My Weir Branch

Grahame Thom grthom@bigpond.com

My Weir generations and related branches Kerr, McBride and Wilson

I would like to acknowledge the contribution of information included in this story by my cousin Sheila in Canada.

Weir Branch

On 19 December 1788 at New Kilpatrick, Dunbartonshire, Alexander Weir married Margaret Reid (both of this parish). They had at least seven children as their seventh child Alexander was born on 22 June 1801 and baptised on 12 July 1801 in the parish of Barony, Lanarkshire.

The Weirs were living at Possil an ironworks town in Glasgow(1). Perhaps Alexander senior had moved from Old Kilpatrick to Possil looking for work as this time was the early stages of the industrial revolution. Some historians say that Glasgow was the birth place of the industrial revolution. Other known Weir children are

Elizabeth, born 18 March 1791, baptised 20 March 1791, Parish of Old Kilpatrick, Dunbarton (2)
Janet, born 16 August 1792, baptised 26 August 1792, Parish of Old Kilpatrick, Dunbarton (2)
John , born 26 February 1795, baptised 29 February 1795, Parish of Old Kilpatrick, (2)
William, born 8 December 1796, baptised 18 December 1796, Parish of Old Kilpatrick (2)
Janet, born 4 May 1799, baptised 19 May 1799, Parish of Barony

This seventh child Alexander, who would later work in the coal mining industry, married Elizabeth Wilson about 1822.

Wilson Connection

Elizabeth was born on 14 September 1801, and baptised in the parish of Renfrew, Renfrewshire, on 27 September 1801, the daughter of Robert Wilson and Sarah Donaldson. Robert and Sarah were married in the parish of Renfrew on 25 November 1791 and in addition to Elizabeth the Wilson’s had at least another six children,

Mary, baptised 1 April 1792, Parish of Govan, Lanarkshire (2)
Jean, baptised 17 November 1793, Parish of Govan (2)
Robert born 2 March 1796 and baptised on 10 March 1796, Parish of Renfrew
Janet born 7 July 1798 and baptised on 8 July 1798, Parish of Renfrew
William born 13 March 1804 and baptised on 25 March 1804, Parish of Renfrew
Sarah, born 25 September 1808, baptised 9 October 1808 Parish of Govan(2)

Returning to the Weir family, Alexander and Elizabeth Weir had ten children including

Sarah born 6 April 1824 - baptised 2 May 1824 (2) Parish of New Kilpatrick
Alexander, born about 1826
Robert born 8 September 1828, Parish of New Kilpatrick (2)
James born 6 February 1831 and baptised in the Parish of Barony on 20 March 1831
Elizabeth born 28 April 1833 and baptised in the Parish of Barony on 26 May 1833
Janet born 15 August 1835 and baptised in the Parish of Barony on 6 September 1835
John born 5 October 1837 and baptised in the Parish of Barony on 21 October 1837. Alexander was described as a collier from Acre.
William, born about 1840 (3)
Mary, 12 July 1843, Parish of Barony (2)

The 1841 Census recorded the following details of this family (3).

Address: Wyndford, Maryhill, Civil Parish of Barony, Lanarkshire
Alexander, aged 39, coal miner, born in Lanarkshire
Elizabeth, aged 39, born in Lanarkshire
Sarah, aged 17, born in Lanarkshire
Alexander, aged 14, coal miner, born in Lanarkshire
James, aged 10, born in Lanarkshire
Janet, aged 5, born in Lanarkshire
John, aged 3, born in Lanarkshire
William, aged 10 months, born in Lanarkshire

The 1851 Census recorded details

Address: Balgray, Govan
Alexander Weir, head of family, aged 49, labourer at coal pit, born in Barony
Elizabeth, his wife, aged 49, born in Renfrew
James, his son, unmarried, aged 20, coal miner, born in Barony
Janet, his daughter, aged 15, general servant, born in Barony
John, his son, age 13, scholar, born in Barony
Andrew Hosie, lodger, aged 20, coal miner, born in Mearns, Renfrewshire

The 1861 Census recorded details

Address: Kirklee
Alexander Weir, head of house, aged 59 years, married, coal greave, born in Barony
Marion, his wife, aged 47, born in Edinburgh
John, his son, aged 23, unmarried, coal miner, born in Maryhill

By 1861 son James had married Mary Dugald and the Census of that year recorded details

Address: Kirklee
James Weir, head of house, aged 29, married, coal miner, born in Maryhill
Mary, his wife, aged 25, born in Ireland
Elizabeth, his daughter, aged 3, born in Govan
Marion, his daughter, aged 1, born in Maryhill

