Part Three: Discovering the Lewins, the…(oh you know what?, …Et Al.)

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

Hello, welcome back, hope you enjoyed part two of William and Janet’s story. Now to pick up where we left off again. I know lazy hey? I just used the same line as part two but it works people. And I genuinely do hope you enjoyed it, I loved uncovering all that wonderful family history.

The real star of the process for me is putting it together. Working out where one piece might fit in with the others and when it does fit, oh it is gold. Because remember, there is not one scrap of a primary source anywhere, this is all digital apart from the book on Berwick I purchased and shared in part one that showed William’s birth place.

So, to where we left off last post. End of 1889, Janet and William have just celebrated 30 years living, working and raising a family together in the Deer Cottage on the Kinnaird estate. We know they were involved in their families lives from the slivers of family interactions we uncovered and we discovered both have siblings living their own lives a couple of hours ride south of them in the Scottish Borders where they grew up.

There are major changes coming for Janet and William, as we work our way towards the next census in 1891 and then on to 1901 and the new century, but before we dive into that…..

The Aitkmans! Yay!!!!!

Just to remind us here is a copy of Mary Lewins ( my 4x Great Grandmother’s) death registration. This is how we know that Margaret Aikman and William Faggot are Mary’s parents. And I know, technically I should be saying the Faggots, but I got mixed up thinking William was an Aikman, so you know what? My bad. The one Faggot and then the Aitkmans! Yay……

Figure 1: Courtesy of Scotland’s People

While we are here talking about Mary’s death registration, I want to share this with you, a photo of her headstone. All thanks to my new Cousin, Randi Coulson who shared it on Ancestry. It comes from the Scottish Monuments Inscriptions site. It looks like it has definitely seen better days but thankfully there is a transcript of the inscription provided as well.

Figure 1a: Courtesy of Scotland Monumental Inscriptions
Figure 1b: Courtesy of Scottish Monumental Inscriptions

How lucky are we that a transcript was done before all that damage took place. As you can see it was William’s brother, George who arranged for the headstone. Thanks again Randi for sharing, this was a wonderful find.

Now that we have reminded ourselves of Mary’s death registration and confirmed her parent’s names, the next step, of course, is what can I find out about my 5x great grandparents, William Faggot, shoemaker, and Mary Aikman? Well as it happens, nothing about William, but Mary is a different story. Ancestry has an unbelievably long line of ancestors going back. This rarely happens for me, so I’m sharing it here for you.

Figure 2: Courtesy of

The final couple on the right of the tree are Richard Potter and Katerin Walker, apparently my 13x Great Grandparents from Mary’s maternal line, Margaret Aikman. The problem here is that there is no way to confirm these details, I mean we are talking records going back to 1541. So I will just say, thank you, looks great, and welcome to the family tree.

I can find no birth registrations or marriage registration for Margaret or William at this time, what I can confirm is that my 5x Great Grandparents did have all of these children according to the info on

Figure 3: Courtesy of

Armed with these names, I went searching and had the most amazing luck and found all of their birth registrations in the one online book of births for the Northumberland area.

Figure 4: Courtesy of
Figure 5: Courtesy of
Figure 6: Courtesy of
Figure 7: Courtesy of
Figure 8: Courtesy of

Pretty cool hey? But did you notice though, no registration for Mary, my 4x Great Grandmother? Now we know she existed, she marries Thomas and has all those children, and then we know she passes away in 1879 and those same parent details appear on that registration. William Faggot, shoemaker and Margaret Aikman. I know, it could be that we have the wrong William and Margaret with these birth registrations, but I think I will hold on to them for the minute.

I went through another ten years of births just to make sure we didn’t have the date completely wrong and nothing.

I have another theory. If they are our William and Margaret, I think the Jane Faggot registration may be Mary’s. It fits with the age on Mary’s death registration, she is 75 in 1879, putting her birth at 1804. Also, I can find no marriage details for Jane Faggot or children or death records for her. I could be wrong, but I think Jane is Mary, I’m buying it, and what a goldmine of information if it is true. Like I said before it is so hit-and-miss, there is no information coming forth for William and Margaret but all these details for all their children appear.

