Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Answering Some Adoption Questions

Nathaniel Muir was my first cousin three times removed and the son of Robert Orr Muir and his second wife, Mary Watson Shaw. Like his father and grandfather before him, Nathaniel was a coal miner. Sometime before 1891, Nathaniel's father, Robert moved his family to what is now West Lothian county, Scotland, which is further east and closer to Edinburgh than Lanarkshire where Nathaniel was born. Three months after the 1891 census was enumerated, Nathaniel married Ann "Annie" Hutton, an 18-year-old domestic servant. Both Nathaniel and Annie lived in Armadale.

When the 1901 census was taken, Nathaniel and Annie were living in Bathgate and had a 6-year-old son named Nathaniel. In 1911, the family was still living in Bathgate, but its composition had changed quite a bit. Their son, Nathaniel would have been 16, but was not listed on the census record. However, two adopted sons -- Andrew Murray (9) and Robert M. Stewart (7 months) -- were. Annie's father, Ross Hutton, was also living with them. He was a retired pit head laborer. A terrific photograph answered some questions but raised others. Isn't that always the case?!

Memorial for Annie (Hutton) Muir, her sons Andrew and Nathaniel, and Andrew's wife,
Isabella; courtesy of

The inscription reads as follows:

Created by Nathaniel and Annie Muir
In loving memory of their sons
who died 19th March 1908
aged 13 years
husband of Isabella Adams
accidentally killed 
24th November 1936
aged 34 years
Annie Hutton Muir
died 24 November 1935
aged 63 years
Also the above
Isabella Adams
died 18th July 1984
aged 81 years

I was able to find Andrew's death registration record. He died of injuries sustained in a fall at the Easton Colliery on 24 November 1936. He was married to Isabella Henry Adams and his parents were listed as Andrew and Elizabeth (Cameron) Cairns. His name on the registration record of his death was "Andrew Muir (formerly Cairns)." His father-in-law registered his death.

Robert M. Stewart was born on 14 Sep 1910 in Edinburgh to Annie Stewart and named Alistair Stewart. On 30 November of the same year, the birth registration was altered to change little Alistair's name to Robert Muir. I believe he died on 11 September 1976 and was added to the Bathgate Cemetery memorial marker for his grandparents, Robert Orr and Mary Watson (Shaw) Muir.

Memorial for Robert Orr Muir, his second wife, Mary Watson Shaw and their adopted
grandson, Robert Stewart Muir; courtesy of

I haven't yet found the birth or death registrations for Nathaniel and Annie's son, Nathaniel, which is very unusual because Scottish vital records after 1855 are fantastic. My only information about him comes from the 1901 census and the memorial stone.

I am still researching Robert Orr Muir's 14 known children, but so far I have identified 33 grandchildren. I wonder if Nathaniel and Annie struggled to have their own and that was why they adopted at least two boys. I suspect that question will remain unanswered.


  1. Great post with great information! You are amazing at finding info!

    1. Thanks, Helen! I was pretty tickled with myself when I figured out who the parents were of Andrew and Robert. And I've since been able to find the birth mother for Nathaniel. He was illegitimate and no father was listed on the birth registration.