brian mckay's family tree
1790 / 91
Initially, I discovered Robert Bigley through his son William's Marriage certificate. That, as is related on William's page, took a long time to find, because of the lateness of his marriage. On William's Marriage certificate, his father was actually recorded as Robert Begley, which was in accord with how William's own surname was spelt on the certificate. However, we know that there were many variations of that name between William and his daughter, Ann. Bigley is not as great a leap from Begley as Bueglay.
Robert was also named as Begley on William's Death certificate and again this was in accordance with the way William's own name was spelt on that record. On both of William's Marriage and Death certificates, his mother was named as Margaret Grinton and it is she who holds the key. I found a Marriage record for Robert Bigley and Margaret Grinton that took place a couple of years before William's likely year of birth. Furthermore, the marriage took place in Cramond, which is where later Censuses show William's wife to have been born. Admittedly, this is a bit circumstantial, but persuasive, nevertheless. Besides, Grinton is not exactly a common name and to find one married to a Robert Bigley at around the right time and probably the right place, is compelling.
I then found a Death record for a Robert Begley, although I was uncertain that this was for the correct person. It took place in 1857 and the Robert in question was aged 73. This would have meant he was born around 1784, making him aged 43 at the time of his marriage to Margaret Grinton. This did seem a little old, but his own son William married at the same age, so maybe it's a family thing? Robert's death was reported by his son, also called Robert. At that stage I was not aware of our Robert (senior) having had a son called Robert, so I did some more digging and found a birth record for a Robert Bigley, son of Robert Bigley and Margaret Grinton, born on 8th February 1836 at a place referred to simply as "The Water of Leith". This, seemingly vague address, is actually quite useful, as the address I have for Robert's Death is "Dean Bridge, Water of Leith, Parish of St. Cuthbert’s, Edinburgh".
I was, by then, satisfied that I had the correct Robert. This new information then led me to have a look at Census records to see if I could find more about Robert. I found him in the 1841 Census, living with his wife, Margaret, and four children, including William and Robert. I learned from that, that Robert had been born in Ireland, so it is unlikely I'll be able to trace his line further back. However, having found him in the 1841 Census, I then found him the 1851 Census - on this occasion living only with his son, William, which may have meant that his wife was by then deceased? The 1851 Census gave more information on his birth, stating that he was born in County Derry, Ireland.
There are definitely some uncomfortable inconsistencies in the information gleaned from the records I have found, not least the disparity in ages. However, the consistent reference to Water of Leith and Dean Village, suggests that all of these records are for the same Robert. As I've said before, it is not uncommon for ages to be recorded incorrectly, particularly where events took place back at the start of the 19th or late 18th centuries. I am satisfied that the Death certificate is the correct one and that in all likelihood Robert was aged younger than the 73 ascribed to him.
KEY EVENTS AND DATES
Birth - 1790 to 1791
According to the 1841 and 1851 Censuses, Robert must have been born during this period, in Derry, Ireland. However, a search of Irish records in 'FindMyPast' has not turned up a likely birth record. Robert's death certificate does suggest a period of birth about 10 years earlier, but my searches have included that period also.
19th January 1827
Robert married Margaret Grinton in Cramond. The actual entry was:
Cramond - January 19 1827
This day Rob't Bigley and Marg't Grinton both is this Parish gave in their names
for proclamation in order to marriage & being regularly proclaimed were married.
From the ages assigned to William in his Marriage certificate and Censuses, William, Robert's son, must have been born in this year. According to the Census records he was born in Leith, although they disagree as to whether it was North or South Leith, but given the place of Robert's marriage and the birth place of his daughter, Margaret, being Cramond, perhaps, William's birth was also there. Either way, I have been unable to find a record of his birth as yet.
24th August 1831
Robert's daughter, Margaret Bigley, was born in Davidson's Mains, Cramond. Her parents were recorded as being Robert Bigley and Margaret Grinton.
8th February 1836
Robert's son, Robert, was born at "Water of Leith", Parish of St Cuthberts. His parents were recorded as being Robert Bigley, a Labourer and Margaret Grinton. The "Water of Leith" is given as part of Robert Senior's place of death.
8th May 1838
Robert's son, John, was born at Dean ,Water of Leith. His parents were recorded as being Robert Bigley, a Labourer and Margaret Grinton.
18th December 1839
Sadly, Robert's son, John died at Dean Path. His father was recorded as Robert Bigley and the cause of his death was given as "Teething".
The Census records Robert, a Roads Labourer aged 50, as residing at Dean Village. Also living there were his wife Margaret, aged 40 and his children William (12), Margaret (9), Peter (7) and Robert (5). Robert's place of birth is given as Ireland.
The Census records Robert Beglie, a Labourer aged 58 and a widower, as residing at the "Village of Water of Leith". Also living there was his son William, aged 20. Robert was recorded as being a widower and his place of birth as County Derry.
Death - 17th November 1857
If I have the correct Death certificate (see intro above), Robert died on this date at 7 p.m. at Dean Bridge, Water of Leith, Parish of St. Cuthbert’s, Edinburgh. Robert had been a Labourer and the cause of his death was "Paralysis which continued 3 days". His death was reported by his son, Robert (not present at death). The age given to Robert was 73, but if this is the correct Robert, it was more likely that he was actually 63 and his son just didn't know his correct age, or the Registrar got it wrong. His parents, both deceased, were named as William Begley, a Coachman and Jane Begley - no maiden name "unknown".
19th August 1873
Robert's son, William, finally married Jane Hill at the Free Church College on The Mound in Edinburgh. William was aged 43. His parents were recorded as being Robert Begley, formerly a Labourer but now deceased and Margaret Grinton. Their witnesses included a Robert Begley - obviously not William's father, so presumably the brother; the one that reported Robert Senior's death in 1857?
6th December 1892
Robert's son, William, died at 1 South Foulis Close, High Street, Edinburgh. His parents were recorded as Robert Begley and Margaret Grinton.