Discovering the Lewins, the Swanstons, the Faggots and the Aitkmans. Part One.

My Three Times Great Grandparents, Janet Swanston, William Lewins and their families.

So I mentioned a few posts back that I knew next to nothing about my 3x Great Grandfather and nothing of my 3x Great Grandmother, a bit of digging and I now know a lot more.

William Lewins, father to my 2x Great Grandmother, Janet Constance Lewins, who you might recall from my last post, he was living with in Sydney, when he died in 1916.

I cannot for the life of me dig up a birth certificate for William, which is quite frustrating. I have tried every combination of names and fuzzy matchings on Scotland’s People and nothing. His headstone is very clearly inscribed with his birthdate.

Figure 1: Courtesy of the Macvean Family Archives

This is the only thing I could come up with that was anywhere near a match to these details and of course, it isn’t him.

Figure 2: Courtesy of Scotland’s People

This is where we start to work backwards from what we know. We know that William marries Janet Swanston in 1858. This is from

Figure 3: Courtesy of

I know, you have to be careful with Ancestry as anyone can put any unsubstantiated info up, but this source is from Scotland, Select Marriages and seems legit. It has the correct names and area we are looking for. Duns is only 10 miles from Ayton which in turn is only 5 miles from Coldingham, the parish that Janet is born in. I know you don’t know this yet, but I have rock solid evidence this information is correct that I will share with you soon. Spoilers! (Sorry the new season of Dr Who has just come out, and I fall back into the old bad habits)

Figure 4: Courtesy of Google Maps

I hit Scotland’s People website again and wow, this time some luck, a marriage registration for William and Janet. Yay! Some certified information to work from, hopefully.

Figure 5: Courtesy of Scotland’s People

I know it is a little hard to read but this is incredible, some great information in here, and it also confirms that this is our William and Janet. 30th of April 1858 is the same as Ancestry info and Janet’s maiden name matches what we already know.

Now, what is new. The big news first, column 6 above, is both sets of parents. That is such a find as the name Thomas recorded as William’s father is totally new to me. All other parent names match up with existing information from Ancestry but all the other trees I matched with had William’s father’s name recorded as “William”. This changes everything as having the name William in the father’s spot links to a whole heap of information for a William Lewin from Durham who had a wife named Mary and children Charles and Anne, which I now know is not correct.

I went through and deleted all of the incorrect information and started uploading Thomas and Mary’s details. Surprisingly, no new information came up in their hints on the tree straight away but more on that to come.

The next piece of new information from the registration. They are married at Wedderburn and Janet’s residence is listed as Wedderburn. What? She lives at a church and works as a domestic servant? A bit of digging ensues and this is what I discover about Wedderburn. It’s better than a church.

It is an 18th-century country residence of the Home family of Wedderburn. It was built in 1771-1775 by the famous architectural brothers, Robert and James Adam.

Figure 5a: Courtesy of Canmore UK

The above photo shows the castle in the bottom right and the estate farm in the upper left as it is today.

Figure 5b: Courtesy of eBay UK

I don’t have a date for this photo above, but I would think that it is probably early to mid 20th century, so only a hundred years after Janet and William’s wedding.

I’m making the assumption from here that Janet is obviously living and working at the castle and that she must be held in some regard if she is able to have her wedding take place there. (Making a big assumption I know.)

My mind of course goes to the TV show Downton Abbey, which depicted a domestic servant’s wedding taking place at the ancestral home of Lord Grantham. I wonder if this is what happened to Janet.

Thinking of what she might have looked like at the time, this is probably how she would have been dressed when on service.

I came across a piece on the Weddington Castle website about servants’ lives where they shared, that generally, any female servants at the time had to follow the very strict rule of “no followers“. Meaning no admirers of the opposite sex. If they were found fraternising it was instant dismissal. The piece does go on to explain that there were documented examples of exceptions to this rule, and there were cases where unions were even encouraged by their employers.

