The Douglas Family of Balnabodach, Findo-Gask and Scone

New Scone Parish Church

New Scone Parish Church

This genealogy of the Douglas family in Balnabodach is a complex affair with many unsolved problems. Researching the family record is not easy as many of the people involved are regularly moving around in Perthshire, and there is a great reliance upon information from death certificates and personal family documents. It is worth noting that the Douglas families from Borenich have similarities which may be significant. Considering that the Douglas families are a minority in the area, it may be more than a co-incidence that there are two Douglas - Douglas marriages, possibly between cousins. There is also a strong association with shoemaking and links to families with the Menzies surname.

The earliest record for this branch relates to the non-marriage of John Douglas to Isabel Stewart in 1762, recorded in the Old Parish records for Dull.

Dull, 1762
John Douglass in this parish and Isobel Stewart in Blair Athole parish gave up their names in order to marriage, August 4th.

It is unclear what happened, but the entry was scored out with several large crosses and the marriage did not take place. Were there objections to the marriage, or did the bride or groom suddenly have a change of heart? Whatever did take place, the wedding was back on track less than two years later, and this time it was recorded in the Old Parish registers for both Blair Atholl and Dull.

Blair Atholl, 1764
John Douglas in Easter Duntanlich, Dull parish and Isabel Stewart, Bailechastle (married) April 5th.

Dull, 1764
John Douglas in this parish and Isobel Stewart in Blair-Athole parish gave up their names to be proclaimed in order to marriage, March 17th.

Usually after a marriage, the bride goes to live with her husband. But instead of Isabel Stewart moving across Loch Tummel to Duntanlich, John Douglas moved to the Borenich side of Loch Tummel. His son's death certificate shows that John Douglas was a labourer, rather than a farmer, and this may account for his frequent change of abode from Nethertown (which later became Milltown of Borenich), to Balnald of Borenich, and lastly to Croftcarnoch of Borenich.

Blair Atholl, 1769
John Douglass and Isabel Stewart in Neithertown of Borainich had their lawful daughter born February 28th, baptised March 2nd named Hellen.

Blair Atholl, 1773
John Douglass in Neither Borainich and Isabel Stewart his wife had a lawful daughter born September 14th, baptised 19th named Christian.

Blair Atholl, 1779
John Douglass in Balnald of Borenich and Isabel Stewart his wife had a lawful child born the fourth and baptised the thirteenth July, named Grissel.

Blair Atholl, 1782
John Douglass in Croftcarnich of Boranich and Isabel Stewart his wife had a child born 12th and baptised 15th August named Robert.

Blair Atholl, 1786
John Douglass in Croftcarnach of Borenich and Isabel Stewart his wife had a child born 7th and baptised 9th April named Helen.

There is no record of the baptism of Isobel, but from census returns and her death certificate it is believed that she was born about 1791.

Their eldest child, Helen, seems to have died at an early age, which was probably not uncommon in those days. Christian may also have died early on as there is nothing more known about her. Grissel (or Grace) appears in the 1841 census living at Balnabodach, but disappears after that date. This leaves Robert, Helen and Isobel, and their movements are inter-twined.

The family moved into Balnabodach by 1824, as shown by the OPR of Helen's marriage.

Blair Atholl, 1824
John Douglas in Woodhead, parish of (Findo) Gask and Helen Douglas in Balnambodach of this parish (married) 9th May.

Findo-Gask, May 1st 1824
John Douglas in this parish and Helen Douglas in the parish of Blair-in-Atholl gave up their names to be proclaimed on two days. John Douglas and Helen Douglas were married at Blair by the minister of Blair.

Although Blair Atholl and Findo-Gask are both in Perthshire, there is a fair distance between the two places and the marriage seems unusual. However the Trust Deposition and Settlement of John Douglas of New Scone dated 1845, shows that this was John's second marriage and that he had originally come from Foss in Dull parish, which is much closer. For details of his first marriage and family see - John Douglas of Domnaheich.

