After visiting the grave of my great-great- grandparents William Brodie and Anne Gunn at the Elgin Cathedral recently with my son and granddaughter, I wanted to see how all of the Brodie cousins I have met fit into the picture.
The descendants of William Brodie and Anne Gunn’s seven children have dispersed far and wide and I wanted to know more about their paths – most away from the north of Scotland. Chris and I have been able to connect with many of our third cousins. Interestingly, while we have met and gotten to know them, most of them do not know each other.
I think our thirst to connect has to do with the fact that our only Brodie relative in the United States is our cousin Millie, daughter of our Dad’s brother. Our Dad never mentioned John Brodie, the grandfather he never knew. While he knew aunts and cousins who lived in Florida, we don’t know whether he even knew about his uncle, John Arthur Brodie who remained in Canada – or knew about relatives still in Scotland. However, his father, William Jonas Brodie, must have had pride in his Scottish heritage because our Dad conveyed that pride. He proudly wore his Brodie tartan tie and sought information about the Brodies and other Scottish clans.
The grave provided some clues. According to the folks who responded to my query on the Elgin – Past and Present Facebook Page, it was, and in some instances still is, the custom for several members of the same family to be buried in the same grave, or ‘lair’ as it is sometimes referred to. This is so that they can be laid to rest together. The first person occupying the grave where William and Anne were buried was James Brodie, William’s great-grandfather. It is interesting that the inscription on the gravestone (no longer readable, but was previously transcribed and recorded in the Family History Library) mentions that he was a Merchant in Elgin.
‘here lies James Brodie, merchant, who died in the 16__(illegible). Sacred to the memory of William Brodie, gardener who died 1 May 1897, aged 87, and his wife, Ann Gunn who died 11 November 1862, aged 66, and their daughter Margaret, widow of John Wilson who died 27 September 1915, age 85.”
The inscription about James Brodie is on the large, long portion of the gravestone and the inscription about William Brodie, Anne Gunn and Margaret Brodie Wilson appears to have been added later, and is on the separate top portion.
The oldest child of William and Anne is Margaret, mentioned above on the grave with her parents. She went to Edinburgh and obtained work doing household help – and married the butler, John Wilson. They never had any children that we have been able to discover. When her husband died a short time before her, she moved back to Elgin and undoubtedly lived with a family member. She died in 1915 at age 85!
The next child was George. He undoubtedly apprenticed with his father to learn to be a gardener. Then he left Scotland and made his way south. Over the next twenty years he lived in Norwich, Jarrow (County Durham), Slough (Buckingham), Colchester (Essex), finally settling in the Lewisham and Putney areas of London. He and his wife Charlotte Sartin had nine children, but we have not made connections with any of them.
The next child was Ann. She also went to Edinburgh to work as a house maid. We don’t have any additional information about her.
The next child Mary also went to Edinburgh and worked as a laundress. The 1851 census shows both Ann and Mary living in the same boarding house. Mary married Alexander Page, a machinist, and they lived in the Dundee/Fife areas where they had 5 children.
The fifth child was William, born 1838. He must have been a mischievous child. When Chris and I were doing research at the Elgin Family History Centre, we came across a newspaper clipping from February 5, 1849 when William would have been 11 that stated “William Brodie, son on William Brodie, Gardener in Elgin and residing in Gryms Close has been guilty of ‘Hanging upon coaches or other vehicles passing along the streets, greatly to the risk of injury to himself and others.”
He learned the trade of shoemaker and married Margaret Rennie from Lhanbryde, where they settled and eventually rented a croft (term for small house with rights of pasturage in Scotland) in Moss of Barmuckity.
We have met and maintained a relationship with the descendants of three of their eight children: Ann, Mary and Robert.
Ann married Robert Cameron. After WWII, her grandson, William Murray Cameron stayed in London and became a detective with Scotland Yard. He was the father of Hilary Jane Cameron – or Kam, as she is called, our third cousin. Kam studied nursing in London and then went to the Netherlands to do nursing. She married Peter and they have two children and live near Rotterdam. After many years of email correspondence, Chris and I met Kam and her family in the Netherlands in 2015.
Kam visits her 93 year old mother in the Exeter area frequently, and I was able to get together with them when I was in the UK in the summer of 2019.
Mary moved to London and married Arthur Bennett. They had five children. When Chris and I were in London in 2008, we met two of their living descendants. The granddaughter of their oldest daughter Margaret Bennett is Janet Coxon Davie. We got together with her and one of the daughters of Mary’s youngest son Francis John Bennett, Beryl Bennett Short.
After our visit, Beryl put us in touch with her sister, Bette Floyd, who moved to Australia after she married. We are in contact on Facebook.
Robert lived with his parents until he was 24 and his father, William Brodie died (1901). Robert continued living in the croft in Moss of Barmuckity with his mother. He married Elizabeth McKidd three years later. Robert and Elizabeth had two children.
Their son George, born in 1906 married Ella Marie Walk Coutts when he was 22.
They had three children – Victor, Daphne and Ella Marie. Victor moved to Australia where he lived for the rest of his life. Chris and I met Daphne and Marie in 2001,
and visited with Marie and her daughter Susan McAllister in 2008 when we again visited Elgin.
By then Daphne had moved to Shropshire to be near her daughter. Marie passed away in 2012. When my son BJ and granddaughter Lilli visited Elgin in 2019, we were able to spend time with Susan and her sister Judi Brodie Smillie.
Later on the same trip, I had the opportunity to visit with Daphne and her daughter Morag in Shropshire.
Robert’s daughter Margaret married William McDonald. Their oldest son was also William, but went by Ronald, his middle name. He married Elsie Brander. When Chris and I were in Elgin in 2008, we had the opportunity to have lunch with Elsie and her cousin Colin I had met through genealogy research. During lunch Elsie shared information about growing up in Elgin and eluded to tensions between branches of the Brodie family, saying that at family gatherings there were certain family members they could never mention.
The sixth child of William Brodie and Ann Gunn was Helen. There is no record of her other than her birth.
The youngest child was John, my gr-grandfather. He apprenticed as a watchmaker and eventually owned his own shop in Forres. When the shop went bankrupt, he immigrated to London, Ontario, Canada where he married Eliza Jane Barry, daughter of a former Irish military officer.
They had five children, the youngest one died in childbirth and Eliza Jane Barry died a short time later. Their oldest son, William Jonas was my grandfather.
He and his two sister immigrated to the United States and all eventually ended up living in the Tampa, Florida area.
William Jonas had two children – my uncle, William Arthur, and my father, Omer Harold.
The descendants of William Brodie and Anne Gunn may have dispersed far and wide; however, we are all still connected to our Brodie heritage.