Artisans in Industrial Scotland

Jenny Blain.
Copyright © J. Blain 2005
Additional Return to table of contents for further sections

Additional: My mother's family

The Fishers

This material was written rapidly during autumn 2005, and is partly in narrative, partly in note form. It has been further updated and added to in early January 2007. It updates and extends, and sometimes corrects, material in earlier sections. It owes much to the provision of the ScotlandsPeople website. The 1861 census had (in October 2005) become available via this site, and the account below includes some of my doubts, and results that followed from the release of the 1861, and later 1851 and 1841, data, and further information resulting from a connection with a distant cousin and with the availability of wills and testaments on the ScotlandsPeople website. The material so gathered necessitates a trip to the National Archives of Scotland (NAS) in General Register House, Edinburgh, and I look forward to this.

Marion Fisher, who married John Pendlebury, was the daughter of William Fisher and Margaret Whyte or White who married on 3 May 1844. Their marriage and Marion's birth and christening (25.5.1845) are recorded in Muiravonside parish, in Stirlingshire, a parish that borders on West Lothian. The accounts I heard put her family in Linlithgow, in West Lothian. Now, there is a river (the Avon - one of many by this name which means 'river') that forms a county boundary, and the village or small town of Linlithgow Bridge, just west of Linlithgow (and now mostly part of Linithgow) spans the river, having houses on both sides of the old Avon Bridge and hence is in both counties. The road bridge is a replacement for the older stone-built bridge which was a Tollbridge, with a Toll House on the Muiravonside side, and which linked not only the parishes of Linlithgow and Muiravonside, but the counties of Linlithgowshire (later West Lothian) and Stirling, and indeed also the 'Lowland' and 'Highland' regions. A liminal - boundary or borderline - place indeed. There are two other bridges over the Avon there, one being the railway viaduct from the mid-1800s, the other being the earlier Telford aquaduct from 1822 or so, which was built to carry the Union Canal, the shipping waterway between Edinburgh and Glasgow, across this valley.

There's some material on the internet about Muiravonside: however the West Lothian/Linlithgow information is relevant also. Linlithgow is one of the old capitals of Scotland, from the time when the court rotated so that there was not just one capital. I should add that Muiravonside and its boundary with West Lothian also holds one of the earliest major Scottish prehistoric sites, Cairnpapple hill, which is a massive 'henge' site - a major place in the bronze age map of Britain, it would seem.

In 1851, the family of Marion Fisher was recorded in Linlithgow Bridge (fortunately for me this is available in the small online sample of the 1851 Scottish census). There are her parents, William Fisher and his wife Margaret approximately 32 and 25, and three children - Marion aged 6, Mary aged 4 and William, 1. Her father William Fisher is described as a 'shoemaker'. Later we know he became a calico printer or block printer, and he is described as such on Marion's marriage record, 12 July 1867, to which either he or his son William was a witness.

Shortly after the 1851 census, another child, Edmund, was born to the Fisher family (17 June 1851), in Muiravonside. It may be important that while Marion, William (apparently- though the 1851 census says he was born in Roxburghshire and it's more likely he was born in Dalkeith, probably while the family were in transit!) and Edmund were born or at least (for William) registered in Muiravonside, Mary was born in Newton St Boswell's, which is a 'new town' near Melrose, Roxburghshire.

Edmund moved to England and married, having (at least) three daughters. His family is shown in the 1881 English census, in Shuttleworth, near Ramsbottom, Lancashire. Edmund was then a 'paper maker' and later apparently managed a works of some kind - family stories say a cotton mill but more possibly a paper manufactory - and may also have owned a chain of baker's shops (see the 'Pendlebury' information in my earlier online material.)

