The Douglas Family and its connection to the Borenich Burial Ground

Lochan nan Nighean

Lochan nan Nighean and the moorland above Balintochich

There are two reasons for trying to trace the genealogy of the Douglas families of Borenich. Firstly, there is the obvious link to the homestead called Croftdouglas. Secondly, two independent sources state that the Borenich burial ground once belonged to the Douglas family, despite there being no evidence of Douglas family members having been buried there.

The earliest record relates to the marriage of James Douglas to Christian McGregor in the parish of Dull, on the 8th June 1761. It is worth noting that in some of the records Christian's name is given as McGregore, and this is how it is used in the IGI Index.

Dull, 1761
James Douglas and Christian McGregor both in this parish gave up their names to be proclaimed for marriage 6th June 1761.

It is uncertain as to where James and Christian were living at the time of their marrriage, but it is assumed that it was on the south side of Loch Tummel, as soon after their wedding they had moved to Balcastle where their three children were born.

Blair Atholl, 1762
James Douglas and Christian McGregore in Bailechastail of Boranich had their lawful son born July 11th, baptised 14th named John.

Blair Atholl, 1767
James Douglas and Christian McGregor in Bailechastail of Boranich had their lawful daughter born October 26th, baptised November 2nd named Hellen.

Blair Atholl, 1772
James Douglas and Christian McGregor in Bailechastail had their lawful daughter born October 15th, baptised 18th named Margaret.

The family moved down the hill from Balcastle to Balchapel, and when he was thirty, John Douglas married Margaret Robertson of Pitagowan on 30th March 1793. This Douglas branch are the ancestors of the Douglas family of Muirhead, Liff. Details of their history are available in the "Record Room".

The following year, his sister Helen married James Douglas of Croftcarnach, which was a settlement just to the east of Balchapel, close to the present-day Borenich farm.

Blair Atholl, 1794
James Douglas in Croftcarnach and Helen Douglas in Balintepail, Borenich, (married) 23rd November

James Douglas and Helen Douglas farmed at Croftcarnach until at least 1808, by which time they had moved up the hill to Balintochich. According to the Old Parish Records for Blair Atholl, there were at least five children, and possibly a sixth.

Blair Atholl, 1795
James Douglass in Borenich and Helen Douglass his wife had a son baptised 28th October, named John.

Blair Atholl, 1797
James Douglass in Borenich and Helen Douglass his wife had a child born 25th August and baptised 27th, named James.

Blair Atholl, 1799
Donald, lawful son to James Douglass and Helen Douglass in Croftcarnach, born 19th and baptised 30th July.

Blair Atholl, 1802
Robert, lawful son to James Douglass and Helen Douglass in Croftcarnach, born 21st August and baptised 24th.

Blair Atholl, 1804
Christian, lawful daughter to James Douglass and Hellen Douglass (blank space) born June 9th, baptised 10th.

Blair Atholl, 1808
Isobel, lawful daughter to James Douglas and Helen Douglas his spouse in Balintochich, was born 14th May and baptised 19th.

(Isobel Douglas married John Menzies on 30th August 1842 in Scone. There were at least three children: Helen; Peter and Christian. Isobel died 14th May 1886 at Murrayshall Road, Scone. There is a memorial stone in the churchyard at New Scone which reads "Erected by John Menzies in memory of his wife Isabella Douglas who died 14th May 1886 aged 77 years. Also the above John Menzies who died 31st July 1910 aged 83 years. Christina daughter of the above died 23rd August 1920 aged 71 years")

Memorial stone to Isobel Douglas or Menzies

Menzies family memorial stone in New Scone churchyard

The Douglas family remained at Balintochich until the 1840s as this is where Donald was living when he married Catherine Stewart, the daughter of Duncan Stewart and Jean (Jane) Dow in Tomintianda.

Blair Atholl, 1833
Donald Douglas in Balintochich and Catherine Stewart in Tomintianda, both of this parish, (married) 24th March.

Donald Douglas and his family were still living at Balintochich at the time of the 1841 census.