So now I will direct our attention back to Figure 2, above, the branch of the tree going back to 1541. Scrap it, wipe it from your thoughts as it was a furphy. I have just put together some details that confirm that this is not a branch of our family. Let me explain.

I was going through Scotland’s People (Scottish Births, Death & Marriages) certificates just to ensure that I didn’t already have something downloaded for William Faggot or Margaret Aikman and of course now that I’m aware of the Aikman name, this just popped out at me from Mary Lewins 1851 Census.

Figure 9: Courtesy of Scotland’s People

See that last line I highlighted? Christian Aikman, Visitor and also a recipient of parish relief, same as Mary. When I first saw this I wasn’t aware of the Aikman tie, I didn’t even read it as Aikman. I think I thought it was Tinkman but now, I see it is Aikman, this has to be a relative. We know Mary’s mother’s name is Margaret, so I’m assuming it is not her, maybe this is an elderly spinster aunt, a sister of her mother?

I start digging and look at what I found.

Figure 9a: Courtesy of Scotland’s People

A death registration for one Christian Aikman and look at that second last column, the name I highlighted, Mary Lewens, and the word, Nice. I mean can we get any luckier? If Christian had married, I would never have found this. How amazing and not only that, but it also confirms Christian’s parents, Mary’s grandparents and my 6x great grandparent’s names. James Aikman and Margaret but, unfortunately, again, no maiden name listed. This confirmed information is what wipes that other branch from our tree.

The other interesting thing here is that it places Mary in that time in between census nights. This is eight years past the last census, when Christian was visiting with Mary in Ayton. At that time Christian was in her early eighties, the notation on the census is too hard to read, but it could be 83. We now know that Mary is still involved with her Aunt all these years later. I can’t definitively say they were still living together, but we could make that assumption, especially when you take note of where she is living when she passes away.

Crossrigg farm. Why would a 91-year-old woman who was listed, as a recipient of parish relief eight years earlier be living on a farm if it was not with her farm labouring niece and family? Again, I think we could make another assumption that Mary is working and living at the farm and caring for her elderly aunt. This is one of those moments I mentioned earlier that I love when tiny slivers of information come together to build up that picture of the family. In this case, for us, that has been obscured for over a century.

Here is the map from the Border Family History Society showing where Crossrigg farm is situated. This is the one I shared earlier in part two, where I marked in New Mills, this is where Mary and Thomas were living when William (my 3x GGrandfather) was born. (Just for context.)

Figure 9b: Courtesy of Borders Family History Society

And here it is, Crossrig is still going. Google Maps will only get us to the top of the t section there where the road coming up from Crossrig meets the main road. I did manage to find an aerial shot of the farm as well. (Click on the image and it will open up for a closer look)

Just to tie this in, see figure 9b again? The other reason I shared this map in part one was that it shows Dykesgatehead, where Mary and the family were living at the time of the 1861 census, just two years after Christian’s death. Copy of the census to remind you below.

Figure 9c: Courtesy of Scotland’s People

It really was a small world our family inhabited back then. Dykesgatehead is just below and slightly to the left of Crossrig. Here is a fantastic aerial shot of just how close they are.

Figure 9d: Courtesy of Google Maps

If you compare this aerial shot with the map in Figure 9b it is fascinating to see that not much has changed. The bends in the road are still there after all these years.

There of course is one more major tie in for the family with Crossrig Farm. Not only is it the place that Mary’s maternal Aunt dies, but you might recall from part two of this story (I’m making you work for this aren’t I?) that it is also where Mary’s daughter, Margaret, is living in 1858 and the place where she marries William Waite who is living and working on the farm as an agricultural labourer. I explained in part two that there are no census details for the Waite’s at all after the marriage registration in 1858, but it looks like Crossrig was part of the family story for many decades.

This is a great example of what I was talking about at the beginning of this post, pieces joining together. You should have seen me when I realised this one, I’m like, “…wait Crossrig? That is the same place where Mary’s other daughter was living.” Big idiot grin across my face. A copy of Margaret and William’s wedding registration below.

