Monday, 15 February 2016

James Johnston, watchmaker in Portsoy

We have been asked to investigate the family of James Johnston, who in 1841 was a watchmaker in Portsoy.  The census schedule for that year shows him  living at South Street in Portsoy, accompanied by his sons William (3) and James (1) and a female servant Isabel Fraser (20).  All were stated to be natives of Banffshire.  James' stated age of 35 suggests that he was born between 1800 and 1805, although no baptism record has been identified in the immediate area.  A gravestone in Portsoy is dedicated to James' wife Ann Brodie who died early in 1841.

James cannot be traced in the census for 1851 and a search through local newspapers reveals that he died in March 1846.  His sons William and James were found in 1851 as lodgers living in the household of Margaret Saunders, a lodging house keeper in the Square in Portsoy.  They were both scholars, i.e. attending school.  By 1861 William had moved to Urquhart, Moray, where he was an assistant teacher living in the household of William Bruce, the schoolmaster there.  His brother James junior was still fairly close to home, working as a railway clerk based in neighbouring Boyndie parish.  They cannot, however, be located in subsequent UK census records.  Did they leave the UK in search of better prospects overseas?

We would be very interested to hear from any living descendants.

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