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Research Notes
for James Allan, husband of Agnes Rodger

Contents  The Problem, 1837-1864, Clues, Birth of James Allan, Possible Renfrewshire Births, Possible Ayrshire Births, Other Searches To Do

The Problem Many official and family records describe the life of James Allan from 1837 to his death and burial in 1864, spanning three countries, Scotland, Canada, and the United States.  But there is little known of him before his 1837 marriage.

1837-1864  James Allan married Agnes Rodger 8 Aug 1837 (Church of Scotland, Abbey, Renfrewshire, Parish register for 1837 p.328).

They immigrated to Canada between 1843 and 1845 (children's birth places), but likely June 1843 (family notes).  They lived in Guelph, Wellington Co., Ontario at least through 1861 (children's births and the 1861 census).  Agnes and the younger children moved to Hamilton, Wentworth Co., Ontario, Canada after James' death, and before the 1871 census.  Some of her brothers and at least one of her older children were already living there.

On his marriage record, his occupation is given as "cotton spinner".  In the 1841 census, he is called "laborer". This change may have been made by him to facilitate emigration.  It also could be a reflection of the increasing move from home industry to factories.  In Guelph, James was a quarryman and helped quarry the stone for City Hall and the first stone buildings in Guelph.

According to family stories, James was sent to the U.S. by his employer to pursue some issue, and in 1863, at the height of the U.S. Civil War, he was somehow drafted into the U.S. Army.  According to his pension record, he was enrolled on the 16th day of Dec, 1863 at Leavenworth, Kansas, in Co. D, 16th Regiment of Kansas Cavalry. Volunteers, and was mustered into service as a private on the 29th day of Dec. 1863, at Fort Leavenworth, in Co. D, 16th Regiment of Kansas Cav. Volunteers.  He was paid an advance bounty and premium of $27.  The bounty suggests that he enlisted.

On the muster Roll of Co. D of that Regiment, dated Feby 29th, 1864, he is reported deserted at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, Feby 18th, 1864.  The charge of desertion was eventually removed.  He was admitted to U.S. General Hospital, Leavenworth City, Kansas, Feby 22nd 1864, where he died Feby 27th 1864 of Typhoid Fever.  He is buried in Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery.  There is also a memorial stone in Hamilton Cemetery where Agnes Rodger is buried.

Children of James Allan and Agnes Rodger (See The Descendants of John Rodger and Janet McFarlane parts 2 and 3 for further information and sources regarding the descendants of Agnes3 Rodger and James Allan. ):

  1. Agnes Allan, born 2 Feb 1838 Johnstone, Renfrewshire, Scotland; died 4 Jan 1916 Detroit, Wayne Co., Michigan, USA; married 10 Sep 1862 Guelph, Wellington Co., Ontario, Canada to John Perkins; 9 children.

  2. Margaret Allan, born 16 Apr 1839 Johnstone, Renfrewshire, Scotland; died 7 Jul 1910 Detroit, Wayne Co., Michigan, USA; married 10 Sep 1859 Guelph, Wellington Co., Ontario, Canada to John McKaig; 9 children.  Middle name Stinson only on her marriage record; no family connection has been found.

  3. possibly Joseph Allan, born abt Feb 1841, Renfrewshire, Scotland.  He is listed in the 1841 census in the household of James Allan and Agnes Rodger, age 3 months.  No other record has been found for him.  The name Joseph is very rare in Renfrewshire.  There are only two births recorded from 1800-1854, one in Greenock in 1827 and one in Abbey parish in 1844.  No other child is named Joseph and no grandchild is named Joseph.

  4. James Allan, born 28 Jan 1843 Johnstone, Renfrewshire, Scotland; died 10 Oct 1930 Canborough, Haldimand Co., Ontario, Canada; married (1) 25 Dec 1866 Canborough, Haldimand Co., Ontario, Canada to Martha Swayzie; they had 4 children.  He married (2) after 1885 to Minerva Janet Swayzie; they had 1 child.

  5. William Rodger Allan, born 24 Aug 1845 Guelph, Wellington Co., Ontario, Canada; died 6 Dec 1919 Hamilton, Wentworth Co., Ontario, Canada; married 11 Aug 1874 Dundas, Wentworth Co., Ontario, Canada to Annie M. Kelley; 4 children.

