Farmers and Craftspeople:

Jenny Blain.
Copyright © J. Blain 2005-10
New findings: My father's family: Return to table of contents for further sections

My father's family

Wigtownshire Blains: farming families and change

This chapter is quite complicated. Evidence has been hard to find and here I try to show some of the reasoning behind conclusions. The outline story as I currently have it shows:

  1. William Blain born in 1837 in Stranraer, youngest child of William Blain and Mary Maxwell
  2. William Blain born in 1790, son of James Blain and and Marey McKibbon, in Dalhabboch farm
  3. James Blain born sometime around 1760, probably son of James Blain in Dalhabboch farm at that time; mother may be Margaret McFrederick, in Portpatrick at the time of marriage
  4. James Blain, possibly the son of Patrick or Peter Blain in Dalhabboch in the 1730s, or of Thomas Blain also there in the 1730s, who appears in the later Kirk Bell subscribers list there.

This page discusses the evidence for the above, with some digressions on other Blain families, probably related, in the parish of Inch. The page is getting too long and still doesn't have everything found, but I'll post it for now!

The ancestry of William Blain, boilermaker in Greenock

William Blain born in 1837 was the youngest of several siblings, as shown in the account of Blains moving from Wigtownshire to Greenock. Few of the births have extant recordings. The account of the marriage of the elder William and Mary Maxwell, as shown there, gives no clues to who these people were. The death records, from 1902 and 1901, of the siblings William and Robert have their father's occupation as 'gardener'. The 1841 census has him as 'Agricultural Labourer', a catch-all term for farm workers. There are two baptisms recorded, in addition to the 1837 William's: a John Blain, son of Mary Maxwell and William Blain, was baptised on 1st December 1814, and another also named John born on 8th and baptised 15th February 1820.

The 1814 John was born at Sandmiln (Sandmill), a farm in Inch parish close to Stranraer. The baptism of the second John in 1820 was recorded at Stranraer. The boundaries of Stranraer were expanding at this time, to include part of Inch. There is no record that I have been able to find of the births of other children, Jess, Thomas, Peter and Robert. I have speculated that there may have also been an older child James, born between the birth of the first John and the births of the second John and Jessie, and possibly also a child Mary. [1] There are therefore few clues as to who the elder William Blain was, and none that I've found for Mary Maxwell, though her father may have been John (the eldest child was apparently a John, and the second John's marriage, in Greenock in 1845, shows him as 'John Maxwell Blain'). What clues there are for William relate to Blain farmers in Inch parish and the names of the children.

The elder William was an agricultural worker. Farming practices were changing dramatically in Wigtownshire during the 18th century: the earlier system was that of 'fermtouns'[2], fairly similar to a hamlet or small village with several tenants jointly farming an area, and households of cottars and craftspeople in addition to the tenant farmers. In the 18th century various improvements in farming technique increased productivity, but changes in organisation and local and national economies moved many farms from mixed farming to an emphasis on cattle, resulting in the 19th century in single tenants holding larger farms. The improvements, instigated apparently by Lord Stair, are discussed in the late 18th century Statistical Account of Scotland, with the Inch parish account online at

It seems quite possible that William Blain was the son of an Inch tenant farmer, but he himself became a farm worker. What kind of 'gardener' he later became - if this description is correct, possibly 50 years after his death - is not clear.

There were very many Wigtownshire fermtouns, each a small community in itself. Blains can be traced in Inch fermtouns through the 18th century, and indeed a census in 1684 lists several Blains including a family in a small fermtoun in Inch called Whitleys, though tracing a relationship would not be possible to these. There were Blains in the neighbouring parishes of Old Luce and New Luce and south into Stoneykirk, in fermtouns and in other households. Many are individual names, presumably of servants or of labourers. Stoneykirk holds a number of families, some as householders and others within large households, where they might be labourers, servants or craftspeople.

A William Blain was baptised in Inch in 1790, the son of James Blain in Dalhabboch. He had older siblings. There seem to have been families of two James Blains in Inch parish at this time, in Doss and in Dalhabboch farms. These entries do not show the mother's name and therefore sorting them out has required use of other clues.

