Artisans in Industrial Scotland

Jenny Blain.
Copyright © J. Blain 2005-07
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Additional: My mother's family

Linlithgow: The McCullochs and Gilles

William McCulloch and Ann Simpson
William McCulloch and Ann Simson were married on 29th August 1789, the married being registered in Golspie, Sutherland. Text of the marriage entry states:
Augt. 29th. William McCulloch mason at Dunrobin and Anne Simpson there were married of this date.

The text gives, therefore, an explanation for the northern marriage. Masons travelled where there was work for them. Dunrobin castle had, in the mid 1780s, a major extension constructed, which would doubtless require more masons than there were in the vicinity. Anne Simpson or Simson is described as 'there' - presumably as a servant: she could have come from almost anywhere. Some information on Dunrobin, including an engraving from 1821 showing how it would have looked after the masonry of William and doubtless many others, before the 1845 extensive remodelling, is given at The young Elizabeth, countess of Sutherland, was recently married (in 1785) to an Englishman, George Leveson-Gower, Marquess of Stafford, who was to become the first Duke of Sutherland. Though she had succeeded to the title as a young child (after a famous court case which established the legality of female succession to this earldom), she had spent much time in Edinburgh and London. The extension to the castle was only one of the projects of this couple: they were to become famous, or infamous, for 'reforms' to systems of land tenure and development of industries in the area and their names are forever associated with what some see as the worst excesses of the Highland Clearances.

Ann Simpson's position is not known. I have attempted to contact the Sutherland estates to find out if records are available, and wait to hear. However it is not even clear if Ann was a servant in the castle: there is a nearby farm of Dunrobin Mains. However, it could be thought likely that the farm name would have been explicit in records, and that 'Dunrobin' would mean the castle, with its many employees. But Ann Simpson, if an employee at the castle, could have come as part of a staff from any area in which the Countess, or indeed her husband, had lived, or been recruited by a factor or agent from Edinburgh or London. From the age at death recorded on her gravestone she was born around 1765, and was therefore aged around 24 at the time of her marriage.

In any case, this couple returned to Linlithgow area where their children, aside from Mary the eldest, were born.

The McCullochs

William McCulloch was the son of Eupham Gilles and Robert McCulloch. About Robert, little is known. He was the son of James McCulloch, described as 'Landsman in Linlithgow' on the 1744 marriage record of Eupham and Robert, but I have not found birth or other records for Robert or his father James. However, Robert was in Torphichen parish at the time of the marriage, and subsequently took over a tenancy at Kettlestoun Mill previously held by the first husband of Eupham Gilles. William and his twin Robert were born in 1755. Other children were John (1745), James (1747) Agnes (1750) and later Susanna (1757). Eupham Gilles already had two children from her previous marriage to William Thomson, tenant at Kettlestoun Mill, William and Janet born 1740 and 1742.

Robert the twin of William became a merchant, probably a draper, in Linlithgow. One map of Linlithgow shows a house of 'Mr McCulloch' which is likely to be his. A gravestone in St Michael's kirkyard held inscriptions to him and his family: he married Agnes Bowie and their children became, apparently, successful lawyers. The inscription on the tombstone is now unreadable,

About the earlier McCullochs of Linlithgow I have no further information. The Gilles however are a different story, an extended family which can be traced through several generations, including several burgesses of Linlithgow.

The Gilleses and their kin
Eupham Gilles was part of a large family network. She was daughter of John Gilles, a currier (leatherworker) and Agnes Thomson, born a twin to Margaret on 8th November 1713.

[... to be continued!]

© J Blain, February 2007


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