My Smith family were originally coal miners from Newton in Midlothian who moved to East Lothian and for most of the 19th century lived in or near the parish of Gladsmuir. Although their surname is very common, tracing them back to about 1800 was not too difficult due to both fathers' and mothers' names being recorded in the statutory registers. Hopefully, when the minutes of the Kirk Sessions become available online, they will contain information which will confirm some of the early connections and give more of an insight into my ancestors' lives.
The miners were a close knit community and married at a young age as they needed their family to help them below ground. In the Lothians the miners limited their output and the more male members of the family there were; the more work they could claim. Men sent up 4 tubs of 5.25 cwt a day and then they could claim additional work according to the ages of their male children. In East Lothian very young boys could be claimed for but in Midlothian the minimum age was 10 years, who could claim one basket, above 12 years, 2 baskets and 15 years, 3 baskets.a Women and children transported the coal from the coal face to above ground until the Mines Act of 1842 prohibited boys under ten and all women and girls from working underground.
From about 1800 the traditional Scottish naming convention came into common usage and, with very few exceptions, the Smiths used it to name their children
- The first son was given the name of his paternal grandfather.
- The second son was given the name of his maternal grandfather.
- The third son was given the name of his father.
- The first daughter was given the name of her maternal grandmother.
- The second daughter was given the name of her paternal grandmother.
- The third daughter was given the name of her mother.
Although this is often a help to confirming that the correct family is being followed it can also cause confusion as all the first born sons will be named after their paternal grandfather and similarly for the second born daughters their paternal grandmother. There were three Catherine Hogg Smiths born 1864-1866 in East Lothian, all related. To try to eliminate the possibility of wrong connections my tree spread sideways.
Some first names altered to a more modern form over a person's lifetime and some appeared to be interchangeable:-
- Christian was a female name which became Christina
- Euphemia often became Elspeth and sometimes even Elizabeth
- Jack appears to be the pet name of John
- Jean, Joan and Jane appear to be interchangeable
- Ann and Agnes occasionally appear to be interchangeable
My father once mentioned that there was a black woman in his family who he thought had connections with Jamaica and he added that 'Uncle Brash' would have known who she was. Intrigued I followed back the Brash line and in the 1841 census found my father's great aunt Eleanora Smith (m.s. Brash) in the same house as Sarah Gray born Jamaica. It transpired that Sarah was Eleanora's grandmother, the daughter of James Affleck, carpenter on Salt Spring Estate, Jamaica and Nelly his slave. So the story was true.
Below are links to the pages that are relevant to the Smiths and to a few external site with information about the Lothian area.
- Name List from which a family tree can be built
- Richard Smith
- Robert Smith 1765-18??
- James Smith 1787-1867
- James Smith 1818-1881
- Robert Smith 1842-1923
- Andrew Brash Smith 1879-1952
- Robert William Smith 1917-2003
- William Brash
- James Affleck ????-1802
- Mr William Bennet overseer to Sir John Hope's mines at Sheriff-hall and Somerside Scottish Mining website