John moved to Woodhead of Findo-Gask soon after 1822, accompanied by James, the eldest son from his first marriage. James was already married to Margaret Ritchie (27th November 1818, Moulin), and their daughter Janet was born at Woodhead on the 9th June 1824. They already had two sons, who were born at Torvuick in the parish of Moulin: John born 6th August 1820; and James born 3rd November 1822. James seems to have been a farmer, although one source gives his occupation as veterinary surgeon, but he may just have been good at treating animals with ailments. However he must have been adaptable as, by the time that his family moved to Perth, he was working as a carter.

John Douglas and Helen Douglas had two children while they were living at Woodhead, before they moved to Perth where their last child was born.

Findo-Gask, 1825
John Douglas, Woodhead and Helen Douglas his spouse had a child born on the 5th and baptised on the 9th day of October named Helen.

Findo-Gask, 1827
John Douglas, Woodhead and Helen Douglas his spouse had a child born on the 5th and baptised on the 10th day of June named Grizal.

Perth, 1829
East Church parish, Perth, the second day of February, one thousand eight hundred and twenty nine years, was born John Douglas lawful son to John Douglas, labourer in Mills in the said parish, and Helen Douglas his spouse, and baptised on the eighth day of February said year by the Reverend Duncan MacFarlane, Minister of the Gospel in the Gaelic Chapel of Perth.

Both Douglas families left Findo-Gask and moved to Perth at around the same time. This is known as James Douglas and Margaret Ritchie had a son, George, born in Perth on 5th March 1830. There are other Douglas families in Findo-Gask during the 1840s to 1860s but these Douglas families came into the parish from Dowally and do not seem to be related.

John Douglas's daughter Helen died of a bowel complaint on 28th November 1831, aged 6 years, and was buried in Greyfriars, Perth.

John Douglas senior died 6th March 1840 and was buried in Perth at the Greyfriars burial ground, but there appears to be no memorial stone. Helen (Ellen) Douglas appears as a widow in the 1841 census.

Dwelling Name Age Occupation Birth-place
Village of Scone Ellen Douglas 50y ind(ependent) Perthshire
John Douglas 12y Perthshire

Grizal (Grace) was not with her mother in Scone, and seems to be staying with her uncle Robert and his two sisters in Balnabodach.

Dwelling Name Age Occupation Birth-place
Balnabodach Robert Douglas 50y farmer Perthshire
Grace Douglas 55y Perthshire
Isabella Douglas 40y Perthshire
James Douglas 15y servant Perthshire
Grace Douglas 13y Perthshire
Jean Ferguson 8y herd Perthshire

The identity of James Douglas, aged 15 years, is unclear.

By 1851 Helen Douglas was living in Balgarvie Road, New Scone (entry 22), only a few doors away from her brother Robert Douglas and her sister Isabella (entry 25).

Name Relation Age Occupation Birth-place
Hellen Douglas (widow) head 61y proprietor of houses Blair Atholl
Grace Douglas dau 22y dressmaker Gask
Robert Douglas head 63y shoemaker (employing one man) Blair Atholl
Isabella Douglas sister 57y Blair Atholl
John Douglas nephew 21y shoemaker (journeyman) Perth

The young John Douglas was working for his uncle and learning the shoemaking trade, so it would seem that Robert Douglas was both shoemaker and farmer in Balnabodach. It is also interesting to note that Helen Douglas now owned a couple of houses. The Perth Register of Sasines for 17th August 1868, entries 2829 and 2830 relates to these properties.

Grizal (Grace) Douglas died of consumption on the 20th January 1855 and was buried in the churchyard at New Scone. She had been working as a lady's maid until five months previously, but had returned to her family in Scone when she became too ill to work. At one time she had considered emigrating to Canada, as shown by a letter from her cousin Robert Douglas of Montague, Ontario, Canada, dated 12th February 1849. The family connection has not been established, but the letter is shown after the family tree at the end of this web-page. For more information on Robert Douglas of Montague, Ontario, and his family see - Notes on Robert Douglas of Montague, Ontario, James Menzies, tailor in Perth and Mrs Abraham Code of Montague, Ontario..

