My Elusive Celtic Ancestors: Update

Back in 2011 I blogged about the difficulties I was having in tracing the backgrounds of David Dear and Margaret Perrow. Today I have updated my website with some relevant documents, so I thought it was time to post an update.

In July 2014 I stumbled across a 2002 post on rootsweb mentioning a baptism of a David Dear, son of David Dear and Ann Mitchell*, in Montrose in Scotland in early 1811. In great excitement I emailed the poster, who kindly gave me the batch reference for the register as well as a lot of other information about the family. It turns out that the reason my earlier searches hadn’t turned up the record was that the surname was spelled ‘Daer’.

Inspired by this breakthrough, later in 2014 I ordered more records relating to the Northumberland Dears. It does seem likely to me that the Northumberland David was the David christened in Montrose in 1811: they match on name, age, father‘s name and father’s occupation, and the Northumberland David’s two eldest daughters were named Agnes (Ann is referred to as Agnes on a memorial inscription and I’m told that in Scotland the names were interchangeable). I still can’t quite bring myself to state definitively that they are the same person, though, as ‘S[cotland]’ is such a very vague birth place!

So still at this point I have more questions than answers to add to my original blog post …

  • Generalising from my family tree, most couples appear to have produced children at roughly two-year intervals, and gaps in the sequence in later records generally indicate an infant death. Do the two gaps in the baptisms of David and Ann’s children mark the deaths of unbaptised infants, or is there some other reason?
  • Going by her age at burial, Ann was in her thirties when she married David. Why did she marry so late? Was she married before?
  • Why were David and Ann living apart in 1841? Were they separated by the demands of David’s employment? Or perhaps by Ann’s frailty (she died two years later)? Or even an estrangement?
  • The relationship between the Northumberland and Greenwich Davids is still troubling me. If they are the same person, why was David‘s surviving daughter with Alice, Jemima, in the workhouse in Newcastle in 1851 instead of living with her father and his new partner? (I say ‘partner’, as I still haven’t found any evidence of a marriage for David and Margaret senior…)
  • Who was Margaret junior‘s father? Both of her marriage certificates state her father was David Dear, but the birth year range suggested by census entries would mean that she was born while Alice was still alive. Was she born of an affair between David and Margaret senior, or was she Margaret’s daughter from a previous relationship but raised as David’s daughter? (I have still not been able to locate an 1841 census entry for Margaret senior, nor a marriage, so I am beginning to wonder if she was perhaps co-habiting with someone at the time and is recorded in the census under his surname – as was the case with Elizabeth Smith.)
    • * In Scotland women were commonly referred to by their maiden names even after marriage.
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