Family Tree Posts

Here’s a quick list of all the Family Tree related posts on this blog, perhaps easier to view than the blog roll on the Home Page.

4 thoughts on “Family Tree Posts

  1. Hi Morag, trying to track my husband’s Shetland roots, we have a lot of info but I am stuck in some details. I came accross your blog on tracking Alexander Pennant and found it quite interesting.
    According to my husband’s uncle who is a retired captain of detectives in NYC, who actually worked in England with Scotland yard, he was able ro search for some info.
    My husbands granmother was Mary Pennant, born in either in Liverpool or Shetlands to Alexander Pennant (b.1848), son of Andrew Pennant and Jemima Ritch. He apparently was a constable in Liverpool (census 1871 36 Eversty, Toxteth Park) I have in my records that Alexander had Mary (b. 1898, husband’s gradma) out of an affair with Emily Grant(born in Ingersol, Canada but moved to Liverpool in 1879 at 2 yrs old), who worked for him as a launderess. At the same time he also impregnated Margaret Josephine Johnson and ended up marrying her in 1898 and was told she commited suicide not sure when.
    Mary was apparently brought to Shetlands and was living at one point with I believe Jemima, her grandmother. I was also told she was shipped to Canada as an orphan at around the age of 12. I see her in the census of 1911 working at the age of 18 as a chaimber maid, from there, it looks like she went to Boston. Married a Thomas J. Hawkins b. 1898 in England. His father died when he was young in a steel factory accident. I have Mary and Thomas in several census in US, Massachussets 1930 and Brooklyn, in 1840.
    I am sorry this is so long….
    Going back to Alexander Pennant b.1815, I have his father as Alexander Pennant b.1765 and mother Janet Sinclair b.1781. Alexander’s parents as Gilbert Pennant b.1745 and Grizel Jamesdaughter b. 1746. But I have also been told that his parents may be Alexander Pennant and Inga Farquhar b 1756.

    Do you have any ideas or suggestions, I have been looking in Find my past, where I started his album, Shetland Family History, my Herritage. Not a member of any, I only have a trial membership on find my past. I think it is public under Beaumont’s family tree but I have several GEDCOM’s downloaded from the Shetlands website. I have been also told that Janet Sinclait is of the Sinclait clan, Earls of Oarkney…again sorry for the length but hoping perhaps you man know more or can point me in the right direction.

    Thank you!!

  2. Hi Lourdes,

    You seem to already have quite a lot of information, you’ve done well.

    I have Andrew Scott Pen(n)ant (b.11 Oct 1815 – Hammer, Unst) and his wife Jemima/Jacobina Ritch (b.1 Nov 1812 – Moula, Unst) in my Unst tree. They were married on 12 Nov 1840.

    N.B. Pennant is commonly also spelled Penant with a single ‘n’ so watch out for that when searching. Also, in case you weren’t aware, Jemima is an alternate name used for Jacobina.

    Andrew Pen(n)ant’s parents were Alexander Pennant and Janet Sinclair. Alexander’s birth year is approximately 1765 based on his age in the 1841 census but since those ages were rounded (see and the earliest Old Parish Baptism Records for Unst start 1776, no more accurate date can be obtained. As you have already read in ( I have ascertained for certain that this Alexander Pennant is the father of Andrew (and his siblings).

    Verifying the parents of someone who died prior to 1855 (when statutory records were introduced in Scotland) is very difficult. After 1855, the death record listed both parents. Prior to that point, you get much less information. One possible way to verify parents names might be to find a known sibling who died later and find their death record. From the blog post, we mentioned his brother William. William died 16 Nov 1854 (2 months too early for statutory records!) I see that the Bayanne website lists (unsourced) his parents to be Gilbert and Grizel (an old fashioned form of the name Grace). It is possible that someone else has followed another one of his siblings in this way to find the parents.

    The other way of looking at this is that there are two sets of Pennants in two distinct areas in Unst. The first set are living in Littlegarth, and the second set are living in the Snarravoe area. If you go back to the blog post about Alexander Pennant there are maps for each so you can see where they are and if you take some time to scroll around the Unst maps you’ll see where the areas are in relation to each other. There is an Alexander in both families, so it is certainly possible that one Alexander has parents Gilbert and Grace, and the other has parents William and Inga. What I know about William and Inga is that they had a son Henry who died in Snarravoe. While this isn’t proof, it is suggestive that Gilbert and Grace are the more likely parents of your Alexander.

