Coubrough/Cowbrough Project Update 10 October 2004

Hello Everyone,

I know youíve all been anxiously awaiting the "Coubrough Project" update, so here it is at last.


I would like to begin this edition of the project update by sending congratulations to two of our cousins, who, since my last report, have been formally recognised for their outstanding dedication to a cause:

First, Robert Armstrong is a historian who takes his work very seriously. Having done much research into the history of his native Ireland, he has written more than one book on the subject. In the summer of 2003, his efforts to record and preserve the oral histories of the 20th Century resulted in his being made a Member of the British Empire (MBE). Queen Elizabeth herself invests recipients of this honour at Buckingham Palace. On behalf of the rest of the tribe, our heartiest congratulations. As far as I know, no other member of the tribe has ever been awarded such an honour. Well done, Cousin!

Later the same summer, Reta Nobbs Coubrough, a Canadian cousin, was awarded the Queenís Jubilee Medal for her work with the Canadian Cancer Society. Congratulations Reta. We sincerely hope that your efforts will be rewarded with a successful search for the cure.


Just a reminder: The third Coubrough/Cowbrough International reunion will be held 8-10 August 2005, in Stirling, Stirling, Scotland. There will be a registration fee to cover the cost of renting a meeting space, etc., but the cost-per-person has yet to be determined. Anyone attending the reunion will be responsible for arranging their own accommodations, meals, etc. Further details will be posted on my web site as they become available.

If you would like to attend, please e-mail Jim Coubrough at, and let him know how many people are likely to be in your group, where you live, and a contact addresss/telephone number. All Coubroughs and Cowbroughs are welcome, no matter what name they have now; however, those folks not now bearing the surname are much harder to track down, so if you know anyone else who might like to attend, please spread the word!

And now, on to the slightly more distant past.


Last time, I mentioned that an A.C. Coubrough had been the 1922_23 Chairman of the Institute of Engineers in India, and that he may have been Anthony Cathcart Coubrough, grandson of the calico factory owner, Anthony Parks Coubrough. It turns out that Anthony Parkís son was indeed an electrical engineer, and that he had spent some time in India, so it seems likely that the Chairman was our man.

I donít know if Cath Coubrough, as he seems to have been known, had any children, but I have recently discovered that he did marry, though not until quite late in life. He was about 55 when, on December 12, 1932, at Terling, Essex, England, he married a widow named Ariel Psyche (Kennedy) Weatherly, daughter of "Dr. and Mrs. Kennedy." Despite this late start, he seems to have had a few years of marriage left in him, as he lived until about 1962 or 63, leaving an estate worth more than £50,000 (equivalent to around £640,000 today).


Mathew Coubrough, born 1805, was the son of James Cowburgh and Jean Muir. In 1831, he married Jean Allan, in Eastwood Parish, and they were the parents of ten children. We know what happened to most of those children: James, of course, came to Canada and married the mysterious Annie MacDonald (en route to being my great-great-grandparents); Robert married Agnes Morton, moved to England and four of their eight kids ended up in Wales; Jane married James Campbell and had six kids of her own; Barbara died before her fifth birthday; the first Mathew died before his third birthday; Malcolm was a 27_year_old sketch maker in a calico factory, and was unmarried at his death from tuberculosis; Margaret never married either, and in the 1901 census, was living with her widowed sister Jane; Mathew Gibb married Margaret Dowall and they also had six children.

Until recently, Ann, born 1840, and William (Malcolm's twin brother) were unaccounted for. But no longer! In the 1871 census, we found Ann alive and well, living at home Matthewís family. In the 1851 census, when she was 11 years old, she had been working as a "tearer" (printerís assistant) in a calico factory. Since her father was a printer, and printers had to pay their own tearers, little Annie probably worked for her father, though we arenít certain of this. She seems to have worked in the factory all her life; her 1889 death certificate lists her as still being employed in the calico factory. For those of us with our sights set on retiring at age 55, it is difficult to imagine starting work a twelve-hour day at the age of 10, and working in the same place for forty years.

Annís brother William was another mystery man. Some time ago, in a census, I ran across a William Coubrough and his wife Jeannie, that I thought might be our boy, but other than being about the right age, there was nothing to positively identify him. Thanks to Mr. Bruce Hosie, we finally have the answer. On July 12, 1883, at the age of 38, William married Jeannie Deuchar. She was a steam loom weaver, and a year younger than William.

Of course, we also know that in genealogy, every answer brings more questions, and this answer was no different. Their marriage record says William was the son of Mathew Coubrough and Jane Allan. His bride, however, was the daughter of William Deuchar and__you guessed it__Jane Coubrough! William D and Jane C had been married in 1836, but in those days, the records rarely listed the parents of bridal couples, unless they belonged to the local gentry. Obviously our William married one of his cousins; the question is, which oneÖ?


Some time ago, I told you about the children of William Coubrough and Margaret McKim, and what had become of them all, except Ann, the baby. I thought she might have gone to the US, as did nearly all of her siblings, but so far I haven't found any record of her travelling there. I did, however, discover that she was married, in Glasgow, in 1917, to James Robert Veitch, son of John Veitch and Margaret Robertson. I haven't yet figured out if he was a relation of the Isabella Veitch who married John Howard Coubrough (see June 2003 edition of this monologue), but I'm working on it.



A few years ago, I stumbled over the web site of a feminist poet named Theresa Coubrough. Of course, I had to write and ask if she was "ours." Some time later, I also contacted an Agnes Veronica Coubrough; she lives in Montana, but turned out to be Theresa's sister. They knew the names of their parents (of course), and their grandparents, but were both somewhat short on dates. Their grandfather's ancestral line was a nut too tough to crack: a man with the unusual name of William Coubrough, who had lived in Glasgow, he and his wife, Isabella Kearney, joined the alien list.

Then Bruce Hosie went to Edinburgh again. And there they were__we think. In Glasgow, on December 30, 1911, after Banns according to the Free Church of Scotland, John Coubrough, a 22_year_old labourer in a "sewing machine works," married Isabella Cairney, 20, "bleacher" in a cloth factory. William's parents, John Coubrough, farm labourer, and Euphemia Raeburn, were both deceased, but Isabella's parents, Patrick Cairney, coal pit labourer, and Agnes McCudden, were both still around.

Sadly, though, William and Isabella are back on the alien list: They are obviously the right couple__the wife's given name and the surnames all match the information from Theresa and Ronnie, as does the marriage date of "just before the First World War." I can find no record of any John Coubrough married to any Euphemia Raeburn, but I canít say if this indicates a child born out of wedlock, or just a lack of records. There is a possibility that Williamís father was the son of Wilhelmina Thomson and John Coubrough (see below), but this is by no means certain.

The only Euphemia Raeburn I can find any record of is the one who was born Euphemia Coubrough, daughter of John Coubrough and Mary Ewing, and who married Stewart Raeburn in 1875. I have yet to find record of any children of Stewart and Euphemia, but I donít know if this is because Stewart died young or because they were estranged. I do know that Euphemia had at least one child who did not belong to her husband: a girl named Euphemia. It was this daughter who reported her mother's death to the registrar in 1910. According to the record of her own 1905 marriage, to Arthur McGettigan, the girl's maiden name was Coubrough, and there was no father listed for the bride. If the girl's mother was married to Stewart Raeburn at the time of the girl's birth, one would think the girl's name should be Raeburn. Very mysterious.



On December 27, 1862, a "washer woman" named Janet Coubrough gave birth to a son she called Lachlan, perhaps after his unrecorded father. The boy grew up and became a coppersmith. In 1891, he and his wife, Martha McGranaghan had a son: William James.

According to his marriage record, William James was a "steel worker," but I don't know if that meant he made steel frames for buildings, or if he made the steel itself. Whatever he did for a living, at the age of 24, in the town of Rutherglen, on July 16, 1915, William married himself a wife__one Agnes Boyle, power loom worker, age 22. William's father, Lachlan, was no longer with them, but his mother Martha, and Agnes's parents, William Boyle, carter's servant, and Mary Stevenson, all appeared to be hale and hearty.

Lachlan's own mother, Janet, was probably a sister of the John Coubrough who married Wilhelmina Thomson. The 1881 census said Lachlan Coubrough, Coppersmith, age 18, was living with his Aunt Wilhelmina and Uncle John Coubrough, who was a baker. John doesn't seem to have had any sisters named Janet, but he did have a sister Jane, and clerks did occasionally make mistakes.

John and Wilhelmina Thomson were themselves the parents of an ill_fated family. Of their eight children, only three seem to have survived childhood; of those three, John, the eldest, never married; Charles moved to Australia, where before dying at the age of 48, he fathered his own ill_fated family; and Robert's fate is unknown. John and Wilhelminaís son, Charles Purves went to Australia sometime before his 25th birthday. In 888, he married Ruth Ellen Roberts at Hobart, Victoria, and they eventually had five children. The middle three each died before their second birthday; of the two who grew up, the youngest was seriously wounded at Gallipoli, and the oldest died on the Somme. In 1924, Alexander Thomson, the only surviving child of his family, married Hilda Thorn, but I donít know if they had children of their own. Hilda died in 1963, in Melbourne, and Alexander in Launceton, Tasamania, in 1972.


