First things first though. Tonight I found out that my gggg grandfather, Walter Ballantyne was born in fornication to Robert Ballantyne and Jannet Lorrain in Selkirk. He was baptised on the 13th May 1796 in front of two kirk officers instead of the congregation - the shame of it!
Walter's son Andrew, who was sent to Australia on a convict ship, lived and worked for a short while when he was 15 for a couple named Robert and Isabella Laidlaw at Achansheen, Ross-shire. One of Walter's other sons, Robert, my direct ancestor, had the middle name Laidlaw. Why was that?
Robert and Isabel were married in Yarrow, Selkirk, on 28th June 1817, linking them to a place where many Laidlaws, Ballantynes and Scotts can be found.
As yet, I still cannot link my Ballantyne & Scott ancestors to any Laidlaws, I will keep trying. I think, if the link exists, it will be found through Helen Scott as there were several Scott/Laidlaw marriages but then there were Ballantyne/Laidlaw marriages too.
Tony Whelan cam across a very interesting Laidlaw/Ballantyne marriage that is incredibly tantalising. William Laidlaw (1780 - 1845) was a friend of Sir Walter Scott and born at Blackhouse, a sheep farm, in Selkirkshire on 19 November 1780. His father James was a sheep farmer but young William was sent to Peebles Grammar School for an education. He was a clever lad and later in life, Sir Walter Scott would try to encourage him to take up a career in medicine, which he felt William was suited for. However, the young William had to give up his studies early and return to help his father with the sheep. The farm of Blackhouse is near the Douglas Burn in the 'Braes of Yarrow.' William's mother was Katherine Ballantyne, born in 1760.
William became a farmer and in 1803 he tried his hand in Liberton, Midlothian and after marrying Janet Ballantyne in Yarrow in 1809 he moved to Traquair, Peebleshire, where he and Janet had children, Elizabeth in 1812 and possibly Kathrine in 1814.
Farming, however, did not suit William and Sir Walter Scott offered him work at Abbotsford in 1817, where William moved his 'wife and little ones' to Skaeside Cottage. William had a great interest in Border Ballads and along with his lasting friendship with the 'Ettrick Shepherd', James Hogg, a distant cousin of his mother's (Katherine Ballantyne), William had much in common with Scott.
William penned a few verses himself, noteably 'Lucy's Flittin.'
Norman Patrick Macleod, son of Dugald Brodie MacLeod gifted this painting to Glasgow Museums on behalf of the MacLeod family. Norman MacLeod was an iron and steel merchant in the firm of Paul & MacLeod, 82 Gordon Street, Glasgow. Norman married Evangeline Scott Patrick on 18th October 1900 and lived at 5 Montgomery Drive and then 13 Cleveden Road in Glasgow. They had three children, Reginald Grant, Norman Patrick Brodie and Audrey Eleanor. He died on 2nd March 1936 at the age of 63 leaving £120,000 in his will. The firm of Paul & MacLeod carried on trading until about 1970.
In 1819, Scott was recovering from an illness and William and John Ballantyne (the publisher) wrote down, to Scott's direction, several of his manuscripts as he dictated, most notably, Ivanhoe.
Scott fell into ruin in 1826 and with much sadness he had to let William go but after a very short period, William returned in 1826, staying with Scott until his death from his third stroke, in 1832.
William Laidlaw was very highly thought of not only by Scott but also by Hogg who said, He "was the only person who for many years ever pretended to discover the least merit in my essays, either in verse or in prose."
You can see why I would love to find a link from my ancestors to William Laidlaw as Hogg has always been one of my literary heroes.
In 1810 he moved to Edinburgh and made his name writing for a variety of publications. He became popular with the literary society of the day and was granted a cottage at Altrive in the Borders by the Duke of Buccleuch. He died in 1835.
His greatest work by far is the astonishing The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner an incredible book which tells the story of a pious man's fall from grace. It is a dark and entertaining tale which reflects the religious controversy of the time.
What happened to William Laidlaw after the death of Scott? He first became a factor for Mrs. Stewart MacKenzie of Seaforth before shortly after moving to Balnagowan, Ross-shire (now owned by Mohamed Al-Fayed) where he was the factor for Sir Charles Lockhart Ross. William and Janet had at least one more child, Anne B. Laidlaw, born in 1827. She later maried a newspaper editor called Carruthers from Inverness and had a son, William in 1860.
William fell ill and in poor health, went to live with his brother, James, a sheep farmer in Contin, where he died on 18 May 1845.
Janet Laidlaw outlived her husband by many years and in 1851 she is living with her brother-in-law George Laidlaw, in Contin, a farmer of 380 acres employing twelve shepherds, eight labourers and three women.
In 1861, Janet is still in Contin, head of the house, running a farm of 210 acres and employing seven labourers. Elizabeth and Mary are living with her as is her now retired brother-in-law George, now 80 years old.
Elizabeth moves to Inverness in her old age and lives with Kathrine at 2 Drummond Rd. They are listed on the 1881 census as sisters.
A great story and an interesting family but are they my ancestors? I don't know, but Robert and Isabel Laidlaw were living nearby at Achnasheen, running a sheep farm and by 1861 they were living at Auchnaclerach, Contin. Ballantynes / Scotts & Laidlaws, all connected to Selkirk and Contin, all connected with sheep and all around at the same time... but I just can't put my finger on that final clue!