1805 – ?
Relationship to Ron & Ian
Great Great Grandmother.
Margaret Shirres (Sherrif)
No record of ever marrying.
John Skinner – 1824-1888
|16 July 1805||Baptism||Aboyne, Aberdeenshire|
|Oct? 1824||19||Birth of son John||Banchory Ternan, Kincardineshire|
|3 Oct 1824||19||Baptism of son John (see story below)||Burn of Bennie, Banchory Ternan, Kincardineshire|
|1841 census||35||Apparently living with brother George Ross, listed as “servant”.||Burn of Bennie, Banchory Ternan|
|1851 census||45||Living with George as “unmarried pauper”||Woodend, Banchory Ternan|
|1851-1861||45-55||Presume died – not listed in 1861 census|
This is her life
Ann’s life seems to have been a very sad and impoverished one, but illustrates some unfortunate facts of life in those days.
Ann was probably born in 1805, the youngest of 5 children of William Ross and Margaret Sherriff (sometimes spelt Shirres) – “probably” because I can find no record of her birth, just her baptism in that year in Aboyne, a small town on the north bank of the River Dee not far from Ballater where the McNaughton family lived.
She lived in her late teens in “Burn of Bennie” on the edge of the town of Banchory Ternan, which lies on the north side of the River Dee, about halfway between Ballater and Aberdeen. Burn of Bennie is identified as a separate location in the census returns, so we know that a very few families lived there. (In 1841, there were the Skinner family (6), the Ross family (7, including Ann), two elderly ladies listed as paupers – 15 in all.)
In 1824, when she was 19, Ann gave birth to a son. The church baptismal record names the son as John Skinner, and says she claimed the father was John Skinner, who was part of the Burn of Bennie Skinner family, but had recently moved to Drumoak, further down the river. But, from the wording on the baptismal record, he apparently refused to accept paternity.
The church was a moral and social authority in those days, and often tried to determine the facts when paternity was disputed, virtually forcing the father to pay some maintenance. It appears in this case that paternity wasn’t settled, but we don’t know for sure, and we don’t know why. We might expect that they would believe the woman, especially as the two families lived so close to each other. But perhaps the Skinner family was more respected or more influential (John Skinner Snr went on to study at Aberdeen University for a year and become a teacher). But whatever happened, Ann never married and was left to bring up John Jnr herself.
We have to assume that Ann lived with her parents and then her brother for the rest of her life, and son John lived with her until his teens when it appears he may have moved away to get farm labouring work.
The middle of the 19th century saw food shortages across much of the highlands, and these had some impact on Aberdeenshire as well. Many families were subsistence farmers, and struggled during this period. Unmarried or widowed women were particularly vulnerable. They could register as paupers and obtain some monetary support, but this was barely enough. While investigating this part of the family tree, I came across a number of women who were listed as paupers.
Ann was listed as a pauper in the 1851 census. Her son had long since moved away, and was recently married and a father, so he probably provided little support. It appears that she may have died in the next decade, but I could find no record of this – perhaps as a pauper her death wasn’t registered and she had an unmarked grave.
Thus it seems she had a somewhat miserable life, and we can feel for the difficulties she faced.