Sunday, April 28, 2013

James Linklater 1842-1899

And so we finally arrive at the youngest child of Magnus & May Linklater, James, my paternal great-grandfather.


James was born on 28 Oct 1842 & baptised 18 Dec 1842 at the same North Leith parish church as his siblings.


We find him at home in the 1851 census aged 9 with his mother, two siblings, a cousin & a great-grandmother living at 71 Shore, South Leith, Edinburgh. (The ‘great-grandmother’ bit is suspect though as May was 43 and ggm was 66, it doesn’t compute, but that’s another story). This is the only census of Scotland that James is found in, he’s not there in 1861 and by 1871 he was living in New Zealand. He arrived here about 1865/66 but out of all the siblings he’s the only one I cannot find on a passenger list! His death certificate in 1899 says he had been in NZ for 33 years. I could hazard a guess as to how he came here, his brother, Captain John, had been in NZ for a few years by then and in 1864 he went to Scotland to sit his Master Mariner’s examinations and also to pick up the ship ‘Wanganui’ to bring it back to NZ. He could very well have brought his brother back with him, as there were no passengers as such on this new ship that could be why there is no mention of him. It’s about the time James said he arrived in NZ although why he settled in Kaiapoi rather than Wanganui where John lived is beyond my ken!


On the 18 Jul 1871 in the Rangiora Registrar’s Office James aged 27 married Mary Elizabeth Williscroft aged 19, in front of witnesses Benjamin Ellis and Mary’s mother Elizabeth Williscroft. James is listed as an engineer and they were a bachelor & spinster. Unfortunately, that was in the early years when NZ certificates didn’t give a lot of information like parents’ names etc.


In the 1875 electoral roll he is listed as living in North Rd, Kaiapoi, a house on 1/8th of an acre on section 321, as far as I know that is where they lived for the rest of their lives becoming a well-known Kaiapoi family. The only knowledge I have of their house is from my father’s youngest brother Uncle Gordon, he told me years ago about going to visit his grandmother in Kaiapoi when he was very young, she lived in a large two storey house and while he was there the Waimakariri River flooded and he remembered standing at the top of the stairs watching the water creeping up step by step, luckily for them it stopped before it reached them, he would have only been about 3 or 4 as his grandmother Mary Elizabeth died in 1921 & he was born in 1917. I do have a photo of a two storey house that I’ve had for years but have no idea where it came from, I wonder if this is the house?


In Nov 1871 James was the engineer & driver of the ‘Pioneer’ road steamer which was to haul goods between Oxford & Kaiapoi. The early traction engines used too much coal & water, apparently it did very few trips according to these details I found in the MacDonald Dictionary of Canterbury Biographies at the Canterbury Museum, although the newspaper articles tell a different story!


road-steamer-engineer more-road-steamer more-road-steamer2

In 1874 he was the engineer to the Kaiapoi Fire Brigade and in 1878 he was the Clerk of the Works for the Waimakariri Harbour Board, superintending the erection of the machinery & dredge for the dredging operations which finally started in Jun 1879.

I remember my mother telling me that Dad’s mother was the 18th of 19 children but to this day I’ve only been able to find 14 of them, they are:-

May 1871-1880
John McKay 1873-1934
Emily Louisa 1874-1880
James 1876-1899
Magnus 1877-1953
Elizabeth Charlotte 1878-1942
Albert Edward 1880-1944
Emily Louisa 1882-1971
May 1883-1963
Rosaline 1884-1954
Marion 1886-1936
Joseph Frederick 1887-1896
Olive Wilson 1889-1943
Paul 1891-1949

On the last day of 1881 tragedy struck the family:-


Mary Elizabeth lost her two eldest daughters to a diptheria outbreak when they were quite young & it looks like she became quite depressed. At that time she had given birth to 7 children in 9 years the youngest one being only 4 months old so I'm not surprised she had depression! She fully recovered and went on to have 7 more children, she named her next two daughters after the two who had died. She probably never got over those deaths along with two sons who had died young. Joseph Frederick died at 9 years of age and James, who was an epileptic, was drowned aged 24 in 1899.