Over the past few years, we have seen quite a bit of Anthony Park Coubrough, head of the "calico family." (Euphemia married S. Raeburn, above, was his niece.) We know he joined the firm that operated the factory, as a partner, in 1843, in Strathblane. Eventually, he became the sole owner, and his son, Anthony Sykes, eventually took over. We have seen several members of this family go adventuring in Fiji, Canada and Australia.

A while back, I found an Isabella Coubrough, and her husband, Walter Pooley, in the British Columbia (Canada) Vital Statistics Archives on_line index of deaths. They were relegated to the alien list, until just recently, when I discovered their marriage date. Isabella Gertrude Coubrough, was the youngest daughter of Anthony Sykes Coubrough and Margaret Wallace. On July 12, 1906, she married Walter Robert Pooley, at Strathblane, Stirling.

The wedding was definitely an affair of the bride's family. The ceremony was performed in the home of the bride's parents, by the the bride's brother-in-law (Isabella's older sister Mary was married to the Reverend Theodore Johnson), and the witnesses, Anthony Cathcart and Elizabeth Coubrough, were the bride's brother and sister. The only member of the groom's family in the wedding party was the groom himself. This is perhaps more understandable, though when we see that the groom gave his residential address as "Kelowna, British Columbia."

Walter's parents, Walter Moritz Pooley and Isabel Jessie Sinclair, were said to be land owners, but I don't know if the land they owned was in Scotland or in Canada. Either way, it seems that Walter had come home to Scotland to marry, so he and his new bride probably returned to Canada shortly after the wedding. Whether they were happy or not, the marriage didn't last long. Walter was only 34 when he died in on April 23, 1915; Isabella was 29. The index doesn't list the cause of death, but judging by the date and place, it probably wasn't a result of military service. In 1920, when her sister Mary and her brother George came to visit, they gave Isabella's name as Pooley, so if she remarried, it must not have been until quite a few years after Walter passed on. Isabella herself died in Kelowna, in 1961, at the age of 74. I don't know if they had any children.

Mary and Isabellaís brother George eventually settled in Vancouver. He married Elizabeth Harris in 1910, in Toronto, so the 1920 trip wasn't his first time in Canada. Perhaps he had gone to Scotland for a visit and fetched Mary back with him. George and Elizabeth may have had two daughters, but I haven't yet confirmed this. George died in Vancouver in 1953, age 75.


Several times over the years, I have run across the name of Agnes Carruthers Coubrough, but I could never figure out who she was. I knew she had a son named Robert, born 1870, when she was about 28 or 29. The boy's father was a John Dick (yes, really!), but I could find no record of Agnes having married him. In 1891, Robert was living with his uncle, but there was no sign of his mother. An index of probated wills confirmed that the heir to Agnes's estate was one Robert Coubrough, Marine Engineer, but I still didn't know who she belonged to.

As they say, it never rains, but it pours. One night a few months ago, I found a death registration for one Agnes Carruthers Coubrough, age 69. I had only encountered one person with that name, so it had to be her. Sure enough, she was our girl. It was quickly apparent that the reason I had never found a record of her marriage to John Dick was that there wasn't one. Aged 69 years and single, Agnes was the second_oldest of at least six children of Mary Muir and John Coubrough: Ann, 1841; Agnes, 1842; Jean, 1843; Mary, 1846; Thomas, 1851; and Charles, 1853.

The same night, I found death registrations for four of these six, all single, and seemingly living in the same place. Of the six, Agnes had her one son, but only Mary and Jean had married. Jean married John Paton, in 1878, in Refrew parish, Renfrew; I donít know if they had children. On November 19, 1869, Mary married John Macdonald, also in Renfrew parish. They had at least three sons: Donald, 1870; John Coubrough, 1872; and James, 1874. There may have been more children, but I havenít found them yet.

Mary Muirís husband, John, was the son of James Coubrough and Jean McIndoe. James, son of James C and Jean Livingstone, was the brother of the John C who married Euphemia Stewart Park; thus, Agnes's father was a first cousin of Anthony Park Coubrough, who founded the Strathblane calico factory line.


Last year, I told you about the family of Mathew Gibb Coubrough & Margaret Dowall, and what had happened to their children. At that time, I knew of the youngest, John, only that he was a clerk by trade, and, as of the spring of 1901, he still lived at home. I have since discovered that his full name was John Dowall Coubrough, and that he married Margaret Drury in 1924; however, I havenít been able to find out if they had any children.


Matthew Gibb Coubrough himself has been something of a mystery to us. We know that he was the youngest of Matt Coubrough and Jean Allanís 10 children. We also know that sometime before he was 10 years old, he had gone to live with his fatherís cousin, Joseph Gibb. We donít know when Jean Allan died, but it could have been as early as December 1851, when young Matt was born. At any rate, nearly all of his surviving older brothers and sisters were still at home, so we have no idea why he went to the Gibbs, nor do we know exactly when he went there.

What matters, though, is that once he was there, he stayed with them until he was married himself, in 1874. He obviously held the Gibbs in high regard, since he and Margaret Dowall named their third son Joseph Gibb Coubrough (after Mathew for his own father, and James for Margaretís father). We have long thought that Matthew himself had been christened with the name Gibb, in honour of his fatherís cousin. It turns out, though, that while the Gibb name was used in honour of the man who raised him, it was young Matthew who took the name himselfĖsurely a mark of the regard he had for his foster father.


Years ago, I found baptism records for the children of a couple named William Coubrough and Elizabeth Dalgliesh. Just a few months ago, I discovered that William was a "sailor." Men of command and managerial ranks usually specified those positions, and no mention was made of the Navy, so he was probably an ordinary seaman on a merchant ship, but I don't know for whom he sailed. I think this William was the son of William Coubrough and Janet Liddle (thus an Ellrig), but as far as I know, Janet Liddle's husband was a farmer. Did their son make his life at sea because as the youngest of 14 children, he had no hope at home?


While searching the British Columbia Vital Statistics Archives, I found three other Coubrough women, all from Kelowna, and all buried there:

Kate Agnes Coubrough, d. August 24, 1945, age 86

Hannah Kate Agnes Coubrough, d. February 6, 1940, age 55

Muriel Margaret Coubrough, d. September 28, 1963, age 74

I didnít find any matching menís names, so possibly none of these women were married, or their husbands were elsewhere. I donít know if they were directly related to each other, but given the lack of other folks of their name in Kelowna at the time, they probably were. Judging by their ages, Kate Agnes and Muriel Margaret may have been sisters (or sisters_in_law), while Hannah Kate Agnes was probably the daughter of one of them. The BC archives didn't have birth or marriage records for them, even though they were all born well before 1902 (the cut_off date for on_line records). They may have been born or married elsewhere in Canada, as they don't seem to be in the Scots indexes either.


We have known for a long time that Jim and Annie (Macdonald) Coubrough had gone to their long sleep in Dawn Township, Ontario (Canada) before their son Matt and daughter Flora Jane (aka Jenny Atwell) headed west to Saskatchewan. We were fairly sure Jim and Annie must have been buried somewhere in Dawn Township, too, but where? We had a few clues, but thatís all they were: clues. Until very recently, the exact location was a mystery. Enter once again the hand of fate.

In 1883, Jim and Annieís son, yet another Matthew, had married a neighbour, Elizabeth Johnston Brown. Lizís mother, Annie Thomson, was very active in fundraising, etc., to have a real church built in their community. The present building is the original, and services are celebrated there every week. Last fall, I made a trip to Dawn Township for the celebration of the local Presbyterian Churchís anniversary, invited because it was discovered that my ancestors had once owned the property the church sits on. I had planned to leave early the next morning, so as to have time to stop at the local county library. As luck would have it, I was delayed the next morning, and ended up leaving late, but I felt I had to sneak in an hourís search anyway. There must have been a reason I had felt the need to stop: the first two things I found were obituariesĖone for Jim, and one for his grandson, John Brown Coubrough, victim of Vimy Ridge.

The obituary gave Jimís final resting place as the Gould-Stury cemetery, a small place I had already visited more than once, but where I had found no indication of Jim or Annieís presence. All of the surviving stones had been moved to a double row, in the centre of the fenced area, and cemented in as a protection against vandalism, but none of them were the ones I was looking for. At the library, at the front of the local cemetery index, was a newspaper clipping, which after noting that the cemetery had never had any official sanction, explained when the stones had all been moved, and why. Besides the many markers that seemed to be missing altogether, the projectís volunteer workers had found, in a fence corner, a pile of stone fragments, many smashed beyond recognition. Could this be the reason for Jim and Annieís having disappeared without a trace? The same sunny hilltop also held two of their tiny granddaughters (Annie and Barbara Atwell), and a man (Coll Macdonald) who was probably Annieís brother, so while I still have no concrete evidence of Annieís last resting place, I think it is safe to assume she is in the same place as her family.



Jim Coubrough and Annie Macdonald had four children: Matt, a farmer who married Liz Brown and raised 16 children of his own; Flora Jane, known to her family as Jenny, married Billy Atwell, a stationary engineer, and had nine children, three of whom never saw their first birthdays; Mary Ann, known as Minnie, who was disabled, and never married; and the baby, Barbara, about whom all we knew was her birth year, and that she had "married and gone to the States." Clues eventually trickled in: her husbandís name was "Lafflin," first name unknown; she had two girlsĖStella and Hazel; a photograph surfaced, with her name on it and bearing the imprint of a photographer, in Minneapolis, Minnesota (USA); her home was so situated that she could look out her kitchen window and see the cemetery where her husband lay. The girls Stella and Hazel turned out to be real people, but they were the daughters of Liz Brownís brother, Simon Thomson Brown, not Barbara Coubrough, and the rest of the clues, well....