On 15th May 1855 John Douglas married Catherine Morris, the daughter of John Morris and Catherine Sommerville of Auchterarder. The ceremony was witnessed by John Menzies. There were two men of this name living in New Scone at the time, but one of them was married to Isobel Douglas, daughter of James Douglas and Helen Douglas of Croftcarnach and Balintochich in Borenich.

By 1861 John and Catherine had two children. John's mother and the Menzies family were close neighbours in New Scone.

Name Relation Age Occupation Birth-place
John Douglas head 31y shoemaker (journeyman) Perth
Catherine Douglas wife 30y Auchterarder
John Douglas son 4y scholar Scone
Robert Douglas son 1y Scone
Helen Douglas head (widow) 70y house proprietor Blair Atholl
John Menzies head 34y cotton weaver Scone
Isabella Menzies wife 52y Blair Atholl
Helen Menzies dau 18y cotton weaver Scone
Peter Menzies son 15y cotton weaver Scone
Christina Menzies dau 12y scholar Scone

Robert Douglas and his sister had, by 1861, returned to Borenich and were living at Knockgarry.

Name Relation Age Occupation Birth-place
Robert Douglas head 76y master shoemaker Blair Atholl
Isabella Douglas sister 60y Blair Atholl

Robert died at Croftdouglas on 25th January 1870, while his sister Isabella was living in the Douglas household in New Scone. John's wife, Catherine Morris, had died in 1863 when she was only 32, and his infant son John died the following year. There is a memorial stone to them in New Scone churchyard. Under such circumstances it was probably a great relief for John to have his aunt Isabella around the house.

Memorial stone to John Douglas and Catherine Morris of New Scone

Memorial stone to John Douglas and Catherine Morris in New Scone churchyard

Erected by
John Douglas
Balgarvie Place
in memory of his wife
Catherine Morris
who died 14th April 1863
aged 32 years.
Also their son John
who died 28th June 1864
aged 7 years
The above John Douglas
died 23rd February 1915
in his 86th year.

In Perth on the 7th July 1865 John remarried. His death certificate shows his second wife as Catherine Keillor, but the marriage certificate and birth certificate of their son Charles, gives her name as Catherine Robertson.

Perth, 1865
On the seventh day of July at Priory Place, St Leonard's, Perth, after banns according to the forms of the Establish Church, John Douglass, shoemaker (widower) aged 35, of New Scone was married to Catherine Robertson, domestic servant (spinster) aged 25 of Kilgraston House, parish of Dunbarney. His parents are given as John Douglass, farmer deceased and Helen Douglass. Her parents are given as Thomas Robertson, flesher deceased and Mary Adams.

Their first child, Jane Helen Douglas was born 25th May 1866 and three years later their son William was born, but John's mother Helen Douglas died on the 16th January 1868, so that the 1871 census return for Balgarvie Lane, New Scone, is as follows:-

Name Relation Age Occupation Birth-place
John Douglas head 41y shoemaker Perth
Catherine Douglas wife 30y Perth
Robert Douglas son 12y scholar Scone
Jane Douglas dau 4y Scone
William Douglas son 1y Scone
Isabella Douglas aunt 80y annuitant Blair Athole

The couple had three more children in the following years: Charles Douglass born 24th February 1872; David Shepherd Douglas born in 1874; and lastly Isabella Douglas born in 1877. She was probably named after her great aunt, Isabella Douglas, who died two years later on the 3rd July 1879 aged 88, which would suggest that Isabella was born around 1791. For some odd reason the names of her parents are not given on the death certificate. The other great change was that John Douglas had given up shoemaking for a new profession as shown in the 1881 census for Balgarvie Place, New Scone.

Name Relation Age Occupation Birth-place
John Douglas head 51y preserve manufacturer Perth
Catherine Douglas wife 41y Scone
Robert Douglas son 21y preserve manufacturer Scone
Charles Douglas son 9y scholar Scone
David Douglas son 7y scholar Scone
Isabella Douglas dau 3y Scone

Jane Helen Douglas and William Douglas are unaccounted for in the 1881 census, but there is no record of them having died in New Scone.

