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This is a narrative history of my Hunter ancestors. Family group charts can be viewed by clicking on underlined names.

Beginnings in Sanquhar

Robert Hunter

The earliest known of our Hunter ancestors was Robert Hunter who lived in Sanquhar parish in Dumfriesshire in the south of Scotland, in the late eighteenth century. He was married to Jane Robson and was a portioner or small landowner. It is not known where exactly he lived, but presumably he farmed his land. In about 1788 Robert and Jane had a son, Robert junior.

Move to Thornhill

Robert Hunter (c1788-1869)

Robert became a shoemaker, and in 1820 married Jane (or Jean) Paterson, the daughter of John Paterson and Agnes Nivison of the village of Thornhill in the parish of Morton, also in Dumfriesshire, about 11 miles further down Nithsdale from Sanquhar. Robert became a master shoemaker and plied his trade in Thornhill, where he is listed in Pigot's Directory of 1825/26. While living in Thornhill, Robert and Jane had seven children, John, James, Margaret, Agnes, Alexander, Robert and Marion.

Jane Paterson

Move to New Cumnock

In the early 1830s the family moved to New Cumnock, a small town in south Ayrshire, still in Nithsdale, but just over the county boundary, and a distance of about 25 miles from Thornhill. Robert is listed there as a boot and shoemaker in Pigot's Directory of 1837. While living there, three more children were born, Helen, Jennet (Janet) and Thomas.

Move to Glasgow

By 1841, however, the family had moved again, this time to the city of Glasgow, where one more child, William, was born. The city was booming and drawing in people from all over rural Scotland and beyond. There was obviously more scope for the shoemaking trade there than in the villages of Dumfries-shire and Ayrshire.

The family's first known address in Glasgow was No. 639 Gallowgate, at the corner of Whitevale Street, where they lived in 1841/42. By 1851 they had flitted to No. 264 Parliamentary Road, but by 1857 they were at nearby No. 270.

Jane died there in 1866 of brain disease and bronchitis, aged 67, while Robert died in 1869 of apoplexy, aged 81. Robert and Jane are buried together with several of their children and grandchildren in the family grave in the Southern Necropolis in the Gorbals area of the city, where their gravestone still stands.

Hunter Gravestone, Glasgow Southern Necropolis

The Children of Robert Hunter and Jane Paterson

John Hunter (1821-1878)

Of Robert and Jane's children, John was the eldest and was born in Thomhill in 1821. It is believed that in the 1830s he emigrated to Canada along with his uncle and aunt, John and Agnes Paterson, his mother's brother and sister. As he was a minor, his uncle acted as his guardian. They settled in Colborne Township near the town of Goderich in the Huron Tract, Upper Canada, later Huron County, Ontario, where John Paterson farmed the land he had been allocated. John Hunter found work as a seaman, plying the Great Lakes. In 1851 he married Eliza Hooper in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on the shores of Lake Michigan. They had their first child, Mary Jane, in Wisconsin, then moved to Ontario, where their second child, Eliza Ann, was born. Briefly the family returned to Wisconsin, to the village of Grafton, north of Milwaukee, but soon they returned to Ontario, and settled permanently in Colborne, where they lived in a log house next door to the Patersons. They had 3 more children – John Henry, William George and Charles Wesley, the last child's name obviously because his mother had become a Methodist. John had given up sailing and was working as a labourer, possibly for his uncle. John died in 1878. Eliza and the youngest four children were in Goderich in 1881, but by 1891 Eliza had gone back to the USA to live with her sons John and Charles in the town of Ashland, Wisconsin, on the south shore of Lake Superior. By 1900 she was living with her daughter Mary Jane, her husband Walter Easty and their three children in the city of Cleveland, Ohio, on the south shore of Lake Erie. Eliza died in Cleveland in 1919 at the age of 88. John's aunt Agnes died in 1874 and his uncle John in 1891.

To read an article giving more details of John's life, click “DNA Hunters”.

James Hunter (1822-1881)

James was born in 1822 at Thomhill and remained a bachelor, living in the family home until the death of his parents, when he moved with his sisters, Agnes and Helen, and his brother Alexander, to No. 164 Woodlands Road in the west end of the city, a new suburb at that time.. James followed the trade of potter, probably in one of the large Glasgow potteries of the time. Unfortunately he developed mental problems, and was admitted to the Western Infirmary in 1876, and later to Govan Parish Asylum. In that year he had to apply for poor relief. The next year he was admitted to Woodielee Asylum at Lenzie, Dunbartonshire. He suffered from "general debility" for the next four years, before dying in 1881 of dysentery, aged 68, at the family home. The burial register, however, gives consumption as the cause of his death. He is buried in the family grave in the Southem Necropolis.

Margaret Hunter (1824-1841)

Margaret was born in 1824 at Thornhill and moved with the family to New Cumnock and later to Glasgow around 1840. Tragically she died in 1841 of "decline", aged only 17. She is also buried in the family lair at the Southern Necropolis.