In June of this year, a happy accident found me at the web site of the Minnesota Historical Society. These folks have indexed deaths in that state up to about 1996, and copies of certificates are available on-line. Having no idea how to spell Barbaraís married name, I started entering all sorts of variations into the siteís search engine. On the second or third try, there appeared one Barbara Allen Lafflin. You will recall that according to the census records from which we originally had Barbaraís name, her middle name was "Ann", so I wasnít sure if she was the right one. However, given that our girlís grandmother was Jean Allan, and that there are a couple of other Barbara Allans in the tribe, it seemed worth a shot. I ordered a copy, and there she was: Barbara Allen Lafflin, born April 24, 1860, daughter of Anna McDonald and James Coubrough, aged 55 years, 5 months and 6 days, had died of Hemiplegia (stroke), at 4 a.m. on September 30, 1915, in Dayton Township, Hennepin County, Minnesota. The doctor also stated that she had been sick for only two days, but that she had been weak and run down, which contributed to her illness. Her death was reported on October 4, 1915, by a C. A. Lafflin, of "Y.M.C.A, St. Paul." No relationship to the deceased was given, but judging by the address, it was most likely a son.

The same web site listed deaths for two men who may have been Barbaraís sons: a James Franklin Laflin, 1889 Ė 1969, motherís name "Cobraugh"; and a Tom Laughlin, 1896 Ė 1959, apparently the son of a woman named "Corrough." Both spellings are worth a second look, and I plan to order them soon. For now, though, I am sure we have our Barbara.



I have several times mentioned the family of John Coubrough and Margaret Herald. You will recall that they had been married in Melbourne, Australia, but returned to Scotland after the death of their eldest son, Thomas. When I last talked about them (Jan 2003), I thought that the girl recorded in the Scots records as Christina was probably the same one who was in the Australian records as Kestrina, but I had no further information on any of the children. I have since learned a bit more about some of the kids.

In Glasgow, in 1880, "Christina" was married to a John Christie, but thatís all I know about them. Margaret Heraldís daughter Mary Ann seems to have led a bit harder life. The 1891 census for Shettleston, Lanark, had this entry: Mary Ann Coubrough, Unm, 27, Inmate of the Refuge, born Australia. The census page I saw didnít give the name of the institution, but I think it must have been some sort of women's shelter or hospital. The 25 women listed on the page ranged in age from 11 to 68; a few were widows, but most were unmarried, and all were listed as "inmates of the refuge." Possibly Mary was that pariah of Victorian societyóan unwed mother? She had not been living at home with her family in the 1881 census, when she would have been about 17, so perhaps she had already gone out to work by then. Unfortunately, that is currently the end of her story, but sheís still on my list.



Quite some time ago, I saw an index entry for a boy named Samuel Waterson Coubrough, and knew that he had been born in Eastwood parish, in 1887. Since I long ago found out that Margaret Steele Coubrough, married Samuel Waterson in Eastwood, I assumed the boy was related to them and never got around to looking further. Thanks to Barbara McCue, we now know the names of his parents, but they werenít who you might expect.

We knew that Margaret Clarke MacDonald, Margaret Steeleís mother, had died when the girl was about eight or nine years old, and that the girlís father, Robert, had married a young widow, Mary Sandilands, who had a small daughter of her own. Robert and Mary had three more children, but only the middle one, David, seems to have survived childhood. Robert himself died in May 1857, leaving his poor wife widowed again. In spite of her hard-luck life, Mary was a woman deeply concerned about all her children, whether she had borne them or not. Margaret seems to have grown very fond of her step-motheróso fond, in fact, that not only was Margaret married from Maryís house (as one might expect of a young woman with no other family), but she also named her first daughter after her step-mother, rather than after her own mother. Margaretís family lived only a few doors from Mary for many years, until Maryís death in 1903.

Margaretís half-brother, David, was the only other one of their fatherís children to stay in Thornliebank. Though he moved his family to Montrťal (Canada) sometime after 1906, he and Mary McKay Smith were married in Thornliebank, in 1891, and all thirteen of their children were born there. For quite some time, we had thought that David and Mary had had ten children; then last year we found they were the parents of the twins Essie Briton and Charles Gilroy, who had both died within a few weeks of their birth. Now, Barbara McCue has discovered a birth registration showing Samuel Waterson Coubrough, born January 13, 1887, to be their fourth child. Samuel is not a common name in the Coubrough family, and I had wondered where it came from. Upon further reflection, though, it makes sense.

David had been barely a year old when his father died, and only about 10 when his sister married, so it wouldnít be odd for him to be close to the man his older sister had married, especially given the apparent deep affection the family had for each other. In a small town, one would expect families to be heavily intermarried, so as an Irish-born outsider, Samuel Waterson was probably doubly intriguing to a young boy. Under these circumstances, it would be no real surprise that David and Mary might have named their son after a man David admired.

Barbara has also come up with a few more clues to the origin of the names of some of David and Maryís other children. It seems that the twins were named after people who not only lived near Mary and David, but were probably related (though we havenít quite figured out exactly how, yet). Charles Gilroy King, b 1856, son of William King and Helen Gilroy, was a doctor, who seems to have been the namesake of two of Mary and Davidís sons. And Essie Britton, who lived just down the street from the Coubroughs, was the daughter of Joseph Britton and Jane Hutchison, is the woman Charles Gilroy Coubroughís twin sister was called after. A girl named Agnes Hutchison, also in Thornliebank, had a daughter name Agnes Coubrough Hutchison. We donít know for sure yet whether the childís mother was Janeís sister, but it seems probable that the babyís father was a Coubrough. (Now we just have to find out which one.)



Speaking of intermarried families, there is a possibility that Davidís mother-in-law was related to his other half-sister, Isabella Gunn. When Mary Sandilands married Robert Coubrough, she was the widow of a man named William Gunn, and she had one child: a daughter named Isabella. Since Maryís own mother was another Mary, it doesnít seem much of a stretch to think that the child was called after her fatherís relation. We have as yet no proof, but in a tiny place like Thornliebank, it seems unlikely that there was no connection whatever.


A while back, I wrote that, within a few years of his death in 1857, Robert Coubroughís three oldest sons had all moved to England. I also wrote that they had all married raised their families there, but that I hadnít known much about any of their children. Thanks to Maureen Allen, that has changed and I now know a bit more.

By 1861, Robert, the oldest, was no longer at his step-motherís home , so he was probably the first to go to England. By 1866, when he was about 24 years old, he had established himself as a draper at Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, and on August 23 of that year, had married Mary Ann Bowers, daughter of a type founder, in South Hackney parish, Middlesex. I have already told how poor Mary Ann was 29 years old and had been married for less than eight years when she died in the early summer of 1874. I also said that she had died at the birth of her seventh child, but on closer inspection of the dates, the boy, Arthur, was as much as 9 months old when his mother died. Given how close all the others were, however, it is just as likely that she died in the birth of her eighth child, as from complications with the seventh. I had thought that Margaret MacDonald Coubrough, born October 1868, was Mary Annís first child. This was not so: Mary Ann had given birth to a stillborn son late in 1867, so Margaret was just the first one who lived. She was followed, in late 1869 or early 1870, by a boy named Robert; then by another stillborn boy at the end of 1870; James, in the summer of 1871; Eleanor, in the summer of 1872; and Arthur Robert, in the fall of 1873. Neither Robert, James nor Eleanor lived more than three months, and while Arthur managed to grow up, he was said to be "feeble minded," perhaps a victim of whatever complication had taken his motherís life. According to the 1901 census, he worked as a "chaff cutter" but I donít know if he ever married. Arthurís only full sister, Margaret, married James Theophilus Barber, late in 1893, in Edmonton (near London), England. Margaretís first child, James Theophilus, was born in Edmonton in the summer of 1894. She was the one who reported her fatherís death to the registrar in 1912. I donít yet know anything else about her, but she, too, is still on the list.

Last time, I said that Mary Annís widower had remarried, though pretty much all I knew of the second wife was her name: Catherine Amelia Channer. I have since found that she was the daughter of a farmer, Thomas Channer, and was about 10 years younger than her new husband. Our Robert was a busy man. His first wife had borne at least seven children in eight years of marriage. Now, he and Catherine would have nine more children, starting in the spring of 1877 with a stillborn girl. This unfortunate child was followed by: Jessie, spring 1880; Amelia, late 1882, Mabel Catherine, spring 1884, Gertrude Mabel, late winter 1887; Alexander, late fall 1889; Kate, about February 1891; Thomas, late fall 1892, and Constance, spring 1897. Little Mabel Catherine died in the spring of 1875, just before her first birthday, but all the others grew up. So far, I know very little more about any of these children, except that Gertrude Mabel married a man named Wellington in 1917, and Kate married a Palmer in 1919. Amelia was married in 1909, but I donít know her husbandís name. Nor do I yet know if any of these girls had any children.

We know Robertís next younger brother, John MacDonald, married Annie Inwood and had five children. Annie Inwood died in December 1899, and John married Louisa Adcock before the March 1901 census, but we still donít know the exact date. John and Annieís son, John, married Ethel Swannell in Hitchin, in about 1902, but I still donít know if they had any kids. John and Annie, of course, were the great-grandparents of Carolyn Willis, of Tallahassee, Florida.

