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Donald Ross

ProfilePosted byOptionsPost Date


Charles Report 3 Oct 2012 22:50

There seems a problem with the Poor Relief records for Aberdeen City, according to Aberdeen City Archives they no longer exist but records for Old Machar (which I believe is a Parish of Aberdeen City do). I have contacted them to try and find out whether any records may exist. My Great Grandfather didn't live with his mother in 1861 so I don't know, if they did claim Poor Relief, which Parish it would have come under. I have also, through the Aberdeen & NE Scotland Family History Society tried to search Kirk Session records but so far have found nothing, although the records aren't indexed so it a long and time consuming process.
With regard to the registration of the birth, it was Agnes, the mother, who registered the birth. I think the father's name was added later as the entry seems to be in a slightly hand, almost like it was the same person writing it but at a different time and maybe with a different pen.
Searching the pre 1855 records for highland Scotland has been a bit of an eye opener. The way information was recorded, the amount of illegitamacy, even the use of 'Alias's', makes it almost impossible to be sure of anything, especially if you add to that the fact that many events weren't ever recorded!


mgnv Report 3 Oct 2012 09:13

Yeah - I think I was confusing Huntly with Gartly - I've no rellies from either.


rootgatherer Report 3 Oct 2012 09:12

Charlie, have you tried searching the Aberdeenshire Poor Relief records? It may be that Agnes claimed relief after her son's birth and that was why the Sheriff's ruling on paternity was necessary.

I have a few illegitimate Aberdeenshire births on my tree. OH's Great Grandmother had seven children to five different fathers but never married any of them! At least four of the fathers were free to marry. On OH's Grandfather's birth registration (1885) there is no father named on the birth registration but there is an entry on the RCE from the Court verifying his father's name and occupation. Same details on his sister's birth registration and RCE but for the following two children with this man she had perhaps got fed up going to court and gave the children the father's surname as a middle name.

It may be at the time that Agnes gave birth it was possibole to name the father on the registration without him be present but certainly on later registrations the father couldn't be recorded (if he wasn't married to the mother) without him being present to sign or make his mark on the entry.

OH's Grandfather's sister had an illegitimate son in the early 1900s and the child was given her surname but she later married the father and had more children. The illegitimate child's birth was re-registered about 25 years after the birth with the father's name.


Charles Report 3 Oct 2012 00:06

Thanks for the Genuki link, it appears that Huntly wasn't ever a parish of Banffshire if the information on the site is correct.


Malcolm Report 30 Sep 2012 20:53

For info on Scottish county boundaries - specifically Banff see


ErikaH Report 29 Sep 2012 10:36



Charles Report 27 Sep 2012 23:33

I have had other cases where there was a RCE and yes you can see the original image and the accompanying RCE image on SP's website. I think they charge an extra 2 credits to view it. What is different here is that the birth certificate doesn't show that there is a RCE it just shows it as the original BMD entry. The thing is it can't be because of the added illegitamacy ruling which happened in 1859. The certifcate is dated 1857 and in the column for father it states Donald Ross of Upper Kirkgate Aberdeen Illegitimate, I don't know if this was added at the timeof birth or subsequently following the illegitimacy ruling?
If DSR's father was a 'Tailor's Cutter Deceased' as stated on his marriage certificate then in 1861 (similar in 1871) there were some 640 Donald Ross's living in Scotland of which only 6 were Tailors or Clothiers or variations of the same. Out of them only one had died before 1878 when DSR married and also lived anywhere near him and was potentially of the right age. This Donald Ross lived only a couple of hundred yards away in Aberdeen on the 1871 census having moved there from Huntly between July 1863 and Oct 1865, which supports the theory that DSR knew his father and that he had died prior to his marriage.
There are more coincidences which are a bit complicated to go into here and are also a bit more vague, but everything I have found out about this Donald Ross has supported the theory that he was DSR's father nothing I have found has contradicted it. This may be just coincidence and I am taking that into consideration.
Thanks Charlie


mgnv Report 27 Sep 2012 21:46

Charles - yes, I was inclined towards the tailor based on the m.rego. That he liived on Upper Kirkgate in Huntly, I'm inclined to view as a coincidence. I lived on a street that was named after a village 40 miles away - the village where I was born.

I seem to recall an old statement by SP that they planned to make the relevant RCE image available at no extra cost if you'd bought the matching BMD entry - I think this was before they digitized the RCE. I've no idea if this is still the case, nor if the births RCE is now digitized - worth your checking out, though.

There's an interesting free example of an RCE for a death at:


Charles Report 27 Sep 2012 18:43

Thanks for the information about Upperkirkgate. I was aware that it is now just one word and on historical maps i have only ever seen it written as one word, but in other historical documents and the census record you referred to it is written as two words. I guess whoever was writing it down did so as they thought it should be.
It was interesting what you say about Huntly not being part of Aberdeenshire I will try and research that further.
The entry on the birth certificate appears as a record of corrected entry and I don't know who provided the information for the record to be amended. It may be the full address wasn't transcribed or was mis-transcribed, I really don't know. Whilst I agree it does seem a bit odd that Huntly isn't mentioned, there is quite a bit of other circumstantial evidence about this Donald Ross to link him to Daniel Smith Ross, which I can't ignore at the moment.
Thanks Charlie


mgnv Report 27 Sep 2012 11:11

Reposting Ann's 1871 with more details

1871 Scotland Census
Registration District:ST NICHOLAS
Enumeration District:28

MARY ALLAN 1831 40 Old Machar, Aberdeenshire Head U MILL WORKER
AGNES SMITH 1835 36 Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire Boarder U HAWKER
MARGARET SMITH 1851 20 Old Machar, Aberdeenshire Daughter U MILL WORKER
ANDREW SMITH 1856 15 Old Machar, Aberdeenshire Son U IRON DRESSER IN FOUNDRY
ISABELLA SMITH 1862 9 Old Machar, Aberdeenshire Daughter SCHOLAR
JESSIE SMITH 1868 3 Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire Daughter