  6. Mary Allan, born 20 Aug 1847 Guelph, Wellington Co., Ontario, Canada; died 13 Mar 1932 Hamilton, Wentworth Co., Ontario, Canada; married 16 Nov 1874 Hamilton, Wentworth Co., Ontario, Canada to Alexander R. Martin; 4 children.

  7. Janet Ferguson Allan, born 25 Sep 1849 Guelph, Wellington Co., Ontario, Canada; died 9 Oct 1924 Hamilton, Wentworth Co., Ontario, Canada; married 18 Mar 1874 Hamilton, Wentworth Co., Ontario, Canada to Thomas Richard Honeycombe; 4 or 5 children.

  8. Elizabeth Allan, born 5 Dec 1851 Guelph, Wellington Co., Ontario, Canada; died 4 Feb 1926 Hamilton, Wentworth Co., Ontario, Canada; married 15 Jul 1869 Hamilton, Wentworth Co., Ontario, Canada to Alexander Anderson; 7 children.

  9. Annie Allan, born 11 Apr 1854 Guelph, Wellington Co., Ontario, Canada; died 18 Apr 1871 Hamilton, Wentworth Co., Ontario, Canada; never married.

  10. John Allan, born 22 May 1856 Guelph, Wellington Co., Ontario, Canada; died 31 Jul 1922 Hamilton, Wentworth Co., Ontario, Canada; married (1) 7 Sep 1881 Manhattan, New York Co., New York, USA to Catherine Euler; no children.  He married (2) 8 May 1890 Manhattan, New York Co., New York, USA to Elizabeth M. Euler; no children.

  11. possibly Jane Allan, born abt 1859 Upper Canada.  She is listed in the 1861 census in the household of James Allan and Agnes Rodger, age 2 years.  She is indicated as "a member of the family." No other record has been found for her. 

  12. George Robert Allan, born 20 Sep 1860 Guelph, Wellington Co., Ontario, Canada; died 27 Feb 1940 Hamilton, Wentworth Co., Ontario, Canada; married 7 Sep 1887 Hamilton, Wentworth Co., Ontario, Canada to Mahala Joanna Hancock; 4 children.

Clues  There are several clues which may assist in finding the parents of James Allan.

  • Family tradition says the Allan family is from Kilbernie where they owned land.  However, that tradition may relate to the grandmother of Agnes Rodger, Margaret Allan, the wife of James Orr.  Margaret Allan's entire known ancestry lived in Kilbirnie.

    Today it is about a 30 minute drive from Paisley to Kilbirnie, passing through Johnstone along the way, and with Kilbarchan and Lochwinnoch just off to the west.  See http://maps.nls.uk/geo/roy/#zoom=11&lat=55.8068&lon=-4.5895&layers=BingRoad for a map that shows Lochwinnoch but not Kilbarchan.  Google Maps shows Kilbarchan but not Lochwinnoch.  Note that Agnes Rodger was born in Kilbarchan, Renfrewshire and her mother, Agnes Orr, was born in Kilbirnie, Ayrshire.

  • Typical Scottish naming patterns, as applied to children of James Allan and Agnes Rodger, may help to narrow the field:

    • 1st son named after paternal grandfather - 1st son=James
    • 2nd son named after maternal grandfather - 2nd son=William
    • 3rd son named after father - 3rd son=John - 1st son already took father's name
    • 1st daughter named after maternal grandmother - 1st daughter=Agnes
    • 2nd daughter named after paternal grandmother - 2nd daughter=Margaret
    • 3rd daughter named after mother - 3rd daughter=Mary - 1st daughter already took mother's name

    This suggests that the parents of James Allan may be James and Margaret (or Agnes).

  • There is at least one unexplained name among the children of James Allan and Agnes Rodger: Janet Ferguson Allan.  The Ferguson name has not appeared in the known ancestry of Agnes Rodger.  Margaret (Allan) McKaig named one of her younger daughters Janet Ferguson McKaig.

