons had adopted their mother's surname when they came to Australia. John had given his mother's surname as LAMB when he married, but LAMB was in fact the surname of his grandmother, Susan LAMB, the mother of Margaret SCOTT.

Now onto the next brick wall!


GeniAus said...

That's fantastic, Allen. I'm doing a happy dance for you.

Unknown said...

This was really interesting, and more so for me as I am from Dunkeld and my mother was the last Lamb born before becoming a Brown. Also, the last Lamb in Dunkeld (John Lamb, my grandfather) died January 3rd this year. By sheer coincidence, the photo of Dunkeld you have put on this page has their house in it.

Unknown said...

I'm also trying to trace the Lamb family from Little Dunkeld. My Grandad was John Lamb, born 24/10/1889 and my Granny Jessie lamb (1/5/1901). My Great Grand parents were Andrew Lamb and Annie Anderson (both born 1860), Andrew in Little Dunkeld. They had 3 sons, John, Robert (born 1891) and Andrew (born 1898). Any help much appreciated! Christina (nee Lamb).

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