Figure 9d: Courtesy of Scotland’s People

Now back to the little more I have on the Aikmans.

You will note from the birth registrations, (Figure 4-8) that all of Margaret and Williams children are registered in Berwick-Upon-Tweed at the Scotch Church, Golden Square. And the Minister that registered them, Reverend John Blackhall from the Golden Square, Scotch Church.

Figure 11: Courtesy of British Newspaper Archives

These were the only two listings I could find on Reverend Blackhall and this image below is the only one I could uncover of the Golden Square. But what a beauty it is! It just gives us an idea of what it most probably looked like for Mary, William, Margaret and the rest of the family. And in case you have lost the thread of who we are talking about, this is William Lewin’s, my 3x great grandfathers mother, Mary Lewins and her family.

Golden Square, Berwick-Upon-Tweed
Figure 12: Courtesy of the Northumberland Archives
Golden Square, Berwick-Upon-Tweed, 1822
Figure 13: Courtesy of National Library of Scotland

Below is a really nice detailed map of the area from 1852. A few decades after Margaret and William, but it doesn’t look like much has changed in this time either, when you compare it to the 1822 one above.

Golden Square, Berwick-Upon-Tweed, 1852
Figure 14: Courtesy of National Library of Scotland

Here is the square today. It has become the approach to and from the Royal Tweed Bridge, built between 1925 and 1928. A century after Margaret and William’s time.( )

Figure 14a: Courtesy of Google Maps

Below is the site of the church where Margaret and William had their childrens baptism’s registered and I’m sure would have been the site where they worshipped. I wonder if any of that structure might be original parts of the church?

Figure 14b: Courtesy of Google Maps

Talking of Margaret and William’s time, it is very hard to be certain when that actually was. As I have already mentioned, there is next to nothing recorded about them except for the birth notices of their children. Just to be certain, I have scoured everywhere searching for birth, marriage and death records for both, and it is a complete brick wall.

Some trees in Ancestry have death dates noted for both of them in 1828, but there are no sources attached, so I have nothing to confirm where these dates came from.

What we can be certain of, from the birth registrations, is that their firstborn, their son William, was born on the 17th December 1790 and by that time they are living in Berwick, and William, Senior, is a shoemaker. The assumptions that we might be able to make from this are, that Margaret and William were married most likely, sometime in the preceding years, that they themselves might have been born anywhere from 1760-1770, William maybe earlier than that, and that is it. The rest of their story is buried for the moment, more likely than not forever, but you never know.

This is Berwick-upon-Tweed, the ancient town that Margaret and William lived, worked and brought their family up in, over two hundred years ago.

Old Bridge entrance into Berwick-Upon-Tweed
Figure 15: Courtesy of Wiki Page,_Northumberland,_England,_UK?file=BerwickUponTweed.jpg
Old Bridge entrance into Berwick-Upon-Tweed 2021
Figure 16: Courtesy of Google Maps

Golden Square is to the left and behind the trees in the photo above. Of course this is the Old Berwick Bridge indicated on the bottom of the map in Figure 13 , also above. This bridge, which you can see is still in use, it is a Grade 1 listed stone bridge built between 1611 and 1624. That is 200 years before Margaret and William. Damn!

Old Bridge entrance into Berwick-Upon-Tweed
Figure 17: Courtesy of eBay

So that is the end of our journey with the Aikmens and Faggots for the moment. Not bad when you consider we got all the way back to the mid to late 1700’s from basically no information at all.

Let us swing back to Janet and William and make our dive into the rest of their story. This next article from 1890 shows the first of the big changes that happen to them and the family.

Figure 18: Courtesy of British Newspaper Archive

It might not have a photograph attached, but wow, I can just picture it from the description above. What fantastic information it contains on William and Janet and it gives us a great look at what is happening to them at this time.

The big news, they have closed the chapter on their life at Kinnaird. It mentions that William has been working there for 32 years. That means he most likely started just after he and Janet were married in 1858. 32 years after that brings them up to a leaving date somewhere in 1890.

