brian mckay's family tree
Without a doubt, one of my favourite ancestors. Firstly my own middle name, Deans, is ultimately drawn from her and there has been at least one person in each generation since Jeannie with Deans as a middle name. Also, there is this tale of Jeannie being a clay pipe smoker, that has made its way down the ages.
Until recently one I knew very little about Jeannie Deans. For ages the only records we had that referred to her were those of her son Andrew Smith - Jeannie is named on both his marriage and his death certificates. Her name is known in the family though - my mother spoke of her, not because she knew her but because her father, Robert Deans Sutter, had told her of Jeannie. Not sure if this means he knew Jeanie well or not, but he was 7 years old, when Jeannie died, so he may have, but he probably also learned of her through his own mother, Jeannie's granddaughter Helen Smith.
During a week's searching of the records in New Register House in September 2003, we finally found a lot of stuff on Jeannie, all of which suggested that her true first name was Jane rather than Jeannie. Jeannie was obviously the name she was referred to by the family though - Andrew's death certificate refers to her as Jeannie; her own death certificate has Jean and Jeannie is the name that has been handed down to us over the generations.
The first record I found during that search was of Jean Deans' death in 1900 - I don't think I had searched that late previously. I knew it was the correct record as it showed her place of death as Ormisbank Cottage, where her son Andrew had lived for many years and it was Andrew Smith who reported the death. Two bonuses from this find - we got to know who Jeannie's parents were and from her age at death (90) we knew when she was born. So tracking her birth should have been easy. Not so, although her parents, Peter Deans and Isabella Elliot recorded the birth of other of their children, they don't appear to have recorded Jeannie's.
Nor did they record the birth of one of Jeannie's other siblings, Agnes. Agnes was a good find and a hitherto unknown. Having found Jeannie's death I set out to find her in the Censuses in the intervening period. I first found her in the 1851 Census living with Agnes in Hardenburn (where Andrew had been born). After that I found her quite easily in the 1861, 1871, 1881 and 1891 censuses, but curiously, for a long time I couldn't find her in the 1841 census. So, after a few more years, I searched for her sister Agnes in the 1841 Census and found her living in Harden Court Farm, Roberton, Roxburghshire. Also living there were Jeannie's son, Andrew (shown as aged 8) some other siblings. That told me that Jeannie was living elsewhere and I found a record of a Jean Deans, aged 29, living in Dalkeith. Not definitely her, particularly as the age is a year or two out, but still probably her as there are no other records of Jeannie in the Census.
We do have a photo of Jeannie with her son Andrew and family, taken I believe at Eskbank Cottage. Although there is no date on this photograph, Jeannie looks pretty old and her granddaughter Agnes looks to be well into her twenties/possibly thirties. As she was born in 1863/64, the photograph was probably taken in the 1880's/90's which would make Jeannie in her 70's or 80's. It must have pre-dated 1893 though as that was the year of Andrew's wife Elizabeth's death and she is in the photo. Although Jeannie was fairly old when the photo was taken, it's not clear whether she actually lived with Andrew. However, as she eventually died at Andrew's house, perhaps she did by that time.
It doesn't appear that Jeannie ever married as, on both Andrew's marriage and death certificates, there is no entry for his father. Also, her own death certificate shows her as single.
KEY EVENTS AND DATES
1810 - 12
We have no actual record of the birth yet, but given her age (90) at her death on 30th December 1900 and the ages ascribed to her in all of the Censuses apart from 1841, Jeannie must have been born during this period. The 1841 Census suggest she was a year younger than all the other records, hence why I've included 1812 in her birth year range. From Census returns we know her place of birth to have been Roberton, Roxburghshire. From her death record we know Jeannie's parents to have been Peter Deans and Isabella Elliot.
Jeannie's sister Agnes, was born in Roberton. Again we have no record of the birth, but the ages attributed to Agnes on other records indicate that this was the year of her birth.