Birth of James Allan  Records are not consistent regarding his birth:

  •   U.S. Army enlistment, 29 Dec 1863, age 44 (b.1819) perhaps lied about his age?
  •   1841 Census, Johnstone SCOT, age 25(-29) (b.1812-16)
  •   1861 Census, Guelph ONT, age 47 (b.1814)
  •   memorial gravestone, his age at death 51 (b.Mar 1813-Feb 1814)

The only record with specific information about his birth is the 1841 census which says he was born in Renfrewshire.

Possible Renfrewshire Births  Searches of the indexes "OPR Births & Baptisms" (Scotland's People) and "Scotland, Select Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950" (Ancestry) for James Allan, christened in Renfrewshire, born 1812-1819 identified 6 possibilities (grouped here by parish, all in Renfrewshire).  Records not "ruled out" are in bold print.

The births/baptisms are followed by 1851 census records, the result of a search in Ancestry of all James Allans born born 1812-1819 in Renfrewshire.  Since James was already in Canada in 1851, he would not be in the Scotland census.

Statutory death records in Renfrewshire, and Lanarkshire were also searched (Scotland's People) for births 1810-1820.  In most cases, the actual images were not viewed.

  • Abbey (Paisley)
    Followup of Abbey parish births is more difficult than the other Renfrewshire parishes.  Abbey parish includes Johnstone, but it also includes portions of Paisley.  With the parish's proximity to urban areas like Paisley and Glasgow, it is less likely that a person born in Johnstone also died there.  There are some census records and deaths in the area that are worth looking at.
    • Birth Date: 29 Oct 1814; Father: James Allan; Mother: Sarah Toss [aka Tosh, McIntosh]
    • Birth Date: 14 Dec 1816; Baptism Date: 22 Dec 1816; Father: George Allan; Mother: Agnes Aitcheson [see 1851 and death]
    • Birth Date: 23 Apr 1816; Baptism Date: 2 Jun 1816; Father: John Allan; Mother: Janet Scott
    • Baptism Date: 19 Dec 1819; Father: David Allan; Mother: Jane Buchanan [see death]
      • 1851 James Allan; Age: 36; Estimated birth year: abt 1815; Relationship: Head; Spouse: Jane Allan; Gender: Male; Where born: Johnston, Renfrew; Parish Number: 573; Civil Parish: Paisley Abbey; Town: Johnston; Address: 24 High Street; Occupation: Cotton Dealer; ED: 13B; Household schedule number: 13; Line: 14; Household Members: James Allan 36; Jane Allan 30; James Allan 7; Elisabeth Allan 3; Elisabeth Williamson 48; Jane Paterson 26
      • 1851 James Allan; Age: 33; Estimated birth year: abt 1818; Relationship: Head; Spouse: Christina Allan; Gender: Male; Where born: Johnstone; Parish Number: 573; Civil Parish: Paisley Abbey; Town: Johnstone; Address: 5 Houstoun Square; Occupation: Retired Meson; ED: 15A; Page: 9; Household schedule number: 30; Line: 1; Household Members: James Allan 33; Christina Allan 30; Agnes Allan 10; Jean Allan 8; George Allan 4; Andrew Allan 3; Margaret Allan Under 5mo
      • Death 1882 Allan James M 65 [b.c.1817] Johnstone And Elderslie /Renfrew 559/03 0080, d. Johnstone, parents: George Allan/Agnes Aitcheson, spouse: Christian Stewart
      • Death 1901 Allan James M 81 [b.c.1820] Johnstone And Elderslie /Renfrew 573/02 0167, d. Johnstone, parents: David Allan/Jane Buchanan, spouse: Janet Barr