    Looking to the other end of your family tree and Mary, the child born to Alexander and Emily Grant. I wasn’t aware of her before, so I have taken a look for her and I have found her baptism record on Ancestry by searching for Mary (no surname), born 1898 in Toxteth, with mother Emily Grant. That record has Mary Pennant Grant, born 16 Jan 1899, baptised 19 Feb 1899 with parents Alexander Pennant, and Emily Grant. Abode listed as Eversley St, and father’s occupation is Policeman, so that all seems to fit with what you knew already. No mention of her being illegitimate on that record, however the fact that the mother’s surname is listed, and the child has the father’s surname as a middle name suggests something amiss. Although the way it is written suggests the clerk thinks that Alexander also has the surname Grant, so I wonder if he wasn’t present?

    Mary was born in 1898, and her grandmother Jemima Pennant (nee Ritch) moved from Shetland to Toxteth Park, Liverpool where she is seen in the 1871 census at age 59. Whether she was still in Liverpool by the time Mary was born I am unsure – or whether she was even alive by then.

    I have found a 2-year old Mary Pennant, living with people she is not related to in the 1901 census, in 86 Eversley St. Her mother Emily is living in 21 Alton Road with her mother at this time. The people she is with are William and Mary Johnson who are from Shetland! Mary is a Laundress and is from Unst! There seems a high likelihood that this child is Mary given the street address on the baptism record and the Unst connection.

    Anyway, it’s getting late, so I must go to bed – I will look into this further another time.

    Hope some of this helps!

  3. Hi Morag, I am researching my late husbands family tree.His great,great grandparents were Gilbert Smith , a fisherman from Unst who married Margaret Thompson.They had Agnes in about 1836[ Newgord ?] . who married Magnus Abernethy [Peterstor ?] [his parents were James Abernethy and Agnes Anderson.] .James may have been in the army .Agnes Abernethy was born in about 1868. I think she/they moved to Wallsey. I have Underhoull and Cliff as places they may have lived in. I would be thrilled to find out anything more. When my late husband’s
    mother was on the way, the parents [john Abernethy and Agnes Abernethy were on their way to Leith to emigrate. They got no further and settled in Edinburgh.

    • Hi Jennifer,

      Gilbert Smith was baptised in Unst on 13 Sep 1801, born to parents Peter Smith and Agnes Hughson. He lived in Collaster, Unst before marrying Margaret Thomson on 18 Jan 1827. They had five children that I am aware of, Peter (b. 19 Nov 1827 Collaster, bap. 25 Nov 1827), Gilbert (b. 7 Jun 1829 Collaster, bap. 27 Jun 1829), William (b. 6 Jun 1831 Newgord, bap. 14 Jun 1831), Agnes (b. 27 May 1834 Newgord, bap. 22 Jun 1834) and Margaret (b. 22 Mar 1837 Newgord, bap. 11 May 1837). The family can be found living in Newgord in the 1841 census but without mother Margaret, who it is assumed has died. Gilbert remarries on 2 Mar 1843 to Tamar Bruce. The family can be found living in Pheal in the 1851 census, although the eldest two boys, Peter and Gilbert are not with them; Peter by then having starting making his own family.

      Agnes Smith married Magnus Abernethy (b. 24 Feb 1835 Cliff, bap. 8 Mar 1835 to parents James Abernethy (Private Soldier) and Agnes Anderson) a Fisherman from Petister, Unst, on 23 Dec 1858. They had six children that I am aware of, James (b. 17 Nov 1859 Petister), Margaret (26 Aug 1861 Petister), Peter Andrew (30 Jan 1866 Lochside), Agnes (2 Aug 1868 Lochside), Isabella Ingram (12 Nov 1870 Baliasta), William Gilbert (27 Apr 1873 Baliasta). The family can be found living in Petister in the 1861 census, and in Baliasta in the 1871 census (which lines up with the kids birth places). In the 1881 census the family can be found in Leith North. They left Unst sometime after Magnus’ mother died on 3 Jul 1874, as Magnus is the informant on her death record.

      Agnes Abernethy goes to school in Leith (1881 census) then works as a Dressmaker before marrying Stephen Williamson on 19 Jan 1898 in Kinnaird Hall. She was widowed sometime before 1902 and also lost her father on 22 Mar 1902. Then remarried John Davidson on 1 Oct 1902. I am aware of three children that they had, because they are listed in the 1911 census; Agnes S (b. 1904), Helen M (b. 1907), Isabella (b. 1909)

      I’ve done a lot of Unst based research, but haven’t yet expanded my research further afield to follow the lines that leave the island. So, I don’t have many details of children that Agnes and John Davidson had. I’d be interested in anything you can tell me too.

      Hope some of this is useful – shout if you need anything else, especially Unst related details as that’s where my research area has focused.

      P.S. Subsequent to writing this comment, I have found that Agnes S (b.1904) noted above, is Agnes Susan Davidson (b. 27 Aug 1903) and she married William Baxter Nicoll (b. 12 Feb 1898). They are both in the 1939 register. I guess this is your husband’s line given your surname?

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