I choose to believe that this is what was happening for Janet and William.

William as you will see from their marriage registration was living and working in a place called Oxenrig, not Wedderburn. Perhaps he delivered produce to the castle and this is where he came across Janet and how their attraction started. (Damn, I think that is Downton again). Anyhow, I found this wonderful hand-drawn map from 1797 that actually has Oxenrig noted on it.

John Blackadder’s Map of Berwickshire 1797
Figure 5f: Courtesy of National Library of Scotland

Wedderburn Castle is about 10 miles to the north of Oxenrig farm, about an hour and a half away by horse and carriage. So not out of the realm of possibility.

Wedderburn Castle
John Blackadder’s Map of Berwickshire 1797
Figure 5g: Courtesy of National Library of Scotland

There is virtually nothing out there on the web about it, but Oxenrig Farm is still going. A number of the cottages are rented out to other services, such as electricians and the like. I can’t find any record of what cottage, but I would like to think that this might be where William was living. I put together a few pics from Google Maps to show what it looks like today. It is so going on the “to visit” list.

Oxenrig Farm

Slideshow 1: All photos courtesy of Google Maps

Now I have a bit of a theory I have developed on the whole, why Janet and William are getting the opportunity to marry at Wedderburn. I uncovered a nice little link. Remember I mentioned above that Wedderburn is in the custody of the Home family, well keep that in mind and just go with me here.

Take a look at the 1841 census, for Janet and her family. They come up in the results, and it confirms Janet’s parents having the same names listed as on the marriage registration, John & Janet Swanson. Finding this census is brilliant for us as it gives us a real picture of where they are. I’ve marked the family’s details with the highlighter and underlined the place they were living at the time.

1841 Swanson Family Census
Figure 5h: Courtesy of Scotland’s People

Two things to note. First is the name of the family immediately above them. The Home family. Now I don’t know if they are related to the Wedderburn Homes’, but it’s a nice possible link. The second thing to note, the place they are all living, FairLaw, is owned by one John Home. This is a definite, potential link (you like that? I’m covering all bases) to the name of the family that owns Wedderburn Castle. Below are a few scant details I have found showing the link.

Slideshow 2: All photos courtesy of the British Newspaper Archive

And how lucky for us, FairLaw is still going. Even though it is almost two centuries since the Swanston’s were there. Just to be able to see where Janet and her family’s lives played out is an amazing gift. I know, you have heard it from me before.

And just so we can keep things balanced, this is what was happening for William and his family in 1841. Unfortunately, his father Thomas has been dead for two and a half years. He didn’t even get to meet William, as he passes away in November 1839, and William isn’t born until the 23rd of December, a month later.

1841 Lewins Family Census
Figure 5i: Courtesy of Scotland’s People

You can see from this census document that it incorrectly has William down as aged 6 and his brother George as 2, this should be the other way around as we know William’s birthdate is in Dec 1839.

I couldn’t move on without making mention of Thomas Lewins Jr on the census. Thirteen years of age and he is working as an agricultural labourer. I wonder if this was a result of his father no longer being around and able to provide for the family?

Mary and the children are living in Lamberton Shiels which is an ancient village on the east coast of Berwickshire just four miles north of Berwick. I found it on the Blackadder map from 1797.

John Blackadder’s Map of Berwickshire 1797
Figure 5j: Courtesy of National Library of Scotland

This map below is a digital representation of the ordnance survey map of the area from 1862 and confirms exactly where Lamberton Shields was and the industry around it.

This wonderful handwritten piece of paper is from the actual Ordnance file of the map. We can assume from this that the family is working for Mr. Elliot at his Lamberton farm and living in one of the six cottages he has on the property.

Figure 5l: Courtesy of Scotland’s Places

The other interesting piece of information here for us is that last line on the right-hand side column, “…the south side of Lamberton Salmon Fishery”. I wonder if this is where Thomas Lewins was working before his death in 1839? Remember his occupation on William and Janet’s marriage registration is listed as a salmon fisher. These tiny bits of information are so tantalising.

