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Elspet Moir

1833 – 1891

Family

Relationship to Ron & Ian

Great Grandmother.

Parents:

George Moir – 1790 – 1871
Margaret Calder – 1792 – 1866

Husband

John Sangster – 1829 – 1857

Partners

Thomas Stephen 2 – 1825 – 1882
Francis Hendry (or Henry)
Unknown

Children

Helen Sangster – 1853 –
John Sangster – 1854 –
Elspet (Elsie) Sangster – 1856 – 1926
Jane Stephen – 1859 – 1862
Thomas Henry Stephen Moir (Thomas Stephen) – 1862 – 1935
Mary Ann Henry Moir – 1863 – 1946
Jane Moir – 1866

Life

Date Age Event Place
1833 Birth Methlick
1841   9 Living as house servant with brother James New Deer
21 Dec 1852  19 Marriage to John Sangster Methlick
1857 John dies, Elspet apparently moves to Aberdeen, leaving at least some children with her parents
1858-1862 Apparently in relationship with Thomas Stephen Aberdeen
1862-63 Apparently in relationship with Francis Hendry Aberdeen
1862  29 Working as shopkeeper Aberdeen
1871  38 Dressmaker in Aberdeen – living with last 3 children but not John Sangster’s children Aberdeen
1881 48 Dressmaker Aberdeen
1 Feb 1891 58 Died Aberdeen
Occupation

Dressmaker, shopkeeper.

This is her life

Elpet grew up in a large, poor, rural family, the 12th of 14 children. By the time she was born, her oldest sister was 19. The family was so large that it is likely they didn’t all live in the family home at Methlick. We do know that when she was 9 (at the time of the 1841 census), Elspet was living, or at least staying, with older brother James in the nearby village of New Dear, and listed as a house servant.

Elspet married John Sangster when she was 19, and had 3 children within 5 years before John died. Elspet subsequently moved to Aberdeen, but there is no record of her children being with her, and we know one of them (Elsie), when aged 5, was living (or staying) with her Moir grandparents in Methlick when the 1851 census was taken, and Elspet was in Aberdeen.

Elspet had 4 more children, with Annie’s family line carried on through the second of these, Thomas Henry Stephen Moir. It appears almost certain that Elspet was in a relationship with Thomas Stephen 2 between 1858 (when Jane Stephen was born and Thomas was named as father on the birth documentation) and 1862 when Jane died and Thomas 3 was born.

The most likely scenario may be that Thomas left after she became pregnant, and Jane died during this pregnancy. She then entered into a relationship with Francis Henry, the alleged father of Mary Ann in 1863, and so she named Thomas after both the biological father (Thomas Stephen) and her current partner (Francis Henry). It is hard to see her giving Thomas 3 both names under any other circumstances.

Thomas 3 named Thomas 2 as his father at his marriage, but he is not recognised in Thomas 2’s will.

There are several Thomas Stephens around at that time, but Thomas 2 and his brother were living in the same street as Elspet in Aberdeen. (Another Thomas Stephen lived in Methlick at this time, and so may have known Elspet, but there is no known connection.)

Elspet is recorded as working as a shopkeeper and dressmaker while in Aberdeen. She died in 1891 aged 58 after an eventful life.

At the time, Elspet’s having children by several different fathers may have been seen as scandalous, but we cannot know how difficult it might have been for a widow and single mother to live independently in what was still a fairly patriarchal society. We may presume she was a woman with a degree of drive, initiative and independence.

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