When I last wrote of James, youngest son of Margaret Clark Macdonald, and his wife, Sarah Hewish, they had had seven children, James had died in 1892, of peritonitis, and Sarah in 1908, of pneumonia. All but one of the children had grown up and had families of their own. Here is an update.

William James, b 1877, married Emma Marchant, 13 Dec 1903, at St. Mary Hornsey, Islington, London. They had four children: William Henry, 1904; Winifred Gertrude, 1906; Gracie Phyllis, 1911; and Doris May, 1915. Winifred married Thomas William Stapley in 1931, but I have no further information on the others.

Margaret MacDonald, better known as Maggie, was born November 1, 1878. She had a son named Stanley MacDonald Coubrough, b 1896, and a daughter Alice Lillian, b 1898, fathers not named. October 1, 1899, she married Christopher Gibbs, by whom she had two more girls: Annie, 1899, and Helen, 1900.

Richard David, b 1880, was probably married in 1903, but I donít know his wifeís name, nor whether they had any children.

John Robert, b 1882, married Jessie Mothershead in 1915; no other information so far.

Harry Hewish, b 1885, but we donít know anything else about him.

Bessie Emma, b 1887, married Arthur George Lee, a clerk, on December 21, 1912. No other information yet.

Horace, b. November, d December 13, 1888.


One of the earliest family records I have is for Mathew Coubrough and Jonet Sheirer, whose first son, John, was born February 24, 1664, in Campsie parish. We know that Mathew C and Jonet Sheirer had at least five children: John, b May 1658; James, February 1660; Margaret, December 1661; William, February 1664; and James, b November 1666, all in Campsie parish. The old parish registers in Scotland rarely record dates of death or burial, so we donít know how many of them grew up to raise families of their own. It is probably safe to assume that the first James died before the second James was born, but after William, but there is otherwise no indication of what happened to them after they were baptised. (If the first James had died before William was born, William would probably have been called James instead.) Nor did we know what happened to their parents, at least until recently.

Fortunately, parish registers are not the only source available. About two years ago, the General Register Office for Scotland began digitising all of the old wills and testaments in their archives. The aim was to not only make the documents as widely available as possible, but to reduce wear and tear on the original documents. Some of these are 500 years old, and, as you can imagine, getting rather fragile. Anyway, a few months ago, I downloaded copies of several of these old documents and have begun transcribing them. The ones from the late 1700s and 1800s, in a fairly modern script, are quite easy to read and I finished three of the four in a few hours each. The other two, from 1669 and 1676, are something of a challenge.

The one dated 1669 is the testament dative of Jonet Sheirerís husband, Mathew Coubrough. In general, this type of document was drawn up after a person died without a will. It included a summary of the personís assets and debts, in order to determine the personís net worth and to decide which creditors got paid. Under Scots law, a living wife was entitled to one-third of the estate, any living children split another third between them, and the last third, known as "the deadís part," was his or hers to dispose of as they saw fit. If the wife was no longer living, the children were entitled to share one-half of the estate.

Mathewís document, being only a testament dative, doesnít tell us Matthewís last wishes, but it does give us a few more bits of information about him. We learn that he died in 1669, and that his wife was still living at the time; her survival is not explicitly stated, but since she was the one who made the inventory, we can safely say she was alive. It does give a fairly detailed summary of his net worth, including a "deidís part to be divided in 3 parts," but I havenít managed to figure it all out yet.

The text is all hand-written, of course, and 17th-Century writing was quite different from modern writing. Not only were the shapes of the letters different, but there were 28 letters in the Scots alphabet (two are no longer used), the text is a mixture of English, Scots and Latin, the dates are a mixed Arabic and Roman numerals, and there are herds of abbreviationsósome standard, some not. Add to this my less-than-perfect knowledge of 17th-Century legal phrases and the not very neat handwriting , and you have my whole catalogue of feeble excuses for not having finished it yet.

The 1676 paper is a testament dative for Jonet Coubrough, wife of John Thomson. I have figured out that John Thomson was the one who made the inventory, so he survived her, and Jonet probably died quite young. She and John had a son who was only about 13 or 14 months old when Jonet died in August 1676. This boy, James, was the only child of Jonet that I found record of, but I canít say for sure if he was her only child; regardless, she probably wasnít more than 45 and likely a lot younger. I havenít hacked through the whole thing yet, (same excuses as before, though the hand-writing is marginally better), but it does appear that there is also a fairly detailed list of her "goods and geir."

I intend to print the transcripts (some year) as I think they will be interesting, even if I havenít successfully proven our connection to either of these people. Watch this space for updates.



We have often discussed the sudden appearance of the name Barbara in the Coubrough tribe, without ever finding and answer. We have also noticed that while the name Mathew was not unknown in the tribe, Jean Muirís son Matt (b 1805) was the first Coubrough to own it in about a hundred years. No other branches used the name until nearly the end of the 20th century, when it was given to a young New Zealander whose mother "liked the name." Endless speculation in this direction has led us to a new theory: James and Jean may have "borrowed" the names from their friends.

After much searching of parish registers and old town documents, we have come to the conclusion that Jean Muirís husband had been lured away from a job at Campsie to one near Pollokshaws. In 1789, the village of Thornliebank didnít exist. A man named Crum had just bought a large piece of land on which he intended to build a calico factory. In those days, a factory owner was expected to provide housing for his workers, who would also need markets, schools, etc. In effect, building a factory entailed building a whole village. Being made mostly of wood and stone, the job would have required huge numbers of carpenters and stonemasons, as well as blacksmiths, labourers, etc. By 1789, our James was already a skilled carpenter, so if a huge new job was starting up, and paying good wages, James might have been tempted to pack up his family and move. Which seems to be exactly what they did.

The village of Campsie is about 20 miles from Thornliebank. In 1789, this would have been quite a ways to travel, especially with young children, and more so if there might not be a house at the other end. Chances are, James went first, with Jean and the children following sometime later. We know that the whole family had made the move not later than May 7, 1791, when their fourth son, William, was born in Pollokshaws.

In making such a big move, things would certainly be easier if you had friends to help share the load. Again from what we read in the old records, it seems likely that James and Jean were not only friends of James and Catherine (McLean or McEwan) Andrew, but that they had all come to Thornliebank at about the same time, for the same reason. James Andrew was apparently also a wright, and might have known our James from work, if not from their previous home village. (James and Catherine were the parents of the Catherine who later married Jean Muirís third son, John; see below.)

Many names in the Andrew family also appear in the Coubrough family. James and Catherine Andrew had a son named Mathew, who eventually had a daughter named Barbara. James Andrew also seems to have had a sister called Barbara. Later Coubroughs in Thornliebank had a habit of naming children after all sorts of friends and relatives after the obligatory grandparentsí names were used up. Possibly they all came up with this idea themselves, but it seems just as likely that they learned it from their own parents. If James and Jean Muir named their children after their friends, it would explain the sudden appearance of the name Barbara. And by the time Matt was born, James and Jean had used up all the usual family names. They already had James, Malcolm, John, Robert and William, so they might have had to look further afield for names. Once a name was in the collection, of course, it was there to stay, and still today Coubrough girls are being named Barbara.



John Coubrough was the third son of James Coubrough and Jean Muir. He was a power loom tenter, a trade he seems to have followed all his life. He married Catherine Andrew on April 9, 1808, in Eastwood parish, and had nine children that we know of. There may also have been a couple more that we havenít found yet, since there is a gap of ten years between the second and third known children.

We knew very little about John; we knew less about his wife. Knowing her marriage date and the birth date of her youngest child, we could estimate Catherineís own birth date at around 1785 Ė 1792, but that was all we knew of her: no parents, no place of birth, no brothers or sisters. Thanks to Barbara McCue, of Thornliebank, Scotland, a direct descendant of John and Catherine, that has all changed.

Catherine Andrew was born the same year (February 20, 1789) as her husband, though probably a month or so earlier. She was the sixth of seven childrenóand the only daughteróof James Andrew and Catherine McLean. (Catherine Coubroughís death certificate gives her motherís name as McEwan; Barbara McCue says the parish register of baptisms clearly reads McLean.) James and Catherine Andrewsí children were all born at Mearns, in Neilston parish: John 1778; Robert 1780; William 1782; Simon 1784; Mathew 1786; Catherine 1789; and James 1791. Mearns and Thornliebank are in different parishes, but only a couple miles apart, so it wouldnít have been a big journey. Catherine (Mrs. John) Coubrough herself died September 30, 1875, at home in Aurs Road, Barrhead, less than 10 miles from where she was born. We donít know anything else about the families of Catherine Andrewís brothers yet, but we have found more about her children.



Joseph Gibb was the son of Jean Coubrough and Joseph Gibb, Jean being the oldest daughter of John Coubrough and Catherine Andrew.