Now, in classic WDYTYA (Who Do You Think You Are) style, after the tragedy of Mary losing her husband and the children their father, everything falls apart for them, of course. I found them on the 1851 Census in not-so-good circumstances.

1851 Lewins Family Census
Figure 5m: Courtesy of Scotland’s People

They are living in Redhall cottage in Ayton now, Mary is listed as a Pauper, and they are the “…recipients of parish relief…”. I can only imagine how hard it must have been for Mary and the family trying to keep everything going for seven people over the intervening ten years. We can see also that we have lost Thomas, Elizabeth, and William from the household.

Once again there is not much out there about Redhall Cottage, but I’m pretty sure I have found it, still standing. It was originally four farm cottages and then in 1951, they were converted into a bed and breakfast restaurant.

Check out the photos from Google Maps below, I threw in the map to show you where it sits in relation to Ayton and Lamberton Shields.

Redhall Cottage

Slideshow 2: All photos courtesy of Google Maps

Ah, the neurons are firing, and some synaptic connections are happening, here is another one of those moments where it has taken me a while to put two and two together. See, this is quite therapeutic to share with you and gives you a bit of an insight into me, I can be a bit slow on the uptake.

Notice how it states above in Figure 5m, (the 1851 Lewins Family Census) George Lewin, son, 11 years of age? This age fits with the earlier 1841 Census and if we take this as correct, this means William is the elder of the two and his age is correct in 1841 at 6 years of age. It stands, then, that the census reporters didn’t have the brothers incorrectly listed on the 1841 Census and that William’s birthdate on his headstone is actually incorrect. It also fits perfectly with William’s age on his marriage registration in 1858 putting him at 23 making his birth year, 1835.

I would imagine in 1916 when William passes away it would be very difficult to confirm details like this, especially from Australia. It seems whoever was responsible for providing these details confused the birthdates between the brothers and put George’s birthdate on William’s headstone.

Further confirmation of this mistake is in this 1851 census listing below. It is for William, who is now 16 years of age and is listed as a servant, working as an agricultural laborer at Ayton Mains Farm House. How lucky to find him. Take note of his birthplace. This is the first time we have seen New Mills and not Ayton as his birthplace. New Mills appears on a few other sources coming up and confirms for me that this must be William’s correct birthplace.

1851 William Lewins Census
Figure 5m: Courtesy of Scotland’s People

Talking of luck, Ayton Mains Farm House still stands. I found it listed on a local real estate agent website, and it has been restored. I’m sure William wasn’t living in it, but this is where William’s life was taking place in 1851.

It seems things might be going a little better for the Swanston side of the family in 1851, here is a copy of their Census below. They are still at FairLaw ten years later. Janet and her sister Margaret are the only children still at home, and Janet is working as an agricultural laborer. So we can deduce from this that somewhere between this census and her marriage to William in 1858 Janet gets the opportunity to start work in Wedderburn Castle as a domestic servant. I wonder what the story was behind that transition from farmworker to an indoors domestic servant. Was this unusual for the time?

1851 Swanston Family Census
Figure 5n: Courtesy of Scotland’s People

Let’s take our focus back to Janet & William’s marriage registration for a moment, (Figure 5), William’s parents, remember how I said there was more to come? Well, here it is, and talk about more to come.

Thomas & Mary Lewins née Faggot, is new information for me. As I mentioned previously the Ancestry website had William’s father’s name noted as William. But we now know that it was in actual fact Thomas, and as we have already mentioned he was a Salmon Fisher.

Ancestry did have his mother down as Mary but no last name, now we have her maiden name, Faggot. Just going to leave that one there, maybe she comes from a long line of wood gatherers? (Bit of a funny aside to share with you, every time I type the name Faggot, the spelling software throws up a note that this term could be perceived as offensive. Thanks, Grammarly.)

