Walter Ballantyne, b. abt. 1797, seems to have been quite a man. He definitely had children with Helen Scott, Robert being my ancestor. However, around 1844 he left Ross & Cromarty and headed back down south to the Borders where I think he orignated from - most likely Selkirk.
What happened to his wife, Helen? I'll probably never find out but I do know that her baby daughter Isabel had died in 1841 and times must have been bad for the family. Andrew and Betty were working in Achnasheen for the Laidlaws and maybe Walter had just had enough - who knows?
This is where a certain amount of speculation begins. Walter shows up in 1851 on the Isle of Lewis with his son Robert and a new 'wife', Agnes. They also have a young 'daughter' Catherine, born in 1850 but as Agnes was 50 herself, I find it hard to believe that this was their daughter.
Move forward twenty years to 1871 and Walter pops up again, his age is recorded as 66 instead of 74, but perhaps he wasn't telling the truth, as he is now married to a much younger woman, 34 year old Georgina McKay.
A little bit of research shows that Georgina was very poor. In 1851 she was living with her mother Isabella Ross, age 40, who was listed as a pauper and from Tain, Ross & Cromarty. They were living in 7, Camden Street, Evanton and at the age of 13 Georgina is an agricultural servant.
In 1861 at the age of 25, Georgina and her mother are living in Livera Street in Evanton. Both she and her mother are general servants.
The 1871 census now shows that Georgina - now Mrs Ballantyne and Walter (66) have a daughter, Margaret K. Ballantyne, born around 1868. Her mother Isabella is also living with them, now in Balconie Street, Evanton.
By 1881, Walter Ballantyne has died and Georgina is the head of the household. She is an agricultural labourer and has two young daughters, Margaret K. Ballantyne, now 13 and Annie Ballantyne, age 9, who both attend school. They are living at Newmore Mains in the parish of Rosskeen.
Jump forward another twenty years to 1901 and Georgina Ballantyne is now living at Blaernenich Lodge, Fodderty, aged 62 and she is a domestic servant. She is living with the Anderson family and her daughter Annie is now Annabel Anderson aged 29. The census lists Annabel as Annabel Ballantyne in brackets.
There is no sign of a husband, but Annabel is not listed as a widow, so perhaps he was just working away somewhere on the night of the census. Working as a house keeper, Annabel has five children:
- Twins Margaret and William born in 1888
- Katie, born 1889
- Murdo born 1893
- Georgina born 1896
All of the children attend school and Margaret is a Pupil Teacher.
We move on ten years again and in 1911 we find the Anderson family in Strathpeffer living at Kinnettas House, a large property with at least eleven rooms. Interestingly, Anna Bella Anderson is now self-employed and is running the house as a boarding house. She is in the process of having electricity installed and the two electricians from Edinburgh are boarding in the house along with 2 plumbers and a house painter!
Things seem finally to be looking up! Living with Anna Bella are her daughter Georgina, aged 15 and at school, and her mother Georgina Ballantyne, now 73 and listed as an old age pensioner.
This seems to me to be a good place to leave the story...for the moment!
Remember - all of this comes with a health warning....the Walter Ballantyne that Georgina McKay married may not be my ancestor,. but, it is a good story!