Maternal ancestors

I have always known, of course, that I was descended from the Raitts on my father’s side and the Lindsays on my mother’s side and I have researched these families to a greater or lesser extent and included the details on this web site. What I didn’t really appreciate until I started looking into my DNA was the importance or significance of my maternal line forebears. Naturally, I was curious to follow this up and it has revealed a wealth of interesting information about people I never knew existed and whose DNA I  have obviously inherited to a certain extent. Consequently I have thought it appropriate as well as useful to add some information about these people in my maternal line. I had my mtDNA analyzed by two companies - Oxford Ancestors (OA) and BritainsDNA (BDNA) - two years apart. The results are given on separate pages - mtDNA (OA) and mtDNA (BDNA) - but they only give very remote ancestors.  

So I have traced my maternal DNA line back as far as I can at present - the earliest known female being Margaret Wedderburn. The chain and tree is given below – though additional work still needs to be done on some of the relations to tie them down more precisely. To get an idea of where these early families lived and worked, see the relevant Statistical Accounts for Forfarshire.

Jane Lindsay

Jane Lindsay (also later known as Jean) was born on 2 February 1885 at Knowehead, Menmuir, Angus. She was the second child and eldest daughter of Eliza Jane Drummond and James Lindsay and spent the early part of her life as a domestic servant before having an illegitimate child and being forced to leave the area. She moved to London where she eventually met and married Herbert George Taylor and subsequently had two daughters with him – Dorothy and Aileen. More details on Jane Lindsay and the Taylor family will be found on their own pages.


In the 1891 census for Airlie, living at Braidestone Cottage is James Lindsay, head, 32, farm servant, born Tannadice; wife Eliza J., 31, Brechin; children John, 8, scholar, Tannadice; Jane, 6, scholar, Menmuir; Eliza, 5, Fearn; James, 3, Eassie; Stewart, 1, Eassie.

In the 1901 census Jeannie Lindsay, 16, born Menmuir, is a general servant (domestic) at Denmill Farm House, Kirriemuir living with her uncle David Rough, 59, farmer, born Forfar; and his daughter Jeannie Rough, 24, born Tannadice.

In the 1911 census for 51 Gower St, W.C., Jean Lindsay is a general domestic servant, single, aged 25, born Kirriemuir in the household of artist and painter Henry Macbeth Raeburn and his family.

She died of complications following pneumonia on 20 Nov 1960 in Reading, Berkshire and is buried along with her parents and a brother and sister in Kirriemuir cemetery.

Aileen Taylor

Aileen Taylor was the second child and daughter of Jane Lindsay and Herbert George Taylor and was born on 29 September 1922 in Rotherham, Yorkshire. She married David Raitt on 11 December 1943 at Sulhampstead Abbots, Berkshire and they had two children: David Ian and Stephen Andrew. More details of Aileen and David can be found on David Raitt’s page.


Below will be found the above maternal tree starting not so much with Margaret Wedderburn, but in fact the earliest Skair for the sake of completeness - it is, after all, the same tree from Margaret on.

Eliza Jane Drummond

Eliza Jane Drummond was the youngest child of Elizabeth Ann Duncan and William Drummond until daughter Annie was born some fourteen years later. Eliza Jane was born on 20 Jul 1858 in Little Brechin, Angus and died at 41 Victoria St (Sidlaw View), Kirriemuir, Angus on 24 April 1936, aged 77. The informant was James Lindsay, widower. Interestingly, her birth extract states her parents are William Drummond and Elisabeth Drummond, maiden name Duncan; but her death extract gives her parents as William Drummond and Elizabeth Drummond, maiden name Stewart. She is buried in Kirriemuir Cemetery (grave ref I/463) along with husband James, son Albert, and daughters Jane (Jean) Taylor, and Eliza.

Eliza Jane married James Lindsay on 24 June 1881 in Little Brechin and they had ten children between 1882-1902. Details about these children as well as James and his ancestors are to be found under the Lindsay tree.

In the 1861 census for Brechin, living at Little Brechin Cottage, is William Drummond, head, 41, surfaceman on roads, born Lethnot; wife Elizabeth, 38, born Lethnot; children Margaret, 12, scholar, born Lethnot; Mary Ann, 9, scholar, born Lethnot; John, 6, scholar, born Edzell; Betty, 4, scholar, born Edzell; and Eliza Jean, 2, born Brechin.

In the 1871 census for Brechin, living at Little Brechin Cottage, is William Drummond, head, 48, road lab, born Stricathero; son John, 16, road lab, born Edzell; and daughter Eliza, 12, scholar, born Brechin.

In the 1881 census for Brechin, living at 37 Montrose St is Eliza Drummond, age 22, unmarried, linen weaver, born Brechin and her sister, Margaret Drummond, head, 31, unmarried, linen weaver, born Lethnot.

