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52 Weeks Week 3: Clyde, Jean Armour, and Robert Burns

January 20, 2019

I'm participating in Amy Johnson Crow's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. This week the theme is "unusual name." I don't actually have many unusual names in my ancestry. Many are rather workaday: Peter, Thomas, Ann, Margaret, Eva, Linda, Nancy, and so on. However, one name comes to mind this morning: Clyde.

 

My great-great grandmother Helen Hastie's family hailed from Leadhills, a tiny mining village in the hills of Lanarkshire, Scotland. Helen married Thomas Beveridge in 1837 and the two came to the United States. They named one of their daughters Jeannette Clyde. "Nettie" became my great grandmother. Several descendants had Clyde as a middle name, and my parents gave it to one of my sisters as a first name.

 

My theory is that Thomas and Helen gave their daughter the middle name "Clyde" to honor the last sight they had of Scotland: the Firth of Clyde. Their ship sailed from Greenock. Was it to remind them of the homeland they had left? The River Clyde actually has its source in the area, where the Dare Water and Portrail Water meet. Very close to Leadhills. For an amusing article about Leadhills, see this article in the Scotsman.com:

https://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/a-journey-in-search-of-the-source-of-the-clyde-reveals-much-about-the-river-s-place-in-the-nation-s-heart-1-1369029

 

Of course the Clyde name origin in our family is conjecture... I haven't researched the generations before Helen and Thomas, so I don't know whether the name "Clyde" appeared in the family before they came to the United States.

 

Here is the manifest from the ship Helen and Thomas arrived on, showing that they left from Greenock:

 

 "New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820–1957," for Ellen Beveridge, database with images, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 19 January 2019); citing NARA microfilm publication M237, roll 037.

 

My cousin John Fenn, another descendant of Helen and Thomas, told me an interesting family story about these Scottish ancestors:

 

"Jean Armour Sloan (Hastie) was born in Leadhills, a small mining village southeast of Glasgow. 'Jean Armour' was in honor of the paramour of 'Bobbie' Burns, the great Scottish poet, who in fact was her godfather and held her at her christening..." [1]

 

I haven't been able to ascertain whether this was true -- perhaps never will. I haven't done that research yet. It is true, though, that Burns wrote one of his poems, "Pegasus at Wanlockhead," while visiting Wanlockhead with a friend named Thomas Sloan in the winter of 1789–1790. So, who knows? More to be discovered...

 

Fenn goes on to tell of one couple, (and it may be Jean Sloan and John Hastie, whom she married) of whom the man lived "over the mountain from Lead Hills in Sanquhar. The family legend was that he used to walk the five miles or so over the mountain and back every night to visit her during their courtship." [2] Now I've looked, and as the crow flies it might be a little more than five miles. Driving, it's ten, but there are steep hills (the Lowther Hills) there and there are mountain paths.

 

Actually the Lowther Hills are rather ominous, both in look and in feel.  Below is a photo I took near Leadhills in 2007.

 

 The Lowther Hills, near Leadhills, Lanarkshire, Scotland. Photo by Ann D. Watson, 2007.

 

This post is rather a pot pourri ... I hope readers have found something of interest in it.

 

Notes

1. John Bennett Fenn (Richmond, Virginia) to Ann D. Watson, letter, 21 March 1999; privately held by Watson, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], New Haven, Vermont, 2019. The late John Fenn was the grandson of Jeannette Dingman, a daughter of Jeannette Clyde Beveridge, and the author's first cousin once removed.

2. Ibid.

 

 

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