Sunday, 1 November 2009

David Ritchie 1839-1896

This imposing bearded gentleman is my Great Grandfather ... David Ritchie.

He was born in the tiny village of Blebo Craigs in Kemback, Fife in the year 1839. He was the first born of 8 ...well that's the number I have found so far. During his early years he lived close by to his grandparents, David and Margaret Ritchie in Kemback. His father, also David, was a Journeyman Stone cutter.
In about 1846 his family moved to Brighton, Cupar Muir, just out side Cupar. His mother, Agnes, worked as a Linen Weaver there .... just as she had at Ceres, before she was wed. By 1851, David, at the age of 13 had joined her as a hand loom weaver and his younger brother William worked part time, still keeping up his studies.
By 1861 he had changed trade and was now an apprentice Stone Mason. His father died of consumption in January 1863 and he married Isabella Crombie whose family also lived at Cupar Muir in the December of the same year.

I know little else about him except his attitude to his daughter becoming pregnant.
I find it interesting to look at the attitude to an illegitimate birth back then and how two similar men dealt with it.
Isabella's sister gave birth to a son out of wedlock but the father gave the boy his name, although there was little contact after and her father accepted him as his grandson and helped to bring him up. If I can find a photo ofJames Stark, there is a wonderful story of his later life.
David was very different when his eldest daughter became 'with child'. It is thought that the son of the Farm manager where she worked, was the father, as the surname was used as a middle name .... sadly no fathers name was recorded so he could not bear his father surname.
It also seemed strange that she gave birth at the farm and not with her family who lived close by but it is said that David was very angry and had as good as thrown her out.
David Lowson Ritchie was born in 1886 but by 1891 he was found as a Lodger with the Berwick Family in Kettle. It is said that her siblings and probably her mother tried to help her at the time of the birth but it was just too hard to keep him. Apparently it was quite normal for a baby to be 'lodged' if a mother could not care for a child, as there was no official adoption, and the church paid for their board.
By the middle of 1892 she was being married to Thomas Moncrief of Edinburgh and her home is recorded as Cupar Muir rather than Edinburgh where she was working in 1891. I assume she was welcomed home with out the child, having spent enough time away, for people to forget.
Her son was still living with Mrs Berwick in 1901, barely 10 miles away, but she now had two of her own from the union with Thomas and by 1905 she and her new family had emigrated to Canada while David lived on believing that his mother was dead and that she had married Mrs Berwicks son, who was also deceased. In his twenties he changed his name to David Ritchie Berwick.

David Ritchie died of a brain tumour in 1896. He may have been hard on his daughter and on his other children but I feel that how his family behaved and appeared to others was important to him and he worked hard to provide for them. My Nana (his youngest child) inherited this 'keeping up appearences' front.

Thanks for reading this xx


LadyBug said...

You have the most amazing family history and knowledge! how do you find all this out????? it's amazing!!!

Morning's Minion said...

Reading these details of our families, even though they may be incomplete, is far more fascinating than any novel. J.'s g-g-g-grandmother seems to have had 4 [!] children without benefit of any husband that his cousin can unearth. We have to wonder if they were all fathered by the same man, a love of her life whom she couldn't marry? Or was she simply promiscuous? I'm sure there were those who knew, but the details were something kept from later generations. People had a kind of pride that didn't allow honest dealing with illegitimacy or perhaps spousal or child abuse.

Linda Elbourne said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE this LO ... just perfect!

my5bratz said...

LOVE all the wonderful "back stories"

DianaR said...

Hi ~
I'm having fun reading about the Ritchie's on your blog!! I'll have to e-mail you again though - I only have SEVEN children in the I wonder who I'm missing?!?!

Pam said...

what a fascinating, but sad story...