The younger William (b. 1849) was said by my mother to have been her 'rich uncle' living in Hamilton when she was a small child. She described both William and Edmund visiting (in the 1900s and 1910s) and making music. The 1901 census shows a William Fisher, of the right age (born approx 1849), married to Jessie MacKay, but gives a birthplace of 'Dalkeith' not either Muiravonside or Roxburgh. As indicated above, this is quite possible - born in Dalkeith while the family was returning from the borders, but the birth registered in Muiravonside when they returned to the family houses there. This marriage is found in 1871 in Hutchesontown, Glasgow. The 1881 census shows William and Jessie in Govan, and also shows, living with them as a 'general servant' one 'Janet Pindlebury'. This would seem to indicate that there is a relationship.

However the details of the marriage record of this younger William Fisher, in 1871, say that he is the son of Joseph Fisher and Jane McGregor... (not William Fisher and Margaret White). Yet the constellation of details - especially the presence of Janet Pendlebury in the household in 1881 - indicate he is a close relative of Marion Fisher's family. Looking for a birth of a William Fisher to a Joseph produced no responses: however looking for the birth of a Joseph did. Joseph Fisher - an unusual name - is shown in the Scottish records as born 3rd August 1824 to a William Fisher and Mary Martin, in Melrose, Roxburgh. The marriage of William Fisher and Mary Martin(e) was on 4 July 1823, in Melrose.

The link between Muiravonside and Melrose was unexpected. It may be only coincidence. It seemed to me at first, finding this, that Joseph Fisher was likely to be a half-sibling of the Muiravonside Fishers, and hence an uncle of Marion. It seemed unlikely that Joseph Fisher and Jane McGregor were the actual parents of the younger William - the birth evidence is of William Fisher and Margaret Whyte being registered as parents, and later generations seem to have regarded 'great uncle William' to be a brother of Marion Fisher rather than a cousin - but he may have been born in their household - if they were in Dalkeith at the right time - and in part brought up by them. More of this (younger, third) William Fisher anon. Let's go back a little, first.

William Fisher (second of whom we have any records), father of Marion, seems to have been born in 1817, when the birth of a William Fisher is recoded, in Muiravonside, to Mary McCulloch and William Fisher, with baptism on 26 MAY 1817. I'd found an index item showing marriage of these two on 02 SEP 1812 in St Cuthbert's, Edinburgh. Later census information (1851) would put his birth in 1818-19, so I had some initial doubts.

William Fisher and Mary McCulloch had two children born in Muiravonside, i.e. Linlithgow Bridge: Ann Fisher b 1813 chr. 30.5.1813, William born 1817 chr 26.5.1817. Ann Fisher married one Robert Stewart, bore several children, and died in Muiravonside aged 75 in 1888 (Scottish women's deaths are usually indexed by birth surname, so she was not hard to find). More of her anon. Her brother William's death record, and that of Margaret White, though, I could not find, although I knew (from their daughter Marion's marriage record) that both were alive in 1867. They could have been anywhere in Scotland, though, and the names are too common to bet on, when such a gamble costs credits through the Scotlands People site. Fortunately one of their children, Edmund, had an uncommon name, and furthermore I knew that he had gone to live in Lancashire. I found him in the 1881 and 1901, and eventually the 1871, census - in Shuttleworth, Ramsbottom, exactly where expected, where he had married and had a family. I'm likely to have relatives in Lancashire, even today.

But having a (brief) access to the English census records, I looked for William and family. There they were - they had migrated to England: William and Margaret, at 21 Factory Street, Ramsbottom, with daughter Mary aged 23, and some younger children about whom I'd had no previous information, James and George, in the 1871 census: James was aged 16, George 10, William listed as 'block printer', Mary and James cotton weavers, and the whole family born in Scotland. By 1881 the picture had changed, I could not find William or Margaret (they may have died before then, or emigrated), James may have been either a soldier on in prison (there are two likely candidates!) - and George seems likely to have emigrated to the USA. It is quite possible from later censuses that James eventually was living in Bootle, as an assistant to a spirit dealer there, and married and had a family - again I may have relatives there of whom I have no knowledge.