In the 1891 census for Airlie, living at Braidestone Cottage is James Lindsay, head, 32, farm servant, born Tannadice; wife Eliza J., 31, born Brechin; children John, 8, scholar, born Tannadice; Jane, 6, scholar, born Menmuir; Eliza, 5, born Fearn; James, 3, born Eassie; Stewart, 1, born Eassie.

The 1901 census for Tannadice, Newton Grieve's House has James Lindsay, head, age 42, farm grieve, born Tannadice; wife Eliza Jane, 41, born Brechin; and children Eliza, 15, born Fern; James, 13, ordinary worker on farm, born Eassie; Stewart, 11, scholar, born Eassie; Annie, 8, scholar, born Airlie; William, 4, born Airlie; David, 2, born Airlie; Alexander O., 12m, born Tannadice.  

The 1911 census for Newton of Inshewan, Tannadice has James Lindsay, 52, farm grieve, born Tannadice; Eliza Jane, wife, 51, born Brechin; children James, 23, joiner, born Eassie; Annie, 18, born Airlie; David, 12, school, born Airlie; Alexander 10, school, born Tannadice; Albert, 8, school, born Tannadice; and grandson Kenneth Ormond, 4, born Tannadice. James and Eliza Jane had been married for 29 years and had ten children all still living at the time of the census.

Betty Stewart

Betty Stewart was christened 11 August 1790 in Lethnot and Navar, Angus. She was the youngest child of Margaret Molysson and Francis Stewart and was also known as Beatie and Betsy. Although she never married, it seems that Betsy gave birth to a daughter, Elizabeth Ann, about 1825, in Lethnot and Navar. The father was James Duncan, a farmer and one could suppose that Betsy was a farm servant.

Betty Stewart died 2 May 1871 at West Nathro, Navar of general dropsy aged 80. She was single and her parents were given as Francis Stewart, farmer, deceased; and Margaret Stewart, Mrs Mollison, deceased. The informant was Elizabeth Drummond, daughter, resident in Little Brechin, Angus.

The 1841 census for Lethnot & Navar has Betty Stewart, 50, independent, living at West Northrow together with [her daughter] Elisabeth Duncan, age 15.

In the 1851 census for West Northrow, Lethnot Betty Stewart, unmarried, 58, housekeeper, born Lethnot, is living with her brother, David Stewart, head, unmarried, 70, farm servant, born Lethnot.

In the 1861 census for West Nathraw, Lethnot there is Betty Stewart, unmarried, 68, farmer's aunt, born Lethot. This farmer is likely to be her nephew David Stewart in Nathraw, head, age 47, farmer of 140 acres. David’s wife is Betty Molison, born 1824 in Lethnot; and also in the household, apart from several children, is David Stewart, 82, unmarried, a boarder and listed as uncle to the head of household. David, the younger, is the son of John Stewart and Anne Tosh, i.e. a son of Francis Stewart and Margaret Mollison and thus the brother of David and Betty Stewart.

The 1871 census for West Nathis, Lethnot has Betty Stewart, head, unmarried, 80, pauper, born Lethnot & Navar; daughter Elizabeth Drummond, married, 44, visitor, born Lethnot & Navar; and grand daughter Betsy Stewart Drummond, 14, born Edzell.

Elizabeth Ann Duncan

Born in 1825 in Lethnot and Navar, Angus, Elizabeth Ann Duncan was the illegitimate daughter of farmer James Duncan and Betty Stewart. There seems to be some confusion in the records as to whether she actually had (or used) the surname Duncan or Stewart.

She married William Drummond on 31 December 1850 in Lethnot & Navar, Angus. William was born in November 1819 in Lethnot & Navar, the eldest child (along with his twin brother David) of David Drummond and Elisabeth Hendry. William was initially a shepherd, but later a road labourer (road surfaceman) who died on 6 July 1884 in Little Brechin.

Elisabeth Ann Duncan and William Drummond had six children between 1849 and 1872. The eldest, Margaret, was seemingly born nearly two years before they got married, whilst the youngest, Annie, was born almost fourteen years after Eliza Jane. Given the gap, one wonders whether there were any other children born during that time – and possibly dying since they are not mentioned in censuses.

Elisabeth died on 20 May 1891 in Edzell, Angus. The death extract gives her name as Elisabeth Ann Drummond, her age as 66, and says she died at Mains of Edzell while visiting – presumably her daughter Betty Stewart Walker and family. Her usual residence was 48 High St, Brechin. She was illegitimate and her parents were James Duncan, farmer (deceased) and Betsy Stewart (deceased).  The informant was John Walker, son-in-law (husband of daughter Betty Stewart Drummond). She is buried in Brechin cemetery (grave K OLD/234/2) along with Margaret Drummond (probably daughter-in-law rather than eldest daughter) buried on 22 Oct 1932 and Agnes Stott Stewart Drummond Morrison buried on 26 Apr 1984 (age 86.) Since Agnes is Elisabeth’s granddaughter, then it is likely her mother, Margaret, who might be the other person buried in the grave.