Agnes Hunter (1825-1912)

Agnes was born in 1825 at Thornhill and also moved with the family to New Cumnock and then Glasgow, where she remained unmarried, living in the family home, and working as a seamstress. By 1873, she had flitted to Woodlands Road with James, Helen and Alexander. In 1899 she was still at 164 Woodlands Road, and lived there alone after her sister Helen died. At some point she flitted the short distance to 206 Woodlands Road, where she was living in 1911, before moving to Ayrshire to live with her other sister Marion at "The Bungalow" in the village of Dundonald, where Agnes died in 1912 at the age of 87. She is probably buried in the family grave in the Southern Necropolis in Glasgow, although her name does not appear on the stone.

Alexander Hunter (1827-1876)

Alexander was born in 1827 in Thornhill, and moved with the family to New Cumnock and later Glasgow around 1840. He remained a bachelor, living in the family home, and working as an ironmonger. Between 1862 and 1870 he had his own shop, firstly at No. 133 Trongate, then at No. 70 Argyle Street. He died in 1876, aged 49, of heart and lung disease, and is buried in the family grave in the Southern Necropolis.

Robert Hunter (1828-1842)

Robert junior was born in Thornhill in 1828 and moved with the family to New Cumnock and then Glasgow around 1840, where he died in 1842, aged 13, of "decline". He is buried in the family grave in the Southern Necropolis.

Marion Hunter (1831-1916)

Marion Hunter

Marion was born in 1831 at Thornhill and moved with the family to New Cumnock and then Glasgow around 1840. It would appear that she did not attend school as she remained illiterate all her life. She had left home by 1851, but her whereabouts are not known until 1857 when she had an illegitimate child with Samuel Smith in the mining village of Bartonholm, in the parish of Irvine in Ayrshire. After having a second child she married Samuel in 1859. Marion was described in her marriage certificate as a domestic servant, so she had probably moved to Ayrshire to find work with the gentry. Samuel was an engine-keeper at the Bartonholm Colliery. The couple and their family lived at the Deepdraught cottages adjacent to the miners' rows of the pit village for at least 34 years until Samuel retired. They then went to live in a cottage on Whitehurst Park farm near Kilwinning, before moving about 1901 to Greenbank, Fullerton, just outside Irvine where Samuel died in 1901. After her husband's death, Marion moved to 83 Montgomery St, Irvine, where she was living in 1911. Later she moved again, to the nearby village of Dundonald, where she lived in a house at No. 3 Main Street called "The Bungalow". This was owned by her son Henry, and may have been built by him. There her sister Agnes came to live with her, until Agnes's death in 1912. Marion was found dead at home of natural causes in 1916, aged 84. More information about this family and their descendants can be found in "The Story of the Smiths"

Helen Hunter (c1833-99)

Helen was born about 1833 in New Cumnock and moved with the family to Glasgow about 1840. She remained unmarried and lived in the family home, latterly with her brothers James and Alexander and sister Agnes at 164 Woodlands Road. Helen worked as a seamstress and milliner, until her death in 1899 of paralysis, probably after a stroke, at the age of 63. She is buried in the family lair at the Southern Necropolis.

Jennet Hunter (b 1835)

Jennet (or Janet) was born in 1835 at Pathhead, a part of New Cumnock. She almost certainly died before 1841, as she is not recorded with the family in the census of that year.

Thomas Hunter (b c1836)

Thomas was also born in New Cumnock, around 1836, and moved with the family to Glasgow about 1840. In 1859 he married Mary McNaught Sproul, the daughter of Alexander Sproul and Christina Sinclair, and they set up home near Thomas's parents at 70 Parliamentary Road. Thomas had taken up the trade of machine maker. Thomas and Mary had at least 8 children - John Paterson, born 1860, Alexander Sproul, 1862, Jane Paterson, 1863, Robert Paterson, 1864, Thomas Sinclair, 1866, a second Alexander, 1867, Christina Sinclair, 1869 and Janet McLean, 1871. The first Alexander died in March 1863 of measles, only one year old. Jane died in December of the same year, aged only 3 months, of a nervous disease. In 1865, while the family was on holiday at Millport on the island of Great Cumbrae in the Forth of Clyde, Robert also died, aged 9 months. These three children are all buried in the family grave in the Southern Necropolis. In 1894 Janet married a John Phairn and they had at least one child. Janet died in Shettleston, Glasgow, in 1949. Thomas senior died before 1879, as in that year Mary remarried, to a John Middleton. Mary died in Glasgow in 1915.

William Hunter (b c1842)

William was the youngest child and was born in Glasgow about 1842. He was staying in the family home at 270 Parliamentary Road at the 1851 and 1861 censuses and working as a lithographic printer at the latter date. He continued living there after the death of his parents until at least 1871, but nothing further is known of him.

© Robert James Carson 2014. All rights reserved.

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