The McDougall family in the Scottish Borders

Elizabeth McDougall married Thomas Wood on February 2 1838 in Kelso, Roxburghshire. Like her husband she had grown up in Kelso, with five siblings. Her parents were Robert McDougall and Margaret Tait. I have been unable to find any record of the births or marriage of these two people in the Scottish Old Parish Registers. Their children were born between 1806 and 1820, so a reasonable estimate for the dates of Robert’s and Margaret’s birth would be about 1780, and for their marriage (whether recorded or not) about 1805. 

Children born to Robert and Margaret:- Agnes 1806; unknown 1807 (died the same day); David 1809; Edward 1810; Adam 1813; Elizabeth 1814; and lastly Jane 1820.

The consequence of this lack of records means that I cannot trace the origins of this family back any further at the moment - disappointing, maybe, but not so very unusual in the course of researching family history.

Robert McDougall was a mason - the Scottish term for a builder. This piece of information was gleaned from his daughter’s death certificate.

Apart from Elizabeth McDougall, I could trace only two other members of this family. I found Adam McDougall in the 1871 and 1881 censuses, living with his wife Elizabeth in Glasgow, and working as a shoemaker. I could not find them there in 1891.

I found Jane McDougall, the youngest sister, in the 1841 and 1851 censuses. She was unmarried, and working as a female servant, at first in Kelso, and then in nearby Eckford.

To return to Elizabeth, I don’t think there can have been many times in her life when she was happy. Married in 1838 - and widowed in the 1840’s - so that in the 1851 Census we find her doing her best to support two young sons, while working at the Wooden Mill on the banks of the River Tweed, just outside Kelso. Then Robert, her younger son, died in 1865, aged just 23. In the 1861 Census Elizabeth is back in Kelso, getting on by taking in lodgers and other people’s washing. By then, George, her elder son had left Kelso for a new life as a printer in Edinburgh, so Elizabeth must have felt very lonely at times.

I could find no record of her whereabouts in the 1871 Census, but she died, a pauper, in the workhouse in 1874. A sad end to a life of hardship.

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