Access to the 1861 Scottish census has qualified and validated this information. By 1861, William Fisher and Margaret Whyte had moved several times, as shown by the births of their children: they were now (1861) at Hillhead Row, New Kilpatrick, Milngavie. Marion my great grandmother is not shown in this census record - she was living elsewhere, possibly in Paisley, and I have not yet found where. Ages and birthplaces of the others appear thus:

William Fisher, 43, Stirlingshire, Linlithgow Bridge
Margaret Fisher, 33, Stirlingshire, Linlithgow Bridge
Mary, 13, Roxburghshire, St Boswells
William, 11, Edinburghshire, Dalkeith
Edmund, 9, Stirlingshire, Linlithgow Bridge
James, 7, Renfrewshire, Elderslie
George, 4 mo., Renfrewshie, Elderslie

The Fishers therefore moved from Linlithgow Bridge to St Boswells near Melrose, then Dalkeith south of Edinburgh, back to Linlithgow Bridge, to Elderslie (Paisley), and to new Kilpatrick. What drove the Fishers to Lancashire in the 1860s is not known - but one can speculate that the pull of jobs, or a 'push' occasioned by a down-turn in the Scottish cotton textiles industry (at the time of the American Civil War), may have coincided with the Lancashire connections of their elder daughter's marriage to John Pendlebury. Did he have connections in Lancashire who could help with jobs? Possibly not, but other connections may have been there. William seems to have begun his working life as a shoemaker - attested by the 1851 census and the birth record of Mary. By the birth of George he is a journeyman block printer and in all later material described as calico printer - part, therefore, of the textiles industry that drew so many to the Glasgow area in the mid 19th century.

In the 1841 census William Fisher is listed in Old Monkland, age given as 20, a shoemaker. His mother's family had kin in that area. His sister Ann had married, and was in Linlithgow Bridge (in the Muiravonside part, and one presumes at the Bridge Inn), aged 27 with her husband Robert Stewart, spirit dealer aged 35 and their son Alexander aged 4 months. Their eldest child Mary Ann, who would have been aged two years, is not in the household and so is presumably with kin elsewhere.

I thought the elder William Fisher was likely to have been born around 1785 (give or take a few years) but there are many from then, and of course no guarantee that this particular birth was even recorded. I hoped the marriage records to Mary McCulloch - and possibly to Mary Martin in Melrose - might give an indication. Mary McCulloch had several possibilities for parentage. From the IGI I'd found a Mary McCulloch, daughter of William McCulloch born in Alloa in 1796 (her mother a Mary Fisher, confusingly). Other Mary McCullochs came from the West Coast. In August 2005 I was able to spend some time in the Edinburgh library and look at their records; these included the marriage of William Fisher and Mary McCulloch. It said:
2nd September 1812
William Fisher Gentlemans Servant at Hopetoun house and Mary McCulloch daughter of William McCulloch Innkeeper in Linlithgow, residing Queensferry Street, 6, gave up their names for proclamation of Banns Matrimonial.
William Dick Smith
Nottingham Place
Thomas Sharrat Hostler
Nottingham Place
Some further information has come from the archivist at Hopetoun House[1], to whom I owe thanks. From his information, William Fisher appears in the Hopetoun House records in 1812. He was paid at Martinmas an annual salary of £17 17s (17 guineas) with an 'extra' allowance of £1 17s 6d, possibly for special clothing or as a tea and sugar allowance [2]. He was also that year given an additional five guineas 'pr Adml Hope's orders'. On 18 January 1813 he signed a receipt for his 1812 salary.

It is possible that he was either the personal servant of Admiral Hope, or connected directly with his family. At this time, Admiral Sir George Hope was a cousin of the Hopetoun family who had married back into that family; he had come from Carriden House near Bo'ness. Whether William was associated with the Bo'ness area or with Sir George Hope's naval career we cannot yet say. It seems likely that William's leaving this employment was connected with his marriage.

So, tracking William and Mary is a bit tricky. The Alloa McCullochs have been ruled out - thanks to a message from a member of Genes Reunited.

