Other confusions happen with illegitimate children as the grandparents try to pass a child off as their own, taking the stigma away from their unmarried daughter. It's hard to tell with the distance of time, and the little information available, what relationship the mother had with the illegitimate child's father; the child sometimes taking the father's name in later life or even reverting back to the mother's name. It all makes for interesting research.
One family member that is providing a lot of interest for me is Agnes Ballantyne b. 1833 and daughter of Walter Ballantyne and Helen Scott. In earlier posts, I've explained how Walter and Helen seemed to part around 1845, with both moving south to the Border country and the calamitous repercussions this had for their young son Andrew, who become embroiled in a charge of horse theft that ultimately saw him 'relocating' to Australia.
The story picks up in 1851 with Walter appearing in the parish of Lochs in the Isle of Lewis with his second wife Agnes Miller b. 1801 in Hawick, his young son Robert, my ancestor, and a young daughter Catherine. Walter married Agnes in Melrose on 11th December 1845, having left Bottacks, Ross & Cromarty in May 1844.
Walter turns up again in 1861, without his second wife but now living with his daughter, Agnes, in Bowden, Roxburghshire. Also in the home are his daughter, Kathrane, sons Thomas (9) and Alexander (7), both born in Lewis and his grandson James, illegitimate son of Agnes. James was born on 1st November 1857 in Foigh, another name for Fodderty, Ross & Cromarty, which was where the Ballantynes lived for many years. Another grandchild, Janet Cairns (1) b. 1860, was also living with the family. More of her later! Walter is listed as age 61 years and a shepherd while Agnes is described as housekeeper.
Agnes is living in Morebattle, Roxburghshire in 1871, earning a living as an agricultural labourer and living with her children Janet (Cairns) Ballantine (10) and James (Chisholm Shiel) Ballantine (3).
Names change by 1881 when Agnes is to be found as a farm servant in Hownam, Roxburghshire with her two children, James Chisholm Shile (13) and her daughter Elizabeth Balentine, aged 6.
This is where the plot thickens even more! Moving ahead now to the 1891 census family relationships become even more intertwined. I think I have worked out the relationships.
John Cassy is listed as the head of a rather large household in Sprouston, Roxburghshire. He was born around 1855 in Lanton, Berwickshire and his mother-in-law, part of the household, is one Agnes Ballentyne. For ease of explanation, I'll list the family below and give the family relationships:
- Agnes Ballentyne - mother-in-law (55)
- John Cassy (36) b. 1855, son-in-law of Agnes Ballentyne, born in Lanton, Berwickshire
- Janet Cairns (30), daughter of Agnes - also listed as Janet Ballentyne, born in Selkirk, 1861 -2nd wife of John
- James Shiel, (23), son of Agnes, born in 1868 in Stitchel, Berwickshire
- Andrew / Maggie Ann / James / John / Martha / Jessie / Alexander / Mary / William / Catherine - children of John Cassy and Jessie (Janet) Brydon (1st wife of John) (another daughter Ellen b. 1872 is not listed) - these children born between 1876 and 1890
In the census of 1881, Elizabeth Balantine is listed as the daughter of Agnes her birth certificate confirms that indeed she was born the illegitimate daughter of Agnes Ballantyne on 29 June 1874, a fieldworker, living in Morebattle, Roxburghshire.
How does all of this fit together? What is the evidence?
- Agnes Ballantyne had a son, James in Foderty, Ross & Cromarty before moving south with her father Walter to live in Bowden.
- She has another child, Janet Cairns (Ballantyne) in 1860 who then appears in the 1891 census along with Agnes and the Cassy family, linking the two families together.
My questions are:
- What happened to James, born in 1857? There is no further mention of him ever living with Agnes anywhere in the Borders but she has a second child named James in 1868. Does this mean that her first son died in infancy?
- Elizabeth is listed as John's daughter in the 1891 census - is this just an error, I'm sure it is as I have her birth certificate.
As far as I can gather, Agnes had the following illegitimate children:
- James Ballantyne 1857
- Janet Cairns 1860
- James Ballantyne (Chisholm Shiel) 1868
- Elizabeth Ballantyne 1874
What happened next?
John Cassie and his second wife Janet Cairns had three more children, George, Jane and Jemima. In 1901, Agnes Ballantyne was living Smailhom, Roxburghshire with her children James Shiel, (30), Elizabeth Ballantyne (26), and her grandchildren Agnes Cairns (17) and Robert Richardson (21).
Agnes lived to the grand old age of 82 years, when she died on 12 February 1913 in Sprouston, Roxburghshire of senile decay. Her death certificate lists her parents as Walter Ballantyne, shepherd and Nanny (Helen) Ballantyne, m.s. Scott, my great, great, great, great grandparents.