Friday, 22 July 2016

Isabella Smith Ross McLeod

My maternal 2nd great grandmother Isabella was born on 7 Sep 1817 in Abernethy & Kincardine, Moray, Scotland to Donald Smith and Margaret Davidson (Family Search has her baptismal record confirming this) and seems to have been their eldest and only surviving daughter.

Isabella had two brothers, Peter and Donald. I can find nothing on Donald after his 1823 baptism, but have researched Peter (1821-bef 1871) and his family through the 1851 and 1861 censuses.

I can't find anything confirming my third great grandparents' (Donald and Margaret) births, marriage or deaths -- discoveries yet to be made -- but Margaret appears in her son Peter's household in the 1861 census, in Edinburgh. Her occupation is listed as a retired midwife. Margaret was born in Kingussie & Insch in Inverness-shire about 1779. Kingussie is on the same rail line as Nethy Bridge, where my ancestors lived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Nethy Bridge, Inverness-shire, Scotland,
c 21st century
As noted in my last post, I don't have the date that Isabella married Alexander Ross, but the births of their children are chronicled. You'll see in my last post that their last child, Alexandrina. was born on 13 Apr 1856.

But Alexander had died by this point. I know this because on 10 Jan 1856, Isabella married Angus McLeod (b abt 1813), a sawyer. This was four months before the birth of her daughter, Alexandrina Ross.

Isabella and Angus soon started a family, but again, Isabella lost a husband when Angus died on 18 Mar 1857, eight months before the posthumous birth of their son, John (1857-1880). What are the chances of such back-to-back life altering tragedies to strike in under two years?

It must have been extremely difficult for a woman with no husband and three daughters under ten years old and a baby on the way.

So there Isabella was at the end of 1856, with five children under ten, including two babies, to support and care for, without a husband. She never married again. Did Isabella have family nearby in Nethy Bridge?
  • The 1861 census shows her living with her two youngest children. Her three older daughters were most likely all in service at young ages.  
  • The 1871 census shows her living alone at Seafield Place, which appears in many Matheson records, in Nethy Bridge
  • The 1881 census shows her living with a Ross sister in law and her grandson, and working as a general servant.
  • The 1891 census shows her heading a household that included her daughter Margaret Ross Gillies (1847-1932) and four of her children
When Isabella died at Seafield Place on 23 Jan 1915, she was 97 years old. I think that Isabella was made of very strong stuff to have lived the life she lived. I'm proud be her descendant.

The never ending story continues...


  1. Margaret,

    I want to let you know that your blog is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a great weekend!

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