1871 census, Thornliebank, Eastwood, Sub_district 15, pg 11, family #55

Joseph Gibb Head Mar 40 born Glasgow

Jane do Wife 43 born Edinburgh

Matthew C. do Adopted Son Unm 19 Clerk born Barrhead

Jane C. do daur Unm 17 Cotton Weaver Eastwood

Barbara G. do daur 11 Eastwood Imbecile

Joseph do son 4 Eastwood

The boy here noted as "Matthew C. do" has been the subject of endless speculation. He is the man known to us as Mathew Gibb Coubrough, who later married Margaret Dowall. According to the parish register, he was born December 25, 1851, the son of Jean Allan and Matt Coubrough. We suspect that Jean Allan died at or soon after his birth, and he seems to have gone to live with the Gibbs when he was very young: he was with them as a "boarder" in the 1861 census, when he was 9 years old. We had at first thought that he had gone there to be closer to school, but we later found that not only was his father living in the same village, but the boyís 26-year old sister still lived at home, as did Matt and Jeanís other children: Ann, 21; twins Malcolm & William, 17; and Margaret, 12. Moreover, Matt and Jeanís son, Robert, was married and also living in Thornliebank. The mystery is why the baby was sent to live with his fatherís cousin when he had so many closer relatives living only a few streets away.

We still havenít solved this mystery, but we have discovered that he probably took the name Gibb for himself after he grew up. In the parish register entry for his birth, he is plain Mathew Coubrough, as he still is in the 1861 census. By 1871, as we see here, the Gibbs seem to have considered him their adopted son. When he married in 1874, he was just Mathew Coubrough, but when he reported Joseph Gibbís death, he signed himself "Matthew Gibb Coubrough, Cousin Germane." Apparently he considered himself Josephís cousin, rather than his son, though he did seem to be grateful to the Gibbs, since he and Margaret named their third son Joseph Gibb; however, they also named their first son Matthew, presumably for Mathew Gibbís own father. Matt and Margaret followed the correct naming order for their first two sons; oddly, though, they named their only daughter Jeanie Allan, after Mattís mother, rather than Sarah, after Margaretís mother. Perhaps Matt was closer to his birth family than the statistics would have us believe, though Joseph Gibb must have been very dear to him as well. According to Matthew Gibb & Margaretís granddaughter, Mary Johnston, Matthew was always known as Matthew Gibb, and most of his family never knew that he wasnít christened that.




On another track, but still with the Gibbs, I have said in the past that Joseph Gibb and Jane Martin had two daughters named Jane, about two years apart, with the first, presumably, having died in infancy. There also seemed to be two sons named Joseph, whose birth dates I couldnít quite reconcile with those of their sisters. Upon further study, it seems I have made a rather large error: Joseph Gibb and Jane Martin did indeed have two girls named Jane, and did indeed have two sons named Joseph, all born when I thought. The mistake was that there were actually two couples named Joseph Gibb and Jane Martin!

Previously reported Gibb family:

Joseph Gibb b: 1829 Ratho, Midlothian, Scotland

+Jane Martin b: 1828/9 m: July 20, 1850 Eastwood, Renfrew

..... Jane Coubrough Gibb b: February 10, 1854, Eastwood

..... Jane Martin Gibb b: January 24, 1856 Cadder, Lanark

..... Anne Gourlay Gibb b: January 1, 1857 Eastwood, Renfrew

..... Joseph Gibb b: May 5, 1857 Cadder, Lanark

..... Barbara G. Gibb b: June 9, 1860 Eastwood d: 1876 Eastwood

..... Joseph Gibb b: February 11, 1867 Eastwood, Renfrew

The real Gibb family:

The two children born in Cadder actually belong to another couple with the same names, who were married in 1855, in Glasgow. Jean Coubrough's son's family is:

Joseph Gibb b: 1829 Ratho

+Jane Martin b: 1828/9 m: July 20, 1850 Eastwood, Renfrew

..... Jane Coubrough Gibb b: February 10, 1854, Eastwood

..... Anne Gourlay Gibb b: January 1, 1857 Eastwood

..... Barbara G. Gibb b: June 9, 1860 Eastwood d: 1876 Eastwood

..... Joseph Gibb b: February 11, 1867 Eastwood, Renfrew

Little Anne may have died quite young: she was not with her family in the 1851 census, when she would have been about 4. The 1871 census said the girl Barbara was an "imbecile," and the 1881 census said the same thing about her brother Joseph. Whether they were born that way, or later suffered injury or illness is not known. It is possible that they both suffered from some defect, such as cleft palate, that hindered their speech and made them appear mentally defective. Whatever the case, poor Barbara was not yet 16 when she died of consumption in 1876, only a few days after her fatherís Aunt Barbara.



Several years ago, I came across a Barbara Coubrough who married a David Aitkenhead in 1849. In the 1851 British census, they were the parents of two children: William, born about 1849, and Catherine, born 1850, but I was unable to find any further record of them. I suspected that Barbaraís mother had probably been Catherine Andrew, but had no proof. Then I found the 1871 census.

Catherine Andrewís daughter Catherine was only about 16 or 17 in 1840, when she married Samuel McCready, in Thornliebank. Three decades later, Samuel and Catherine lived in Crossartherlie, in the Quoad Sacra Parish of Barrhead, Renfrew. Judging by the number of working people in the family, and the number of people crowded into a tiny place that had only one room with a window, I think that either the McCreadys were pretty hard up, or there was just nothing better available. But family was family, apparently, since Catherine and Samuel had taken in not only Catherine's mother, but a niece and a granddaughter as well. I don't know for sure who Catherine Harris was, but I think her mother was probably Samuel and Catherineís daughter Barbara. The Register of Births in Scotland has a Catherine Harrison McCready, born 1870, in Thornliebank.

Sub_district 9, Barrhead, Renfrew, Quoad Sacra Parish of Barrhead, pg 26, household # 133, Crossatherlie:

Samuel McCready Head Mar 49 Calico Printer, born Renfrewshire, Barrhead

Catherine McCready Wife Mar 49 born Ayrshire, Alloa

Samuel McCready Son Unmar 28 Painter Glassier born Renfrewshire, Barrhead

Barbra McCready Daur Unmar 18 Cotton Weaver born Renfrewshire, Barrhead

Andrew McCready Son Unmar 16 Painter Glassier born Renfrewshire, Barrhead

Walter McCready Son Unmar 13 Out of Employ born Renfrewshire, Barrhead

William McCready Son Un 11 Worker in Printfield born Renfrewshire, Barrhead

Matthew McCready Son Un 7 Scholar born Barrhead

Catherine Coudrough Mother_in_Law W 81 born Renfrewshire, Barrhead

Catherine Aitkenhead Niece Un 19 Cotton Weaver born Renfrewshire, Barrhead

Catherine Harris Granddaur 11 mo born Barrhead

If Catherine Aitkenhead was Samuel McCreadyís niece, it seems fairly likely that his wife and David Aitkenheadís wife must have been sisters, since Davidís wife was the only Coubrough known to have married an Aitkenhead. As for young Catherine Aitkenhead herself, she had a daughter named Barbara, born out of wedlock, in 1874. The fact that her baby girl was called Barbara pretty much clinches the identity of the babyís grandmother. In 1881, Catherine married a James Cochrane, who adopted the 6-year-old Barbara. (He may actually have been her father, but this is not yet certain.) I donít know if James and Catherine Cochrane had any other children, but they certainly didnít have much time together: she was a widow when she, died of consumption, in November 1891, when her daughter would have been nearly 17. (I donít know what became of the daughter after that.)

Poor Catherine sure seems to have had a hard time in her short life: lost one or both of her parents at a young age, not educated enough to sign her name, bore an illegitimate child, widowed young, died not much older. (She couldn't have been more than 40.) Kind of makes you feel sorry for her.

I still donít know what happened to David and Barbara Aitkenhead. I assume that they died young, based on my not having found them in any records after the 1851 census, and the fact that their daughter lived with Barbaraís sister. Nor have I found anything about their son William. If both parents died when the children were very young, they might not have both been raised by the same relatives. Did William go to a relative of his father at the same time his sister went to a relative of their mother? Was he a victim of whatever took his parents? Weíll just have to keep looking, but if you know, donít be shy!



I learned years ago that Matthew Coubrough had married Margaret Duncan, in Barrhead, in 1851. They had four children before they disappeared from the Scots records. It wasnít until two or three years later that I found them againóin Australia! They had four more children there, all but one of whom seem to have grown up, though I donít know if they all raised families of their own. I still donít know why Matt and Margaret went to Australia. It was a fashionable emigration destination at the time, though they may have gone to the goldfields. In any case, they ended up in the state of Victoria, with Margaret dying in 1880, and her husband 15 years later.

A while back, I also found them in the 1851 Scots census: Matt living with his parents, Catherine and John, and Margaret visiting at the home of a William Coubrough, who turned out to be Mattís brother. The census didnít give the maiden names of women, and the ages in this particular count were completely out to lunch. Though I had names for another generation back, I still couldnít connect them to anyone; they were relegated to the "alien list" for a few years, but then, about three months ago, they decided it was time for me to find them.

In trying to discover whether Catherine Andrew really had a daughter named Barbara, I ordered the 1841 census for Barrhead; it was a goldmine. Not only did Catherine and John have a daughter named Barbara (a 13-year-old power-loom weaver), they also had a 15-year-old son named Matthew, and three other boys: James, William, and Andrew.

1841 British Census, Village of Barrhead, Dist 13 Pg. 30, Grahamston [In 1841, Grahamston and Cross Arthurlie were villages very close to Barrhead. Today, they are both part of the larger town.]

