Booth, Gunn, Scott and Connected Families

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[Scott and Booth Descent]

The Booths and Scotts in Aberdeenshire

The Aberdeen connection, principally concerning Booths and Scotts, has been researched at length.  However, the volume of material to examine and the distance from the places holding research material has resulted in less information on the main line and fewer side branches and associated families being research to any depth.  This brief report will eventually be extended with the extra material, historical data and more detailed historical description of the areas of residence of family members.

Booths in Aberdeenshire are fairly common and Scotts even more so.  At this time I have not enquired into the history of those names in the county of Aberdeen or elsewhere.  However, I have looked at The Surnames of Scotland by Black and The Dictionary of British Surnames by Reaney for some guidance on the origins of the names in Scotland as a whole.

Black suggests that Booth is of local origin from residence at a booth and comes from the Middle English 'bothe' meaning hut or temporary shelter.  Reaney gives a similar account suggesting the name derives from the word for a herdsman's hut.  He says it is an occupational name for a cowman or herdsman identical with the name Boothman.   Black found the name in several parts of Scotland but his first discovery of it was for a merchant of 'Aberdene', Walter de La Bothe, whose ship was plundered by the English near Yarmouth in 1273.

The name Scott is even more common and widespread in Scotland and the North of England.  Indeed it is more common in Northumberland than in most parts of Scotland and within Scotland it is most common as a percentage of the population in Orkney.  It is noted by Black as being descriptive of the Irish Scots or Gaels and coming from the word Scotus.  It is first noted in 1120 and then in 1124. Firstly with reference to the witnessing of the charter of Selkirk and later in similar context in an inquisition of Earl David.  The gentleman mentioned in those documents was Uhted filius Scot.

The Booths in whom I have an interest appear to have been employed on the land and generally as labourers.  The same may apply to some of the Scotts with John Scott, born 1797, being described as an Agricultural Labour in the 1841 census and James Scott, born 1809, being described as a Crofter.  The earliest Scott I have identified, William born about 1764, was an exception to the above being a Wheelwright or Joiner.  Also some of the Scotts living in Turriff seem to have been employed other than on the land with two in one family being Shoemakers and a wife listed as a Boot Closer.

Before 1800, and in many parts of the country after that date Scotland was overwhelmingly a rural country.  No more than 15% of the population resided in towns and even the village as we know it was a rarity.  Most country folk lived in innumerable hamlets or 'fermtouns'.  Many hardly servive today or are remembered only in the name of farm steadings.  Roads were non-existent and the tracks leading from place to place were hardly conducive to easy and quick communications.

Dwellings throughout rural Scotland in the 18th and early 19th centuries were of a poor standard but the Booths might have had accommodation of a slightly better standard than that of the Gunns. Additionally, while roads were also little more than tracks in rural Aberdeenshire at turn of the century the number of tracks, the weather and the terrain made travel that little bit easier easier.

The Aberdeenshire farming country would have been very different from that experienced by the Gunns in Kildonan and Watten and while the quality of the land in Watten parish might have approached that in Aberdeenshire the terrain and the weather would have been somewhat less favourable for livestock and to work in. 

Though the early families moved around to find farm work their general movement appears to have been within a parish or the ajoining parish.  The earliest Scotts on one side of the family were from Turriff and those in the other line resided in Turriff for many years though they moved there from King Edward parish and may have been born outwith Aberdeenshire.

Turriff was one of the relatively small number of market towns of some size and importance from the earliest times.  It had a history going back over a thousand years and served a thriving farming community as a centre for the sale of livestock and produce.

The Scotts who worked on the land would have known the town well and those in the town would have had amongst their customers the prosperous merchants of the town and the visiting farmers if not their labourers and cottars.  This knowledge of the town would have resulted not only from visits to take produce to market but also because it was here that a famous 'Feeing' market took place.  This market was where farm employees were re-engaged for a new term or changed their employers.

Louisa Scott, born 1843,  appears to have been one of at least seven children all born in Turriff.  Her first Husband, from Turriff, was John Jamieson but he died before 1875 when Louisa married for the second time to Andrew Booth.  Andrew was himself a widower having been previously married to Christina Gibson.  Louisa had a son, who died in infancy, to John while Andrew already had two sons to Christina.  Andrew later married for the third time to Ursula Malcolmson.

This Ursula Malcolmson was of Shetland origin and was clearly well accepted by existing members of Andrew's family as more than one later included her name in the names of children.

Andrew's father John Booth, a farm labourer,  had children to his wife, Margaret Dustan or Dunstan, in Udny, Tarves and Foveran.  His grandfather was most probably James or John Booth who was resident in Ellon 1790 at the time of the birth of his son, Andrew's father.  In addition to Andrew he had three daughters and two other sons all of whom were born in Ellon parish.  By 1841 Andrew himself was a labourer at Fortrie, Ellon.

Ellon has a role now as a commuter dormitory town for Aberdeen as well as serving as a market town for the surrounding area but its history goes back well over 2000 years to the time of the Picts.  It is strategically placed where the river Ythan can be forded and conveniently placed for the farming community to bring livestock and produce to market.  No doubt the Booths engaged in this task on many occasions.

  Margaret Dunstan's ancestors have not yet come to light and neither have any other members of her family.  It is not clear from whence she originated and her death date is estimated from census returns.  She was married to John Booth in Ellon and so she probably came from there or at least was working in that area.

The name Dunstan is not particularly common and Dustan, almost certainly a corruption of Dunstan, even less so.  Black says that it is a surname of Fife and may be the Old English personal name Dunstan used as a surname.  He records the name as first appearing in 1202 in Perth where a Master William Dunstan held lands.  He notes the name appears again in Perth in 1291 when another William Dunstan rendered homage.

Andrew and his family have been hard to find on any census after 1841 but no doubt a longer search in the future will throw up something.  It would appear, however, that as Aberdeen became more industrialised and more work was available in the city then the Booths moved from the land to the city.  A move which must have been in many way traumatic as condition in Aberdeen were quite different from those met before.  The close confines of the overpopulated tenements must have been a considerable culture shock at first to them. 

The move must have taken place about mid-19th century as Andrew was married to Christina Gibson in St. Nicholas parish in 1863.  At that time he was residing in St. Andrew's Street and by the time he married his second wife, Louisa, he was still in St. Andrew's Street but at a different number.  Louisa was living in Young Street at the time of this, her second, marriage.

In Aberdeen Andrew worked as a Railway Carter and members of his close and more distant family had jobs in industry rather than on the land.  Some became Stone Polishers,  another was described as a Granite Polisher and there was also a Plasterer.  Andrew's son, George, the next Booth in the direct line, worked as a Ship's Steward and it was in this capacity that he arrived in Thurso while working on boats crossing to the Orkney Islands .

George was born at 1701/2  Gallowgate and with such a precise address I was confident of finding him there on the census of 1871.  However, neither George nor his family could be found and neither could the house.  The same problem arose 1881 but a further search there and in the 1891 census, which was not available when this part of tree was being researched, might yet be fruitful.

George married Williamina Gunn in Thurso in 1917 and they resided first at 5 Sutherland Cottages, then at 14 Riverside and when the new houses in Durness Street were completed, in the mid-1920s, they moved there.  It was here that they brought up their children and here that George died in 1965 at the age of 83 years.  His wife, Williamina, continued to live there for a further 13 years up to her death in 1978.

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