A child named Jean was baptised in 1778, and another Jean entered in the register on 1779 and apparently scored out. The 1779 entry seems to show the place name 'Doss', the 1778 entry has a placename starting with D but illegible. (I think that these entries relate to the same child, with the clerk entering the baptisms at a later stage and finding space to squeeze the 1778 entry between two others, after first making an incorrect entry.)

The later entries, including William, show:

Apryl 25th 1783 Baptized James son to James Blain - Dilhabboch
1786 Oct 16th John son to James Blain senr - Dilhabach
1790 Decr 2 William son to James Blain Dalhaboch

There are two other entries which may be worth remembering:

Augt 9th 1786 John Nat son to Jas. McCubbin Dilhabboch
1797 June 26th
Sept 24th
Born Peter Blain Natural son to James Blain
and Margaret Beggs at Cairn, & baptised 24th Sept.

It is possible that not all births/baptisms were registered, though most seem to be. However the Statistical Account of 1791-99 (p.136) indicates that 'The number of Seceders, young and old, may be stated at 240', and it is not clear whether the baptisms of Seceder children were entered. (The baptisms registers seem somewhat disorganised also, with baptisms entered late, and not all may have been entered in some years.) There is no guarantee that this William is the one who married Mary Maxwell in 1812; but it seems highly possible and indeed probable. The mothers of these children are not usually given in the Inch parish records, but can be worked out through marriages and through some later records.

There are two marriages of a James Blain in the records of the 1770s and 1780s. A James Blain and Janet McBryd were proclaimed on 27th December 1777, with a Patrick McBryd providing the bail bond. A son Peter[3] of this marriage (for whom there is no birth record), born around 1782, survived until 1872 and his death record names his parents and gives the father's occupation as farmer. This Peter was himself farmer at Innermessan, remaining there until his death at age 90 in 1872, and several of his children farmed there. My attention was drawn to a possible relationship initially through the names of children of Peter and of William. Innermessan is close to Stranraer, and both Innermessan and Dalhabboch are farmed today.

However another marriage given is that of a James Blain and Marey McKibbon, who gave their names for proclamation on 21st December 1782. This marriage will be discussed further below. It is the James of this marriage who was the father of William Blain, born at Dalhabboch farm in 1790.

I have visited Stranraer and driven through parts of Inch. On a very rainy day in 2009 I drove from Ayrshire down by the headwaters of the Cross Water of Luce to New Luce, and from there back up through headwaters of the Water of Luce into the hills past the track to the nearby farm of Pularyan, as far as Dalhabboch, nearby today's Penwhirn Reservoir. I was fortunate enough to meet the farmer there; however he does not have details of the history of the farm - now an uplands sheep farm, with a few cattle - or of any records of farm tenancies from the 19th and 18th centuries. He has suggested that the Stranraer or Dumfries libraries might do so.

Earlier Blains in Dalhabboch and elsewhere in Inch

To investigate ancestry using the Inch Old Parochial Records is not easy. The marriage records usually give only the parties' names, and notes (though not necessarily always) if one was living in another parish. This does not mean they were originally 'from' or born in the other parish - they may simply be working there. The birth records from Inch give only the father's name. Nevertheless, because fermtouns are given as the place of birth or baptism, some tracing is possible. It seems likely that some fermtouns were small, with the names not often occurring in the OPR; Dalhabboch in the uplands of the tributaries of the Water of Luce being one of these.

The 18th century, with its rapid changes in agricultural practices, was an uneasy time for many Wigtownshire people, a profitable time for some. The act of union of 1707 opened English markets to the sale of Scottish cattle - and some of the Galloway landowners initiated the practice of enclosing large tracts of land by means of dykes for the raising or indeed smuggling or 'parking' of large herds (imported from Ireland) to be sent on to England. These areas of land had previously been whole farms, supporting possibly eight or more households. As elsewhere, these 'enclosures' curtailed freedoms of cottars to keep and graze one or two animals, but here resulted in the 'Galloway levellers' [4] who flattened the dykes in areas of the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright in 1723, spreading to Wigtownshire in 1724. This may have begun as anti-Jacobite protest, targeting particular landlords known for Catholicism or Jacobite sympathies, but by the end the targetting appeared indiscriminate. While the 'leveller' movement was suppressed, concern over its resurgence seems to have sparked some attempts to 'improve' not only agriculture but dwelling accommodation, with several new 'towns' being built (Gatehouse of Fleet being one of those) and buildings in some of the old fermtouns being replaced with stone dwellings, including farmhouses and cottages standing today. (At Dalhabboch, while the farmhouse is likely to be 19th century, the outbuildings are quite possibly the dwellings of the 18th century.) Improvement, however, also meant the consolidation of smallholdings farmed by the old system into larger farms.