They are now living in Brechin in Jan 1890, so that fits the time line. I can’t confirm if this means they are already situated in the home in Church Street as yet. (mentioned in previous post) But they have definitely started on the next chapter of their lives and I can confirm, if they were in the Church Street property, they were not there for long. The next article below will explain all.

Just quickly before that, I can’t tell you how much I wish I could find that watch and coffee pot. What family treasures they would be. A bit of a teaser, the watch does make an appearance again, will share the details very soon.

Figure 19: Courtesy of British Newspaper Archive

Ànother amazing sliver of history. Three months after the coffe pot and watch presentation , Janet and William are leasing the Caldcots farm from the Earl and at a reduced rate. I think we can assume from this that they were held in high esteem by the Earl. I do have to wonder though! What was the reason for them leaving? In terms of workload I cant imàgìnè that there would be such a huge difference between being the Park Keeper at Kinniard and running a farm. So a quieter life doesn’t seem feasible.

It took some digging, but I evetually found the area that Caldcots Farm was situated in, and it too is still going. It is about 4kms or 2.15 miles to the north of the Deer Keeper’s Cottage, the house thàt Janet and William lived ìn for over three decades.

Map showing Caldcots Farm to the north of the Deer Keeper’s Cottage on the Kinniard Estate
Figure 20: Courtesy of Google Maps
Caldcots Farm 1901
Figure 21: Courtesy of National Library of Scotland

So of course Google Maps doesn’t come anywhere near the area to get a look at the property today, but I did find a random photo of the farm taken by a family on a holiday, back in 2010 who shared it on Wiki commons.

Thanks to Dominic, Dawn, Harry and Jacob Paterson for sharing and giving us the glimpse of the property where Janet and William were living. The next article I found related to an incident that happened in the area that William was obviously a witness to.

Figure 23: Courtesy of British Newspaper Archive

It is so random what actually comes up, yep that broken record again.

I found another mention of Ruth R Lewins winning another show award for Collie Dogs in the August. Interestingly she is not listed as living at Caldcots but at 103 Market Street Brechin.

Figure 24: Courtesy of British Newspaper Archive

This is the property in 2020.

103 Market St, Brechin 2020
Figure 25: Courtesy of Google Maps

It looks like the 1970s render has hit hard and wiped out any original structures that might have been there. Ruth is 15 years of age at the time of this mention in the Dundee Courier, and I wonder if she is staying here with other family members to finish up her studies at school while her parents are starting up business on the farm? Could be, as she turns up in some future articles, as residing at the farm.

The next mention relates to the marriage of the Earl and Countess of Southesk’s youngest daughter, Katharine, in August 1890. I’m not sure if Janet and William attended the wedding, but they did provide a present to Lady Katharine and her husband Mr Courtenay Morgan, who was the 1st Viscount of Tredegar.

Lady Katharine Agnes Carnegie
Figure 25a: Courtesy of Twitter User, @GwynethErika
Courtenay Morgan, 1st Vicount of Tredegar
Figure 25b: Courtesy of Tredegar House on WordPress

I have given a condensed version of the article below, but if you read through the names of the people providing gifts there are some very recognisable historical names. And there below the Ladies Bowes Lyon and amongst Sir Coutts Lindsay and the Earl of March is William Lewins, my 3x Great Grandfather.

Gallery 1: Courtesy of British Newspaper Archive

I so hope that he gifted them a framed painting of a bull or cow of the famous Southesk breeding stock. This is actually very exciting to stumble upon. If you recall in part two of this post I shared the article that mentioned that William was a talented artist and had built up quite the collection of bovine oils, well I recently saw that the current Countess of Southesk who manages the Kinniard Estate socials, shared a very interesting post on accommodation that is available in the castle. Check out what it is hanging on the wall and the name of the room.

How amazing is that? I know, it is an incredible long shot, as it is over 130 years ago William made the gift of the oil painting and probably closer to 150 years ago since he started painting his collection, but did I think that maybe these might be examples of his work when I first saw them? You bet I did.