I put these details into Ancestry, Mary Faggot, and Thomas Lewins and after a bit of digging found some other trees that had this combination of parent names but no William listed as, son of. Another problem, they had Mary’s death date as 1879, where it clearly states in (Figure 5) above, that she is (deceased) at the time of the marriage in 1858.

This tree below of Randi Coulson Kelly was the first one I came across showing some matching details, but William wasn’t listed as a child.

Figure 6: Courtesy of the Coulson Kelly Family Tree,

I did unearth a couple of other trees that did have a William listed but the birth date was out. At the time of writing this section, I hadn’t put the mix-up with William’s and George’s birthdate together yet.

Figure 7: Courtesy of
Figure 8: Courtesy of

No other details on these trees but at least his name was there. I was going to leave this one for the moment and focus on the fact that we have so many other points lining up to suggest that this is the correct information, but then something caught my eye. In (Figure 5), above, column 7, you will note one of the witnesses is listed as George Lewens. (another point possibly lining up) Could this be William’s brother?

I checked Scotland’s People for a birth record, no luck. Checked the Coulson Kelly tree and low and behold, Randi the owner of that tree had a marriage registration uploaded.

Figure 9: Courtesy of Scotland’s People

I couldn’t help myself, had to get the highlight out for you again. Check out those details and if you compare them to Williams’ marriage registration (Figure 5) you will see they are a match. Thomas Lewins, Salmon Fisher and Mary Lewins, maiden name, Faggot.

I was so excited to be able to confirm this line of the family with certainty and what a bonus, not only William’s parents but also his siblings, aunts, and uncles. I sent Randi, the owner of the Coulson Kelly Family Tree, a very enthusiastic thank you for sharing her tree. If she hadn’t shared, I wouldn’t have been able to confirm these details.

Next, I went looking for a marriage certificate for Mary and Thomas, no luck again. I then turned my attention to Mary’s death date. Interesting to note that on Georges’ marriage registration Mary is not listed as deceased. So I went digging on Scotland’s People for any death registration and look what came up.

Figure 10: Courtesy of Scotland’s People

Widow of Thomas Lewins, Yay! Yes, admittedly it would be great to see Salmon Fisher listed underneath, but General laborer is not a big stretch. Mary’s age fits with what we know and wow, 5x Great Grandparents listed, matching the details Randi had in her tree for Mary’s parents. Another generation emerges from the shadows.

These details also matched with what other members have in their Ancestry trees. In addition to this find, I’m also getting to know what I’m doing, so that is a big help. For example, check out column 7 above, the witness is Mary’s son-in-law, James Haggarty, which might be another point to confirm details. After recognising the potential here, I went digging again.

I had no such pairing. Haggarty & Lewins wasn’t coming up in Ancestry at all, I assumed as it was all new info at this stage, so I jumped back into Scotland’s People to look for that combination. Look what revealed itself below.

Figure 11: Courtesy of Scotland’s People

The highlighter again. James Haggarty confirmed and Thomas and Mary confirmed as parents of Isabella Lewins, their daughter, with Fisherman listed and Mary’s maiden name. Wow! This means that I can confidently say we have the correct death registration for Mary, and I now have my 5x Great Grandparents confirmed as well. William Faggot, Shoemaker, and Margaret Aitkman. At least that is Mary’s side confirmed, still nothing for Thomas as yet.

What a rollercoaster of information gathering, and it is not over. Some more great finds to share before shifting our focus to my 5x Great Grandparents.

I know this is random, but it was just too good not to share. It is a portrait of one of the players in our story and as there isn’t a single one yet, so I’m not missing this one.

From the Anglo-Indian Evangelisation Society Report 1902 Figure 11a: Courtesy of Yale University Library

This is the face of the man that looked upon Janet and William as they said their vows. His details appear in column 7 of (Figure 5). I know it is an obvious bad photocopy of an old photo but what an insight. Also, what an interesting person to say the least about Rev’ Fordyce. He was a Christian missionary who was responsible for establishing, the female education initiative, Zenana Missions, in India. If you want to know more, click the link.