This is intriguingly close to my family history....
I have a William McCulloch who married Mary Fisher in 1781 in Alloa, and had a bunch of children, including Mary born 1796. But this Mary married Peter Sanderson in Edinburgh in 1818 - these are my ggg-grandparents. Mary died in 1886 at the ripe old age of 91.
The only way this could be the same Mary as yours, is if William Fisher died before 1818, and Mary married again. But there is no note of that in my Mary's death cert.
Ruling out people is an important part of family research! Mary's birth may simply not be recorded in parish records. Further information, however, suggests that the McCulloch's were at one time considerably further north: they may have originated there. However the William McCulloch, Innkeeper and Mason, seems to have been a twin son of Robert McCulloch and Eupham Gillies, born in Linlithgow in 1755 into a quite large family. His twin brother, another Robert, became a merchant in Linlithgow and this Robert's descendant Margaret Macculloch or Hall has a website at which gives information on some of these people. Eupham Gillies was from a large Linlithgow family, and I have various pieces of information about the members of this family, going back several generations.

McCullochs and Stewarts

Further inspection of the 1861 and 1851 census records sheds some light on the McCullochs while it raises more questions. These include material on Ann Fisher (b. 1813) and her family, and further information about the inn at Linlithgow Bridge.

The 1851 census for Muiravonside shows, at Linlithgow Bridge, the family of William Fisher the 2nd and his wife and elder children, the Stewart household including Ann Fisher, with her husband Robert Stewart as Vintner, and the household of Mary McCulloch, widow, described as 'Proprietor of House', possibly meaning Innkeeper but also possibly meaning simply that she owned the property, all of these living next door to each other. In the household of Mary are living several children, all Stewarts. The material as transcribed (from FreeCen - I also now have an image from ScotlandsPeople of these census records and have made some corrections) is:

(Number of Householder's schedule) 66 LINLITHGOW BRIDGE

Mary McCulloch also appears in the 1861 census. There she is described as (Late?) Cook, and Robert Stewart is given as Innkeeper. If she was a cook, it does not necessarily mean in the Inn: the 1841 census finds her in Edinburgh (St Colme Street) with occupation 'female servant' and the testament of her daughter Ann indicates that Mary had also lived at Balloch Castle, presumably as a servant there. Apparently Mary spent considerable amounts of time residing elsewhere than the Linlithgow Bridge inn.The death record of Mary, in 1863, aged 73, describes her as widow, but not of whom. Her parents are William McCulloch and Ann Simpson. William is described here as Mason, not Innkeeper. His memorial inscription indicates he was both. The birthplace of Mary McCulloch, not given in the 1851 transcript above, is given in the 1861 census: it is hard to read, but most certainly not 'Muiravonside'. The scan is patchy, but the writing appears to read 'Rossshire - Urray'. There is a recorded marriage of a William McCulloch and Anne Simpson in Golspie, Sutherland, in 1789: and records of four McCulloch children born to these parents in Muiravonside, Robert in 1797, Margaret in 1802 and Euphemia in 1806. It may indeed be that William McCulloch had kin in the north, or that Ann Simpson was from the north.

In all the available census material, we have Mary McCulloch - not Mary Fisher. While her legal name remained, of course, McCulloch, it seems more usual to have the husband's last name given in census material and at least noted on the death record. This does not happen for Mary. While Ann Fisher is given her birth name in the 1851 census, in subsequent censuses (1861 and 1881) she is Ann Stewart.