3drownings-web jamesdeathcert-web

On the 31 Mar 1891 her husband of 20 years, James, was committed to the asylum, the same year that she gave birth to her 14th child and it seems she was also admitted for a short time. If she did have 19 children I don't know where she could have fitted them in, 14 children in 20 years is a fairly tight squeeze!

committedtosunnyside-weblinklaterfamily-webJames died of valvular heart disease at Sunnyside Hospital on the 17 Feb 1899 and was buried in the cemetery at St Bartholomew’s Church in Kaiapoi, his grave and headstone was swept away years later in a flood of the Waimakariri River.


It wasn’t until I found Joseph’s death certificate that I found out who his parents were although even then there was no given name for his father, luckily the informant knew his mother’s maiden name.

In Dec 1903 Mary Elizabeth & some of her adult children were involved in a boating accident, the Miss O Linklater referred to in the newspaper article was my paternal grandmother, I’m glad she survived otherwise I wouldn’t have been me!

boatingaccident1903 On the 1 Nov 1906 Mary Elizabeth married Amon Smart, they had seven years together before Amon died on the 26 Jan 1913.

amon-smartMary Elizabeth passed away on the 13 Mar 1921 and is buried in the Kaiapoi Cemetery. She was the daughter of Joseph Williscroft and Elizabeth neƩ Baylis who had immigrated to NZ in 1858 when Mary Elizabeth was 7 years old.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Robert Sinclair & Barbara Linklater


Magnus & May Linklater also had two children who didn’t survive childhood.

Robert Sinclair was born 20 Apr 1829, baptised 28 Jun 1829 in the North Leith church. Robert died on the 25 Jan 1834 and two days later was buried in the North Leith churchyard:

3 paces south & 1 east from Wigham's stone. 4 years old, son of Magnus Linklater, seaman.

Barbara was born 19 Mar 1832, baptised 8 May 1832 in the same church. When she was aged 1 yr 9 mths she was very ill with Chincough & she died on the 9 Jan 1834, three days later she was also buried in the same churchyard:

3 paces south & 1 east from Wigham's stone. 1 yr 9 mths, daughter of Magnus Linklater, seaman.

I suspect brother Robert caught the same malady as Barbara as he died just a few weeks later.  Chincough = Whooping cough.

Thomas Linklater – Addendum

The death certificate for Thomas arrived today and although it certainly looks like it might be him there’s no proof apart from the fact that his wife married again soon after this date.



The Marine Hospital in Charterhouse Lane is now known as Charter House, originally founded in 1350 by Sir William de la Pole, the first mayor of Hull, as a Priory of Carthusian monks. With the further intention of establishing a hospital. The ‘Gods House Hospital’ was eventually established by his son, the charter being granted in 1384 when the first master was appointed. Initially housing 13 poor men and 13 poor women, and surrounded by fields through which the River Hull flowed, the institution prospered from income derived from its lands. Unfortunately this attracted the attention of Henry VIII who in 1536 closed the Priory and turned the monks out. The hospital, however, remained and over time acquired the name The Charter House.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Jean aka Jane Linklater

The only surviving sister of my great grandfather, James Linklater, was born on the 26 Dec 1834 in Couper St, North Leith, she was baptised in the same church as her siblings on the 15 Feb 1835.

Name:          Jean Linklater
Christening Date:     15 Feb 1835
Birth Date:     26 Dec 1834
Father's Name:    Magnus Linklater
Mother's Name:    May Mckay
Indexing Project (Batch) Number: C19506-5
System Origin:     Scotland-VR
GS Film number:     1067767
Reference ID:     2:18T59TK

In 1841 & 1851 she was at home with her mother & siblings in Shore, South Leith. On the 14 Jul 1854 in the South Leith church she married Crighton Clark also of South Leith.


A few years later he also became a Master Mariner, being presented with competency certificates in the years 1856, 1859 & 1864.




On the last one is a stamp to say that a Telescope had been presented to him by the British Government for services to shipwrecked seaman of the ‘Globe’ of Newcastle on 5 Dec 1863.

Crighton was the son of Crighton Clark & Isabella Rennie, born on the 31 May 1827 in Leith. By now Jean’s name was Jane, the two names seem to have been interchangeable in Scotland.

Jane & Crighton had seven children:- Crichton 1855; John McKay 1857; May 1859; Isabella Rennie 1862; Jane 1864; James 1868 and Margaret McKay 1871-1923.