AnnCardiff Report 27 Sep 2012 03:43

Agnes Smith
Scotland Census, 1871
birth: 1835 Aberdeenshire
residence: 1871 St Nicholas,? Aberdeenshire,? Scotland

name: Agnes Smith
event type: Census
event date: 1871
gender: Female
age: 36
birthplace: Aberdeenshire
registration district: St Nicholas
county: Aberdeenshire
estimated birth year: 1835


AnnCardiff Report 27 Sep 2012 03:41

Donald Ross Or Smith
Scotland, Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950
parents: Donald Ross,? Agnes Smith

name: Donald Ross Or Smith
gender: Male
birth date: 23 Dec 1856
father's name: Donald Ross
mother's name: Agnes Smith
indexing project (batch) number: C11168-1
system origin: Scotland-ODM
source film number:


mgnv Report 27 Sep 2012 02:23

I know that nowadays the Aberdeen Upperkirgate is written as one word (sim Netherkirkgate), but I'm not sure this would have been done consistently for the last century and a half.
I've not seen the original census images, but here's how FreeCEN transcribed 1841:

1841 Census
Piece: SCT1841/168 Place: Aberdeen -Aberdeenshire Enumeration District: 4
Civil Parish: West Parish Ecclesiastical Parish, Village or Island: East
Folio: 12 Page: 15
Address: Upper Kirkgate, Charles Court
Surname First name(s) Sex Age Occupation Where Born Remarks
SHAW Angus M 35 Labourer Outside Census County (1841)
ROSS Margaret F 30 Aberdeenshire
SHAW Donald M 14 Aberdeenshire
SHAW Margaret F 11 Aberdeenshire
SHAW Georgina F 7 Aberdeenshire
SHAW Hellen F 4 Aberdeenshire
SHAW Mary F 18m Aberdeenshire

No idea who this is - it's really the addy:

1841 Census
Piece: SCT1841/202 Place: Huntly -Aberdeenshire Enumeration District: 5
Civil Parish: Huntly Ecclesiastical Parish, Village or Island: -
Folio: 5 Page: 20
Address: Upperkirkgate
Surname First name(s) Sex Age Occupation Where Born Remarks
ROSS John M 63 Independent Aberdeenshire

I think it's the Aberdeen street that's being referred to.
It would be pretty odd to give a street 35 miles from Aberdeen and not name the town. Besides which, I think that until 1891, Huntly wasn't in Aberdeenshire, but in a detached bit of Banffshire.
[Since counties didn't really do much in Scotland, their boundaries were a mess until 1891. My dad's uncle was born in Banffshire - 8 miles from Peterhead!!!]

Incidentally, George St began just 100m N of Upperkirkgate.


Charles Report 27 Sep 2012 00:11

I am new to this site but have already realised the willingness of members to help others.
My Great Grandfather was born in 23/12/1856 in Aberdeen name Donald Smith, he was the illegitimate son of Agnes Smith and Donald Ross. On 15/08/1859 the Sheriff Court of Aberdeen found that his father was Donald Ross of Upper Kirkgate Aberdeen. The only other information that I have about his father is on his marriage certificate 26/07/1878 when Donald Smith (now known as Daniel Smith Ross (DSR)) married Rebecca Beet. He stated that his father was Donald Ross (Tailor's Cutter deceased) and his mother was Agnes Ross (nee Smith). The last bit I know was an attempt to hide his illegitimacy as Agnes never married Donald Ross, at the time of DSR's marriage she was married to a Peter Murray, the bit about his father maybe true or may also be incorrect in attempt to hide his illegitamacy.
I have found two possible matches, one a Donald Ross who lived at Upper Kirkgate Huntly Aberdeenshire and a Donald Ross son of Margaret Ross who lived at 13 Upper Kirkgate Aberdeen between 1858 & 1861. In 1851 she lived in Rathven (her son Donald didn't live with her at the 1851 census, but I think he lived at 155 George Street, Aberdeen). The first Donald Ross was a tailor/chelsea pensioner, died 27/11/1876 in Dundee, but in between lived in Aberdeen from about 1863/4 till about 1871, within a couple of hundred yards of his son & mother. The second appears on the 1851 census as a 'baker' and the only link is his mother living in Upper Kirkgate at the time of the illegitamcy hearing. I can find no record of him after the 1851 census.
I know a lot about the first Donald Ross and he ticks so many boxes, the only problem is that he was living in Upper Kirkgate Huntly Aberdeenshire at the time of the Sheriff's court hearing, he had a family and was a lot older than Agnes Smith. DSR's birth certificate clearly states that Donald Ross lived in Upper Kirkgate Aberdeen (not Aberdeenshire). There appears to be only 2 Upper Kirkgate's in the Aberdeenshire area, Upperkirkgate, Aberdeen and Upper Kirkgate Huntly Aberdeenshire. I have noted the difference in the way that they are written and it may be of significance
If anyone can help about either of the potential fathers of DSR I would welcome some help.
Many thanks
Charlie Ross