Genealogical Record of the Stewarts of Croftdouglas,
and Donald Stewart of Burnstown, Ontario

Croftdouglas, Strathtummel

Croftdouglas, Strathtummel, near Blair Atholl

In Canada it is not uncommon for gravestones to to be inscribed with "A native of Blair Atholl, Scotland", as the early settlers were proud of their ancestral roots, despite having left their homeland. It is less common for the exact location within the parish to be given, but this is the fortunate case for Donald Stewart. His monument in the White Lake Cemetery, McNab township, is inscribed:

Daniel Stewart died September 27th 1905 aged 72 years. Born at Croftdouglass, Perthshire, Scotland. His wife Catherine McNab died September 1st 1925 aged 70 years

Donald's paternal grandfather was James Stewart, the son of Alexander Stewart and Christian Stewart, who was born at Croftcarnach on 13th May 1760. There is no record of the marriage of James's parents in the Blair Atholl OPR, but it was before 1747, as James's brother, Duncan, was born on 24th May 1747.

James Stewart in Croftcarnach of Borenich married Isabel Stewart of Uchdnanetaig on 6th July 1792. They started off married life by farming at Balintochich, which is just up the hill from Croftcarnach and Uchdnanetaig. This is where Donald's father Alexander was born on 1st January 1794. Three other children were born at Balintochich: Margaret on 17th November 1796; Donald on 30th September 1798; and John on 16th October 1801. Christian may have been born at Balintochich on 18th January 1804, but the Blair Atholl OPR just mentions Borenich. However, the last two children were born at Croftdouglas: Isobel on 19th October 1807; and William on 22nd June 1811.

The circumstances of the family's move to Croftdouglas are revealed in a letter to The Duke of Atholl from his agent, James Stewart, dated 10th May 1817.

Let Croftdouglas to John Stewart from Dr Stewart's lands of Borenich, and Alexander Stewart who, with his mother, a widow in Croftdouglas, had before a part of it under Alexander McDonald in whose name the tow was held in tack. Alexander McDonald, having been seized with a palsy some time ago, had to subsett the tow except two acres and a cow's grass to others. He has five children, the last two twins.

Donald's father, Alexander Stewart of Croftdouglas, married Janet Stewart of Croftdouglas on 27th May 1827. The census return for 1841 shows that Croftdouglas had three inhabited dwellings. At the time of this marriage in 1827, one dwellings were occupied by the family of John Stewart and Helen Stewart who had moved from Uchdnanetaig on Dr Stewart's lands of Borenich. A second dwelling was occupied by Alexander Stewart, his widowed mother, and others of their family. The third dwelling was being used by the family of John Stewart's brother, Donald Stewart.

Donald Stewart was born 30th July 1779 at Uchdnanetaig, and on 19th December 1813 had married Helen Stewart of Balcastle, the daughter of Robert Stewart and Janet Robertson. Donald Stewart and Helen Stewart had at least six children. Robert was born at Uchdnanetaig on 21st June 1817, and the rest were born at Croftdouglas: John on 17th January 1819; Janet on 4th November 1821; Donald on 22nd January 1824; Alexander on 23rd March 1826; and Helen on 20th January 1829. This family might be the same one as at Balchapel in the 1841 census.

Alexander Stewart and Janet Stewart had a son, James, born at Croftdouglas on 10th March 1828. Unfortunately, there are no further entries in the Blair Atholl OPR for any more children of the couple, although they existed. When Donald Stewart married Catherine McNab in Canada, he gave his parents as Alexander Stewart and Janet Stewart, and the census returns for Croftdouglas between 1841 and 1861 show that there were others.


1841 Census Return for Croftdouglas (Blair Atholl parish, District 4)

Dwelling Name Age Occupation Birth-place
1 John Stewart 70y farmer Blair Atholl
Hellen Stewart 70y Blair Atholl
Margaret Stewart 40y Blair Atholl
William Stewart 25y ag. labourer Blair Atholl
John Stewart 12y Blair Atholl
Isabella Stewart 10y Blair Atholl
Donald Stewart 8y Blair Atholl
2 Isabella Stewart 30y housekeeper Blair Atholl
James Stewart 11y Blair Atholl
Alexander Stewart 9y Blair Atholl
3 Margt. Robertson 30y independent Blair Atholl
Janet Stewart 4y Blair Atholl
Mary McMillan 28y Blair Atholl
un-named boy 1m Blair Atholl


1851 Census Return for Croftdouglas (Blair Atholl parish, District 4)

Dwelling Name Occupation Related Status Age Birth-place
1 William Stewart farmer of 7 acres head marr 38y Blair Atholl
Christian Stewart wife marr 27y Blair Atholl
John Stewart son u/m 4m Blair Atholl
Janet McDonald house servant servant u/m 14y Blair Atholl
2 John Stewart farmer of 7 acres head marr 79y Blair Atholl
Helen Stewart wife marr 81y Blair Atholl
Margaret Stewart dau u/m 51y Blair Atholl
3 Bell Stewart seamstress head u/m 42y Blair Atholl