I know they won’t be, but wow, imagine if they are. I’m going to message the Countess and ask. I have held off doing just that because I don’t want the chance that they are his, to disappear. Nuts hey?

I nearly forgot with my excitement of the Bull Bedroom, to share how I was able to confirm that I had the correct Caldcots Farm?

Well, the Ordinance Survey Book provided again. Remember how I said it took some time to find Caldcots? It was an article written five years later than this time period we are discussing now that mentioned William, Caldcots and another farm called Windyedge which gave me the confirmation that we needed. I know this sounds a bit cryptic, but I don’t want to spoil the surprise of what I know is coming in that article.

Here is the page from the Ordinance Book that lines up those points of confirmation for us.

Figure 29: Courtesy of Scotland’s Places

With this information firmly in mind, I then went searching on the National Library of Scotland’s maps site and these fabulous maps below just lined up perfectly with the very information above, which was brilliant.

Figure 30-31: Courtesy of National Library of Scotland

Did you notice how Arrat School was the third listing in the book below Windyedge and there it is on the map. So we can definitively say that this is where my 3x Great Grandparents were living in 1890, where they were beginning the next chapter of their lives as farm tenants.

They weren’t alone either, as you will see from the 1891 census below.

1891 Lewins Family Census
Figure 32: Courtesy of Scotland’s People

They still have William, Leonard, and Herbert with them and Ruth has returned from 103 Market St, Brechin. The article below is the one I referred to earlier which I initially discovered, that confirmed Ruth was living at Caldcots.

Figure 33: Courtesy of British Newspaper Archive

You will note that Janet (my 2x GGrandmother), Mary and Eliza, their other three daughters, are not listed on the census as they have left the family home and are all now married by this time.

Janet, you might remember, moved to Australia and soon after was married to George Nicoll. Mary by now was married to Alexander Hardie, and they had two infant daughters, Janet and Ethel. They were living at 2 Elizabeth St in Langholm. Langholm is 200 miles away back in the Borderlands district and 2 Elizabeth St is still standing, although the render and dreaded aluminium windows have hit this ancient building too, by the look of it.

No 2 Elizabeth Street, Langholm, 2009
Figure 34: Courtesy of Google Maps.

This building of tenement housing runs along the river Esk from the Langholm Bridge. Langholm Archives had some really nice early 20th century photos of the area. In each of the photos below, this building is the first one on the left over the bridge. No 2 is the third door down from the corner. This is where Mary, Alexander and the kids were living when Janet and William were starting life at Caldcots.

Figure 35-37 Courtesy of Langholm Archives

Eliza their third daughter had made the moved to Australia too but after Janet. Before I share what I found of Eliza’s time in Australia I just want to quickly go back to the 1881 UK census. I just found this and didn’t want to miss adding it to Eliza’s story. Just to refresh our memories here is the copy of the Lewins 1881 Census.

Figure 37a: Courtesy of Scotland’s People

You’ll note that Janet, my 2x great grandmother is gone. She of course is at this time teaching at the Battle Hill Ladies Seminary in Hexham, discussed in my earlier post. Mary Constance is still at home but the other person missing is Eliza Beatrice. It took some time, but I found her. She is working as a domestic servant at the Hirsel.

Figure 37b: Courtesy of

The Hirsel is the ancient family seat of the Earl’s of Home. Built in 1611, it has had a number of updates since then but it too still stands today. I also found a brilliant photo of the head gardener and his team taken only 19 years after Eliza left, I’m sure not much had changed and it maybe that Eliza might have been dressed like the woman in the photo and may have even know some of these faces.

The Hirsel
Figure 37c: Courtesy of The Castles of Scotland
The Hirsel, 2020 Figure
37d: Courtesy of Stravaiging around Scotland

Having seen these photos and now knowing a small amount of her parents stories, it is really apparent to me they were all living the real life version of Downton Abbey. I can sort of understand how Eliza made the decision to take the opportunity to travel to the other side of the globe at such a young age. Hopefully not by herself.