The 1841 census for Lethnot & Navar has Elisabeth Duncan, age 15, at living at West Northrow with [her mother] Betty Stewart, 50, independent.

The 1851 census for Church St, Edzell, Angus/Kincardineshire has William Drummond, 31, shepherd, born Strickathro; wife Elisabeth, 26, born Lethnot; daughter Margaret, 2, born Lethnot; and brother Robert, unmarried, 20, scholar, born Lethnot.

In the 1861 census for Brechin, living at Little Brechin Cottage, is William Drummond, head, 41, surfaceman on roads, born Lethnot; wife Elizabeth, 38, born Lethnot; children Margaret, 12, scholar, born Lethnot; Mary Ann, 9, scholar, born Lethnot; John, 6, scholar, born Edzell; Betty, 4, scholar, born Edzell; Eliza Jean, 2, born Brechin.

In the 1871 census for West Nathis, Lethnot Elizabeth Drummond, married, 44, born Lethnot & Navar is visiting her mother Betty Stewart, head, unmarried, 80, pauper, born Lethnot & Navar; with the latter’s and grand daughter Betsy Stewart Drummond, 14, born Edzell.

In the 1881 census for Brechin, living at Little Brechin is William Drummond, head, 60, road labourer, born Stracathro; wife Elizabeth, 54, born Lethnot; daughter Ann, 9, scholar, born Brechin; and granddaughter Elizabeth Drummond, 5, born Brechin. (Young Elizabeth is the illegitimate daughter of William and Elisabeth’s daughter Mary Ann.)

Elisabeth does not seem to be in the 1891 census – true she died on 20 May 1891, but the census was taken on the night of 5 April.

Margaret Wedderburn

Margaret Wedderburn was born about 1690 probably around Menmuir in Angus. There are two or three Margaret Wedderburn(e)s in the right time frame, but they were all christened in Dundee. Although the city is only some 20 miles or so from Menmuir, it is probably unlikely that a young Margaret Wedderburn would have gone from a thriving metropolis (in its day) to work in the back of beyond – though her father might well have gone there as an agricultural labourer or farmer.  

The family of Wedderburn – whether they were related to Margaret or not – are an old, distinguished family dating to the 13th century at least in Scotland (the earliest mention is in 1296 in the Ragman Roll) and they seemed to have been quite a bunch – hung, drawn and quartered for supporting Bonnie Prince Charlie, fleeing to Jamaica, illegitimate children all over the place,  knights and sirs etc! They seem to have come to Angus in very early days – possibly from Berwick - and there were apparently four distinct, but closely associated families in Dundee and Kingennie. Some moved later to Blackness, Midlothian. There appear to have been quite a few sons and grandsons and thus it is possible that Margaret was born to one of them. Indeed, many of the Wedderburns had daughters named Margaret – though the name in itself is not significant since it was a common name at the time. A younger son of one of the scions, not likely to inherit the lands and titles, may have moved further afield from the Dundee area for work as a farmer or agricultural labourer and fathered Margaret. A daughter (Elizabeth) of Alexander Wedderburn, 3rd of Kingennie, married the Reverend Robert Rait, minister of Dundee, and they had a son named Alexander Rait.

Margaret Wedderburn married Alexander Skair about 1715 in Menmuir. His father was David Skair, born about 1660, who may have had a brother called Thomas. David was proprietor of Burnside farm and had at least three children: sons David (born abt 1682), Alexander (born abt 1684) and Thomas (born abt 1685). They were probably all born fairly locally, i.e around Menmuir.

The Skair family seems to have come from Menmuir where one of them was tenant of Ledmore, and had seisin of the lands of Balconnell in 1732. They may have taken their name from a Skair in the parish of Inverarity. In the 1841 census the farm of Skair (Skare) – which no longer exists - is listed with Grangemill although it actually lay closer to Spittalburn. The somewhat odd name of Skair seems to be a Scottish form of that of "Saker". a Canon, a dignitary in a Cathedral, and consequently derived from that office originally (on the other hand a saker is also the name of a medium cannon which took its name from the saker falcon – a large falcon native to the Middle East and national bird of Hungary – and it is telling that at least one Skair adopted this as his family coat of arms – see below.)

The elder brother of Alexander Skair, David, had at least two children: daughter Ann who married David Leighton; and Margaret who married Alexander Don. The Leighton family was well-known in the district.