29th June 1817
Jeannie's sister Christian Elliot Deans was born in Roberton and baptised on 15th July 1827.
30th April 1820
Jeannie's brother Peter Deans was born in Roberton, also baptised on 15th July 1827.
6th March 1823
Jeannie's sister Mary Deans was born in Roberton, also baptised on 15th July 1827.
18th December 1826
Jeannie's brother John Deans was born in Roberton, also baptised on 15th July 1827.
9th October 1831
At the age of 21 Jeannie gave birth to a son, Andrew, at Hardenburn, Parish of Roberton. This information came from Andrew's marriage certificate on which we are told of his birth but also that it had not been registered.
As noted above, I have found Jeannie's son, Andrew (8), in the 1841 Census. He was living with three of Jeannie's siblings, Peter (20), Christian (also given as 20) and Agnes (25), at Harden Court House in the parish of Roberton in Roxburghshire. There also appears to be a 5 month old female child living there, who is shown as "N. K." under Name - Not Known?
View the record here.
This told me that Jeannie was living elsewhere and I found her (I think), aged 29, living in Amos Close, Dalkeith, with an Elizabeth Deans (30). Although, I had not come across Elizabeth previously, there is every chance she is yet another sibling of Jeannie, particularly as her parents had already failed to record a couple of other births (Jeannie and Agnes). I wonder if the 5 month old child residing with her other siblings was Jeannie's and she had 'run away' for a while?
The Census records that Jane Deans lived with her sister Agnes Deans (both unmarried) at Hardenburn, Foot (presumably a dwelling at the foot of the Harden Burn?), Roberton. She was aged 40 and described as a "Pauper". Her sister Agnes was a dressmaker.
28th December 1855
Jeannie's son, Andrew, married Elizabeth Murray at Brougham Place, Hawick. The marriage record refers to Andrew's mother as Jane Deans, but as we know Jane, Jean, Janet etc all seem to be interchangeable. Jane/Jeannie was described as being an Agricultural Labourer (possibly on the estate on which Hardenburn was sited ?). The marriage certificate actually described Andrew as "Andrew Deans (commonly called Smith)". He lived in Dickson Street, Parish of Wilton in Hawick.
The Census records that Jane Deans, aged 50, was now living at Hassendean Cottage in Minto, Roxburghshire. She lived by herself and was an Agricultural Labourer.
According to the Census this year, Jane Deans, aged 60, is still living in Hassendean Cottage, Minto and at the age of 60, is still an Agricultural Labourer.
Now aged 70, Jane Deans is still living at Hassendean Cottage, Minto and is now described as being a Farm Servant
This Census just says Hassendean but doesn't indicate whether it's still Hassendean Cottage (probably is though). Her abode is described as having 2 rooms with windows" - neither the 1871 or 1881 censuses recorded this information, but in 1861 Hassendean Cottage had only one room with windows. So perhaps it had been upgraded or maybe she had moved into a different abode. She is now aged 80 and has at last retired, being described as a "Retired Farm Servant".
1891 - 1893
At some point during this period I'm speculating that Jeannie moved in with her son Andrew. We have a photo showing her with Andrew his wife and daughter outside of Eskbank cottage. We know she wasn't living at Eskbank cottage at the time of the 1891 Census and it couldn't have been later than 1893 as Andrew's wife died that year.
30th December 1900
Jean Deans died at Ormisbank Cottage, Eskbank, Dalkeith. She was aged 90 and her occupation was shown as Housekeeper. I wonder if this meant she was in fact keeping house for Andrew whose wife had died in 1893? The cause of her death was given as senility. Her parents were both deceased and were recorded as Peter Deans and Isabella Elliot. Jeannie's son, Andrew, reported her death.
27th May 1901
Jeannie's son, Andrew, died aged 68 at Ormisbank Cottage, Eskbank, Dalkeith. His death certificate describes his mother as Jeannie Deans, deceased and having been an Agricultural Labourer.