Back to the Australian side of Eliza’s story. Unfortunately her immigration / arrival record has not surfaced as yet, but I did find a marriage index for her for the 9th of June 1889 marrying Alexander Mudie Allan, in Annandale, a suburb of Sydney. Luckily for us, they printed a marriage notice at the time, which I found in Trove.

Figure 38: Courtesy of National Library of Australia

Figure 39: Courtesy of Dictionary of Sydney Figure 40: Courtesy of Google Maps

At the time that Eliza and Alexander walked down the aisle, the church had only been completed and open for four months.

By the night of the 1891 UK census, Sunday the 5th April, Eliza and Alexander already had one daughter, Lena Rosamond Lewins Allan, she was fourteen months old and another daughter on the way. Janet, who would be with them two months later. Janet is the niece who will become flower girl for my 2x great grandmother, Janet at her second wedding to Eddie O’Connor. (Mentioned in my previous post)

Following are the birth notices for both Lena and Janet.

Figure 41 & 42: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

I was trying to find where the Ormiston was in Henson Street but I had no luck. I was just about to give up and then I saw this small description on a recent real estate listing.

This address enabled me to find its exact location. It is actually situated on the corner of Henson St & Junction, I imagine back in the day it would have been gardens in the Henson Street side, and now it is two huge blocks of flats that look like they were built in the early 20th century. The turret in the photo below, is the top of the Ormiston.

Corner of Junction St & Henson St, Summer Hill, 2020
Figure 44: Courtesy of Google Maps
The Ormiston, 2020
Figure 45: Courtesy of Harris Tripp

How amazing is that? 130 years ago my 2x great grand aunt, Eliza, gave birth to two of my 1st cousins, 3x removed. Eliza and Alexander go on to have a further three daughters and a son. Not sure where they were born at this stage but Eliza and Alexander live in the Summer Hill area for the next 40 years.

Would you believe the other two houses they lived in are still standing. The Lynton in Bartlett Street and then, where they spend over 20 years of that 40 years, 26 Henson St, Summer Hill. It is also the home where Alexander dies in 1932.

Lynton, 1 Bartlett St, Summer Hill, 2020
Figure 46: Courtesy of Google Maps
26 Henson St, Summer Hill, 2019
Figure 47: Courtesy of Google Maps
Figure 48: Courtesy of National Library of Australia

Unfortunately there is no death notice for Eliza in the press, but I did find the Australian Death Index listing for her that states she passed away in 1942 in Rozelle, another suburb of Sydney. I imagine she probably moved to be close to one of her children after Alexander’s death. I haven’t discovered that part of their story as yet.

Back to William and Janet and the 1891 Census, the one other person missing from the family listing is Alfred Noel Lewins. Alfred actually emigrates to Australia in 1884. I found this out from his obituary.

Alfred passes away on the 19th March 1895 in Fremantle, Western Australia at 26 years of age.

Figure 49: Courtesy of the British Newspaper Archive

You can certainly say that Alfred packed in a fair amount in his short life. I was excited to read this about him emmigrating to Australia and wonderded immediately, if Eliza his sister, might have traveled out with him. This would still put her in Sydney in plenty of time to meet Alexander Allan and for their wedding to take place in 1889. Alfred’s travel details remain hidden, just like Eliza’s so there is no way to confirm this as yet but hopefully this is what happened.

Of course at this time their sister Janet is already married to George Nicoll, a successful Steamship owner and living in Sydney Australia. It is interesting to note that Alfred’s obit states that he entered the shipping business. Who better to assist with that than a brother-in-law running his own shipping business? I can just imagine them all at the family compound, Blink Bonnie setting out on their new lives out from under the long family history of servitude.

Alfred is the third child of Janet and William’s to pass away before them. It is heartbreaking to think that the last time they would have seen him most likely would have been 11 years earlier in 1884 when he left for Australia. I wonder how long it took for this tragic news to reach them back in Scotland?

