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Eliza McCulloch

Generation 5




1841 Census

1851 Census

1861 Census

1871 Census

1881 Census

1891 Census

1901 Census














Like her husband, David McKay, I didn't have much on Eliza for ages, although I did find what, I am fairly certain, is the record of her Death some time ago. According to that record, Eliza (McKay) died in the Poorhouse and I had difficulty accepting that, given that her son, Robert McKay, would still have been alive at the time. However, the age given on this Death record was 60 and is close enough to suggest it is reasonable to assume this to be the correct Eliza McCulloch. Sometimes, where one's family was poor, a person was better off living in the 'Poor House' rather than with relatives who might not be able to support them.

However, as noted on David McKay's page, I found David and Eliza in the 1851 Census during searches I undertook in September 2003. This showed me that Eliza had been born in Dumfriesshire, an area I had not previously considered. On searching for births of an Eliza McCulloch, I found one who was born in Johnstone, Lochbrow, Dumfriesshire in 1814, whose father was called James McCulloch - the same name recorded for her father on the record of her marriage and surname recorded on her death certificate. This would have made Eliza 37 in 1851 and 47 in the 1861 Census, rather than the 32 and 43 recorded in these Censuses However, this date of birth does concur closely with the age ascribed to Eliza on the Death record I had previously found and there are no other Eliza McCulloch's born in Dumfriesshire at this time. So, I am fairly confident I have the correct Birth record.

Strangely, I just cannot find Eliza in the 1841 Census, either under her maiden name or MacKay; (I had wondered whether she might have hooked up with David MacKay and lived with him before they got married). I even searched the English and Irish Census records, but still no luck.

I have, however, come across an entry in St Cuthbert's Poorhouse records that talks about an Eliza McKay in 1851. The entry itself records that a claim that she was receiving "inadequate relief" was dismissed as she "could enter the poorhouse". This may be a coincidence, but of course we know that Eliza died in a Poorhouse and the address she was at when the 1861 Census was undertaken, may also have been a Poorhouse - hence why her son, Robert, was recorded as a "visitor". The date of this entry is 10th July 1851, which was only three months after the 1851 Census. If this is our Eliza, it suggests that her husband, David McKay, who was alive at the time of the Census, died shortly thereafter and left Eliza in penury. All supposition, as there is not enough evidence to support this definitively as being her, but good circumstantial evidence.

View the record here.


Birth - 11th June 1814

Eliza was born in Johnstone, Lochbrow in Dumfriesshire. Johnstone is near Lockerbie and I wonder whether Lochbrow is an earlier name from which Lockerbie is derived. Her parents were James McCulloch and Margaret Stewart.

View record.


Eliza's sister, Janet, was born in 1818, in "Johnstone by Lockerbie", Dumfriesshire. Her parents were James McCulloch and Margaret Stewart. This would appear to vindicate the 1841 Census record as being for the same James and Margaret McCulloch.

1841 Census

At this time I cannot find Eliza's record on the 1841 Census, but I have found her parent's record. James (60), an Agricultural Labourer and Margaret (50) were living in Lochbrow, Johnstone, Dumfriesshire. Also living there were Eliza's siblings - James (10) and Janet (20). Eliza would have been aged up to 27 by this time, so may have left home.

View record.

Marriage - 7th April 1846

Eliza married David MacKay in Trinity College Parish Church, Edinburgh. This church, which is now demolished, was situated at the foot of Chalmer's Close, Edinburgh, where Eliza's son, Robert McKay, and his wife, Ann, later lived, (at No. 1). Both David and Eliza lived in Baillie Fyfe's Close, Edinburgh at the time of their wedding.

Eliza's father was recorded as James McCulloch, deceased, a Cabinet Maker. Her mother's name was not recorded.


Eliza's daughter, also called Eliza, was born some time in this year, as the 1851 Census showed her to be 5 months old at the time.

1851 Census

The Census records that, Eliza MacKay, aged 32 and her husband, David, also aged 32, lived in Campbell's Close, Canongate, Edinburgh. She was recorded as having been born in Dumfries, Dumfriesshire. Living with them was their five month old daughter, Eliza.

View the record.

10th July 1851

The St Cuthbert's Poorhouse dismisses an appeal from an Eliza McKay that she was receiving "inadequate relief" on the grounds that she "could enter the poorhouse" .

View the record here.

1851 to 1855

Eliza's son Robert, was born some time during this period. We don't have Robert's Birth record yet, so have only the ages ascribed to him n other records to go by. These records are not consistent, but indicate some time in this year range.

1861 Census

The Census record I have for 1861 shows an Eliza McCulloch (a domestic servant), aged 43 at the same address as a Robert McKay, aged 9. Robert is described as a "visitor", but given his age, he is almost certainly her son. Eliza is shown as being born in Dumfriesshire, as she was in the 1851 Census. Eliza's age is not quite right, being 3 or 4 years out from her birth record, but an investigation shows that no other Eliza or Elizabeth McCulloch was born in Dumfriesshire at any time with 5 years of 1814. So I am satisfied this is the correct Eliza McCulloch.

The Census records them as living in 15 Causewayside, St Cuthbert's, Edinburgh, the same area I believe Robert to have been born in. There are some anomalies though:

  • Robert's mother's maiden name was McCulloch, but why is she using it rather than McKay at this time? She is recorded here as a widow, so she may have decided to revert to that?
  • Robert is recorded as a 'Visitor'; why, if he is her son? Enumerator error?
  • On both the 'scotlandspeople' and '' searches, Robert is described as aged 9, whereas, his age does not appear to have actually been recorded on the actual record. Going by his age when he married, this is the right age for Robert at the time of this Census, but it just leaves a little uncertainty.

One possibility around Robert being described as a "visitor", is that Eliza was already in the Poorhouse she died in, possibly working there is an inmate. Or maybe, with his father David being already dead, he was actually living with other family. All speculation, as I don't have the information to back it up either way.

View the record.

11th November 1873

Eliza's son, Robert, married Ann Bueglay at 3 Regent Terrace, Edinburgh.

Death - 21st October 1875

Elizabeth McKay died at 11 a.m. in St Cuthbert's Poorhouse, Edinburgh. She was aged 60 and died from "Disease of Lungs". Her father's name was given as 'McCulloch', but no first name was recorded. Her death was reported by a Poorhouse official called John Clark. Given that he seemed to have limited information about Elizabeth, I'm not unduly concerned that she is called Elizabeth rather than Eliza on this record, as it is perfectly conceivable that she was known as Elizabeth, or possibly the Poorhouse official assumed that Eliza was short for Elizabeth.

View the record.