Dwelling Name Age Occupation Birth-place
3 Donald Douglas 40y labourer Blair Atholl
Catrine Douglas 30y Blair Atholl
Jane Douglas 7y Blair Atholl
Helen Douglas 5y Blair Atholl
Margaret Douglas 4y Blair Atholl
Catrine Douglas 1y Blair Atholl

However by the 1851 census the family had moved to Bohespic, on the road between Trinafour and Tummelbridge. The reason for Donald's absence is unknown. As an agricultual labourer he could have been working on a farm, somewhere close by, or perhaps he was visiting relatives at the time.

Name Relation Age Occupation Birth-place
Catherine Stewart head 42y agricultural labour's wife Blair Atholl
Helen Douglas dau 15y scholar Blair Atholl
Margaret Douglas dau 13y scholar Blair Atholl
Catherine Douglas dau 10y scholar Blair Atholl
Cirsty Douglas dau 8y scholar Blair Atholl
Elizabeth Douglas dau 6y scholar Blair Atholl
James Douglas son 4y Blair Atholl
Duncan Douglas son 2y Blair Atholl

When the family next appears in the 1861 census, there has been an improvement in circumstances. Donald is now independent, and is listed as a farmer of 6 acres at Over Bohespic.

Name Relation Age Occupation Birth-place
Donald Douglas head 61y farmer of 6 acres Blair Atholl
Catherine Douglas wife 52y wife Blair Atholl
Margaret Douglas dau 22y seamstress Blair Atholl
Christian Douglas dau 18y domestic servant Blair Atholl
Duncan Douglas son 11y scholar Blair Atholl

Donald's daughter Jane had married Donald Lamont on 26th June 1853, and was living on an adjacent farm at Bohespic with her husband and four children. The whole family is shown on the family tree at the bottom of this page.

In 1866 Margaret Douglas married Alexander Martin in Tighmore, Bohespic, but died only 5 years later, aged only 32, on 3rd February 1871 while her husband was away working as a butler at Croftinloan, Pitlochry. Their son Alexander died on 15th Novemebr of the same year, aged only 18 months. He had been weak from birth, and after the death of his mother, had been cared for by the Douglas family.

Donald's wife Catherine died of pneumonia on 6th August 1868, and soon afterwards his son Duncan moved to Dalno and started up his shoemaking business. The 1871 census shows that his sister Cirsty kept house for them.

Name Relation Age Occupation Birth-place
Duncan Douglas head 21y shoemaker Blair Atholl
Christian Douglas sister 26y housekeeper Blair Atholl
Donald Stewart nephew 11y scholar Blair Atholl
Margaret Lamont neice 7y scholar Blair Atholl

Duncan's two sisters Cirsty and Jane (Lamont) both died of consumption on 6th March 1872 and 8th April 1874, respectively. The hills of Perthshire may look idyllic in summer, but for most of the year life was very hard for these people.

Shortly before 1881 Duncan married Ann Menzies, the daughter of James Menzies, gardener, and Elizabeth McGibbon. (Ann's death certificate says that her mother's maiden name was Gibbon, but this is in error). James and Elizabeth had four children, all born in the parish of Dull: Christian born in 1845; Ann born 9th Novemebr 1850; Duncan born 1853; and Margaret born 1855. The year 1855 was the first year of civil registration of births, deaths and marriages, and this fortunately provides a wealth of information about the family.

Margaret Menzies was born on the 12th May 1855 at Woodend Cottage in the parish of Dull. Her father, James Menzies, was a gardener and domestic servant who was 40 years old and had been born at Rawer (Weem). He had married his wife at the manse of Fortingall in 1842 (However the Dull OPR records the marriage as 30th May 1840). Oddly for those times he had little education. Being unable to write his own name, he signing the document with his mark (i.e. a 'X') which was witnessed by Robert Stewart and the Registrar. Betsy McGibbon, his wife, had been born at Culdarbeg, Fortingall and was 30 years old at the time of this, her fourth child. All of the other three children were alive.

