June 2011

The Campbell McDonald Feud – The Story of a Scottish Divorce – Part 2

This is part two of the divorce of John Sheddens Campbell and Mary Ann McDonald. You can find part one here.

The first part of the package I received was the court records of the proceedings. There were two parts to this package. The first was a printed document and it had the title “Closed Record, in action of divorce John Sheddans Campbell against Mrs. Mary Ann McDonald or Campbell.”

On 3 July 1875 the court said they would hear the case for divorce on Saturday 17 July 1875 at 11 o’clock in the morning. John S. Campbell had to pay the expenses of his wife amounting to 10 GBP. The proceedings were held in Edinburgh and they lived in Glasgow.

Next you find the summons where John S. Campbell is charging his wife with adultery. Then there is the Condescendence for Pursuer which describes his married life and is about three pages long. This document provides the date and place of marriage and who officiated. There are the names of the children and their ages.

One part that I found most interesting was where they had resided during their marriage. They first lived in Glasgow until January 1860 when they moved to Edinburgh until September of 1860 when they moved back to Glasgow. In May 1863 they moved to Greenock and returned to Glasgow in March 1865 where they continued to live until September 1874. These moves happened between the census years where they had been found in Glasgow.

John S. Campbell states that the first 10 years of the marriage her “conduct and habits were unimpeachable.” Things seemed to change in March of 1867 when she “became addicted to intoxication and has ever since persisted in the habit of indulging to excess in drink.” It appears Mary was in the habit of selling anything and everything to get the funds for her addiction.

This would have been a very difficult time for John S. Campbell especially since his father was very active in the Temperance Movement in the Glasgow area. He was part of the committee that in 1837 formed the “Barony of Gorbals Branch of the Total Abstinence Society.”

It is heartbreaking that the drinking started in March of 1867 since Mary gave birth to twins in August of 1867. One of the twins died a month after birth and you wonder how the drinking affected them. There is a family story that they may have been premature.

In order to protect himself and his family he removed her from the family home around 17 September 1874. He provided her with maintenance as long as she did not bother either him or the children.

Mary agreed that all this had taken place but added that John had threatened violence if she did not sign the document for maintenance.

John contended that she has been freely going about with men and constantly in their company. Mary denies the charge of adultery. There was a list of dates provided where it was suggested that Mary had brought men back to her lodgings and she denied all these accusations.

Mary accused John of libel and the court accepted this charge.

The second part of the package is the handwritten transcripts of the court.

The court heard the divorce case on Saturday 17 July 1875 and Monday 19 July 1875. It appears Mary McDonald missed the train from Glasgow and did not make the proceedings on Saturday. The witnesses were shown a photograph of her on Saturday.

There were eight witnesses. The first witness was Mrs. Margaret Cameron or McIntyre who was Mary’s Aunt. She had been present at their marriage. The next witness was Mary McIntyre or Thomson the daughter of the previous witness.

Mrs. Janet Waddell or Johnston was the next witness and she lived at 5 Paul Street in Glasgow which is where Mary McDonald was residing after the separation. She testified that Mary stayed home during the day but always went out in the evenings until 11 o’clock or later. She brought a man home with her one night just before she left the lodgings and said it was her brother. Mrs. Johnston would not let the man in the house.

James Aitken worked for the Private Inquiry Office in Dundas Street Glasgow. He was employed by John S. Campbell to follow his wife. John M. Colton and John Phillips assisted him during his assignment. He referred to a note book to make sure of the accuracy of the dates and times in question. On many occasions he observed her meeting men and drinking.

John Colton and John Phillips also testified. John Phillips said he had only done one or two of these kinds of cases and he was a tailor by trade.

John Sheddens Campbell 1876

When John S. Campbell testified he said he employed Mr. Aitken around March of 1875. He paid him a guinea per day. He thought the price rather high but was told Mr. Aitken needed two men to help him and it could not be done for less.

Thomas Arnot testified. He was the writer for the lawyer of John S. Campbell. He said he gave Mary McDonald 10/- [shillings] for her fare to Edinburgh to be present on Saturday.

Mary McDonald’s testimony mostly consisted of the word “No.” She did not elaborate much on any details.