Remember I mentioned way back at the start of this post about spoilers and the fact that I had concrete evidence of Janet’s birthplace? Well, this is it. I found her birth registration on Scotland’s People.

Figure 11b: Courtesy of Scotland’s People

Still no luck on William’s birth record, even now knowing that his date is most likely in 1835, not 1839. Scotland’s People are not giving that one up. I even put his details into the English equivalent, the General Register Office, (GRO) but still nothing.

Whilst searching through the indexes of the GRO I did however come across a death registration for a Thomas Lewins, December 1838, in The Berwick Upon Tweed Union. I mean, come on, it is so random what will and won’t come up when searching. I put in an order, and I should have it back in a couple of days. Fingers crossed it is our Thomas, I will keep you updated when it comes in.

The next thing I came across was a death registration for Janet, I know we are going to the other end of the continuum but still great information. I split the copy of the registration into three sections for you below. Janet’s details first, parents & what she died from second and then the witness section.

Figure 11c: Courtesy of Scotland’s People

The first thing to note, in the last section, is that William is the witness. And he is present, meaning he is still in Scotland and has not left for Australia as yet. This is great in terms of knowing when to look for him in the passenger lists for when he immigrates, as I still don’t have that information.

No surprises for Farmer as Janet’s father’s occupation, but I’m not sure if William’s states that he is a farmer or a farrier. If farrier, that is new information. The late part I understand, as he had already left his job at Kinnaird in 1890.

Next is her mother’s maiden name noted as Naismith. This is the first time I have seen Janet’s maiden name written like this, and it is interesting as I knew I had seen it somewhere else before.

Figure 11d: Courtesy of Scotland’s People

This is the birth record for Janet and William’s youngest son, Herbert, my 2x Great Grandmother’s brother. And there is our first mention of Kinnaird and specifically the Deer Park Cottage. We will circle back to this in a moment. First, let’s turn our attention back to Janet’s death registration (Figure 11c)

This is very interesting, there is an actual street address for where Janet and William were living when she passes away. I stumbled on to the most wonderful discovery, a photo of 1 Church Street Brechin, on the Brechin History website, Electric Scotland. In the photo below it is the third building on the left, it is slightly stepped back from the first two.

Church Street, Brechin
Figure 11e: Courtesy of Electric Scotland

I don’t have a date on this photo, but it looks like the early 20th century. This is the exact spot where Janet and William were living out their last years together. Amazingly, it still looks almost the same today.

Church Street, Brechin 2020
Figure 11f: Courtesy of Google Maps

Intersection of High & Church Street, Brechin

Slideshow 4: All photos courtesy of Google Maps

The Brechin site had a moderator, and you know how the excitement takes me, so I sent them a message of thanks. The moderator’s name is Alastair, and he very kindly sent me a reply. I’ll send Alastair a link to this post when I’m finished. Hopefully, he doesn’t see it as an invitation to the old holiday slide night.

Figure 11g: Courtesy of Disqus

The Angus Archives also had a wonderful shot of the intersection from just around the corner this one is in 1910, ten years after Janet and William but this sight would have been very familiar to them.

The intersection of High St & Church St, Brechin
Figure 11h: Courtesy of Angus Archives Facebook Page

Circling back to Kinnaird as mentioned in Herbert’s birth registration in (Figure 11d). It is 1350 acres in size, and relays from the Historic Environment Scotland website that there has been a park on the site since 1750. The Park that Janet and William would have known was designed by Thomas White and James Playfair in 1790. The park was extended in 1860 but basically retains the same design today as when Janet and William lived and worked there.

Below is a slideshow of some amazing aerial shots of the estate from the Canmore website. Once again, what an incredible window into the past from the present, a window I’m sure that Janet and William would recognise.