Searching for Blain births in the 18th century gives quite a number of children born in Inch. These however fall into groups: 1730s, 1760s and 70s, 1778-1790 (children of James Blain), with the later birth of Peter to Margaret Begg in 1797. The 1730s births are children of Patrick, John, William and Charles Blain, in various farmtouns. The 1760s and 70s have children of another Patrick. And there are marriages, including in 1733 the marriage of a Patrick Blain and a Janet from Barr parish in Ayrshire , her last name disappearing into the darkened edge of the page. The records from Inch start in 1729, so that finding possible relationships between these various Blains is not likely, and the records are somewhat confused. Based on the names and farmtouns, I evolved a 'working story' which has been modified as the search proceded.

Patrick Blain and Thomas Blain in Dalhabboch and their sons

Patrick Blain was a farmer at Dalhabboch in the 1730s. He is likely to be the Patrick Blain who was married to Janet in 1733, their names being given in on 2nd November. (An LDS member listing the birth of Archibald in 1735 gives the parents as Patrick Blain and Janet Hannay, but this may be incorrect - a Patrick Blain and Janet Hannay in Wigtown parish had several children there during this period and there may be confusion here.)

There is the marriage of a Thomas Blain 'in the townland of Dalhapock in this parish' to Jean McBride 'in the Fell of Lochronnell in Kirkcowan' in April 1736. It seems, therefore, that both Patrick and Thomas were at Dalhabboch at this time.

Children Archibald baptised 10th February 1735, and Patrick baptised 24th December 1739, are listed in Old Parochial Records as baptised at Dalhabboch. I speculated there might be another child there baptized James and there may have been daughters; only Archibald is identified as the son of Patrick.

There is a flurry of Blain marriages through the 1750s to 70s, though of course there were also Blains in the neighbouring parishes in Wigtownshire and Ayrshire. The marriage records do not give parents' names or (usually after the earlier entries such as Thomas's - with one notable exception) farm names, though occasionally the name of the person standing 'bail for bonds' is useful.

Of Archibald I have found no further information. The younger Patrick appears later in Craigcaffie farmtoun: these records of Patrick and his family demonstrate something of the state of the Inch birth records. In 1765 and 1771s there are births of Patrick's daughters Janet and Jean, and these appear thus on the register:

17th Octr 1765 Baptized Janet Da to Patrick Blain - Craigcaffie
1 August 1771 Baptized Jean Da to Patrick Blain - Craigcaffie
24 Decm 1739 their father was Baptized said month Dalhapach

That page of the register has items ranging from 1739 (Patrick) to 1775, and these seem to be ordered by place, rather than by date. The earlier pages from the 1730s are arranged chronologically but, as seen here, may have items missing.

(In 1764 a Patrick Blain was married to an Janet Lowrie, so that she may be the mother of Janet and Jean.)

Other Blain families in the 1730s

Several Blain baptisms are noted in other farmtouns in the 1730s. These include -

Child of John Blain at Bully...
Grissal Blain 9 May 1730
(the place is unclear, disappearing into the edge of the page)

Child of John Blain at Mark
Elizabeth Blain 4 Dec 1730

Children of Charles Blain at Aird or Airth
William Blain 2 Jun 1734
Grizald Blain 1 Jan 1736

Child of William Blain at Culmick
Rose Blain 13 Dec 1730

Child of William Blain at Barsolous
Agnes Blain 2 Apr 1739

I had initially found the farm name 'Dalhabboch' through the birth record of William Blain in 1790, son of James Blain; other births to a 'James Blain' seemed promising and so I investigated those in some detail, using the birth records and, where available, death records of those who had survived into the time of statutory recording.