So that is everyone accounted for off the 1891 census. William and Janet next appear in a wonderful little article about a ploughing day organised for them by their community to help them out. I think it really comes through the esteem they were held in when you read the story and it also gives us, I think, a real insight into the type of people they were.

The next listing I have for Janet and William is this article for a sale of surplus West Highland cattle at Kinniard and a luncheon held by the Earl and Countess of Southesk. Look who appears as one of the guests in page 3. (Quick reminder, it’s a gallery so click on the image, and it will open up to full size.)

Gallery 3: Courtesy of British Newspaper Archive

No mention of Janet attending, but hopefully she was there as well.

There are no further articles that I can find of the Lewins, until 1893 with a single listing in the Scots Directory confirming that they were at Caldcots.

Figure 53: Courtesy of The British Newspaper Archive

Another two years passes without any further mentions until the reports of Alfred’s death come in which we discussed earlier in this post.

At the time of the next article below, William and Janet are exactly five years into their nineteen-year lease of the farm, and obviously their situation has become challenging.

By the way, this next article is the one I found first that I was being cryptic about earlier. This article mentioning Windyedge enabled me to pinpoint on those maps the farms and confirm that Caldcots was in this area. And of course its topic is the thing I didn’t want to spoil for you.

Figure 54: Courtesy of The British Newspaper Archive

Yes, they are leaving and they still have 14 years to go on their lease. I know it is 127 years too late, but I’m so sad for them. I wonder what the circumstances were that lead to this decision. I scoured the British Newspaper archive again, and I was lucky to find this article.

Figure 55: Courtesy of The British Newspaper Archive

Obviously the finances took a big hit in running the farm and the result was bankruptcy. When you consider that for thirty years they most likely would have enjoyed a stability that being the Park Keeper of the Earl of Southesk would have brought them, this financial disaster must have been so distressing and hard to bear. If that wasn’t bad enough, look at what happens to them less than a month later.

Figure 56: Courtesy of The British Newspaper Archive
Figure 57: Courtesy of The British Newspaper Archive
Figure 58: Courtesy of The British Newspaper Archive

Oh what a disaster. William is about to turn sixty and Janet sixty-two, and here they are after all those decades of hard work with basically nothing to show for it except a huge amount of debt and what I can only imagine must have been an overwhelming sense of humiliation. Two months after the fire, the sale of what they have left happens.

Figure 59: Courtesy of The British Newspaper Archive

It did cross my mind that maybe the fire was deliberately lit, but to what end? I don’t know enough about insurance and bankruptcy to know if the outcomes of the creditor’s meeting, discussed below, are a good result. I choose to believe that it is just terrible bad luck and timing.

I’m aware I only know Janet and William through these few discoveries, but I can’t imagine that they would put their reputation with the Earl, his family and their community at risk after all those decades. They certainly come through in what I have shared in these few posts, I feel, as being very honourable hard working people.

Figure 60: Courtesy of The British Newspaper Archive

There is no other mention of them for the next four years. This has basically brought us back to the point where in part one of these three posts I discovered Janet’s death registration, at the beginning of 1900. Copy below to remind you.

Figure 61: Courtesy of Scotland’s People

The following article is the last mention I can find of William in the British Newspaper Archive attending the funeral of his local priest. This is ten months on from Janet’s passing, which places him still in Scotland at the end of 1900.

Figure 62: Courtesy of The British Newspaper Archive
Figure 63: Courtesy of The British Newspaper Archive

The big question now is, when did he leave for Australia? My first anchor point for William in Australia is an electoral roll listing in 1903-1904.

Figure 64: Courtesy of

I know this is the correct listing for William, as Blink Bonnie the house that Janet, his daughter and George, his son-in-law live in, is in William St and of course their surname is Nicoll, and there it is, printed right there. My thinking is that he most probably arrived sometime in 1902 in order for his name to appear in this listing for 1903. Unless Janet arranged it for him in anticipation. Damn, shot that one down already.

I do have a second anchor point that gives us a firm date of him being in Australia. Remember I said ages back that the watch that William was given as a gift by his colleagues at Kinniard on his leaving, was going to make another appearance? Well, here it is. Thirteen years later and on the other side of the globe.