  • Lochwinnoch
    The parish of Lochwinnoch, Renfrewshire is of interest because it borders the parish of Kilbirnie, Ayrshire.  The record from Lochwinnoch is of interest because the parents names match the traditional naming pattern.  However, there appears to be a James Allan in Lochwinnoch in the 1841 census that is the teacher in the 1851 census.
    • Birth Date: 5 Jul 1812; Baptism Date: 12 Jul 1812; Father: James Allan; Mother: Margaret Wallace [see Ayrshire 1870 death]
      • 1851 James Allan; Age: 39; Estimated birth year: abt 1812; Relationship: Head; Spouse: Margaret Allan; Gender: Male; Where born: Lochwinnoch, Renfrew; Parish Number: 573; Civil Parish: Paisley High Church; Address: 2 Lady Lane; Occupation: Teacher Of Grammer; ED: 9; Page: 21; Household schedule number: 87; LINE: 13; Roll: CSSCT1851_123; Household Members: ; James Allan 39; Margaret Allan 33;
      • 1851 James Allan; Age: 38; Estimated birth year: abt 1813; Relationship: Head; Spouse: Isabella Allan; Gender: Male; Where born: Lochwinnoch, Renfrewshire; Parish Number: 596; Civil Parish: Kilbirnie; Town: Kilbirnie; County: Ayrshire; Address: 11 Bridge Street; Occupation: Collier; ED: 7; Page: 10; Household schedule number: 39; LINE: 5; Roll: CSSCT1851_132; Household Members: ; James Allan 38; Isabella Allan 31; Margaret Allan 2; Ann Allan 5;
      • Death none found in Lochwinnoch

        An interesting sideline: Two other sons of James Allan and Margaret Wallace were both called cotton spinners in the 1841 census - the same occupation on the marriage record of the James Allan who married Agnes Rodger.

  • West or Old Parish, Greenock
    • Birth Date: 18 Jul 1819; Baptism Date: 27 Jul 1819; Father: Alexander Allan; Mother: Elisabeth Crawford
      • 1851 James Allan; Age: 36; Estimated birth year: abt 1815; Relationship: Head; Spouse: Janet Allan; Gender: Male; Where born: Greenock, Renfrewshire; Parish Number: 564; Civil Parish: Greenock West; Town: Greenock; Address: 56 Nicholson Street; Occupation: Journeyman Blacksmith; ED: 76; Page: 2; Household schedule number: 7; LINE: 9; Roll: CSSCT1851_119; Household Members: ; James Allan 36; Janet Allan 33; Janet Allan 12; James Allan 9; Alexd Allan 7; Ann Allan 5; Elisabeth Allan 3; Isabella Allan 4 Mo;
      • Two deaths were found in Greenock that appear to match the birth or the 1851 census, thus ruling out the Greenock birth:

      • 1870 Allan, James M 55 [b.c.1815] Greenock Old Or West /Renfrew 564/03 0789
      • 1878 Allan, James M 59 [b.c.1819] Greenock Old Or West /Renfrew 564/03 0408

Only two of the Renfrewshire births are not accounted for, both in Abbey Parish:

29 Oct 1814; Father: James Allan; Mother: Sarah Toss [aka Tosh, McIntosh].  James Allan and Agnes Rodger had six daughters, but none were named Sarah; so this choice seems unlikely, even though the date is the closest match.  Although they had 5 more children, no marriage record has been found for James Allan and Sarah Toss/Tosh/McIntosh.

23 Apr 1816; Baptism Date: 2 Jun 1816; Father: John Allan; Mother: Janet Scott.  James Allan and Agnes Rodger named their 4th daughter Janet and their third son John.  Seems possible but not likely.

Possible Ayrshire Births  A search of the indexes "OPR Births & Baptisms" (Scotland's People) and "Scotland, Select Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950" (Ancestry) for James Allan, christened in Kilbirnie, Ayrshire, born 1812-1819 identified 4 possibilities.  Agnes Orr, the mother of Agnes Rodger, was baptized 21 May 1791 in Kilbirnie, the daughter of James Allan [Jr.] and Margaret Allan [Jr.]

  • Birth Date: 19 Apr 1811; Baptism Date: 19 May 1811; Father: James Allan of Montgomeriestown; Mother: Janet Orr; the mother is probably a sister of James' wife's mother Agnes Orr.  Therefore James and his wife would be first cousins!
  • Birth Date: 12 Mar 1814; Baptism Date: 15 Mar 1814; Father: James Allan of Bridgend; Mother: Janet Fife; death 20 Jul 1814.
  • Birth Date: 30 Sep 1815; Baptism Date: 15 Oct 1815; Father: John Allan in Kirkland; Mother: Ann McKesock.
  • Birth Date: 4 Feb 1817; Baptism Date: 12 Feb 1817; Father: John Allan in Bridge; Mother: Elizabeth McCoosh.

