Thursday, October 24, 2019

Scotland trip 2018 - Campbell family history

I have been researching my family tree in Australia and the Scotland.  We did a trip to Scotland in 2018 to visit some friends and locations.

Leith - Donald Campbell (1878-1934) and his son Peter Hay Campbell (1911-1942)

We flew into Edinburgh and stayed a night in Leith, Edinburgh's port suburb.

We visited 25 Halmyre Street in Leith where my great grandfather Donald Campbell (1878-1934) lived with his wife Margaret Cunningham (1878-1926) and their children:
  • James Campbell (1902-1913) - died young, possibly from cortical syncope and/or insipidus diabetes
  • Isabella Campbell (Bella, 1903 - 1990). I visited Bella in Scotland in 1985, descendents living in Edinburgh and Glasgow
  • William Campbell (1905-1968) - my grandfather who emigrated to Australia, descendents living in Australia, 
  • Donald Campbell (1907-1972) - emigrated to Australia, descendents living in Australia
  • Peter Hay Campbell (1911-1942)  - killed in WW2
25 Halmyre Street, Leith

25 Halmyre Street, Leith
We visited Peter Hay Campbell's grave in Seafield Cemetery He was a pilot in World War 2 and died when a glider he was flying crashed due to structural failure. This was probably during training for the D-Day invasion.

Sgt Peter Campbell's grave, Seafield Cemetery, Edinburgh 

Donald Campbell, from records and notes from my father Douglas, was born in Barogill, Parish of Canisbay (near Castle Mey) on 13 July 1878. He was a champion ploughman. He moved to Leith, Edinburgh around or before 1900 where he met and married his wife Elizabeth Cunningham on 1 Jun 1900. He worked as a lorryman at a flour mill. 

When living in Caithness he was a member of the 1st Sutherland Highland Regiment in Caithness with the Volunteer Rifle Corps (VRC) , then transferred to the 5th V.B. Royal Scots when he moved to Leith (information from war pension record dated 6 April 1908).  He was a good marksman.  A relative in Edinburgh sent me these photos of a medal he won in the Royal Scots.

6th Volunteer Battalion The Royal Scots

General Competition, 1st Prize, Sergt D. Campbell, 1 Coy, 1907
He was injured on the troop train that crashed in the Gretna Green train disaster during World War 1 on 22nd May, 1915. He told his men to put their feet up to avoid injury. Some 500 officers and men of the Leith Battalion of the Royal Scots Regiment were on the train.  232 were killed and 230 injured in Britain’s worst ever train crash.

Donald Campbell's second marriage was to his first cousin Catherine Campbell in South Leith Parish Church on 4 Jul 1929.

He died of pneumonia in Murray's Royal Asylum, Perthshire, Scotland which was a mental health facility. Margo, a distant relative (4th cousin) in Scotland located these details which were unknown by surviving relatives in Australia.

Wick - Donald Campbell (1810-1885) and Ann Ross (1809-1863)

The graveyard at Wick St Fergus Church is in a poor state.  Many of the gravestones are unreadable and broken. Harry Gray, a local, showed us around the church which is in use. A floor level has been added inside to create rooms for community use underneath the main chapel. Harry has located some religious artefacts that are now displayed in the church including the original St Fergus Font, dating from the 14th/15th century and 14th century image of the town's patron saint, St Fergus.

Harry said the structure outside with no roof was for the Earls of Caithness and that it is not well maintained as many of them were apparently hated!  It is known as the Sinclair burial aisle.  Archaeologists have recently determined that this structure is the only part of the original Kirk of St Fergus (built around 1567) that remains.

Harry has advised that the local council sent a team of workers into the graveyard during 2019 and did a great job in clearing trees, shrubbery and clearing the northern transcept of the old Kirk of St Fergus (Sinclair Aisle, burial place of the Earls of Caithness) and it now looks very much better. A  a team of volunteers lined up for spring of 2020 to do more work and make it more attractive and accessible. It is is great to see the history there being preserved.

Wick St Fergus Church

Graveyard around Cemetery at , Sinclair Burial Isle
Original St Fergus Font, dating from the 14th/15th century
14th century image of the town's patron saint, St Fergus
I found the headstone for Donald Campbell (1810-1885), my 3rd great grandfather and his wife Ann Ross (1809-1863) (the parents of James Campbell). 

Donald Campbell and Ann Ross headstone or memorial

The inscription is: 

"In memory of Donald Campbell died July 18 1885 aged 75 years. Also his wife Ann Ross died Feb 1863 aged 56 years. Erected by their sons."

Watten - James Campbell (1849-1911) and family

We visited Nucleus: The Nuclear and Caithness Archive near Wick airport to research family history. They had records of the Watten Cemetery with a map of graves, on which I located the grave of James Campbell (1849-1911) and family members. James Campbell was the son of Donald Campbell (1810-1885) and the father of Donald Campbell (1878-1934).  He is my 2nd great grandfather.

He married Elizabeth Donn (1850-1893) on 18 Dec 1877 in Barogill, Caithness.

We visited the Watten cemetery and located the grave which was obscured by holly. The church is no longer there, only the footings remain.

The inscription reads (information in brackets added):

Elizabeth Donn 
Beloved wife of James Campbell, Shepherd Noss.
Who died April 23 1893, aged 43 years (pneumonia)
Also their daughter Elizabeth
Who died Dec 24 1894, aged 2 years 9 months (Enteritis)
Also their daughter Mary Sutherland (myxoedema, a thyroid condition)
Who died March 16 1903, aged 17 1/2 years
Also the above James Campbell   (diabetes mellitus)
Who died 17th May 1911, Aged 61 years.

There was a lot of tragedy in that family with people dying from diseases that are curable or treatable now.

James Campbell's other children were:
  • Isabella Campbell (1888–1978) - emigrated to Australia and lived in Melbourne
  • William Campbell (1880–1962) - emigrated to Australia and lived in Melbourne
  • Annie R Campbell (1884-????) - unknown.

Refaithy, Stirkoke

Blingery Farm (top left), Refaithy (right) and Upper Refaithy (bottom right)

Donald Campbell (b1810) died at Refaithy, Stirkoke. We drove to Stirkoke to ask directions. The manor house is in ruins and is not accessible. A local gave us directions to Blingery Farm.

On the road Blingery farm we came to a farm house called Refaithy which has a retired English couple living in it. We had a cup of tea and a chat but they didn't know much about the history of the house.

Further enquiries suggested that the Campbells resided at Upper Refaithy so we drove that location.  The old house ruin was recently demolished and a new house was being built, but the original garage was intact. I have been able to find some photos of the ruin.
Upper Refaithy ruin prior to demolition
Upper Refaithy ruin prior to demolition. Shed remains.

Donald Campbell (1850-1914, James Campbell's brother) and family at Upper Refaithy in 1905
James Campbell's brother Donald Campbell (1850-1914) lived in the area his entire life and his descendants are still living in Caithness.


My oldest known ancestor is Alexander Campbell (1781-???? ), his birth place is listed on geneology records as Houstry, an old crofting village that is in ruin. We visited the location on our way south after leaving Wick.  There are ruins of stone buildings and a couple intact used as for farm storage.  There is also a broch nearby.  Alexander Campbell was the father of Donald Campbell (b1810) and is my 4th great grandfather.  The Scottish inventor Alexander Bain was born in Houstry.

Houstry ruins (right) and broch (left)

Houstry ruins with the broch behind

More information about my ancestry is here.