Kinnaird Estate

Slideshow 4: All photos courtesy of Canmore

Kinnaird is the estate that Janet and William lived on for over three decades of their lives in the employ of the 9th Earl of Southesk, James Carnegie. Here is another face of one of the players in our story. James Carnegie was a Scottish nobleman, explorer, and poet.,_9th_Earl_of_Southesk

James Carnegie 1859
Exploration of Hudson Bay, West Canada
Figure 11i: Courtesy of Pinterest

The photo of Kinnaird Castle below is from exactly the time period that Janet and William are there. This is the Castle they would have known.

Kinnaird Castle 1880
Figure 12: Courtesy of Canmore
Figure 13: Courtesy of Kinnaird Castle

And here it is in the early 21st century.

Kinnaird Castle 2015
Figure 14: Courtesy of Graeme Davidson, sourced from Congruent Castles WordPress Blog

Kinnaird Castle has been home to the Carnegie family, now the Dukes of Fife for over 600 years.

Deer Park Cottage or the Keeper’s Cottage as it is now titled, you would have noticed was where Herbert was born, (Figure 11d) it is part of the Kinnaird estate and is situated in Deer Park.

u003cemu003eKinnaird Deer Park Mapu003cbru003e
Figure A: Courtesy of Historic Environment Scotland u003c/emu003eu003cbru003eu003ca href=u0022
Figure B: Courtesy of National Library of Scotlandu003c/emu003eu003cbru003eu003ca href=u0022

How is that? I managed to get another one of the slide comparison things in. I did this as the first map clearly shows where Deer Park Cottage is, which enables us to be certain on the second map, which is from 1865, exactly where Janet, William and the family were living.

And here it is, Deer Park Cottage below, and yes, it still stands after all of this time.

Deer Park Cottage/Keeper’s Cottage
Figure 15: Courtesy of Kinnaird Estate

Today you can rent it out as a holiday cottage for about £1000 a week. This one is definitely going on that visit list. This is the house that Janet and William raise their family in. The house where my 2x Great Grandmother Janet is born, and her nine siblings, 110 years before I came into the world, give or take a few years.

Lewin Family Birth Registrations

Slideshow 4: All photos courtesy of Scotland’s People

How is that again?, I found all ten birth registrations. Interesting about the correction to John’s registration, adding in the second name, Cameron. I wonder what that was about and whether it had anything to do with the Reverend Cameron who added it in? That is one we will never know.

Let’s pick up the story at the next census. Here are Janet and William with their first two daughters now joining them, Janet & Mary in the 1861 Census.

1861 Lewins Family Census
Figure 16: Courtesy of Scotland’s People

You will notice that William is working as a Shepherd for the estate, he doesn’t have the Keeper title yet, but he and the family are already in the Park Keeper’s Cottage. If you look closely at the Where Born section for William, you will notice that it says “…Newmills” and looking at the 1871 and 1881 census for him, they note Where Born as “…Hutton” I now know that we have come up with the correct place he was born. The next section cements it into place for me.

Still nothing in the official BDM sites for William’s birth, but I found this amazing book on the history of Berwick, and it is filled with the most wonderful collection of old photos, and it shows Newmills. But before sharing that, let me show you the John Blackadder map from 1797 again to orientate us to the correct spot.

John Blackadder’s Map of Berwickshire 1797
Figure 17: Courtesy of National Library of Scotland

Newmills is only a couple of miles to the west of Berwick, where Mary, William’s mother’s family are from, the Faggots. See how close Newmills and Hutton are? Easy to interchange the two on the census.

Unfortunately, Google Maps doesn’t get us close to that spot on the Whiteadder Water, that is the name of that offshoot of the river. But it does get us on to the Bridge, which is drawn just under the spot where Newmills is written on the map.

Figure 18: Courtesy of Google Maps

Up there on the right-hand bank sat Newmills and the village my 3x Great Grandfather was born. Not Ayton as is stated on his headstone. Below is the Google map from today and I marked the bridge crossing in the ole highlighter for us. I love this detective work, could be totally wrong, but I feel that I’m right especially with the pieces I have put together.

