19 May 2011

Frasers: Part 13 (Inverness)

Already mentioned — the serious gaps in Highland parish registers make this an exercise based on incomplete information. It’s true that a few churches went without a local minister at times, but also “... it is to be regretted that the entries were not by any means regularly made, and this circumstance is probably owing to a strong prejudice which obtained against it in the minds of the people, as from any remissness or neglect on the part of the clerk.”[1] Yes ... the Highlander’s aversion to “outside” authority.

Back to the drawing board in the search for potential parents of John Fraser of Inverness-shire, Scotland, and Argenteuil, Quebec. After viewing the ScotlandsPeople images, Alexander featured more frequently as a father’s name; the name James Fraser was less common and cast up but one father prospect. I’ve added some comments about the entries. Extra detail in the records varies from one minister to another.

The latest nominees for this desirable position are:
❶ Alexander Fraser in Ballehagan whose son John was baptized 24 November 1776 in Kiltarlity parish, mother not named. This one entry meets the estimated birth year of 1776. No witnesses were noted. Examination of the Kiltarlity OPR on ScotlandsPeople showed that the Kiltarlity church minister habitually, annoyingly, ignored the names of mothers. But he did usually record where the father resided, a farm called Ballehagan in this instance. The entry specifically mentions that the Rev. Mr. Alexander Fraser at Kirkhill performed the baptism. Kiltarlity and Kirkhill were adjoining parishes and each had more than one church.
❷ Alexander Fraser and Isabel Fraser, parents of John baptized 7 September 1777, parish of “Boleskine/Abertarff or Ft Augustus.” Alexander was described as “Head[?] of Tenant in Glendoebeg”; baptism was performed by Mr Peter Grant. No witnesses. Another case of several churches widely scattered within one parish. And this triple-barrelled place name was familiar from a John Fraser-Ann Fraser couple having children baptized there 1794-1797. Isabel is a name not repeated in my family.
❸ Alexander Fraser in Wester Kirkhill and Margrat Fraser were parents of John baptized 25 May 1778, Kirkhill parish. Witnesses Alexander Nichol and James Huston[?]. Likewise, Margaret is not a name among my John’s children or descendants.
❹ Alexander Fraser in Culloden and Mary Fraser were parents of John baptized 3 August 1778 by Mr. Robert Rose, Inverness parish. Witnesses Thomas Fraser and [blank] Smith in Culloden. Alexander was not called a labourer, which the minister was careful to point out for many others. Mr. George Watson seemed to be most prevalent minister mentioned in the register, so Mr. Robert Rose may hold a clue. Our John named his 4th daughter Mary.
❺ James Fraser, father of John baptized 11 November 1772, Kiltarlity; mother not named. Father’s residence was in Brearachy/Buarachy. Witnesses were William McPherson in Teatore[?], Hugh Fraser in Foxhall.

It was customary for the Presbyterian clergy to be addressed as Mr. So-and-so; the man performing the baptism seems to be named if he was not the usual incumbent. Ministers’ names may also be clues to a particular church location. Unfamiliar place names (likely local farms or hamlets) would need exploring IF any of this will gel.

Do any of these “parent” parishes correspond to the (negative) marriage search for ancestor John and his first wife Ann Fraser  ... assuming he married in the place of his birth? Hardly. The best I can say is that the parishes of Kirkhill, Kiltarlity, Boleskine, and Inverness are common. Each presented its own assumptions and problems in attempts to find correlations.

On such slim pickings do hypotheses flutter. I need to shake this loose till all the available pieces fall out.

Next: the FAN club. Some of you know what I mean.

[1] Kiltarlity, Inverness, Scotland, FamilySearch Wiki 
(https://wiki.familysearch.org/en/Kiltarlity,_Inverness,_Scotland_Church_Records : accessed 23 April 2011), citing New Statistical Account of Scotland (1841).

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