On the 1st day of Nov 1885 Crighton Clark made a will in which amongst other things he left his gold watch to his second eldest son John McKay Clark. It is not known if Jane ever received her brother, Captain John McKay Linklater’s gold watch he left her in his will dated 1871 but possibly the two gold watches are one and the same.

goldwatch johnswilldated7-10-1871

Jane had earlier died on 5 Mar 1883 aged 48, so she may have passed the gold watch onto her husband. Crighton succumbed a year after he wrote his will, passing away on the 1 Dec 1886 at 6 Union St, Leith.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Thomas Linklater

Today it’s the turn of the last son of Magnus & May Linklater to be researched (except for James my great-grandfather, he’s going to be last).

Magnus & May had been living in North Leith when their first five children were born but by the time Thomas came along they had moved to Shore in South Leith, he was born there on the 17 Feb 1840 and baptised in the same church as the rest of his siblings, the North Leith parish church, on the 3 Apr 1840.


In the 1841 census he is living with his mother and three siblings in Shore aged 1 yr old. In 1851 he wasn’t at home and I found him living in the Orkney Islands at a place called Firth with his father’s brother James & his family, he was 12 years old, listed as a nephew & scholar, born in Leith.

1851-censusThis little snippet was to become the only piece of information we’ve been able to find to link his father Magnus to his parents, we haven’t been able to find a birth or baptism for Magnus, but there is one for James, who was the son of Thomas Linklater & Jean Muir of Sanday in the Orkney Islands.

At a young age, about 15, Thomas joined the Merchant Navy and was found as an ordinary seaman on the ‘Wanlock’ in 1855 and the ‘John Wesley’ in Inverness in 1856. He wasn’t found in the 1861 census so was probably at sea. There is another sighting of him in Australia in 1868, a 27 yr old able seaman on the ‘City of Brisbane’ arriving in Sydney. Unfortunately, with such a common name it’s hard to prove that the above are actually him!

In 1871 I found him living with his new wife with her parents in South Leith, although he was listed as a tailor I’m quite sure that should have read ‘sailor’! I then found this marriage for him:-


This will be too small to read so here are the basic facts:-

Thomas Linklater seaman bachelor 28 of Leith and Isabella Stewart Munro 21 of Leith were married on the 27th day of January 1871 according to the terms of the Church of Scotland. Thomas’ parents were Magnus Linklater seaman deceased and May Linklater MS MacKay. Isabella’s parents were Donald Munro provision merchant and Margaret Munro MS Wilson. The marriage took place in the burgh of Falkirk in the county of Stirling, Scotland.

Thomas & Isabella had a daughter named Margaret Wilson Linklater on the 16 Aug 1871, address Roberts Square, Falkirk, father Thomas was listed as being in the Merchant Navy. Margaret’s birth was reported by Caroline Conachie grand-aunt (another little piece of the puzzle slotted in nicely here). At the age of two years & 2 mths little Margaret caught bronchitis and died a week later on the 29th Oct 1873, they were living once more in Leith at 1 St Anthony Street. Her grandfather Donald Munro reported being present at her death.

margaret-wilson-linklater-b margwilsonlinklaterdeath-we

After that I completely lost sight of both Thomas & Isabella, I couldn’t find them in any census anywhere, no passenger lists, no newspaper reports, nothing!

Until recently, thanks to the eagle eyes of another Linklater researcher, Paul Crewe, I was able to come up with a death for Thomas in Yorkshire, England in 1874, he was aged 35, still waiting on the certificate to arrive to make sure it’s him (hopefully). Isabella married again in 1877 to Horatio Davidson in Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland and they had at least five children. On two of the children’s birth certificates (the two youngest were born in Scotland) they say they were married on the 24 Nov 1874 but their marriage wasn’t registered until the 4qtr of 1877, so there’s a little mystery there, to be solved at a later date!

Unfortunately, mainly for Thomas but also for me, his story is not such an interesting one as his two brothers but a story nonetheless, it’s just a shame there are no descendants for him, at least none that I know of.

Next time I’ll cover Magnus & May’s only surviving daughter, Jane & her husband Captain Crighton Clark.