Figure 19: Courtesy of Google Maps

In the slideshow below is the incredible picture and information on New Mills from the “Old Berwick” book by John Griffiths.

New Mills appearing in Old Berwick, John Griffiths

Slideshow 5: All images courtesy of Stenlake Publishing Limited

If you aren’t convinced yet, the deal closer here for me is the information that is written on William’s death registration. I ordered it just last week, and it has hit my email today. I know we are right in the middle of discussing the life events that happened for him and Janet in their decades at Kinnaird, but I think this is the right time to share William’s death registration with you, as it fits with my theory on his birthplace.

William Lewins Death Registration
Figure 20: Courtesy of NSW Birth Deaths and Marriages

The diagnosis of “…senility…” is the big thing that stands out for me. It stands to reason if William was living with senility at that stage there is a very good chance that Janet his daughter would not have been able to confirm the details of his earlier life.

My opinion is that these entries above show where the mistakes stemmed from. We have ample information confirming for us now that William is not the name of his father and as for the name of his mother on the entry above? Well, I can see how Faggot might have ended up phonetically interpreted as Fawcet.

The other thing that supports my reasoning is that I can find no registration of a William Lewins and a Mary Fawcet in either Scotland or England’s marriage records, Yay!

Another question I’m asking myself is if Janet my 2x Great Grandmother was 19 years of age when her Grandmother Mary Lewins passes away, why does she not at least have these details correct? She was old enough to know this information at that stage of her life. Was there no contact between William and his mother? Did this follow that Janet and her siblings didn’t have any relationship with Mary? Perhaps this is the reason why Mary is listed as deceased on William and Janet’s marriage registration when she was actually still alive and kicking. Because she was, as far as William was concerned.

Mary is listed as a pauper for decades in the census, and is not really in the same vicinity as William and the family. Maybe the stigma was too much for William, and he excluded Mary from having access to his family. This might account for Janet not correcting these details on his death record or headstone.

This is where Mary is in 1861 when William and Janet are establishing themselves at Kinnaird.

1861 Mary Lewins & Family Census
Figure 21 Courtesy of Scotland’s People

Mary is listed as a “Pauper“, again, so things haven’t improved financially since the 1851 census. “Formerly Fishers Wife…” so we know we have the correct person. It shows that Mary is living at Dykesgatehead farm in Whitsome, with her children, daughter, Isabella, son, George, and two of her grandchildren, Thomas and Georgina. No father is listed for these two. Interesting to note that Georgina is Isabella’s daughter and Thomas is Margaret Lewins’ son, but Margaret is not part of the household.

I found Georgina and Thomas’s birth registrations and Mary their Grandmother, features on both. I’m starting to get the sense that Mary even though desperately poor for most of her life and illiterate, was a woman of great strength.

Lewins Grandchildren Birth Registrations

Slideshow 6: All images courtesy of Scotland’s People

The Borders Family History website had a great map of the area showing where Dykesgatehead Farm was. It also shows the tiny village of New Mills, where William was born.

Map showing Dykegatehead & New Mills
Figure 22: Courtesy of the Borders Family History Site

William and Janet and the rest of Mary’s grandchildren are 120 miles north of Whitsome in Kinnaird in 1861. As per their census (Figure 19) above.

Before we continue exploring more of the family’s life events, as we have just mentioned New Mills again I think this will be a good spot to put this information into the story. I just received a copy of the death registration from the English General Registry Office that I mentioned earlier.

Remember I said I would keep you updated on my fishing expedition, excuse the pun, on the death registration I came across for a Thomas Lewins in 1838 in Berwick Upon Tweed? Guess what? It is our Thomas Lewins, Mary’s husband, William’s father, my 4x Great Grandfather.

