Thursday, October 23, 2014

1. Robert Muir (c1800-1869)

FamilySearch.org: LJT8-YP2

Robert Muir was born about 1800 in Ireland and came to Scotland sometime before 1828 when he married Henrietta Brown on 28 January in Avondale parish, Lanarkshire. Robert and Henrietta had 12 known children, 10 of which lived to at least young adulthood. 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 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. After Henrietta died sometime before 1856, Robert lived in Stonehouse parish where he died in 1869.

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.

Children of Robert and Henrietta (Brown) Muir:
  • William Muir, born about 1826 (no more is known about this child at this time)
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Jean Muir born 8 April 1834 at Avondale, Lanarkshire. She likely died before 1837.
  • Henrietta Muir born 29 January 1836 at East Kilbride, Lanarkshire. She likely died before 1841.
  • Jean Muir born 8 October 1837 at East Kilbride, Lanarkshire; died 19 August 1856 at East Kilbride, Lanarkshire.
  • 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 Loudon on or before 1863 and 2) to Mary Watson Shaw on 23 June 1871 at Lesmahagow, Lanarkshire.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • James Muir born on 2 August 1844; likely died before 1847 or 1848.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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..
The children of Robert and Henrietta (Brown) Muir had 78 known children, who lived on three continents.

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1841 Scotland Census, 06/06/1841 Moore, Henrietta (Census 1841 643/00 0001/00 0001)
1861 Scotland Census, 07/04/1861, Muir, Robert (Census 1861 638/01 006/00 034)
1861 Scotland Census,  Parish: Dalserf: ED; 6; Page: 34; Line: 13; Roll CSSCT1861_95
Scotland, Old Parish Records 1538-1854, Marriages 621/00 0040 0232 Avondale)
Scotland, Select Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950, James Muir
Scotland, Select Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950, Jean Muir
Scotland, Select Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950, Jean Muir
Scotland, Select Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950, Martha Muir
Scotland, Select Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950, Martha Muir
Scotland, Statutory Death Registrations, 1855-2013, 1869, Muir, Robert (Statutory Deaths 656/00 0018)

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