Children of various 'James Blain's in the 1770-90s

I was puzzled by the births of the children of James Blain. Initially I was viewing photocopies of rather poor scans from LDS films, and the placenames disappeared into pixilation and darkness at the edge of page. The higher resolution scans from Scotlands People are rather lighter and words previously illegible can sometimes be read - in the case of the births of James, John and William the birthplaces are clearly various spellings of Dalhabboch, as shown above. The note for Jean's birth seems to have been entered incorrectly in 1779 and is scored out - given with a 1779 date and the father listed as 'James Blain tennant Doss' before it was scored out. The birth of Jean entered on the previous page for 1778 has been entered between other lines, squashed to fit the space, and the farm named shows as a D followed by a blot; it's likely to be Doss, but I have not yet viewed the SP scan for this page.

The marriage of James Blain and Janet McBryd, mentioned above, gives no clues to place: however, three of the Blains born in Inch with father James lived into the time of statutory recording: Jean or Jane, Peter, and a John. The death records of Peter and Jane show them to be children of James Blain, farmer, and Janet McBryde, and Jean has the right age to be the one whose baptism is given in parish records in 1778 or 9. The death record for John however shows him as son of a James Blain and Elizabeth McCubbin, complicating the issue. I had found no marriage record with these names.

My conclusions are now that there were two James Blains, in Doss and in Dalhabboch. Here I first discuss the children of James in Doss, and then those in Dalhabboch. It's the latter who seem to be 'mine', but I think that they were related.

The children of James Blain and Janet McBryd

The family of Jean Blain b. 1778

Jean or Jane, eldest child of James Blain and Janet McBryd, lived into the time of statutory registrations. Her death record shows that she was married to Andrew Bennoch, farmer at Sheuchan. A headstone in the Inch graveyard gives some further information, and the births of fourteen Bennoch children are recorded in Inch parish records. There include James, Peter, John, Alexander, Thomas, William, Robert, Andrew, Jean, Alan McKenzie, Robert, Andrew, William and Elizabeth. The marriage was in 1803, children's births were from 1804 to 1819, and Jean died in 1863.

By 1841 Jean was widowed, and her son Andrew is named as the farmer at Sheuchan in the census, another son, William, two young women and a two-year old child remaining in this three-generation household which also includes two agricultural labourers (both named John Kittens and presumably father and son). Other Sheuchan households include those of a cartwright (with 9 people), an agricultural labourer also termed 'curer' (4 people - also including an army pensioner), another agricultural labourer (3 people), an elderly woman living alone, and one dwelling unoccupied.

The family of Peter Blain b. 1782

Peter, the eldest son of James Blain and Janet McBryd, married Mary Murray, daughter of Alexander Murray and Agnes McGeoch, in 1812, their names submitted on 26th December. He became farmer at Innermessan, near Stranraer, a large fermtoun, apparently consolidating the land there into one farm. In the 1841 census there are fourteen smaller households listed at Innermessan, including those of a blacksmithing family (with 8 people), a mason (3 people), a dyer (4 people), five of agricultural labourers (sizes from 2 to 5 people), one occupied by an elderly woman alone, one household including an agricultural labourer and a dyer (4 people), a bone grinder (1 person), a 'wool carder manufacturer' (2 people), a leatherworking household with two skinners and a tanner (7 people), and one for whom no occupations are given (6 people); and the larger household of Peter Blain, farmer, listing thirteen people, all members of his family. Several of the 'craft' households include journeymen.

Their children included James, Alexander, Peter, Janet, Thomas, Jean, Jess (probably another Janet, the earlier Janet dying in 1822), Agnes, Grace, William , John, Elisabeth, and Grissel, born from 1813 to 1838. The names of children are taken from 1841 census information, memorial inscriptions, and transcriptions from notices in the Wigtownshire Free Press, kindly provided by a member of the Wigtownshire genealogy email list and on the Wigtownshire pages online [5]. The third son, Peter, emigrated to the USA (to Palestine, Waukesha County in Wisconsin), shortly after his marriage, and died there in 1850, just after the death of his two young children named Janet and Elizabeth.

