Duncan John Stewart (1797-1829) and Lillias Buchanan (1800-1886) of Scotland

March 31, 2016 at 10:10 pm | Posted in Browne, Buchanan, Fletcher, Stewart | 2 Comments
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Todays profile is for my three-times great grandparents, Duncan John Stewart (1797-1829) and Lillias Buchanan (abt 1800-1886) of Scotland.  Surnames mentioned: Browne, Buchanan, Fletcher, Stewart or Stuart.  Places mentioned (all in Scotland): Appin, Argyllshire; Ardchattan, Argyllshire; Balfron, Stirlingshire; Callander, Perthshire; Edinburgh, Midlothian; Glasgow, Lanarkshire; Glenorchy, Argyllshire; Oban, Argyllshire.

Duncan John Stewart was born October 25, 1797 at Balfron, Stirlingshire, Scotland. His parents were Alexander Stewart from Stirlingshire, “Ci’divarel [formerly] Footman to her late Majesty Carolina Mathilda Queen of Denmark”, and Ann Stewart or Stuart of Callander, Perthshire. Duncan had an older sister, Caroline Matilda Stewart (1794-1882) and possibly another sister, Mary Stewart (b. 1795). I haven’t found any information about their childhood. In various records of Duncan’s wife and children, he is sometimes referred to as a school teacher.

On May 5, 1825, Duncan John Stewart married Lillias Buchanan at Glenorchy, Argyllshire after Banns announcements in his home parish of St. Andrews in Edinburgh in April and her home parish of Glenorchy on May 3rd. In the Edinburgh Banns he is described as a shopman. I have looked around to see if I can find how Lilly and Duncan met. It may be that he was teaching near her location, but the Pigott’s Directories and the reports of the area school councils do not have any listings that appear to be him.

Lillias Buchanan was born about 1800 at Glenorchy, Argyllshire, Scotland. Her parents were Duncan Buchanan, a farmer, and Marjory “Maizy” Fletcher. This area of the Highlands was sparsely populated, and the records are also somewhat sparse. From Maizy’s will, we gather that Lilly was the eldest daughter. Also mentioned are: Duncan, the eldest son, John, Ann, Angus, Hugh, Mary, Margaret, Catherine, Marjory, and Peter. There are also two other possible siblings born in Perth: Alexander and Patrick. That’s ten, or maybe twelve siblings. Did I say the highlands were sparsely populated? Apparently that was not the case with the Buchanan household. I don’t think the father, Duncan, owned the land he farmed, but rather was a tacksman or tenant and not able to acquire much wealth.

Together, Duncan John and Lillias Stewart had the following children:

1. Ann “Agnes” Stewart (1826-1900) was born in Edinburgh (St. Georges Parish), but spent her adult life in Glasgow. She married John Browne (1829-1912), a commercial traveller who sold woolen drape goods. They had nine children. Please click here to read a profile of this family.

2. Marjory Stewart (1828-1867) was also born in Edinburgh (St Andrews Parish), but lived in Argyllshire at Oban near the seaside and Ardchattan in the Highlands. She suffered many years with consumption and died at the Buchanan family home, Blarcreen, Ardchattan with her mother in attendance. She never married and had no children.

3. Johanna Stewart (1829-1911) was born in Appin, Argyllshire after the death of her father. She worked as a domestic servant and seamstress. As a young adult she lived with her Uncle Angus Buchanan’s family at Blarcreen. Later, she is reported in the census as living with her mother as a dressmaker. After her mother’s death, she is found in the Lorn Combination Poorhouse at Oban, where she died at age 82 from influenza complicated by senile debility. She never married and had no children.

After their marriage, Duncan John and Lilly Stewart lived in Edinburgh in the New Town area. This was a high-end planned neighborhood that today is the city center and home of trendy shops and restaurants. Duncan owned a successful fruit and tea shop at 35 Hanover Street. His customer list serves as a de-facto census of the neighborhood. Then suddenly on July 20, 1829 Duncan John Stewart died from apoplexy. He was only 31 years old. The place of his death is listed as 22 Thistle Street, which now has the name Stewart House – I think more by coincidence than any other reason. It is around the corner from the fruit and tea shop. At that time there was a tenant named Donald Stewart, a tailor and perhaps a relative.

Upon Duncan John Stewart’s death, Lilly was left with two small daughters and a baby on the way, and a business to dispose of.

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New Town Edinburgh


Testament Dative and Inventory of umquhile Duncan John Stewart

Dated 18th September, 1829. The first thing is the description of Duncan as “umquhile,” which means “late” or “deceased.” It is attested by James Gordon, Thomas Ford, George Ross and Charles Ross, Esquires, Commissaries of Edinburgh and written by Peter Crooks, W.S. (Writer to the Signet), who was the attorney. It names Lilly Stewart, relict (widow), as his Executrix and states that on 11th September, 1829 she supplied the personal inventory and debts that totaled £160.5.½ (pounds, shillings, pence) Sterling, summarized as follows:
First – Proceeds of stocks and effects sold in the shop on Hanover Street on the thirty-first day of August = £97.2.9
Second – Shelving in the shop not disposed of in sale, but by private bargain = £2.0.0
Third – Debts due to the defunct per list herewith presented = £41.3.2½
Fourth – The deceased household furniture valued by George Anderson, appraiser in Edinburgh = £7.0.0
Amount of estate is £167.5.11½ Sterling – signed Lilly Stewart and George [???]. clerk of the Commissary Court of Edinburgh.
The inventory document starts with a sworn statement by Lilly that to the best of her knowledge and recollection, Duncan John Stewart, fruiterer of Hanover Street, owed no outstanding debts and that the total value of his estate is between one hundred and two hundred pounds. Then is presented the list of “Debts Supposed Good” numbered 1 – 78, with names, street addresses and amounts = £37.17.11½, followed by a list called “Debts Supposed Doubtful”, numbered 1 – 11 = £13.1.½, discounted value = £3.5.3 and finally a list of “Debts Supposed Bad”, numbered 1 – 7 = £3.3.3½ “and worth nothing” Total value of debts = £41.3.2½.