Thomas Lewins Death Registration
Figure 23: Courtesy of the General Registration Office

How amazing to find him and to bring him into the fold so to speak. He died 1st November 1838, not 1839 as previously mentioned. He was only 38 years old. Cause of death, dropsy. From my quick Google search, it is an old term used at the time for congestive heart disease. And the final piece of the jigsaw, so to speak, he died at New Mills.

The sad reality here is, that as Mary is registering her husband’s death, the day after he dies, she is actually pregnant with their sixth child, and she has five others at home all under the age of 10.

I keep looking at that tiny little cross, and it is thrilling to think that Mary made that but also so sad to think of the wave of fear, uncertainty, and grief that must have been swirling around on the other side of that cross.

Let us head to the next census. Here are Janet and William another 10 years down the track in 1871.

1871 Lewins Family Census
Figure 24: Courtesy of Scotland’s People

Did you notice that in both this census and the 1861 census, the Lewins’ have a domestic servant living with them? The position probably came with the cottage as part of the estate workforce, but it still shows you the stark difference between William and Janet’s family circumstances and his mother and sister’s, living on church relief.

I could not find Mary in any of the census listings for 1871, it is eight years before she passes away, so she had to be somewhere, but she was just not appearing anywhere. I then remembered that her son-in-law was the witness on her death registration. In the next step, I would look for the Haggarty family in the census data and see if Mary was with them. She has been found.

1871 Haggarty Family Census
Figure 25: Courtesy of Scotland’s People

She is living with her daughter Isabella’s family. And check out why I couldn’t find her, she is listed under her maiden name Fagget. I didn’t try that name when searching, but it wouldn’t have mattered because whoever entered it into Scotland’s People has her listed as Mary Haggarty. Tricksters!

I can’t believe my luck, after a bit of digging I located where New Flemington was. The place the family and Mary were living.

Figure 26: Courtesy of National Library of Scotland

See how the building has a distinctive curved edge to it and there is a bend in the road as you approach. You are not going to believe me now either, but the building is still standing, sort of. In 2011 lots of the roof was still on, but you will notice it is not quite the same picture in 2021. It is still there though.

New Flemington Farm 2011-2021

Slideshow 7: All images courtesy of Google Maps

Alright, let us swing back to Janet and William, I have uncovered a few things that happened to them between 1871 and the next census in 1881 and most of the information stems from the British Newspaper Archive. What a fantastic resource.

The British Newspaper Archive has offered up some really wonderful little slices not only on Janet and William’s lives but also their children. I have used this, as well as what I could find on Scotland’s People, again, to present to you what life events of theirs have come to light.

But you know what? I’m going to give us a breather. I just did a preview on this post so far, and we are already at 25 mins reading time. I don’t want to bore you to death in one sitting, so I’ll see you in the next post when we continue the story of Janet, William, and their families, my family.

3 thoughts on “Discovering the Lewins, the Swanstons, the Faggots and the Aitkmans. Part One.

  1. Hey John, Hope you and all the family are keeping well and happy. I gotta say how much I enjoy the comparison photos from then to now. In one photo of Church St, Brechin is just the same, just different modes of transport and the street light appears to have been moved backwards. Amazingly, this building is still standing. I love to see very old buildings being restored or maintenance kept up. Take care and stay well,

    On Sun, 5 Dec 2021 at 00:54, JOHN’S FAMILY HISTORY wrote:

    > John Macvean posted: ” My Three Times Great Grandparents, Janet Swanston, > William Lewins and their families. So I mentioned a few posts back that I > knew next to nothing about my 3x Great Grandfather and nothing of my 3x > Great Grandmother, a bit of digging and I now know a l” >

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Kay, so glad you are enjoying it. I too love the comparison. This lot of research has uncovered so many of the old properties still standing, part two has a heap more coming up. Just highlights how much we lost of our heritage buildings in the 1970s. Cheers John


  2. I love the then-and-now comparisons, amazed so many buildings are still identifiable. Interesting too, that the families are so close in proximity, but so different in circumstance and wellbeing. Poor Mary.

    Liked by 1 person

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