Where’s John? …

Tracking down dad’s Ogilvie family has taken me down many highways and byways, wrong paths and dead ends but finally there they were in Elgin, Moray, Scotland. What a delight!

The 1861 Scottish Census showed James, aged 9, living with his widowed mother, Christina, and two younger sisters Maggie and Jean but provided no name for his dad.  Through “Scotland’s People” I managed to access my Great Great Grandparent’s Marriage Certificate and discovered that John Ogilvie, labourer, married Christina MacKenzie at Elgin Parish Church on 7 Jun 1850.  Finally there it was, my Great Great Grandfather’s name –  John Ogilvie! 

 So, what happened to John?  Did he really die young, or… did the Census taker record the info incorrectly, or… was Christina declaring herself a widow only to explain the absence of a husband/father?  

Once again, “Scotland’s People” came up with the answer in the form of John’s Death Certificate. This showed he died at home, 49 High Street, on 8 May 1858 and his brother James reported his death.  Known cause of death is not given, which is rather unusual, but there’s a reference to a Doctor’s Certificate which suggests John may have been ill for some time. Also recorded is John Ogilvie’s burial in Elgin Cathedral Churchyard.

Some time later, after discovering the wonder that is “The Moray Burial Ground Research Group”, I checked their Data Base and found a joint Ogilvie Grave that seemed John’s likely burial site.  Unfortunately the photos & transcript showed that my John Ogilvie is not buried in this grave.

So, where’s John? …

Lindsay, from the MBGRG, was most helpful in providing the following information;

Burial of John Ogilvie at Elgin Cathedral Churchyard.

From the death certificate, one can only assume that he was buried there. All the visible stones in that churchyard have been recorded and published and abstracted data is as on-line. This suggests that a) there was no headstone, b) a stone may have been placed but damaged, removed, lost over the years (this is not uncommon – some sandstone monuments suffer from frost and often delaminate – the inscribed surface just crumbling away c) the stone was a flat one, which has become buried over time and is no longer visible – Elgin Cathedral is a very important archaelogical/historic site in Elgin, and is managed by Historic Scotland, who to date have not give us permission to investigate the presence of such buried stones. Also, we have cases where buried stones of this type are in fact blank – perhaps the family unable to afford a mason to inscribe the stone.

Perusing the MBGRG Newsletter also suggests another possible location for John’s final resting place when they report;

“In 1873 the owners of the cemetery passed a resolution to prohibit the interment of paupers and strayers.” 

Elgin Cathedral Churchyard

In this they’re referring to the New Elgin Cemetery, not the Elgin Cathedral Churchyard, but makes me think that John may be buried in an un-named Pauper’s Grave somewhere. It’s recorded that on 10 Jan 1857, over a year before his death, John Ogilvie had been unable to work for some time, was admitted to Gray’s Hospital, and Christina Ogilvie had applied for “Poor Relief”.

Difficult times, indeed,  for my Great Great Grandparents and even more difficult times ahead for the widowed Christina left with a young family to raise alone.  

Time to turn my attention to 19th Century Pauper Graves in Elgin, Scotland and maybe then we’ll have an answer to the question,

Where’s John? …


SOURCES:  The Moray Burial Ground Research Group. http://www.mbgrg.org
                      Scotland’s People. http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk
                      Moray Heritage Services, at Elgin. http://libindex.moray.gov.uk/mainmenu.asp

(c) Copyright 2012. Catherine Crout-Habel. Seeking Susan ~ Meeting Marie ~ Finding Family