John's change of profession from shoemaker to preserver manufacturer is also unexplained, but perhaps it was a joint venture with his son Robert. Whatever the reason, it was to have a dramatic effect on the household.

Robert Douglas and his brother Charles emigrated to America in 1888, when they were both young men. Little is known about them until the 1900s, except that they worked for a number of jam and preserve manufacturers and in so doing built upon what they had learned in Scone.

In 1911 Robert Douglas, together with Earl Neville and John Clinger, bought up a majority share-holding in the New York State Fruit Company, It soon became incorporated into the Douglas Packing Company which was making apple cider vinegar already.

The following year Robert invented a method for making a liquid pectin concentrate from apples. This shelf-stable concentrate gave the jam and jelly industry a uniform pectin product, providing a consistent quality of processed fruit. From this, the industrial manufacturing of pectin was born. Robert patented the Certo brand of pectin in 1913, and the Douglas Packing Company manufactured the product in Fairport, New York State. Despite a serious fire at the plant in 1916, the business expanded. In 1919 the New York State Fruit Company wanted to sell vinegar and pectin to the British Empire markets. To take advantage of better tariffs Robert built the Douglas-Pectin Limited plant in Cobourg, Ontario, Canada.

Robert Douglas married but never had any children, so that when he died on 28th May 1929 at Rochester, USA, he left instructions that $5m in his personal fortune should be used to help the people living in Scone and its vicinity. His executors set up the Robert Douglas Foundation Trust which financed many projects including the building of a new school in Scone, adding a wing to the Perth Royal Infirmary, laying out a public park, and building the Memorial Home and Cottages.

After Robert and Charles had left for America, David Shepherd Douglas became more involved in running the Scone Jam Company while his father took more of an interest in growing the fruit for the company. The 1891 census return for Balgarvie Place, New Scone, shows the household.

Name Relation Age Occupation Birth-place
John Douglas head 61y fruit grower Perth
Catherine Douglas wife 51y Kinnoul, Perth
David Shepherd Douglas son 16y fruit preserver Scone
Isabella Douglas dau 13y Scone
Colin Campbell boarder 40y confectioner Glasgow
William Bonar boarder 35y plumber Glasgow

John Douglas's second wife, Catherine Robertson, died in 1898, once again leaving him a widower in the census of 1901.

Name Relation Age Occupation Birth-place
John Douglas (widower) head 71y fruit grower Perth
Bella Douglas dau 22y Scone
Colin Campbell boarder 49y formerly confectioner Glasgow

The 1901 census also shows that John Douglas spoke Gaelic as well as English, but perhaps this is not surprising as his mother Helen Douglas from Strathtummel would have been brought up speaking Gaelic.

Although David Shepherd Douglas is not at Balgarvie Place during the 1901 census, his marriage certificate shows that he was a commercial travellor, possibly selling the products from his father's jam factory.

Perth, 1905
On the third day of June at the Laidlaw Hotel, Perth, after banns according to the forms of the Church of Scotland, David Shepherd Douglas, commercial travellor (bachelor) aged 31, of Balgarvie Place, Scone was married to Mary Ramsay (spinster) aged 30 of Lyndoch Road Scone. His parents are given as John Douglas, fruit grower and Catherine Robertson, deceased. Her parents are given as James Ramsay, railway signalman deceased and Mary McNab.

John Douglas died of cardiac failure at Balgarvie Place on the 23rd February 1915 at the ripe old age of 84. His son David was the informant, and gave his address as 10 Lorne Terrace, Maryhill, Glasgow. This address has since been renamed as Dollar Terrace.

The Douglas family of Balnabodach and New Scone

The Douglas family of Balnabodach, Findo-Gask and New Scone


Copy of a letter from Robert Douglas of Montague, Canada to Grace Douglas in New Scone.