The relative success of Peter and his family resulted in material from headstones and from notices in the Wigtownshire Free Press, which have been invaluable in the course of this research. As with his sibling Jean and as with John Blain (below), his longevity resulted in information from his statutory death record. None of Peter's children are listed in Inch birth records.

The child of James Blain and 'Elizabeth McCubbin'

The family of John Blain b. around 1786

John was married in 1808 to Rosanna (or Rossana) Cloy. The marriage is recorded in Inch. He appears in the 1841 and 1851 censuses as farming in Kirkcolm parish in part of Aries Lands - this seems to be a large estate and there are several other households in the 1841 census with heads named as 'farmer'. In the 1851 census he is described as 'farmer of 21 acres'. John died in 1859, Rosanna in 1857.

In the 1841 census four childen aged 15 to 28 are in the household, Robert aged 28 described as 'male servant' and Mary (25) a dressmaker, Martha (18) and William (15). In 1851, Mary, Martha and William are still in the household, Mary a sewer, Martha alas described as 'very insane' and a pauper, and William a teacher of music and agricultural labourer.

(I have found no births of these children recorded in Kirkcolm, or indeed anywhere, the only 'Blain' births in the period in Kirkcolm being to a James Blain and Elizabeth Ranalds in 1820 (Margaret) and 1822 (Agnes).)

The discovery that John was son of 'Elizabeth McCubbin' threw my speculations into confusion. It was, after all, a John of the right age who was registered as born at Dalhabboch. There was no sign in any records I could discover of a marriage with an Elizabeth McCubbin. However - there was the marriage in 1782 between James Blain and Marey McKibbon, and without too much hope of finding anything useful I bought the scan from the Scotland's People website and found:

21 Decr
Entered in order to marriage James Blain in Dalhapoch and
Marey McKibbon and both in this parish

It seems likely that William born 1790, along with John born 1786 and James born 1783, was son of James Blain and Marey McKibbon, in Dalhabboch. From the name of their eldest son, James Blain of Dalhabboch may have in turn been the son of another James. (There is a tantalising marriage of a James Blain and Margaret McFredrick on 25 August 1755, he 'in this parish' i.e. Inch and she in Portpatrick, but no farm places mentioned and no records of children found; alternatively, another descendant of the James of Dalhabboch has suggested that James may be from a family in Barr in Ayrshire. But see the Kirk of Inch bell subscription section below.) There is space for a generation between Patrick Blain in Dalhabboch in the 1730s and James Blain in the 1780s, so that one would look for a marriage in the 1750s.

I have no further information about the James Blain born in 1783. (I had thought it possible that this boy was father of the illegitimate child born to Margaret Begg at Cairns in 1797, but that was not the case - the story of this birth is told below.)

An alternative, earlier, speculation was that one James Blain had married twice. I had thought this possible, given the similarity of names of the children of Peter Blain, son of James and Janet McBryd, and William Blain, son of James and Marey McKibbon. However it seems more likely that there were two James Blains, one farming at Doss and one at Dalhabboch. Of all the marriage records I have looked at for Inch parish in the later 18th century, only that one, of James Blain and Marey McKibbon, gives the name of the place where the groom farmed.

The story of James Blain and Margaret Beggs

The minutes of the Inch Kirk Session make interesting reading, if a bit monotonous. Like other Kirk Session records elsewhere, they detail the policing of morality of the parish. I searched, therefore, for an account relating to James Blain and Margaret Beggs - which seems to indicate yet another James Blain in Inch in the 1790s.

Margaret Beggs in Cairn 'voluntarily compeared' (came before) to the Kirk Session on 12th Marcy 1797, stating that she was with child 'in uncleanness', the father being named as James Blain - who had until recently been the schoolmaster at Cairn, the largest settlement in Inch parish, but was now away on a boat, James Hamilton's cutter. The Session asked for information from Blain, and on 28th April the minister, Peter Fergusson, read a letter which had been sent him, transcribed below.