Several searches were made for possible deaths of the above James Allans.

  1. A search of the Kilbirnie death records from 1811 through 1819 (previously scanned from Vol.1 on FHL film 1041381) which found the one for the son of James Allan/Janet Fife.
  2. A search of the index "OPR Deaths & Burials" (Scotland's People) for Kilbirnie deaths from 1820-1854.  The father's name was indexed for only two of them.  The others were probably older children or adults and the fathers were not named.  TO DO Scan Vol. 2.
    • 27 Jan 1820 596/00 0020 0268
    • 06 Mar 1825 596/00 0020 0274
    • 20 Oct 1825 596/00 0020 0275
    • 15 Sep 1826 father: George Allan 596/00 0020 0276
    • 08 Sep 1834 596/00 0020 0289
    • 18 Feb 1837 father: William Allan 596/00 0020 0298
    • 07 Jan 1844 596/00 0020 0318
  3. A search of the index "Statutory Register Deaths" (Scotland's People) for all Ayrshire deaths from 1855-1912.  Only one of the deaths occurred in Kilbirnie.  The mother's surname was indexed on the deaths in the 1850s and 1860s.
    • 1858, mother: Mcmeekin, 38 Ayr/Ayr 578/00 0423
    • 1870, 60 Dreghorn/Ayr 589/00 0098 [James Allan, coal miner, spouse: Isabelle Watson, parents: James Allan, coal miner and Margaret Wallace, both deceased]
    • 1873, 55 [b.c.1818] Dalry/Ayr 587/00 0174 [1871 Dalry: b. abt 1818 Dalry]
    • 1875, 65 [b.c.1810] Kilbirnie/Ayr 596/00 0079 [1871 Kilbirnie: b. abt 1812 Kilbirnie]
    • 1884, 69 [b.c.1815] Riccarton/Ayr 611/00 0013 [1871 Riccarton: b. abt 1812 Sorn, Ayrshire, mother Jean b. abt 1782 Craigie, Ayrshire; 1881 Kilmaurs]
    • 1889, 74 [b.c.1815] Auchinleck/Ayr 577/01 0012 [1871 Auchinleck: b, abt 1817 Dalry]
    • 1899, 85 Ayr/Ayr 578/01 0417
    • 1902, 92 [b.c.1810] Dundonald/Ayr 590/01 0006 [1871 Portpatrick, Wigtown: b. abt 1813 Dundoald, Ayrshire]

The Ayrshire death searches weren't very productive in eliminating possibilities.

Other Searches 

Two nationwide searches of the index "OPR Births & Baptisms" (Scotland's People) for James Allan, born 1812-1819, father James Allan, mother Margaret or Agnes, identified additional possibilities.  Note that none of them are in other Ayrshire parishes.

  • parents James and Margaret:
    1. 20 Dec 1812 James Allan/Margaret Rew, St Cyrus/Kincardine
    2. 19 Apr 1818 James Allan/Margaret Graham, Ratho/Midlothian
    3. 07 Jun 1818 James Allan/Margaret Paul, Falkirk/Stirling or
    4. 07 Jul 1818 James Allan/Margaret Paul, Falkirk/Stirling
    5. 13 Jun 1819 James Allan/Margaret Ferguson, Leith South, Edinburgh City/Midlothian
    6. 23 Jun 1819 James Allan/Margaret Henderson, Gorbals, Glasgow City/Lanark
  • Parents James And Agnes
    1. 24 May 1818 James Allan/Agnes Morton, Falkirk/Stirling
    2. 24 May 1818 James Allan/Agnes Morton, Cupar/Fife
    3. 24 May 1818 James Allan/Agnes Morton, Found In 1819, Falkirk/Stirling
    4. 24 Oct 1819 James Allan/Agnes Morton, Falkirk/Stirling

To Do

  1. Sasine or Retour Records for Kilbirnie re Allan family owning a block of land. (possibly related to #95 Margaret Allan)

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© 2015 Shirley York Anderson