John Cowbrough 45 Cotton PL Tenter Yes [born in County]

Catherine Do 45 Yes

James Do 25 Yes

Matthew Do 15 Cotton PL Twister Yes

William Do 14 Do Yes

Andrew Do 10 Tearer to Cal Prin Yes

Malcolm Do 8 Yes

Barbara Do 25 Cotton P. L. W. Yes

Barbara Do 13 Do Yes

James, aged 25 years, had no trade listed, but I canít say if this was because he was unemployed, disabled, or whether the census taker just didnít write it down. James was born in October 1808, so he should have been about 32 in the early summer of 1841. In this particular census, adultsí ages were to be rounded down to the nearest 5 years. In addition, some enumerators took serious liberties with peopleís ages, so itís hard to say how accurate the census was. (This was Britainís first national census since the Domesday book of about 1067, so perhaps some oddities can be forgiven. The rounding of ages, though, is in the "what were they thinking" category, and makes one wonder why they bothered with any age.) In any case, it seems likely that James didnít die in childhood, as I thought. He is still rather elusive: he was not at home in the 1851 census, and I have found no indication that he lived past the census date, June 7, 1841.

Matthew and William, both "cotton power loom twisters, were listed as being 15 and 14, respectively. All other sources indicate that these boys should have been 20 and 19, so I suspect that the enumerator rounded these down to get the numbers he recorded. Matthew is almost certainly the one who married Margaret Duncan in 1851, while I am fairly sure that William is the one who had married Jane Brown in 1850, and in whose home Margaret Duncan was visiting at the time of the 1851 census.

The boy named Andrew is another mystery. The 1841 census didnít say how people in a household were related to each other, and I have yet to find any record of any Andrew Coubrough born at the right time, to any parents. He was not living with John and Catherine in 1851, and I have no other information about him. They certainly could have had a son with that name. No other branch of Jean Muirís descendants uses the name Andrew, but there are herds of them among John and Catherineís descendants. If he did exist, he was probably between Barbara (abt 1829) and Malcolm (abt 1834).

Of the two Barbaras, the younger was almost certainly the daughter who married David Aitkenhead. The elder Barbara was Johnís sister, who would really have been about 33. She never married, and worked in the calico factory most of her life. In 1876, at the time of her death, from "old age and debility," she was living with her niece, Jane Campbell, daughter of Barbaraís brother Mathew.


William Coubrough & Jane Brown

William was almost certainly the son of John Coubrough and Catherine Andrew. It was in his house that Margaret Duncan was a visitor in 1851, just before she married Matt Coubrough.

1871 census, Barony Burgh of Pollokshaws, Renfrew, sub-district 9, page 9:

William Coubrough Head Mar 45 Power loom tenter born Clackmannanshire Alloa

Jane Coubrough Wife Mar 51 born Renfrewshire Barrhead

Marion Coubrough Daur Unm 20 Power loom weaver born Renfrewshire Barrhead

John Coubrough Son Unm 19 Cotton Twister born Renfrewshire Barrhead

Catherine Coubrough Daur Unm 16 Power loom weaver born Renfrewshire Barrhead

Alexander Coubrough Son 14 Engineer App.[rentice] born Renfrewshire Barrhead

Margaret Coubrough Daur 12 Scholar born Renfrewshire Barrhead

Elizabeth Coubrough Daur 9 born Renfrewshire Pollokshaws

Alexander Lyon Boarder 20 Quarryman born Renfrewshire Pollokshaws

James Donaldson Boarder 5 Scholar born Lanarkshire Glasgow

William and Janeís daughter Marion married Archibald Blair, in 1880, and had at least five kids of her own. Some of the children ended up in the United States, but thatís all I know of her family.

Son John married Sophia Hair, in Glasgow, in 1881. They had two children: John in 1881, and Jane, 1882/3. Sophiaís husband was not yet 35 when he died sometime between 1883 and 1887. Their son, John, was about 2 when he also died, in about 1883. Daughter Jane managed to grow up, and in 1905, married an Angus Campbell. Sophia remarried in 1887 and had five more kids by her second husband, William Thomson.

Daughter Margaret married Robert John Mooney in 1898. They had no children of their own, but adopted a boy named Robert John Simpson, in about 1900.

Elizabeth had a twin sister, Jane, who is not listed here, but I donít know whether she had passed on, or was just away somewhere. Elizabeth herself died in 1885, probably of TB. I donít know what became of either Alexander or Catherine.


Robert Coubrough & Mary Sandilands

We all know that John and Catherine Andrewís son Robert was married twice. His first wife, Margaret Clark Macdonald, by whom he had four children, is still a mystery. She may have been the daughter of Robert Macdonald and Margaret Steel, but this is not certain. His second wife, known variously as Mary Sandles, Sandilands, and ever Sanderson, is known to have been a young widow with one daughter when she married Robert. We also found that she was the daughter of John Sandilands and Mary Cowan. Having outlived two husbands, the 37-year-old Mary didnít bother with a third one when Robert died in 1857. What we didnít know was that Mary had actually had two children when she married Robert.

Poor Maryís life seems to have been filled with loss. Her first husband, William Gunn, whom she had married in 1847, seems to have died about 1850. In the 1851 census, the widowed Mary Gunn, age 25, a bleachfield worker in a cotton mill, was living with her 58-year-old mother, Mary Cowan Sandles. Also in the house were Mary Sandlesí daughter, Margaret Sandles, age 38, and four granddaughters: Agnes Sandles, 16; Margaret Sandles, 9; Mary Gunn, 4; and Isabella Gunn, 2. The two older granddaughters probably belonged to Margaret, though we canít say for sure.

A little over a year later, Mary (Sandles) Gunn married Robert Coubrough, a widower of 32, who had four young children. Mary and Robert had three more children, only one of whom grew up. Her baby Jean was born in January 1857, and her husband died four months later. Baby Jean died the following year, and in 1860, her eldest daughter, Mary, aged 13, succumbed to consumption. Maryís eldest son, Archibald, was eight years old in March of 1861, but he is to be found in no records after that, and probably also died very young.

Despite the fact that all of Robert Coubroughís sons from his first marriage moved to England before 1870, Mary Sandilands seems to have been quite close to her step-children. Robertís daughter, Margaret Steele Coubrough, was married from Maryís home, as was Margaretís daughter, Mary Waterson. By way of honouring her step-mother, Margaret Steel actually called her first daughter Mary, rather than Margaret after the biological mother she could barely remember. By 1871, only Maryís second daughter, Isabella Gunn, and her second son, David Coburough, were still at home. In about 1875, Isabella married James Robertson, but they had no children and Isabella, too, died of consumption before she was 30. David, of course, married Mary McKay Smith, whereby hangs another tale. Mary Sandilands stayed living in her home at 162 Dairy Lane until her own passing in April 1903, at the age of 71.


David Coubrough & Mary Smith

In April 1881, David Coubrough, son of Robert Coubrough and Mary Sandilands, married a woman called Mary S. McKay Smith, daughter of James Smith and Isabella Gunn. As it turns out, though, this is only part of the story.

In the 1881 census, taken just weeks before her wedding, Maryís surname was Hector. On her marriage certificate, she is Mary Smith, daughter of James Smith, and on the birth registration of her fifth son, she is Mary Hector again. Further, the 1891 census lists a Hugh McKay as the father-in-law, of the head of the house, leading one to believe that he was Maryís father. There was also a Jane McKay, sister-in-law, who one would take to be Hughís daughter and Maryís sister. Being confused by all these names seemingly applied to the same person, I went looking for the reason. It took some digging, but we found the storyóproving once again that truth really is stranger than fiction.

In 1854, James Hector married Isabella Gunn, and in 1861, they had a baby girl they called Mary. James was listed variously as either a sailor or shipís carpenter, meaning that he probably spent a fair bit of time away from home. (The shipís carpenter actually sailed with the ship, and was responsible for its maintenance while they were at sea.) About 1878, James inconsiderately died at sea, leaving his wife and young daughter with no means of feeding themselves. Luckily, they were was able to move in with Isabellaís cousin, Hugh McKay, who lived near the Clyde shipyards in Glasgow. (Isabella Gunnís mother, Isabella Montgomery, may have been a sister of Hughís mother, but we donít know this for sure.) In the 1881 census, Isabella is still living with Hugh, his daughter Jane, and a mystery baby named Helen Davidson. Isabella was said to be a widow, and the cousin of the head of the house.

According to the same census, Mary Hector was a boarder in a Thornliebank household where David Coubrough was the head: They were the only two occupants. They were married in Thornliebank a month after the census, but not long after that, they found themselves in Glasgow, just a couple of doors down from Maryís mother. For some reason, Robert seems to have been working in a shipyard at the time; we havenít figured out a reason for that, yet. Mary and Davidís second son, Hugh, was actually born in Glasgow, not Eastwood, as we had thought. The boy is obviously named for a man to whom Mary felt a strong attachment, if she did not actually consider him to be her father, which she may have done. In the 1891 census, he was living in Mary and Davidís home in Thornliebank, and was said to be Davidís father-in-law. It is also interesting to note that of Mary and Davidís nine sons, not one is named James, after Maryís legal father. This makes me think that Hugh played a much bigger role in Maryís life than James Hector did.

