Friday, July 13, 2018

52 Ancestors #28: Robert Muir (c1800-1869): Coal Hewer

Ancestor: Robert Muir
DNA Haplogroup: Unknown

Robert Muir was born about 1800 in Ireland; and, according to his death registration, his father's name was James Moore.  From other records, we know Robert Muir was not Catholic so this may be his baptismal record. Much more research needs to be accomplished to prove it is correct.

Possible baptismal record from Roots Ireland

Robert came to Scotland sometime before 1828 when he married Henrietta Brown on 28 January in Avondale parish, Lanarkshire. Robert and Henrietta had 13 known children, eight of which lived to marry and have children of their own. Two of their children, Henrietta and James emigrated from Scotland to other countries after marrying. Henrietta, her husband and children went to Australia and were early settlers of Bundaberg, Queensland. James Muir, his wife and family settled in the United States and lived in several coal “patches” in Illinois and Missouri. At this time, not much is known about Robert and Henrietta's first-born child and first son, William Muir.

In 1854 the Registration of Births Deaths and Marriages (Scotland) Act was enacted. The law required compulsory registration of births, deaths and marriages at the local parish registrar beginning on 1 January 1855.  Previously, families recorded these significant events at the established Church of Scotland or at their Roman Catholic parish. Many of these pre-1855 records have been lost over time, as they were not required to be sent to any type central repository. This has made tracing Robert Muir and his family somewhat challenging. 

Lanark county, or Lanarkshire, is the area of Scotland in which Robert Muir settled. It was in the central lowlands and was traditionally the most populous shire in the country. From the mid-18th century to the early 20th century Lanarkshire benefited from its rich seams of coal. So it’s no surprise the Muirs were mostly miners. Robert’s occupation is only mentioned in four records: on his daughters’ 1830 and 1834 birth registration entries, he is listed as “coal hewer” and “coal cutter;” "coal cutter" again on the 1841 census, and on the 1861 census, his occupation is “formerly coal miner.”

Coal Mining

Coal had been mined in Scotland since 1210 when monks at Prestongrange were granted the right to quarry it. During Reformation the mines passed out of control of the church and were owned by landowners. The Act of 1606 bound all miners to the mines and gave coal masters the right to “apprehend all vagabonds and sturdy beggars to be put to labor.” In 1641 the restrictions were extended to those who worked at the surface of the mine. The Act of 1775 freed miners after a period of 3 to 10 years. Four years later, the Emancipation Act was enacted and declared miners free of servitude.  In 1842 the Mines Act prohibited children under 10 and women from working in the mines.

Children were mostly educated in schools run by the established Church of Scotland. However, by 1847 the Free Church claimed over 44,000 children were being taught in their schools. Education did not become compulsory for children aged 5 to 13, however, until 1872.  Robert and Henrietta’s children could not read or write and signed legal documents by making their mark. Most of their children received at least some education and were literate.

1845 Map of Lanarkshire, Scotland, from the Statistical
Account of Lanarkshire published in 1841

Robert Muir and his family lived in Avondale, Glassford, East Kilbride and Larkhall parishes -- all in Lanark county. The family moved to East Kilbride by 1837 and eight of Robert's youngest children were born there. The town is located about 8 miles southeast of Glasgow in the Scottish Lowlands.

East Kilbride

The earliest evidence of habitation are ancient graves near a local river and Roman coins and footwear have also been found. The town takes its name from St. Bride, an Irish saint, who founded a monastery for nuns and monks in Kildare, Ireland.

In 1836, about 960 people lived in the town and most of them were considered very poor. Rev. Henry Moncrief, one of the contributors to the Statistical Account of Lanarkshire, which was published in 1841, wrote that:

"A considerable portion of the people are very poor. This is particularly the case in the village of Kilbride where there is a number of weavers, but no regular manufactory to keep the people in employment. In the rural parts, the population are generally comfortable, industrious, contented, and influenced by the religious habits of their forefathers. There are many persons in the villages of excellent character, both intellectually, morally, and religiously. Poaching in game, it is to be feared, used to be prevalent, but is not so now."

The average wage for a general laborer was about 10 to 12 shillings a week. Men who worked in East Kilbride's many limestone quarries may have earned a little more. Sixteen pecks of potatoes cost 16 shillings in 1840.