Revd Sirs. I understand that Margaret Beggs, a young woman in the Cairn of Lochryan is with child, and fathers it upon me. I will not deny being guilty with her, and I am very grieved for what I have done by offending my Maker with such a crime, but I hope that through his mercy I may obtain forgiveness for it, and I am resolved by his strength and assistance to do so no more.
I am willing to take on the child, if she clears herself before you, and other witnesses, of other men, during 10 1/2 months that the child is, or might be in her company, otherwise I will not, for I am very suspicious of an other man who, I think was guilty of her as well as me.
Sir, as am at a distance from you, and our sailing from Place to Place, uncertain, you will be pleased to excuse me of reproof before the Congregation. And with the help of God I will satisfy you otherwise, when time permits you and me to meet, which I hope will not be long to.
Dear Sir I remain your truly Hum. Servt.
James Blain
Prince Wm Henry Cutter
Greenock Road at 22 March 1797

The Session took this letter as a confession and the child is duly registered as Peter, son of James Blain and Margaret Beggs. (A more full transcription of this account, and others involving Blains in the late 18th and early 19th century, is on this website as a pdf.

Who this James Blain was is as usual not clear. It may be that he is the son of Patrick Blain, at Craigcaffie in the 1770s. We do know, though, that he was married the following year, to Mary Earl. The record of this marriage says:

25th August 1798. James Blain Clerk of the Prince William Henery Cutter and Mary Earl at Cairn Lochryan gave in their Names in order for Proclamation of marriage & that on one Day.

What Margaret Beggs thought of this turn of events is not recorded. This James Blain went on to make a career in the revenue service. He and Mary Earl had children born in Bute, in Leith and in Monifieth and Dundee. He became Tide Surveyor (chief customs officer) in Dundee, and his son James Hamilton Blain - named, one assumes, for the master of the cutter - followed him in the revenue service. Another son, John Earl Blain, became a shipowner, and the youngest, William, was master of the Clansman, dying in its wreck in 1836.

The 1797-8 Horse Tax records

Records of farm horses and tax payable in the late 18th century have recently been made available through the Scotland's Places website at These show the numbers of farm horses and tax payable on them - the horse tax being apparently a new way for the government to raise money.

In the Horse Tax records for Inch parish, there are two Blains listed. 'Polleron', i.e. Pularyan, the farm next to Dalhaboch, has two horses, one taxable and one not, listed in the name of a 'Mrs Blain'. A Jas. Blain is in Doss, with two taxable horses. He is likely to be the James who married Janet McBryd in 1777.

Dalhabboch has only one name given, that of Hugh Douglas, with one horse. As there were previously two tenantships here, there is an assumption that James Blain has died and the tenancy is vacant, as it would seem very hard to farm at Dalhabboch with no horse. The relationship between farms at Dalhabboch and Pularyan is not clear.

The Inch Kirk Bell Subscription List

Kirk Session minutes for Inch begin in 1730. (The first entry concerns a Marion Blain in Meikle Larg who is 'with child' although her husband has been 'out of the Kingdom' for several years. She is called to compear but instead legs it to an unknown destination in Ireland!) However, inserted into the start of the minutes book are four pages detailing the subscribers towards a new bell for the Inch Kirk. I've transcribed these and they are at Inch%20bell%20subscription%20list.pdf.

The list is not dated. However internal evidence, using names of subscribers and of the then minister, Robert Findlay [6], the first name in the list contributing ten shillings and sixpence, places it between 1739 and 1761, and most probably in the 1750s. The list gives a snapshot of parishioners at the time, and contributions range from the One Pound given by the Honourable Captain John Dalrymple of Stair, to the penny-ha'penny of Mary Skellie in Tonuchre and the single penny of William Bruce in Culroch. The most frequent contributions are of 3d, 6d or 1s, though there are several who contributed above this, notably Mr John Neilson of Craigcaffie with five shillings, and Mrs Sibilla ('Seabellow') Cleiland in Culhorn with six shillings. Two residents of Cairn, John McCalla and Robert Carson, contribute 2s 6d each. The list is therefore a catalogue of social class within the parish in the mid 18th century.

Blains in the list are John Blain, Kirk of Inch, and Thomas and James in 'Dalhabbah', each of the three contributing sixpence to the collection.