As for James Hector, his death certificate gives his name as "Hector or Smith." This form usually indicates that his parents were not been legally married to each other. Possibly one of them was an alias that he took for himself, but it seems unlikely. While his daughter used both names, she seems mainly to have been known as "Hector," both before and after her marriage. The only place "Smith" appears is on her marriage certificate.

Jane McKay and her father Hugh are another mystery. Jane may have been Hughís natural daughter, but it is almost certain that Maryís mother was not Janeís mother. Janeís mother, one Elizabeth Galbraith Ealing, widow of James Tough, did not survive Janeís birth. The birth certificate goes to great pains to indicate that James Tough died two years before Jane was born, and to note that she was illegitimate. The birth registration was signed by Sarah Ward, nurse, and Hugh McKay, father, so unless Hugh was a real philanthropist trying to save a baby from an orphanage, he probably was her father.

Jane later married a Peter McBride, and their marriage record says Jane was the daughter of Hugh and Isabella McKay. Jane would have been only about 5 or 6 when Isabella went to live with them; never having known her own mother, she probably thought of Isabella in that capacity. Peter gave the information in Hugh McKayís death certificate, but some of it is suspect. Peter said that Hugh had been the "widower of Isabella Gunn or Hector or Smith."Hugh himself had given the information for Isabella, stating that they were cousins, and that she was the widow of James Hector. One assumes that Hugh would have known whether he was married, so I think it safe to say that he really was only her cousin, and that Peter was confused.


We have known for years that Matt and Jean Allan had a daughter named Ann. Beyond the fact that, at age 10, she had been a tearer for a calico printer, possibly replacing her older brother James when he joined the army, we knew nothing about her. A couple of months ago, having mistakenly ordered the film of the 1871 Barrhead census, I figured I might as well look at it. In the burgh of Pollokshaws, I found the family of one Mathew Coubrough, colour mixer, including his 26-year-old daughter, Ann.

1871 census, Barony Burgh of Pollokshaws, Renfrew, sub-district 10, page 14, #37 Heriot Street:

Matthew Coubrough Head Widr 66 Colour Mixer born Renfrewshire Thornliebank

Malcolm Coubrough Son Unm 25 Sketch Maker (Unemployed) born Renfrewshire Barrhead

Ann Coubrough Daur Unm 26 Cotton Power loom weaver born Lanarkshire Rutherglen

Elizabeth Coubrough Daur Unm 23 Cotton Power loom weaver born Renfrewshire Barrhead

Margaret Coubrough Daur Unm 21 Cotton Power loom weaver born Renfrewshire Barrhead

Barbara Coubrough Sister Unm 63 Housekeeper born Thornliebank

Barbara seems to have moved about, from one relative to another, as was often the case for unmarried women. Whether they were working or not, they were frequently dependant on the charity of other family members, especially if they lived in a town where housing was hard to come by. In places where everyone lived in a "company house," single women were sometimes not deemed worthy of wasting a whole home on, so they had to find a relative or friend who would take them in. In 1841, Barbara had been living with her brother John. When he died, his widow went to live with her own daughter Catherine McCready, and Barbara became the housekeeper for her brother Matthew. When Matt died in 1873, she went to live with Mattís daughter Jane Campbell.

This census also offers a couple new bits of information about Matt and Jeanís family. Their son Malcolmís 1873 death certificate records his trade as what looks to be "watchmaker." I had thought that perhaps he had been apprenticed to a watchmaker, as a way out of the factoryópossibly because Malcolm was in delicate health. The 1871 census, on the other hand, clearly says "sketch maker," leading me to believe that he worked in the calico factory after all. The sketch maker was the one who drew the patterns for the engravers to engrave, so perhaps our Malcolm had some artistic talent. The census also notes that he was unemployed, even though everyone else in the family was at work, presumably in the same factory. Malcolm died two years later, from TB, so perhaps in 1871, he was already too sick to work.

The other big surprise here is the daughter named Elizabeth. According to this census, she was 23 years old, which would have put her birth date at about 1847 or 1848. If she was alive for the 1871 census, one assumes she should have been listed with her family in 1851, when she would have been about 3 or 4; the 1851 census had no sign of her. I havenít seen the 1861 census yet, but it might be worth a look.

As for Anne, I still didn't know whether she ever married, but at least she had survived childhood. I later found Anne and Margaret living together in the 1881 census. When Anne died in 1889, Margaret went to live with her oldest sister, Jane Campbell. In 1901, the widowed Jane was still living at Pollokshaws, with her sister, Margaret and Janeís 30-year-old second daughter, Janet. Margaret and Janet were still employed as cotton weavers, but Jane had probably retired when she married. Neither Anne nor Margaret ever married. I donít yet know what became of any of the three women after 1901.

Still on the topic of Matt and Jean, you will recall that they had several different addresses over the years. I thought that either Matt and Jean were rather footloose, or else they had to move a lot for work. Turns out I was just confused.

According to Barbara McCue, who has lived in Thornliebank all her life, their concept of housing is completely different from ours. She says that, in Matt and Jeanís day (indeed, even in the days of Barbaraís parents), people moved about to adjust the size of their accommodations as their families grew or shrank. Most houses were (and are) owned either by the factory owner or by the town. If you needed a bigger or smaller house, you put your name on a waiting list for a home of the appropriate size. If you wanted to marry, you put your name on the list, and when you had a house, you set the wedding date.

Only very rich people who could afford to build mansions owned their own houses. These folks often had a house in the city (Glasgow), as well, which was known as the "town house." The large houses in Thornliebank were known as "country estates," and were cheek-by-jowl with the row houses. Some of these huge houses still exist: Barbara said that one a couple of blocks from her apartment recently sold for 1.5 million pounds!

With regard to the middle and working classes, the term "house" was used rather loosely. For most folks, it referred to what we would call a very small apartment. The houses were generally terraced homes (we call them row houses), and one entrance would serve four homes. That is, when you entered at the street door, there would be an apartment to the left, and one to the right, at ground level; up the stairs in front of you would be two more apartments, one left and one right. These homes generally consisted of a large combination kitchen-living room, and one or two small bedrooms.

The other thing that confused me about all of Matt and Jeanís moving around was that the villages all have different names, all of which are still in use. With my typical prairie concept of towns spaced a dayís wagon drive apart, I thought of all those villages being separated by at least a few miles. Wrong again! Even in Matt and Jeanís day, the villages of Thornliebank, Pollokshaws, Barrhead, Grahamston, and Cross Arthurlie were separated by no more than a mileómost of them by only a few hundred yards. Even Mearns and Busby, on the other side of Thornliebank, are within walking distance of a young child.

Putting together the idea that one moved about as oneís family changed and the idea that nearly all of the villages where Matt and Jean lived were practically connected to each other, it doesnít seem quite as weird that they had so many different addresses. Indeed, Matt and his children probably worked in the same factory, regardless of where they lived: it probably meant only a few yardsí extra walk.

James Coubrough, eldest son of Jean Allan, was in the British army when he met and married Annie Macdonald, in Halifax, Nova Scotia (September 1851). He was still in uniform when his son was baptised, in St. John, New Brunswick: the babyís baptism record says he was the son of James Coubrough, "No. 8 Coy, 5th Btn. R.A." Jim and Annie were back in Halifax for at least a year before they moved to Canada West in 1857 or 1858, and with nothing else to go on, I assumed that Jim had been transferred back there. The news is that Jim may have still been in uniformójust not the one we thought.

Jim and Annie were definitely back in Halifax not later than February 8, 1856, when their eldest daughter, Flora Jane, was born. Whether Jim was in the army at the time is still not clear. It is a matter of record, however, that he was out of the service for at least a year before they moved west: from early 1856 to sometime in 1857, he was an under-keeper (guard) at the Northwest Arm Provincial Penitentiary, in Halifax. Then, as now, apparently, ex-military people were in demand as prison guards. We still donít know the reason he quit the prison job. Perhaps it didnít pay well enough to live on it, or he was laid off, or he just grew tired of it. At any rate, by March 1858, they were in Dawn Township, in Canada West (Ontario), and we all know the story from there.


One of the main historical branches of the tribe is that headed by John of Ellrig. He married Helen Stevenson sometime before February 1683, when their first son, John, was born. They had at least four children, including another John, but we knew little else about John and Helen. We still donít know much about them, but I have found a copy of a testament dative, made for Johnís estate. A testament dative is an inventory of a deceased personís assets and debts. It was always made after the personís death, especially if someone owed money to the estate. It doesnít list any bequests, so we donít know how "John Cowbrough drover in Falkirk"wanted his estate divided. In the fashion of the day, he would only have been able to bequeath his moveable property, such as clothes and household furnishings, though his widow would be entitled to most of it. Any land he owned or leased would automatically go to his eldest son.

What we can learn, though, is that John died in September 1719, and that his son William was the executor of his fatherís estate, though we donít know if he was so appointed by his father or if, being the oldest surviving son, the job was his by default. Helen seems to have survived her husband, but as a widow with an adult son, she had no legal status of her own. The only item mentioned in the testament was that James Din in Crinriel[?] owed the estate the sum of "500 merks Scots money" [Pronounced "mark," this silver Scots coin was worth 13 shillings 4 pence (two-thirds of a Scots pound). At the time of Johnís testament, one English pound (sterling) was worth about 12 Scots pounds. In todayís money, this would be roughly $6,000.] James Din also owed the estate 50 pounds interest and penalties on the amount. James Din and Thomas Adam had jointly borrowed 1000 merks in 1712, and by March 1718, the debt had accrued 100 poundsí worth of interest and late payment fees. Thomas Adam had paid all of the 500 merks and the 50 pounds that was his share, but by the time John Cowbrough died, a year and a half later, James Din still hadnít paid any of his part. This testament is simply the legal record to show that the estate had money coming.