Alexander’s younger brother, Thomas, married Margaret Scot and had at least two children: son Thomas, who married Elizabeth Duncan and went on to have some 13 children; and daughter Margaret. The eldest son of Thomas jnr was John, born 1774 and dying in Arbroath in 1856. He was a one-time tenant of Boysack Mills (probably after his father) - but he purchased the lands of The March near Arbroath in 1825, and changed the name to Lunan Bank. He assumed a Coat of Arms - sable, a chevron, argent, charged with, between the horns of a crescent, vert, a lozenge-shaped buckle, azure; with a Crest - A saker-falcon, wings expanded, proper (i. e., the head grey, back dark brown, and the legs bluish.); and a Motto - Industria (By industry.) His Seat was Lunan Bank House, a modern mansion, erected by the present laird, on a rising ground, on the south bank of the Lunan, about two miles west of Inverkeillor. He was living there, as a landed proprietor, in the 1841 and 1851 censuses. Another of Thomas jnr’s sons, Alexander, was a surgeon who died in Camden Town, London, in 1846, aged 71 and is interred in Kensal Green cemetery. Alexander’s daughter Elizabeth died at Boysack Mills, aged 19.

Middle brother Alexander Skair and Margaret Wedderburn had some six children, all born in Menmuir: Margaret (1716-1774); Isabel (1718-1722); Thomas (1721-1724); Alexander (1723-1731); Ann (1724-1801); and another Isabel who died aged four months. Proprietorship of Burnside had passed from David Skair to Alexander in 1743, but when the latter’s daughter Ann married David Guthrie she brought Burnside to the Guthries – also a well-known family in the area.

Gravestone 16 in Menmuir kirkyard has the inscription:

“Alex Skair once in Burnside 12.7.1751 (67) by w Margaret Wedderburn 4 chn

int here viz Isable 16.11.1722 (4) Thomas 19.3.1724 (3) Alex 16.2.1731 (8) Isable 4m. [Various initials - presumably of the children]. David Guthrie of Burnside 3.3.1781 (64) w Ann Skair 28.10.1801 (77)

In Andrew Jervise's Book of Epitaphs in North-east Scotland we read: "Alex Skair succeeded his fa David as tent and became proprietor of Burnside about 1743. His fa, prob a bro of Thos tent of Boysack had seisin of Balconnel in 1740 but in 1749 sold it to a Dundee family named Murison. His da Ann brought Burnside to the Guthries through marriage to David".

Alexander Skair died in 1751 in Menmuir and Margaret probably died a couple of years later in 1753 in Menmuir where she is likely buried. Among the initials on gravestone 16 in Menmuir kirkyard are AS MW and the date 1753.

Margaret Skair

Margaret Skair was the eldest child and daughter of Margaret Wedderburn and Alexander Skair and was christened on 4 November 1716 in Kirkton of Menmuir, Angus. She died on 13 April 1774 in Craigendowie, Navar, Angus.

She married James Molysson (a variety of spellings including Mollisson, Molsson and Moleson) on 15 April 1744 in Craigendowie. James was born about 1715 to James Molysson and Agnes Gold. His grandfather, also James, was married to Margaret Fyfe. They all appear to have been from Lethnot and Navar, Angus. Various Mollisons were millers residing at the Mill of Lethnot.

Margaret and James had seven children between 1745-1761. The second eldest was named also named Margaret (presumably after her mother and/or maternal grandmother.)

Margaret Mollison

Margaret Mollison was the second oldest child of Margaret Skair and James Molysson and was born sometime before 1750 in Craigendowie, Navar and is probably the Margaret Molison from Duncie who was buried in Navar on 3 April 1796. She married Francis Stuart (Stewart) in 1765; the marriage record in Lethnot Parish Church reading: 1765, February 28 – Francis Stuart in Nathro and Margaret Molysson daughter to James Molysson and Margaret Skair in Craigendowy.  

Francis was a farmer and is the probably the Francis Stewart in Nathro mentioned as one of those (along with James Molison in Craigendowie) contributing to the expense of building the bell house in Navar kirkyard in 1773. A Francis Stewart was christened in Menmuir on 24 May 1730 (father named Francis) and this may be him – though it would make him some fifteen years or more older than his wife Margaret. He seems to have had a younger brother called John. Francis and David Stewarts from Mill of Dunlappie. Lethnot were buried the same day on 14 June 1799, and Robert Stewart, of the same place, was buried on 29 May 1799. Whether Francis is this one or his father or indeed another is not known.

Margaret Molysson and Francis Stewart had nine children between 1767-1790. Since there is a gap between 1771-1778, it is possible that there are a couple of other children whose births are currently unknown. Their youngest child was Betty.