A remaining puzzle relates to the names of Ann's children. Their baptisms are recorded as:

Mary Ann Stewart 1 APR 1839
Alexander Stewart McCulloch 28 MAR 1841
Janet Stewart McCulloch 17 MAR 1844
William Stewart McCulloch 24 JAN 1847
Margaret Stewart McCulloch 30 OCT 1849
Robert Stewart McCulloch 16 APR 1854

all but the eldest being shown as 'Stewart McCulloch'. In census records and in the will of Ann Fisher or Stewart they are however simply 'Stewart'. In the 1881 census, Robert Stewart is now deceased, the inn has passed to other hands, and Ann Fisher is living in West Cottage, Muiravonside, described as widowed and an annuitant, aged 68, with her youngest child Robert in the cottage, unmarried and a clerk 'out of employ'. Of the other Stewart children, Alexander was in 1881 living in Wauldmilton Cottage, Muiravonside, a flesher, married to Barbara Campbell from Bo'ness, with a child David Stewart described as 'nephew' living with them; in his marriage record his name appears as Alexander Stewart McCulloch. Margaret married James Wylie on 13 July 1875: this family was in 1881 also in Wauldmilton Cottage, with a son Robert S. Wylie (presumably the S is Stewart), and James Wylie listed as road surfacer; Janet is the 'Jane Stewart' who married William Miller on 24 October 1867; William is not present: he has emigrated to Australia, according to the will of his mother Ann Fisher or Stewart.

Mary Ann Stewart married a local tenant farmer, Andrew Bowie who farmed Gilmeadowland (in 1880 valued at 150 pounds and part of the Callendar Estate owned by William Forbes, Esq.) [3], and it was this Andrew who registered the death of Mary McCulloch, according to her death certificate. By the 1881 census, Mary Ann was widowed, and registered as 'Farmer of 200 acres, 150 arable), employing three men and three women'. One servant lived in the house. There were at least five children, Robert (18), Andrew (17), Ann Jane (15), Agnes (13) and James (11), and a visiting cousin from Lanarkshire, Ellen Forgie aged 50.

The will of Ann Fisher however reveals much about the relationships of the McCulloch descendents to the neighbourhood. This was made in early 1888, Ann dying in August of that year. It is clear from her statement that she was owner of considerable properties, both houses and small pieces of land, in the vicinity. The inventory taken after her death lists ten tenants (some being her children) of her properties. The statement indicates that much of the property was acquired from her mother, Mary McCulloch. Her father is never mentioned. The allocation to some of her children of liferent from part of the property is specified (as a 'burden' she places on the estate) and a figure is given for her son Robert Stewart to buy part of the property. The tenant paying the largest amount of rent is Mrs Battison - who was now the Innkeeper and whose son James Battison was by 1900 listed as owner of the Bridge Inn (according to the current staff of the Bridge Inn). In 1891 Robert Stewart was still living in one of the properties of his mother's trust - by 1900 he is gone, and one assumes that he sold the Bridge Inn to the Battison family. This remains to be confirmed from the Register of Sasines.

If there are any Stewarts or Bowies still in Muiravonside/Avonbridge or Linlithgow, it would be interesting to meet them. I have briefly visited the Bridge Inn but alas the current owner was away: I would like to find out how much further is known about its history. The Register of Sasines in Edinburgh is likely to help with this.

In the meantime we have various puzzles regarding this family: Whatever happened to William Fisher? Did he simply die young - but where and when was he 'huntsman'? Why did Mary McCulloch revert to using her birth name for apparently all purposes? Why did the Stewart McCullochs take their last name for their grandmother? As William McCulloch and Ann Simpson came to be, at the end of the 18th century, in Linlithgow Bridge, running an Inn, how did this connect with the northern birth of their first child? How did Mary McCulloch acquire property which she passed to her daughter? There is much to learn here about property and inheritance in the Linlithgow area during the 18th and 19th centuries.

© J Blain, 2005, 2006
This page last modified Tue, 2 Jan, 2007

Footnotes: [1] For the official website for Hopetoun House and the setting that William, however briefly, was in see

[2] A servant such as William would also have his keep - he would be living in the household. As a personal servant or valet, William would have quite high ranking among the servants of the household, especially if he were the personal servant of the Admiral.

[3] see Electric Scotland pages on History of Stirlingshire [Nimmo 1777, rev. Stirling 1817 and rev. Gillespie for final version 1880] at

Return to table of contents