A "drover" was a sort of wholesale cattle buyer. The drover would buy local cattle at a fixed price, and undertake to get them to market. If they died or were stolen, or he was forced to sell them for less than he paid, he was out of luck. If he sold them at a higher price, the profit was all his own. The benefit to the drover is obvious, but it was also an advantage to the local cattleman not to have to drive his own 3 or 4 cows all the way to a market town. Our John obviously bought low and sold high fairly often, if he could afford to not only lend out the equivalent of several yearsí of workmanís wages, but also to wait six years to get it back.

Some enterprising and powerful drovers, especially in the north, ensured themselves a profit by charging the local cattlemen a protection fee, called "mail," in return for protecting the clientís cattle from thieves. [This "pay up or else" usage is the origin of the term blackmail.] Anyone who refused to pay might find his cattle stolen and sold by the man he didnít pay off.


When King George V died, all Britain was in mourning. All over the country, collections were taken up to erect monuments in his honour. The London Times published lists of the names of people who made donations to these memorial funds. One of those whose name was in the paper was A. C. Coubrough, who gave £1. A. C., you will remember, was Anthony Cathcart, son of Anthony Sykes and grandson of Anthony Park Coubrough, owners of the Strathblane Calico factory.

A. C. apparently went by the name of Cathcart, or Cath, and was an electrical engineer by trade. He was the 1923-4 president of the Society of Engineers in India, and frequently appeared in the society pages of the London Times. He was about 55 when he married a young widow with the odd name of Ariel Pschye Weatherly, daughter of "Dr. and Mrs. Kennedy," on December 12, 1932, in Terling, Essex, England.

He seems to have had a few years left in him after his marriage. He lived until about 1962, or 1963, leaving an estate worth more than £50,000 (equivalent to more than £640,000 today).

Others of Anthony Parkís family didnít do badly for themselves, either. His oldest son, John, a Captain in the Lanarkshire Artillery Volunteers, was of sufficiently exalted status to be "presented at court." He was presented to the Prince of Wales, at the Princeís Leveť on the afternoon of 3 June 1878.

Cathcartís cousin, Charles Coubrough, elder son of Ellis Wood Coubrough and Alice Merriam, married Doris Lacy in 1920, and they had three children: Charles Ronald, Ian Frank, and Joan Doris. After stints in the army during the Second World War, Ronnie became a lawyer and Ian went to work for Union Carbide, eventually becoming a vice president there. All three children eventually married; Ronnie had two children, Ian five (from two wives), and Joan three. All of them did well for themselves, but they were born to a life of privilege: According to the London Times (September 4, 1967), their father left an estate of at least £64,000.


The Winnipeg Times, in the "old days," often published the names of people staying at the local hotels, especially if they were important or well-known. Page 4 of the Wednesday, October 17, 1883, edition had this item under the heading Personals:

Among those at the Douglas House are: HJ Doger, Norwich, Ont; Chas A Burns, Minneapolis; O L Nowlaus, Grand Rapids; A S Coubrough and W E Coubrourgh, Mrs. Joseph Mclure and Miss Matheson, Stonewall; R Cluttisham, Phene Elliot, Mr Bruce and wife, P la P; J W Sifton, A N Molesworth, Brandon; John  Ferrier and wife, Selkirk; John Giles, P la P; John H Bell, Emerson; J B C Thompson, Montreal; R D Ronson, Carberry; Miss Maggie Jackson, P la P.

Other hotels whose guest lists were printed included the Queenís, the Grand Union, and the Brunswick. This last was still in business at least as late as 1916: Several men whose attestation papers I have seen gave this hotel as their current address when they joined the Army during the First World War.

The A S Coubrough mentioned is, of course, Andrew Smith, while "WE Coubrourgh" was his brother, William Ellrig. Both men were sons of Henry Coubrough and Ellen Smith. Who Mrs. Joseph Mcclure and Miss Mathson were is a mystery to me. They may have been friends or relatives travelling with Andrew and William, or they may have just been residents of Stonewall who happened to be travelling at the same time as the Coubroughs.


In other news about the family of John Coubrough, father of Anthony Park Coubrough, it seems that he actually had three children by his first wife, rather than two, as previously reported. John, born 1717, was the eldest son of John Coubrough and Jonet Buchanan. He was not very lucky in his choice of wives, the first one, Agnes Edmonston, died about 5 years after her marriage, and Johnís second wife, Agnes Lapslie, survived her marriage by only 7 or 8 years. We know he had no children by Ms Lapslie, and we thought he had 2 children by Ms. Edmonstone. It seems, however that we were mistaken, and he actually had three children by the first Agnes. A daughter named Jonet was christened November 6, 1743, which was about a year after their marriage, and about a year and a half before their daughter Jean, who we previously thought to be their first child. No mother is listed for the child, but Agnesís husband was the only John Coubrough in the Strathblane area having children at that time. Witnesses were Robert and Malcolm Coubrough. John Coubrough and Jonet Buchanan had no known sons by those names, so I donít yet know which Robert and Malcolm these were.


Some Coubroughs seem to have had friends who were not quite model citizens. Poor John Coubrough, of Carlton, Victoria, started out for a peaceful drink and ended up in a barroom brawl, though he appears to have been a bystander. In 1880, Carlton was a small town near Melbourne, but is today a suburb of that city. If John was the son of Matt Coubrough and Margaret Duncan, as I think he was, he would have been about 25 years old. ["L49" is meant to be £49. "2s" is 2 shillings, equivalent to 24d (24 pence). The beer would have been about 5 cents Canadian a glass, which Mr. Smith obviously thought was rather steep.] This item is from Melbourneís Port Phillip Herald, dated Thursday, October 21, 1880:

County Court.

(Before His Honor Judge Cope and a jury of Four.)

Coubrough v Kersey.

An action by John Coubrough, a wheel-wright, living in Bouverie street, Carlton, to recover L49 damages from Charles Kersey, an hotelkeeper in AíBeckett street, Melbourne, for assault.

Mr Quinian, instructed by Messers MíKean and Leonard, appeared for the plaintiff, and Mr Kellcher, instructed by Mr Daley, for the defendant.

The case for the Plaintiff was that on the evening the 22nd August last he went to the defendantís house with two other men, named respectively Hogan and Smith. Smith called for glasses of ale for the three, which were supplied, and Smith then paid 2s and received 6d change. He complained that he had not got enough of change, and Hogan said "it was a shame to Impose on a poor man by charging him 6d a glass for ale." Smith declared that "if he did not get his right change there would be a óó row."

The defendant thereupon produced a stick, with which he struck the plaintiff in the eye. He was summoned to the police court for the assault and fined.

The defence was that the parties created a disturbance in the house; that Smith threatened to smash everything in it; and that everything the defendant did was in defence of himself and his property.

The jury found a verdict for the plaintiff with L5 damages.


During the Second World War, the Toronto Star published listed of wounded, missing, and dead soldiers. On Friday, February 2, 1945, the "748th Army List Reports 46 Dead and 76 Wounded." Among those said to be slightly injured was one Malcolm Coubrough McCabe, gunner, of Dubuc, Saskatchewan. Malcolm, aged about 25, was the son of Robert McCabe and Margaret McEwan Coubrough, whose parents were Malcolm Coubrough and Isabella Hosie.



Question corner:

Here are some of the things I am still working on. If you know the answer, please donít keep it to yourself.

1. We know that Jean Allan died sometime between 1851 and 1865, probably in either Barrhead or Thornliebank. She could not have been more than 55 years old, and possibly as young as 41. But exactly when, and of what cause?

2. When I first found the family of James Cowburgh and Jean Muir, I wondered at the huge gap between Robert and Matt. The first five children are all only about 2 years apart: James, Malcolm John, William and Robert in 1785, 1787, 1789, 1791, and 1795. Then there is a ten-year space before the last three appearóall close together again: Matt, 1805; Barbara, 1808; and William, 1810. What was the reason for this big space? Eight years and much study later, I am no closer to an answer, but Iím still looking. Any ideas?

3. We know that John Coubrough and Jonet Buchanan were married in about 1703 or 1704, probably in Campsie, Stirling, and we know that they had at least 11 children, between whom there are several intriguing spaces.

We also have some "strays," who look like they should belong to John and Jonetís family, but of whose connections we have no proof. One of these is the Malcolm Coubrough who was married to Marion Reid in 1745. His children have the right names in the right places to be Jonet Buchananís son, but is he? I recently received some information from Mr. Ian Brown, in Glasgow, that shows that he may belong to John and Jonetís family. Moreover, this new information says that the Malcolm Coubrough who married Jean Buchanan (1796) was probably the son of Marrion Reid, just as we thought. If confirmed, this will connect two of our "big branches": the "calico factory" people and the Malcolm Coubrough and Jean Buchanan lines.


Besides the finds above, I have connected quite a few of the Mystery People on the web site to their branches of the family. The site has been updated with links to tell you who they are and where I think they belong. I have not by any means found all or even most of them, so don't be shy about telling me if you find someone you know.


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