The exact date of the marriage between Duncan Douglas and Ann Menzies is unknown, but by the time of the 1881 census the couple had two children.

Name Relation Age Occupation Birth-place
Duncan Douglas head 30y shoemaker Blair Atholl
Annie Douglas wife 30y Dull
Donald Douglas son 2y Blair Atholl
Betsy Douglas dau 4m Blair Atholl

In November 1982 Duncan Douglas, grandson of Duncan Douglas the shoemaker, wrote the following in a letter:

In my youth, I recall asking father about this burial ground, in the middle of a field, just west of Borenich farmhouse. This was prompted by a remark by a Mr. Menzies, Bruachbane, to the west, that this was a private ground, which had belonged to our Douglas family. Father said the burial ground had come down to grandfather. He was persuaded to hand it over to a lawyer in Edinburgh, a relative, to save him the costs of maintainance of it, and the surrounding stone wall.

Strangely enough, what little I know (of grandfather) came from Mr. McIntosh who had the Dunalastair Hotel at Kinloch Rannoch. He was the local County Councillor, and I worked in the Council Roads Department. The Surveyor and I, on our travels, called on him. After lunch he said to me that he knew my grandfather in earlier days. He went on to say that he had had a very thriving boot-making business.

In those days he said, all boots were made by hand. With such a large surrounding area, much populated then, there was much to do. Apparently he had a staff of some thirty workers. He said this included those who went around delivering and fitting etc. Repairs too were carried out. He said that they tried to persuade him to take out insurance, as he had a large stock of leather, but, as he said, he stubbornly refused. The almost inevitable happened and the place burnt to the ground, and all was lost.

The site was at the junction of the Bohespic road with the main road from Tummelbridge to Kinloch Rannoch, a little west of Dalno farm. The remains of the buildings, and surrounding dykes were there for many years, but gradually disappeared.

The tragedy must have taken place sometime between 1881 and 1888, because by the time of the 1891 census the family had moved to Daloist (Foss), where their daughter Ann was born. Actually, it may have taken place in 1881 as Duncan's father Donald died at Duntanlich (Foss) on 15th August 1881, and Duncan acted as a witness, giving his address as Bohally, Foss, rather than Dalno.

Although Duncan was still working as a shoe-maker in 1891, it seems that he was having to take in boarders to make ends meet. Duncan's wife, Ann Menzies, had been born in Foss and it is possibly not a coincidence that the next dwelling was occupied by a Menzies family. The 1891 census is also interesting as it records that all of the family were bi-lingual in Gaelic and English.

Name Relation Age Occupation Birth-place
Duncan Douglas head 40y shoemaker Blair Atholl
Annie Douglas wife 40y housekeeper Foss
Donald Douglas son 12y scholar Blair Atholl
Betsy Douglas dau 10y scholar Blair Atholl
Cathrine Douglas dau 7y scholar Blair Atholl
Ann Douglas dau 3y Foss
Duncan Dewar boarder 17y apprentice joiner Fortingall

Ten years later the family were still at Daloist, but Duncan had given up the shoe-making business and was now employed as a road surfaceman.

Name Relation Age Occupation Birth-place
Duncan Douglas head 50y road surfaceman Blair Atholl
Annie Douglas wife 50y housekeeper Foss
Bessie Douglas dau 20y domestic servant Blair Atholl
Katie Douglas dau 17y Foss
Annie Douglas dau 13y Foss
Donald Douglas son 22y joiner Blair Atholl

Duncan and Ann spent their last years at Boltachan, in the parish of Weems. Ann Menzies died 28th December 1923 at Perth Royal Infirmary, although her usual residence was Boltachan. Her husband Duncan Douglas died 11th September the following year which he was at Boltachan. Both deaths were witnessed by their son Donald 'Dan' who was living at 19 Bank Street Aberfeldy at the time. Duncan and Ann are buried at Aberfeldy.

The Genealogy of the family of Duncan Douglas the shoemaker

The Genealogy of the family of Duncan Douglas the shoemaker


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