My Family History

Trace your ancestors and then immortalise them!

                     THE HUNTERS

My mother was born a Hunter and her brother, Alastair, has continued our branch of the Hunters for eighty six years. The Hunters of the past would be proud of what he and Melody have achieved over the years. The Hunters are very much alive and well in Yorkshire and Canada. Our branch of the Hunters goes back over 250 years to the east coast of Scotland and Aberdeenshire. From Old Machar to Newhills, from Peterculter to Chapel of Garioch, the Hunters have farmed, fished, weaved and cut stone. I’ve chosen to start their story at the beginning, chronologically speaking, with William Hunter and his children. They were born in Newhills which lies four miles north-west of the city of Aberdeen.


I have no definite information about William at all, not even the name of his wife, but His children are well documented at FamilySearch with christening dates, and with William given as their father but no mother named. Whether William also grew up in Newhills, as his children did, is not known, nor whom his parents were. A possible candidate for our William is the one born in Fyvie, Aberdeenshire on 23 January 1750. A better one is the William Hunter born on November 29th, 1745 in Old Machar, Aberdeen. Newhills is part of this parish. His father was Andrew Hunter. William's son, Alexander, named his first son Andrew. So far, so good.

However Alexander didn't name any of his nine daughters Anne, which was the name of this William's mother. Experience shows that names play an important part in any family history. William's only daughter, Margaret, named her first daughter Jean, and her second daughter Isobel. Therefore either could have been named after either her mother or her grandmothers. Still no sign of our Old Machar William's mother Anne.

William must have married around 1773 because his first child was born early in 1774. A William Hunter married Jean Gillmore at Ardrossan, Ayr on November 25th, 1772. However the distance from Ayr to Aberdeen is 150 miles. A Margaret Ogilvie was born in Old Meldrum on 17 August, 1752, and William had a daughter named Margaret. However, the name of William's wife must for now remain uncertain. Enough of speculation, it's time to record concrete facts.

William Hunter  1774
William was named after his father and christened on the 16th of January 1774 at Newhills. He could therefore have been born at the end of 1773. Other than that, like his father, no more information is known about him. My great-great-grandfather James remembered his own grandfather when he named his eldest son William.

Margaret Hunter  1776
Margaret was William’s only daughter, born in 1776 and christened on the 10th of November. She married John Henderson in 1802 in Newhills, and they moved to Chapel Of Garioch near Inverurie. This is about twenty miles north-west of Aberdeen. Jean Henderson was born on the 14th of November 1805 with Isobel born on the 29th of August 1807. Their third child, John, was born on the 22nd January 1810. These are birthdates, not christening dates. The latter were also recorded in parish records. A Christian Henderson was born in 1821 in Old Machar but probably to a different Margaret Hunter.

John Hunter 1780
John Hunter was born in 1780 and had a twin brother George. They were christened on the 24th of March. I haven’t been able to find any more information on John.

       George Hunter 1780-1868

George was John’s twin brother and the Scottish Censuses of the 19th Century give us a good insight into his life. He became a farmer of  twenty-four acres and lived well into his eighties. The 18th of June, 1849, was a  very special day in his long life. Now in his 70th year, he became a father. He had married Barbara Stephen, born in 1813, daughter of David and Janet Stephen from Skene, a farming community a few miles west of Aberdeen. She was thirty-three years younger than George. Whether he had previously been married or had children, I don’t know but his brother, Alexander had fathered twelve children by this time, so this was a momentous day for George and of course for Barbara. Their many nephews and neices had a new cousin!

Jessie Hunter had arrived and was duly christened on July 15th. The household included four servants/ farmworkers and two boarders, so congratulations and celebrations were in order. Now that he had a young daughter to help bring up, even a superman like George had to lighten his workload. So he and his family retired to Backhill Cottage, close by, to enjoy their new life. By the time Jesse was eleven, George was still going strong, and in his eighty-first year. He went on to reach eighty-seven before finally meeting his maker on the 23rd of February,1868 at Crombie Cottage, Bishopford, Peterculter. Sadly Jessie died on 10th April 1868, just over a month after George. She was only eighteen. A terrible blow for poor Barbara.

The Scottish Census of 1871, recorded Barbara as still living at Bishops Ford. John Mitchell, a vet and John Marr, a labourer are boarders. Ten years later, Barbara was still at Bishops Ford but was now alone. She died at the age of eighty-three on the 6th July 1896 at Crommie Cairn Cottage Cottage. She had been a widow for twenty-eight years, but how magical the 1850s and 60s must have been for her with George and Jessie. For me, one of the highlights of this family history. George, Barbara, and Jessie are all buried at Kirkton of Skene Churchyard, plot 454. Thank you to Malky for tying up some loose ends in this section
            Alexander Hunter 1782
William Hunter's youngest child was Alexander, born in 1782 and christened on the 8th of October. He was my great-great-great grandfather. He took up stonemasonry which was a prominent industry in an area, famed for its blue granite stone. Aberdeen is known as the Granite City.

Alexander met Christian Milne, also from Aberdeen, and they were married on the 23rd of June, 1810. Christina, the name she was known by, was nineteen years old and the eldest daughter of Andrew and Isabel Milne. A year later, Christian was born and christened on the 20th of March. She was to be the first of thirteen children born between 1811 and 1836.
There seemed to be a preference for girls as only Andrew (1815) James (1819) (Alexander (1821) and Adam (1826) held up the blue banner. They also had a preference for the letter ‘A’ it would appear. The one son, not starting with A was to become my great-great-grandfather, James Hunter. In birth order, the girls were Christian (1811) Jane (1813) Isabel (1817) Margaret (1823) Agnes (1825) Helen (1827) Elizabeth (1830) Mary (1833) and Williamina (1836) It is interesting that Alexander didn't name any of his sons after his father William whereas both Christian's parents are represented.

Alexander and Christina showed a meticulous sense of order and symmetry with births spaced every two years and only in odd years. Adam’s birth in 1826 broke the pattern at last. Many of the daughters went into the cotton industry as cotton reelers, and the family lived at the appropriately named Wyndy Wynd in Aberdeen West. Christian was still living at home in her forties with five of her sisters having moved on by the 1850s. Adam was the last of the sons to leave home, working as a hair cloth weaver.
I don’t know when Alexander died, but it would have been between 1851 and 1861 because he is no longer with Christian for the 1861 census. As a genealogical record, this particular census is quite a revelation and for the first time in this family history, I enclose the details of a census for future reference when we look at Christina's(Christian) daughters individually. The two grandchildren are particularly significant.