Alexander’s wife Elizabeth died on 15 June 1852 aged 50 years and was buried in the cemetery at Maryhill Road, Maryhill (4). On 5 November 1855 at Maryhill, after banns according to the rites of the Free Church of Scotland, Alexander Weir, aged 54, coal agent of Balgray, Partick, widower with four children living and six deceased, born on 22 June 1801 in Barony the son of Alexander Weir, coal miner and Margaret Reid, both deceased, married Marion Clerk, aged 43, of 23 Cambridge Street, Glasgow, widow, with one child deceased, born on 13 October 1812 in Edinburgh, the daughter of Robert Clerk, farm servant, and Marion Mackie, both deceased.

Note that civil registration started in Scotland in 1855 and for the first year extensive details were required of any birth, death or marriage. This became too much of a burden and the law was changed in 1856 to a lower level of detail.

Alexander Weir died on 15 September 1867 at Gartnavel, Partick and his death registration described him as a coal agent, aged 66 years, married to Marion Clark (sic) and the son of Alexander Weir, engine keeper, and Margaret Reid, both deceased. He was buried in the cemetery at Maryhill Road, Maryhill with his first wife where their headstone states

The property of Alexr Weir died 15th Septr 1867 aged 66 years.
Sacred to the memory of his wife
Elizh Wilson who died 15th June 1852 aged 50 years
Robt their son died 15th March 1834 aged 5 years
Elizh died 26 Feby 1835 aged 22 months
Mary died 9th April 1844 aged 9 months
Alexr died 31st Jany 1847 aged 20 years
Sarah died 8th March 1847, aged 23 years
Willm died 9th Dec 1847, aged 7 years
Jane daughter of James Weir, died 16th Novr 1872 aged 18 months
Mary Dugall his wife died 6th Octr 1886, aged 49 years
James Weir died 28th April 1911 aged 80 years (4)

From this headstone, it can be seen that Alexander and Elizabeth suffered the sad loss of six children. It would appear a seventh child died young, possibly their first born. This left James who married Mary Dugald on 31 October 1856 (5) at Maryhill, Janet who married Robert Cunningham, coal miner, on 10 August 1855 in Balgray Hill, Lanarkshire (5), and John who immigrated to Australia, see below.

James (born 1831) and Mary’s son Robert Dougal Weir married Margaret Scott Bird on 6 July 1899 according to the rites of the Free Church of Scotland in the District of Blysthwood, Glasgow. Over the next ten years they had four daughters, Annie Drewitt Weir, Mary Dougal Weir, Margaret Bird Weir and Jean Weir. All these women lived to adulthood. Then Robert and his family immigrated to Canada in 1911. Robert worked for the Canadian Pacific Railway in their accounting department for 15 years (6).

Janet (born 1835) and Robert Cunningham had at least one child Elizabeth born on 4 September 1855 in the parish of Govan, Lanarkshire (2).

John (born 1837) also worked in the mining industry. He married Jane Kerr on 26 February 1864 at Maryhill. Their married registration recorded that the marriage occurred after banns according to the forms of the Free Church of Scotland, John, ironstone miner, bachelor, aged 26, of Kirklee, Parish of Govan, son of Alexander Weir, pitheadman and Elizabeth Wilson, deceased, and Jane, domestic servant, aged 20, spinster, of 134 Cowcaddens, Glasgow, daughter of William Kerr, clockmaker, and Catherine McBride.

John and Jane had the following children in Scotland

Jane born 8 December 1864 at Kirklee, Partick, John described as an ironstone miner
Alexander born 25 June 1866 at 384 Duke Street, Glasgow
William born 11 March 1868 at 2 Argyle Place, Maryhill
John born 11 April 1870 at Claythorn, Partick
Mary born 11 February 1873 Parish of Govan (2)
Robert born about 1875
Alexander born about 1877
James born about 1878
Archibald born about 1880
David born 1881

The 1871 Census recorded details of this family

Address: Claythorn
John Weir, head of house, aged 34, ironstone miner, born at Maryhill
Jane, his wife, aged 27, born in Govan
Jane, his daughter, aged 6, born in Glasgow
Alexander, his son aged 4, born in Govan
William, his son, aged 3, born in Maryhill
John, his son aged 11 months, born in Govan
William Kerr, his brother-in-law, aged 17, clockmaker, born in Glasgow