According to Rev. Moncrief, there was a parish library and a subscription library. There were three district parochial schools in the parish and a "very excellent school in Maxwellton, supported by the liberality of Sir William Maxwell. In all the schools, ordinary branches are taught. Some of the modern improvements have been introduced, with great advantage, into Sir William Maxwell's school."

The parish also had a savings' bank, which was connected with the Glasgow National Security Savings Bank. There were 19 inns and public houses, which Rev. Moncrief thought "prejudicial to the morals of the people."

East Kilbride Old Parish Church; photograph
courtesy of the Scottish War Memorials Project

The original parish church had been built on the site of a pre-Christian well. The current church was built in 1774 near the original site. It was the church in which Robert and Henrietta's children were baptized. 

On 30 Mar 1851 when the census was enumerated, Robert and Henrietta’s children were living in East Kilbride, Lanarkshire, but their parents were not in the home at the time. It is possible Henrietta was sick, perhaps she never fully recovered from Nathaniel’s birth, and was in a hospital. This is merely supposition on my part.

Robert and Henrietta's daughter, Jean Muir, who was born in 1837 died on 19 August 1856. Her death registration indicated that her mother was deceased. Henrietta's youngest son, Nathaniel, had been born in December 1850; so Henrietta died sometime between December 1850 and 19 August 1856.

Robert Muir was enumerated as a widower in 1861 in the parish of Dalserf and had formerly been a coal miner. Six of his children lived with him. His daughter Henrietta worked as a servant and the five sons living with him worked in the coal mines, even Nathaniel who was 10 years old at the time the household was enumerated.

Robert Muir died on 20 April 1869 in Stonhouse, Scotland, of heart palpitations and chronic bronchitis. His son registered his death with the civil authorities and stated that his father's name was James Muir and his mother's name was unknown.

Which Robert Muir?

Another Robert Muir was born about 1801-1803 in Ayrshire, Scotland. Many, many public trees indicate that Robert Muir is the same person who married Henrietta Brown. I do not agree. Though records are scarce, the 1841 and 1861 census are consistent. The 1841 census stated Robert Muir was foreign born, which included England or Ireland. The 1861 census indicated he was born in Ireland. I believe this misidentification has occurred because there a photograph of the Robert Muir, born in Ayrshire, exists.

This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. The theme for this week was "Travel," which I did not follow.

Using the Ancestral Reference Numbering System, Robert Muir, is Ancestor number 40 on my family tree:

40 Robert Muir was born in Ireland about 1800 to James Muir and an unknown woman; died 20 April 1869 in Stonehouse, South Lanarkshire, Scotland; married Henrietta Brown on 26 January 1828 in Avondale, South Lanarkshire, Scotland.

40.1 William Muir, born about 1826 (no more is known about this child at this time)

40.2 Elizabeth Muir born about 1829 at Avondale, Lanarkshire; died 27 October 1863 at Dalton, Cambuslang, Lanarkshire. She married Matthew Cassels on 15 December 1851 at East Kilbride, Lanarkshire.

40.3 Martha Muir born 2 September 1830 at Glassford, Lanarkshire; died 6 June 1876 at East Kilbride, Lanarkshire. She married John Riddell on7 August 1852 at East Kilbride, Lanarkshire.

40.4 Jean Muir born 8 April 1834 at Avondale, Lanarkshire. She likely died before 1837.

40.5 Henrietta Muir born 29 January 1836 at East Kilbride, Lanarkshire. She likely died before 1841.

40.6 Jean Muir born 8 October 1837 at East Kilbride, Lanarkshire; died 19 August 1856 at East Kilbride, Lanarkshire.

40.7 Robert Orr Muir born 1 October 1839 at East Kilbride, Lanarkshire; died 8 July 1917 at Bathgate, Linlithgow, Scotland. He married twice: 1) to Jane Paton Loudon on or before 1863 and 2) to Mary Watson Shaw on 23 June 1871 at Lesmahagow, Lanarkshire.

40.8 Henrietta Muir born 21 May 1841 at East Kilbride, Lanarkshire; died 1 September 1929 at Bundaberg, Queensland, Australia. She married James Williamson on 27 September 1861 at Avondale, Lanarkshire. They immigrated to Australia on 6 May 1885 aboard the cargo ship S/S Waroonga.

40.9 Thomas Muir born 25 November 1842 at East Kilbride, Lanarkshire; died 5 May 1901 at Larkhall, Lanarkshire. He married twice: 1) to Janet Sorbie on 6 November 1863 at Stonehouse, Lanarkshire, and 2) to Isabella Moore on 4 October 1870 at Glassford, Lanarkshire.