The naming of James - and the work I've been doing to date the undated list - indicate a James Blain in Dalhabboch around the 1750s, where I had hypothesised a James as possible son of Patrick, and father of the later James there. Thomas is interesting - he may have been another son of the Patrick of the 1730s, or a nephew, or even the father of James. The names Patrick/Peter, James, Thomas and William are the most constant within this Blain line in Inch. Robert appears in all later generations, and so may come in from one of the lines intermarrying with these Blains.

The 1684 Wigtownshire Parish Lists

Extant Inch records begin in 1729, and it is unlikely that earlier connections can be made. However the Parish Lists of Wigtownshire and Minnigaff, 1684 (online at the Wigtownshire Pages) show Blains in several parishes, including amongst others Inch (a family of John Blain and Jonet McConnel at Whitlayes, individuals at Colhorn, Barsollis and Innermessen), and the adjacent parish of Glenluce (a family of John Blaine and Grissel Gordone at Lairdshipe, an individual Patrick Blain at Knockivar).

It is likely that the later Blains of Inch were related to one of the families in these lists, though demonstrating this is beyond the scope of what I can currently do.

Other Blains in the Kirk Session Minutes

There are accounts relating to a Peter Blain in Stranraer - not likely to be connected directly with my Inch family, but interesting nonetheless - in 1795 and 96, father of Isbal Blain registered as baptised in February 1796 in Inch. There is also a William Blain, in 1810, who was accused by Sarah Queen of fathering her child. This William Blain is described as servant to James Blain at Doss. It seems to be quite possible that he is the William Blain, son of James in Dalhabboch, later marrying Mary Maxwell, and hence is likely to be my great-great-grandfather.

Dalhabboch in the 19th century

Dalhabboch is a working sheep-farm today. I investigated its tenancy through the 1841 and 1851 censuses. Alas there were no Blains remaining there. In the 1841 census there are two households listed at 'Dalhuboch': one is unoccupied, the other has the family of Alex Douglas (40) born Wigtownshire, Mary (40) born outside the county, Hugh (5) and two young agricultural labourers (John McGinn aged 10 and John Harvie aged 15). Investigation shows an Alexander Douglas born in 1800, son of Hugh Douglas of the 1797 horse tax record: an LDS member gives the birth at 'Dalhaboch', and mother Elizabeth Adair, and the births of later children, which show the mother's name, give her as mother.

Pularyan is not listed in the 1841 census, that I can find.

In the 1851 census only one large household is noted, that of Agnes Scobae born in Ayrshire, her son Andrew Rowan described as farmer of 800 acres, 30 arable, and various other family members and labourers.

Possible ancestry of William Blain

My speculation, therefore, is that James Blain farmed at Dalhaboch or at Pularyan, which may have been listed as one of the Dalhabboch households. His widow, Mary McKibbon or McCubbin, may be the 'Mrs Blain' found there in 1797.

I think that the 'other' James Blain, of Doss farm, was possibly related, maybe a cousin or an uncle. It's quite likely that the James Blain of Dalhabboch in the 1780s and 90s was descended from or related to Patrick Blain of the 1730s, in that it's more likely than not that the partial tenancy stayed within that family; he is probably a grandson or a nephew of Patrick, and son of the James Blain who is in the Inch Kirk bell subscription list. I think that the Blains in Inch were likely to all be related, cousins or more distantly, and quite possibly had connections also to the Blains in Barr and Barrhill in Ayrshire and the Blains in New Luce and elsewhere in Wigtownshire.

In any case, these Inch farms hold clues to the ancestry of William Blain, gardener or farm worker, his children including William and Robert, boilermakers in Greenock, and the later Blains of my family.


[1]It isn't clear which of the children Jessie and John was older, as only John has a birth record extant, from 1820. Jessie's age was given as 20 in the 1841 census, and she could therefore be aged between 20 and 24, that is, born between 1816 and 1821.

[2]An account of life in a 17th century fermtoun, and of moving between Wigtownshire and Ulster, is given at

[3]The names Patrick and Peter were in earlier times interchangeable, as with Janet and Jessie.

[4]A useful account of enclosures and the Galloway Levellers, showing some of the complexity of these issues which I have only touched on here, is at

[5] The Wigtownshire Pages are available at

[6] Robert Findlay was called to the charge of Inch Parish in 1739, and left it in 1761. A brief account is given at

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