A grandson of John and Jane, Ronald Lindsay Weir, solicitor of Maryborough, wrote that “The reason for their leaving Scotland, I was told, was that John Weir was unable to obtain employment there owing to his being involved in a labour dispute.” (7) The ship Oban Bay (1200 tons - Captain Peacock) left Glasgow on 30 March 1883 and arrived at Townsville on 19 September 1883. Amongst the 378 passengers were John Weir aged 45 years, his wife Jane Weir aged 39 years, and their nine children Jane 18, William 14, John 12, Mary 9, Robert 7, Alexander 6, James 4, Archibald 2, and David aged 1 year. There were 6 deaths and 3 births during the voyage.(8)

It would appear that John and Jane had one child born during the voyage for the Queensland Births, Deaths and Marriages Index reveals that Margaret was born on 25 July 1883 but died after arrival on 11 December 1883.

On his daughter Jane’s marriage certificate in 1886 John’s occupation is given as “Labourer in Queen’s Bond”. This meant he was working for the Customs Department at the Bonded Warehouse in Townsville. (9)

Jane’s future husband, Robert Thom had left Glasgow on the SS Warrego on 5 September 1883 and disembarked at Brisbane on 31 October 1883.(10) It is interesting to compare the voyages. The Weirs on the sailing ship Oban Bay took nearly 6 months while Robert Thom on the steam ship Warrego took less than two months.

Jane (Jeanie) married Robert on 30 March 1886 at the office of the District Registrar in Townsville (11). For further information about this couple please go to my story Robert Thom - Seven Generations, below.

John Weir, retired Customs Officer, aged 70 years, died on 17 September 1908, at the home of his daughter Jeanie and her husband Robert Thom, Leichhartt Street, Leichhardt, Sydney, and was buried in the Presbyterian Section at Rookwood Cemetery, Sydney. He had been living in Sydney for 9 months (12).

John’s wife Jane died at Brisbane Hospital on 29 December 1920 aged 78 years, widow, and was buried at Toowong Cemetery, Brisbane (13).

John and Jane’s youngest son David, lived at Maryborough and became the district’s State member of parliament. The Brisbane Courier of Monday 23 September 1929 reported

Mr D Weir MLA - Death at Maryborough

Profound regret was expressed in Maryborough tonight, when it became known that Mr David Weir MLA had passed away after an illness extending over a few weeks. Although his condition was not regarded as serious, it was known amongst his intimate friends that his illness was causing him much worry. It was only on Friday last that he returned from Brisbane while on the previous day he took part in a debate in Parliament. While in Brisbane he consulted a specialist concerning an internal ailment. He became ill on Friday morning shortly after his arrival in Maryborough.

The deceased was born in Glasgow in 1881, and was brought to Australia as an infant. He spent most of his life in Townsville, coming to Maryborough in 1917 as chief clerk of the loco branch of the Railway Department. The same year he was selected by the Labour Party to contest the Maryborough seat at the State election and was successful, and he held the seat to the time of his death. The late Mr Weir served as an alderman of the Maryborough City Council for one term. He was also associated with many public bodies, and was a trustee of the Maryborough Grammar School. He is survived by his widow, two sons, Ron, a teacher at the Boys Grammar School, Maryborough, and David; also one daughter, Muriel, who is at school in Brisbane. The funeral will leave his late residence on Tuesday morning.

Labour Leader’s Tribute

The Leader of the State Parliamentary Labour Party (Mr W Forgan Smith) expressed his deep regret last night when word of Mr Weir’s death was conveyed to him. “During the week he intimated to me that he was ill, and required medical attention, said Mr Smith, and he expected to be absent from the House for three weeks. Mr Weir had been connected with the Labour movement for many years, and during his period in Parliament had rendered valuable service to the movement. I desire to express my sympathy with his family in its bereavement.”

The same paper reported the next day:-

Late Mr D Weir MLA

Maryborough, September 23, The flags over the public buildings in the city were flown at half-mast today as a mark of respect to the late Mr D Weir MLA, whose sudden death occurred last night. This tribute was paid at the railway workshops in memory of an ex-railwayman who had so many friends in the department at the Town Hall, recalling the late Mr Weir’s term as a city alderman; and at the Grammar School, of which institution the late Mr Weir was a trustee; and at the State schools, which found his personal representations of much assistance in securing attention to various requirements. The funeral will take place to the Maryborough cemetery at 10.30 0’clock on Tuesday morning.