40.10 James Muir born on 2 August 1844; likely died before 1847 or 1848.

40.11 John Muir born 28 June 1846 at East Kilbride, Lanarkshire; died 2 June 1932 at Larkhall, Lanarkshire. He married Lillas Weir 6 October 1865 at Stonehouse, Lanarkshire.

20 James Muir born on 13 June 1847 or 1848; died on 18 March 1926 at Mystic, Appanoose, Iowa, USA. He married twice: 1) to Margaret Semple on 4 July 1873 at Dalserf, Lanarkshire, and 2) to Margaret “Maggie” (McIntosh) Greenbank on 9 January 1913 at Princeton, Mercer, Missouri, USA. He immigrated to the U.S. on 6 June 1887 aboard the steamship Ethiopia.

40.12 Nathaniel Muir likely born sometime in December 1850; died 23 February 1923 at Whitburn, West Lothian (was Linlithgow previous to 1921). He married twice: 1) Janet Shaw 1 May 1870 at Avondale, Lanarkshire, and 2) Christina Ure on 29 May 1899 at Bathgate, Linlithgow.

1841 Scotland Census (database), Ancestry, Robert Moore, Kilbride, Lanarkshire; citing Parish: East Kilbride; ED: 4; Page: 10; Line: 1149; Year: 1841(accessed 14 Nov 2014)
1845 Map of Lanarkshire, Statistical Account of Lanarkshire1841 (accessed 6 Apr 2014)
1851 Scotland Census (database), Ancestry, Elizabeth Muir, East Kilbride, Lanarkshire; citing Parish: East Kilbride; ED: 13; Page: 8; Line: 3; Roll: CSSCT1851_152 (accessed 14 Nov 2014)
1861 Scotland Census (database), Ancestry, Robert Muir, Dalserf, Lanarkshire; citing Parish: Dalserf: ED; 6; Page: 34; Line: 13; Roll CSSCT1861_95 (accessed 14 Nov 2014)
Brown, Henrietta (O.P.R. Births 644/01 0210 0036 Glasgow)
East Kilbride Old Parish Church, Gazetteer for Scotland, ScotlandsPlaces (accessed 9 Jul 2018)
Ireland, Church Baptisms, Donegal Ancestry, 1799 Muir, Robert
Ireland, Select Births and Baptisms, 1620-1911, 1911 Moore, James
Questions, Questions, Questions, Tangled Roots and Trees (accessed 9 Jul 2018)
Robert Muir (c1800-1869), Robert Muir Family (accessed 9 Jul 2018
Robert Muir's Parents! Yes? Maybe? No., Tangled Roots and Trees (accessed 9 Jul 2018)
Scotland, Old Parish Records, 1538-1854, 26/01/1828 Muir, Robert (O.P.R. Marriages 621/00 0040 0232 Avondale)
Scotland, Old Parish Records, 1538-1854, 08/04/1834, Muir, Jean (O.P.R. Births 621/00 0040 0088 Avondale)
Scotland, Old Parish Records, 1538-1854, 14/02/1836, Muir, Henrietta (O.P.R. Births 643/00 0030 0085 East Kilbride)
Scotland, Old Parish Records, 1538-1854, 05/11/1837, Muir, Jean (O.P.R. Births 643/00 0030 0096 East Kilbride)
Scotland, Old Parish Records, 1538-1854, 22/08/1844 Muir, James (O.P.R. Births 643/00 0030 0124 East Kilbride)
Scotland, Old Parish Records, 1538-1854, 13/12/1851 Muir, Elizabeth (O.P.R. Marriages 643/00 0030 0220 East Kilbride)
Scotland, Select Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950, 1834  Jean Muir
Scotland, Select Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950, 1837 Jean Muir
Scotland, Select Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950, 1844 James Muir
Scotland, Statutory Registrations, 1854-2013, 1856 Muir, Jane (Statutory Deaths 643/00 0038)
Scotland, Statutory Registrations, 1855-2013, 1863 Cassels, Elizabeth (Statutory Deaths 627/00 0073)
Scotland, Statutory Registrations, 1855-2013, 1869, Muir, Robert (Statutory Deaths 656/00 0018)

The Robert Muir Family Blog
I am writing a multi-volume book about the descendants of Robert Muir (c1800-1869) and his wife, Henrietta Brown. Volumes I and II may be downloaded from the above link.

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