The divorce was granted in John S. Campbell’s favour on 23 July 1875. Mary’s case of libel was dismissed.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

The Scottish Family History Workshop with Chris Paton

I had the great pleasure of attending the Scottish Family History Workshop hosted by the Canadiana Department of the North York Central Library and the Toronto Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society.

There were three speakers at the workshop: Chris Paton, Marian Press and James F.S. Thomson. Marian and James are excellent speakers and I had heard them speak on many occasions. Chris Paton had travelled from Scotland to present four lectures to the enthusiastic Toronto audience.

The audience members were not just from Toronto. I had travelled from Oakville and met others from Kingston and other parts of the province. Many of us knew Chris from his two blogs: Scottish GENES (Genealogy News and EventS) and Chris Paton: Walking in Eternity.

Chris did two plenary lectures “The Godly Commonwealth” and “Scottish House and Land History.” The first lecture provides a history of the many variations and types of churches to be found in Scotland.

The second lecture was the one I was particularly interested in hearing and I was not disappointed. Chris kindly went through an eleven page testament record of my four times Great Grandmother. It turns out she was a feuar of land that was part of the Blythswood Estate owned by Archibald Campbell. She got the rights to the land upon her husband’s death. Thanks to Chris I now understand the land system in Scotland a little better and have lots of research to do which may mean a trip to Scotland.

I had heard Chris talk about his “The Weavers of Perth” and “There’s Been a Murder” lectures on his blog so to actually get to hear them in person was a real treat.

Let’s hope this will be the first of many visits Chris makes to Canada to present lectures.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

The Campbell McDonald Feud – The Story of a Scottish Divorce – Part 1

The feud between the Campbell and McDonald clans in Scotland is well known. So I was more than a little interested to find out that my Great Great Grandfather’s first wife was a McDonald.

When I first started doing family history research about forty years ago I was given a lot of information on the Campbell family by my Grandmother. She said her Grandfather’s first wife had either died or there was a divorce. She was not sure and nothing had ever been said.

It took a while to find the marriage for John Campbell and Mary McDonald. These are very common names.

John Campbell married Mary McDonald on 14 May 1857 in the district of Anderston in the burgh of Glasgow. John was 19 and Mary was 24. Next to this entry is a notation in the left hand margin. It is difficult to read and in part reads “Divorce See Royal … (1875)… 23 July 1875.”

There was no Register of Corrected Entries available on the website for this registration so I emailed ScotlandsPeople and they were able to help me. They also provided contact information for some Scottish government departments who may be able to help me find out more. I was not able to get any information about how to obtain the actual divorce file from anyone.

I then went on a search for information on divorce in Scotland. There was not a lot to be found. The National Archives of Scotland had a research guide on divorce. It was not helpful and there was very little relating to the time period I was researching.

I have a copy of “Tracing your Scottish Ancestry” by Kathleen B. Cory and “In Search of Scottish Ancestry” by Gerald Hamilton-Edwards and neither of these publications helped me with my research.

Finally I sent an email to the National Archives of Scotland. The reply was that they had checked their indexes and did not find anything relating to the case. This was getting to be a very frustrating process.

There was a light at the end of the tunnel though as I was about to go to Salt Lake City. In the Family History Library I found the “General Minute-Book of the Court of Session.” These are available on microfilm. The library does not have a complete set of the General Minute Books.

I was told by the archives that the divorce records could be found anywhere from the time of the marriage until the last child turned 21 years of age. That was a search of 1857 to 1901 but I started in 1875 because of the notation on the marriage record.

The book that covered the dates 15 Oct 1874 to 14 Oct 1875 provided me with the information I needed to order the record. Here it was recorded that John Sheddens Campbell went before Lord Craighill, MD to petition for divorce.

While going through the books to see if there were other notations relating to the divorce other references to John Sheddens Campbell were found. He was suing people for not paying their bills.

Once I got home these documents were scanned and sent to the National Archives of Scotland. They said the divorce file was found and it would cost me 50 GBP to get a copy of it. The package arrived in a little over a week which was great.

There were 91 pages and they were divided into two then wrapped up in cotton ribbon. There were 20 pages relating to the divorce proceedings and 71 pages of witness statements which made for very interesting reading. It appears my Great Great Grandfather hired a private investigator to watch his wife.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research