1861 Census Return for Croftdouglas (Blair Atholl parish, District 4)

Dwelling Name Occupation Related Status Age Birth-place
1 William Stewart farmer of 16 acres head marr 47y Blair Atholl
Christian Stewart wife marr 37y Blair Atholl
John Stewart farm servant son u/m 10y Blair Atholl
Alex. Stewart farm servant son u/m 9y Blair Atholl
Daniel Stewart son u/m 7y Blair Atholl
William Stewart son u/m 5y Blair Atholl
Helen Stewart dau u/m 2y Blair Atholl
Margaret Cranford farm servant servant u/m 20y Kirkmichael
2 Margaret Stewart formerly farm servant head u/m 60y Blair Atholl
Isabella Stewart pauper invalid neice u/m 28y Blair Atholl


Isabella Stewart, who was given as an invalid pauper in the 1861 census, died on 19th April 1869 aged 38 years. Her death certificate gives her parents as Alexander Stewart and Janet Stewart, both deceased. The death certificate shows that she suffered from paralysis for 18 years and it was signed by her sister Jessie (i.e. Janet Stewart). So Alexander Stewart and Janet Stewart had at least 4 children: James; Isabella; Donald; and Janet.

The 1861 census also shows that Isabella was being cared for by her aunt, Margaret Stewart, aged 60 years, and the 1851 census shows that Margaret was the unmarried daughter of John Stewart and Helen Stewart of Croftdouglas. So Isabella's mother, Janet Stewart, must also have been a daughter of John Stewart and Helen Stewart, who had taken over the tack in 1817. For details of the ancestry of this couple - see 'Helen Stewart of Balcastle'.

This helps to make sense of the 1841 census for Croftdouglas where there are six children distributed amongst the three households with no apparent parents. The six children would have been the grandchildren of John Stewart and Helen Stewart in the first dwelling, who are looking after John, Isabella and Donald (Daniel), whilst their unmarried daughters Isabella and Margaret are looking after James, Alexander and Janet in the other two dwellings. What has happened to their parents, Alexander and Janet, in unknown. Perhaps they were both dead, or perhaps they were in Canada looking for a new place to settle.

Discovering anything about John Stewart and Helen Stewart has been a serious problem, despite the information from the 'Genealogical Record of the Loch Tummel Branch of the Clan Stewart (1712-1912) compiled by A. S. Ross, Thomson, Nova Scotia. Their marriage does not seem to be entered in the Blair Atholl OPR (the entries for 8th February 1788, and 2nd June 1797 appear to be unrelated couples with the same two names). Likewise, there is no mention of any of their children in the baptismal record. Only by the chance discovery of their death certificates, is it known that they are both buried in the cemetery at Borenich. So perhaps it is not surprising that, with the exception of James, none of their grandchildren have their births recorded in the parish records. Or, is this really the case?

The Blair Atholl OPR does contain two entries for children born at Croftdouglas: Isabella (20th March 1832); and Daniel (28th May 1834), but their parents are given as Alexander Stewart and Isobel Stewart. There is no marriage recorded for such a couple at this date, and no other children can be attributed to them within the whole of Perthshire. Can there really have been yet another Alexander Stewart at Croftdouglas who was married to a Stewart, having two children at virtually the same time as Alexander and Janet, and naming them identically? A much simpler explanation would be that the registrar made the simple error of writing Isobel instead of Janet. Now it may seem improbable for the registrar to have made the same mistake for baptisms which are two years apart, but the circumstances were unusual.

In 1854 it was announced that Civil Registration would commence the following year, and there was panic. Parents who, for decades, had never bothered to get their children baptised suddenly wanted their names entered in the Blair Atholl OPR before it was too late. The registrar was overwhelmed with births which were entered in no chronological order. The births of Isabella and Daniel appear, one after the other, in the middle of this clamour, just a few lines after that of their cousin Daniel Stewart (28th June 1854). Perhaps it is not surprising that errors were made.

There is one other event around this time which is linked to Croftdouglas. On 22nd March 1829 Donald Stewart of Croftdouglas married Jannet Stewart of Balcastle. Jannet was the daughter of Alexander Stewart and Isobel Scott of Balcastle, born 15th August 1802, and therefore the neice of Helen Stewart of Croftdouglas, but who was Jannet's husband? He may have been Alexander's younger brother who was born 30th September 1798. Alternatively, John Stewart and Helen Stewart might well have had a son, Donald, as both had fathers named Donald, yet the only know son was named William.

Nothing more is known about this couple. Perhaps they emigrated like Alexander's son Daniel.

Donald emigrated to Canada around 1857, and initially lived at Russell, near Ottawa, before moving to McNab township where he worked as a sawyer. It is probably not a coincidence that several other immigrants from Borenich worked in the sawmill. In 1873 he married Catherine McNab, and his marriage entry says that he was a 39-year-old bachelor, and that his parents were given Alexander and Janet Stewart. The marriage took place on 19th June 1873 at Pakenham, which was the homeplace of his bride, 19-year-old Catherine McNab, the daughter of Duncan McNab and Margaret Gillespie. The ceremony was witnessed by William Lindsay and Isabella Stewart of White Lake.

Soon after the marriage he took over a farm near to Burnstown, where he brought up a family of five children.

Alexander was born 6th May 1875. He married Marion Forrest on 29th July 1908, and the couple had nine children.

Margaret Ann (Maggie) was born in 1876, never married, and died in 1950.

Jessie was born in August 1878, never married, and died in 1903.

Christina Isabella (Tina) was born in February 1881, never married, and died 15th March 1930.

John was born in October 1883, never married, and died 23rd August 1904.

Both parents as well as all of the children have monuments in the White Lake cemetery.


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