Montauge, February 12th 1849

Dear Cousin,

We are very happy to hear and learn from a letter that came from Peter McFarland, Perth, that you are intending to come to America, if we could give you any encouragement for to come, your occuptation as a dressmaker is very good in this place, both the the countrie and in villages. We are about six miles in the countrie from the village of Smith Falls and about twenty miles from Perth which is a pretty large town. We are in a great state whither to advise you or not, but we know that you would do better in this place than in Scoon. But to advise as a friend and a near relation to come to this place, I know that you will be better hear, but there one thing in advising there friends to come to this countrie, that after they land in this place they begin to murmor against there friends, but I hope better things of you if you will be spaird to land in this place amongeth us.

When you land in Montreall you will come up the Grand River to Bytown and then you will come up the Rido Canal to Kilmarnack Locks which is five mils from our place, which by inquirie of Mr Maitland the Lock Keper there, and he will give the derection to our place or send a gaiud with you, if you intend to come to America the incoming summer. You will write to us as soon as these few lines will reach your hand so as that we will be inquiring at the Post Office for an answer.

I hope that these few lines satisfie you at the present time as we dount want to say much in forsing you to leave your naitive place. You will let all our relations know that we are all well at present in this place. Also you will let us know whether my ant is still in the land of the living or not, as we never got any letters from them since we came to America, and you will let John and James, her sons, know that we wish them to write to us and to state to us about their mother, and you will let James [Menus] Perth know that we are surprised that he never rote to us a letter and you will tell him that this Countrie is good for his trade. You cannot get a coat made hear under seventeen shillings and sixpence ...... five shillings for fine trousers, three shillings and sixpence for cours and for ...... the same. And John I wish him to come to this place if he could thinck upon it, for I dount know where he is now, but I wish you to write to him and state to him that I wish that he would come to America or write to me.

We had a very dray summer last year in general throughout the whole Provence and the hay croap is light in general and the fall wheat is failed these few years back, and the spring wheat liekwise is taking the rust. The black sea wheat oats and Indian corn, pease and barley were excelent fine crops. Potatoes has failed hear in some places these two years past, but not to say in general. Some places is wors than other places but we had very few of ours tutched and the prices of everything is very low in this countrie, and money is very ...... Wheat per bushell if four shillings, barley two shilling the bushell, pease two shillings, oats ten pence the bushell, Indian corn two shillings the bushell, Porke eight dollars the barrel and beef five dollar the barrel, butter sixpence the pound. Cows are very cheap, and horses,and very little seal for them. Sheep is very low hear. Ewes seven and sixpence the peace, and weathers twelve and sixpence to fifteen shillings, lams five shillings one one shilling and threepence the pound.

We have five hundred acres of land in one block and got them all paid now and we have got about sixty or seventy acres of land cleared with a good stock of cattle and horses and sheep. We have five horses and eight milck cows besides young cattle and about sixty sheep, young and old. Lickwise I want to know where your other two brothers are, or if they alive or not, and what they are doing, and you will give all acquaintence and relations our compliments that you know and that we are very aunctious to hear of the wellbeing my father and there rest of the family are all well and all our friends and acquaintences in this place.

Peter Scott and Robert Scott, son, left this part of the country about two years ago and went up to Union Tract and is settled there, and it was his father that got the letter Mister Mcfarland sent out, and I got the letter last weeke, and I dount know whether he is write to McFarland or not, but I think he will not. Charles Frazer bought the land that Peter Scott had, and Frazer wife sends her complements to you. Alexander Stewart wife and John Scott wife send there complements.

We have had a fine winter as yet with little or no snow. We had a fall of snow yesterday about six inches which will make about a foot all over. William Douglas was at our place four years ago and he never wrote us since, for he was to leave the place where he was at that time. I add no more at present but remain your faithful friend.

Robert Douglas

You will derect as follows
Robert Douglas
5 Concession Lot no 16
care of James Maitland
Postmaster, Kilmarnock

[Addessed to]
Miss Douglas, dressmaker, Scoon, Perth, Scotland.


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