14 January 2009

Robert Hughes Delves Further into His Past

Robert Hughes, great-nephew of Lionel Britton, reports:

'This is a very welcome record. It shows the old lady, Elizabeth Harding herself; in the last month or so of her life.

'With her is Catherine Erskine Nimmo, the older sister after whom Elizabeth Smith named her daughter Catherine Erskine, (my great-great-grandmother); and a whole bunch of Nicholsons including (almost certainly) Robert Nimmo Nicholson who later married Elizabeth Mary Smith, and died even before she did.

'Apart from the fact that this is the first great-great-great-great-grandparent I have found on any of the census forms, (and I'll be lucky if it isn't the last!), it's also the first record from Ann St that has come up in that year, and believe me I've looked for lots of them, to the point where I was beginning to suspect that some stuff was missing.

'Also bizarre is that I wasn't searching on Nimmo, (it wouldn't have come up: the Ancestry database suffers from what seems like a pretty crude search system and won't allow wild cards in a surname until after 3 characters, so you couldn't simply search on N***o).

'It was actually Nicholson which did come up: I was hoping to locate the records for Auchenblain itself, as it's still not clear what happened to the property after Thomas Nimmo died, and his heir Dr Robert died in Messina, Sicily two years later. Scrolling through the results I noticed the one for Greenock and had a look at it. It turned out to be right even though I was under the impression that Ann St was in the Middle parish, so that's something else to be looked into, as all the Thomas Nimmo/Elizabeth Harding children were born in the Middle Parish.

'Taking this at face value, Elizabeth Nimmo née Harding was born in Scotland rather than anywhere else, somewhere between June 7th 1756 and June 6th 1761.

'This is very much what we might have expected, but it tends to rule out other theories, e.g.: she was a rather older, previously married woman; she was a teenage bride; she was born in India, Ireland or England, (or even...Wales!). Notably, it almost certainly rules out that she was a Greenock girl and that the reason Thomas Nimmo came to Greenock was on account of her being a native of that town.

'In the last couple of days I've also found two separate wills for brothers of Thomas Nimmo. John, whose birth is on record, (1773-1819), and William for whom we only have the evidence in his will: he died in 1814. In each will there is copious evidence of the relationship between them and Robert Nimmo of Auchenblain, their father, and Jean Nimmo, their mother, as well as sisters Agnes and Charlotte.

'Perhaps there are missing parish records for Kirkoswald, and it is even possible that the elusive marriage record for Thomas Nimmo and Elizabeth Harding is among them. There may be sixteen childen of Robert and Jean, and it is not totally impossible that one unrecorded daughter married into the Erskines and provided the link to the Earls of Mar and Kellie which Uncle Lionel claimed.

'If not there, the only other conceivable link which would match his claim exactly would be through Elizabeth Harding...

'So we'll have to go on trying to find out who she was!'

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