The shop at 35 Hanover has had many tenants over the years: a brassfounder, an architect, an arborist, etc. Currently it is a pub with good ratings on all the travel sites.

Life goes on for Lilly Buchanan Stewart

Shortly after Duncan John Stewart’s death, Lilly and her daughters went home to Argyllshire. Joanna Stewart was born in Appin in late 1829 or perhaps early 1830. I don’t have any records for them until the Census reports.

Lilly’s father, Duncan Buchanan died in 1838. In the 1841 Census, Lilly’s mother, Marjory Buchanan was living with brother, Angus’ family on a farm in Appin. I haven’t found Lilly or the girls in 1841. Part of the problem is that the ages in 1841 were rounded down. Also, the birthplace question was “born in this county, yes or no,” which is not helpful in many cases. The girls would be either in school or working. Whatever the case, Lilly is missing in action records-wise until the next census.

1851 Census of Barony Parish, Glasgow, Lanarkshire, 166 W. Regent Street (multi-family building)
Lily Stewart, Head, widow, 57, dressmaker, b. Argyll, Glenorchie
Agnes Stewart, daughter, unm, 23, dressmaker, b. Midlothian, Edinb.
Margaret McDonald, visitor, unm, 21, dressmaker, b. Argyll, Appin  [probable relative]
Christina [C]ameron, servant, unm, 16, house servant, b. Argyll, Appin
Wm H [L]owery, orphan, unm, 16, orphan, b. Lanark, Glasgow
Amelia [L]owery, orphan, unm, 8, orphan, b. Lanark, Glasgow
Wm Walker Speck, lodger, unm, 32, officer of inland revenue, b. England

Agnes married John Browne at Oban in 1852, and started their family while living with Lilly at W. Regent Street, per records of children Duncan John Stewart Browne and Ann Sinclair Browne.

Oban, Argyll and Bute

1861 Census of Kilmore and Kilbride Parish, Oban, Argyllshire, Argyll Square-B, rooms with windows: 12
Lillias Stewart, Head, widow, 61, housekeeper, b. Argyllshire, Glenorchy
Joanna Stewart, daughter, unm, 31, domestic servant, b. Argyllshire, Appin
Marjory McKenzie, visitor, unm, 17, domestic servant, b. Rosshire, Ross  [possible relative]
Henry Stratford, boarder, mar, 34, surveryor hydrographics, b. England
Elizabeth Stratford, boarder, mar, 34, surveyor’s wife, b. England
Eliza Cameron, boarder, widow, 57, , b. Lanarkshire, Glasgow
Mary McKellar, servant, unm, 18, domestic servant, b. Lanarkshire, Glasgow

1871 Census of Barony Parish, Glasgow, Larnarkshire, 17 Steven St (multi-family building) rooms w windows: 3
Lillias Stewart, Head, w, 69 b. Glenorchy, Argyllshire
Joanna Stewart, daughter, unm, 41, Dressmaker, b. Appin, Argyllshire
Hugh Fraser, lodger, unm, 25, student, b. Inverness
Colin McKenzie, lodger, unm, 22, student, b. Ross-shire  [possible relative]
Joseph McKnight, lodger, unm, 19, law clerk – general, b. Ayrshire

1881 Census of Ardchattan, Argyllshire, record 5, name of house: Caderly, rooms with windows:3
Lillias Stewart. Head, widow, 81, teacher’s widow, b. Argyll, Glenorchy
Joanna Stewart, daughter, unmarried, 51, dressmaker, b. Argyll, Appin

Lillias Buchanan Stewart died on Nov 29, 1886 at Grunachy, Ardchattan, Argyllshire. She was 86 years old.  Cause of death was “Decay of Nature.” Okay, I’m at an age where I can appreciate that. The informant was Maggie Buchanan, a niece, who was present when Lilly died.

Lake Etive, Argyll (not too far from Ardchattan)

I only became aware of Duncan John Stewart and Lilly Buchanan a few years ago. It’s sad that he died so young. One wonders if he had been around longer, how different their lives would have been. Would Agnes and John Browne have met and gotten married? I’m so proud, though, of Lilly and her girls. It seems Lilly made a decent living as a dressmaker, and also rented large, multi-room living spaces, then sub-let the extra rooms. Brilliant! Ultimately, though, she went back home to the Highlands and her family. Thanks to Google Earth and photo sharing sites, I can visit the beautiful farms and countryside – the land of my ancestors. It’s the next best thing to being there. Thanks for being here so I can share it with you.

– Barb




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  1. It’s good to see that you are continuing your research, Barbara. All the best. Liz Sibthorpe (great great great granddaughter of Capt Beer

    • Thanks, Liz! Sorry I haven’t gotten back to the Beer and Treleaven lines lately. They are on my to-do list… Thanks again for the lovely photos and emails. I hope you are well. – Barb

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