Kerr Branch

William Kerr was born on 17 December 1811 and baptised on 29 December 1811 in the Parish of Rutherglen, the son of Robert Kerr, master joiner, and Jane (Jean) Williamson. No other details are known about William’s parents except that they had at least one other child, Elizabeth, born on 3 May 1809 and baptised on 27 May 1809 in the Parish of Rutherglen.

William Kerr, clockmaker, married Catherine McBride on 6 October 1839 in the Parish of Glasgow. Catherine, born about 1818, was the daughter of Thomas (John) McBride, iron worker, and Margaret McDougal. John McBride, labourer, and Margaret McDougall had married on 30 April 1809 in the Parish of Barony.

William and Catherine had at least eight children, including,

William, born 30 June 1840, Parish of Barony
Margaret, born 9 January 1842, Parish of Barony
Jean, born 14 December 1843, Parish of Barony
Mary, born 22 November 1847, Parish of Glasgow
Margaret, born 10 February 1850, Parish of Glasgow
Catherine, baptised 5 October 1851, Parish of Glasgow
William, born 11 February 1855, 442 Duke Street, Glasgow

As William was born in the first year of civil registration, his entry gave the following details. Son of William Kerr, watchmaker, aged 43, born in Rutherglen, and Catherine Pride (sic), aged 37, born in Tollcross, Parish of Barony, married in Glasgow in 1839 with four girls living and two boys and one girl deceased.

William is listed in Donald Whyte’s book (page 32), Clock and watch makers of Glasgow & west of Scotland, stating that in 1845 he was at 130 Cowcaddens Street, in 1855 at 241 Duke Street and in 1860 at 134 Cowcaddens Street, Glasgow.

The 1861 Census recorded the following details

Address: 134 Cowcaddens Street
William Kerr, head of house, aged 49, watchmaker, born in Rutherglen
Catherine, his wife, aged 43, born in Tollcross
Mary, his daughter, aged 13, born in Glasgow
Margaret, his daughter, aged 11, born in Glasgow
Catherine, his daughter, aged 9, born in Glasgow
William, his son, aged 6, born in Glasgow

On 6 August 1850 William and Catherine made a joint will, appointing as executor and leaving all to the longest liver and then to their children equally. William died on 26 March 1864 at Glasgow. On 26 April 1864 Catherine McBride or Kerr appeared before Thomas Donald, Commissary Clerk of Lanarkshire to swear that she was the executor under their will, that her husband William Kerr, clock and watch maker, late of Cowcaddens, Glasgow, had died having an estate valued between 100 and 200 pounds. The Clerk appears to have requested a valuation of household items for on 2 May 1864 his estate was valued for probate duty purposes and revealed that William’s estate was made up as follows.


Cash in hand 1.3.0
Insurance policy with UK Temperance & General Provident 100.0.0
less advance already made on the policy 10.0.0
Value of household items per appraisal by Robert Lyon 33.7.0
Value of rent till Whitsunday 1864 30.0.0
Value of estate 154.10.0 (14)

One assumes that duty was paid and Catherine exercised her responsibilities as executor. From the valuation it is clear that William, Catherine and family lived in rented premises at Cowcaddens. Catherine may have remained there for a time as she now had the responsibility of raising her family, the youngest William being about 9 years old.

It is interesting to note that William’s daughter Jane married John Weir only two months before his death.

Then Catherine died the same year on 20 November leaving four children under 17 years old without parents.

1, Unless otherwise indicated the details in this story were researched and provided by the Scots Ancestry Research Society in 1973 and 1974
2. International Genealogical Index, web site familysearch.org, February 2009
3. Web site freecen.rootsweb.com, May 2006
4. Reid, Stewart A., booklet Maryhill Old Parish Church Burying Grounds, publisher Glasgow and West of Scotland Family History Society, 1998 - plot 111 an upright stone.
5. Scotland marriage certificates 3964/1856 and 56/1855
6. Information supplied by cousin Sheila of Canada.
7. Letter to the author on 1 December 1971
8. Letter from the Commonwealth Archives Office on 10 March 1972
9. Letter from the Queensland State Archives on 15 October 1973
10. Queensland State Archives IMM/118, page 409, Brisbane Courier Mail, 1 October 1883, page 4
11. General Registry Office, Brisbane, Marriage Certificate No 1695/1886
12. NSW Death Certificate 1908/11046
13. Queensland Death Certificate 1920/33740
14. Will of William and Catherine Kerr, Scotlandspeople web site, reference SC36/51/46 and William Kerr’s inventory, Scotlandspeople web site, SC36/48/51

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