Figure 65 : Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

What a family treasure that would be to find. William must have been heartbroken to lose it. I wonder if it ever made its way back to him?

Oh wow, this is incredible! I just put in the date from the article above when William was at the Sydney Cricket Ground, 12th December 1903, not expecting anything to come up. And this amazing amount of information just appeared. It was the first test match of the English Cricket teams tour of Australia in 1903-1904. It was a six day test match and Saturday the 12th was day two.

There happened to be an American Photographer in the crowd, Melvin Vaniman, on the Saturday and he took a glass slide of the event. This is what I was “wowing” about. (

Somewhere, in that crowd is my 3x Great Grandfather, William Lewins, who I have no photo of but I now know, was in this very spot 118 years and almost 6 months ago, to the day. (Today is 27th May 2022) Bloody hell! that is so exciting.

No wonder the watch was stolen, I can only imagine with so many people packed in the pick pockets would have been having a field day.

The ESPN link above has a whole heap of stats about the test, apparently on that day there was a batting record set that held for over 111 years.

I’m definitely going to print out a copy of that photo with the Police notice on the robbery and frame them. What a gift. This is one of those windows into the past that I love so much. So I have calmed down a little bit now, so let us kick on with the rest of the post.

Armed with the knowledge that William was definitely in Sydney on the 12th of December 1903 and still in Scotland November 1900, I started my search for him in the passenger and emigration lists.

I found a listing for a Mr W. Lewin travelling to Australia from London on the Orient Line, RMS Oroya.

Figure 66a: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

I was willing to forgive the missing s from the end of Lewin, but the Oroya arrived in Sydney on the 14th September 1900 and as William is attending the funeral in November 1900 in Brechin, this is not him. Damn.

Unfortunately, I can find no entry details for William into Australia and nothing in Trove in the collection of online newspapers of the time in any incoming passenger lists. I did however have some luck finding another anchor point that narrows down the potential travel date that William might have left Scotland and also confirms that he definitely wasn’t on the Oroya. Look at this little gem below, thanks Scotland’s People, again.

Figure 67: Courtesy of Scotland’s People

How is that? There he is appearing in the 1901 UK Census, taken on the night of Monday the 1st of April. Listed as, Father in Law, retired Farmer, born in New Mills and still at 1 Church Street, Brechin the house where Janet passed away. Here is the house again, just because I can.

Figure 68: Courtesy of Electric Scotland

Number 1 is on the left and the building just set back from the one on the immediate left of the picture. Presumeably 1a as listed on the census is the door next to that. All this information is lining up with the information we know, which is brilliant. And if that wasn’t enough to convince you we have the correct William, look who he is listed living with on the census. His daughter Ruth and her husband, William Mustard, and William’s five grandsons. According to Scotland’s People website, William and Ruth marry in 1895.

What a fantastic find. Now we can be certain that William was still in Scotland on the 1st of April 1901. This still doesn’t help me with pinning down his departure date, but now we are able to narrow it down to somewhere between April 1901 and say anywhere from September, October, or November 1902 in order to get into that Electoral listing of 1903, thats if Janet didn’t help of course.

Well that is it people, the end of the story for the moment.

Remember, I started this journey in part one with William’s death, and we have now worked our way back to that starting point but now we have a really wonderful picture of William, Janet and the family that we had no idea about, and it was just sitting out there in the digital ether waiting to be discovered.

What a fantastic time I have had again, sharing with you their stories. I knew next to nothing about this side of my family nine months ago and slowly over this time they themselves, their lives and the places they lived have come into focus. I am so looking forward to my next visit to Sydney to check out the family properties in Summer Hill and so looking forward to getting over to Scotland and England to visit all these new family sites.

After uncovering where Janet and William began their lives and finding the house where Janet’s story ended, I think this is a fitting way to finish this post, a picture of the house where William passed away on the 21st of October, 1916 at the age of 80. Blink Bonnie, William Street, Canterbury (Earlwood).