Thursday, October 18, 2007

Old loose men and women

Took Bondi for an early morning walk around Portpatrick harbour, and then settled down to a lovely brekkie at our B&B Ard Choille.

First stop for the day was the nearby hamlet of Stoneykirk, which was not unlike some of the Borders villages I'd visited in search of my east coast Scots ancestors. I had a quick hunt around the cemetery but didn't find any headstones with names matching my known list over the period 1700-1850.

New Luce
Next was New Luce, a village near the intersection of the Main Water of Luce and the Cross Water of Luce. The cemetery had a sprinkling of familiar names on the headstones but they were too far back or to "the side" to establish a link to my direct ancestors. I asked some locals where I could find Old Luce since that isn't marked on any of the maps, and they told me that it's actually now known as Glen Luce, a little way back up the road, and the church there is still marked as Old Luce.

Glen Luce is the biggest of the villages I've visited today, but it was still easy to spot the church as I drove in, and as promised, was marked as the parish of Old Luce. The church is a rebuild, but according to an information sheet given to me by a parishioner cleaning inside, possibly stands on quite ancient ruins of earlier buildings.

The surrounding cemetery had a more promising selection of names, and as I rounded the southern side of the church, found a rather substantial stone marking some of my direct ancestors.

The stone is a bit weathered and lichen-encrusted, and I found that enhancing the contrast on the photo enabled me to read parts of it more clearly. The text reads:

Erected by James and William WITHER
in memory of
their grandfather JOHN STENHOUSE
who died 26th November 1774 aged 72 years --> c1702
also their grandmother JANNET KENNEDY
who died 4th May 1794 aged 94 years
also their mother JEAN STENHOUSE
who died 22 February 1819 aged 84 years
also their father WILLIAM WITHER
who died 9 April 1824 aged 93 years
also their brother DAVID who died 24?th May 1776 aged 7 years

WILLIAM WITHER Junior his children
JANET who died -- February 1823? 9 months
JEAN who died ---- 1823? 9? years

The first names listed are direct ancestors of mine, my five and six greats grandparents. The longevity in the Wither(s) line points to a remarkable hardiness: there may not have been many environmental threats to hinder a long life, but I do wonder how they filled up their lives in this little corner of Scotland.

Headstone reverse; main street of Glen Luce

The headstone reverse has some further names of siblings, which may give clues to distant cousins in the area, should I ever wish to pursue that information.


who died -- JULY 1843
aged 76 years


JANET WITHERS his sister
who died 9th December 1843
aged 82 years


JAMES WITHERS who died 9th December
1844 aged 85 years

and JOHN WITHERS his son who died 26th JULY
1846 aged 52 years


ANN WITHERS sister of the abovementioned
JAMES WITHERS who died -- December 1846
aged 65 years

I drove back through Stranraer, which is where a lot of the Kerrs also lived, but the museum was closed (contrary to its listed hours), and then went on up the west side of Loch Ryan (Wig Bay) to Kirkcolm, the final village listed as a birthplace to my kinfolk.

Driving over the thin strip of land - the northern end of the Rhins of Galloway - separating the bay from the Irish Sea, I could see the Mountains of Mourne in Ireland on the horizon (above).

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous12:58 pm


    I'm descended from John Wither (1730-1803) buried in Stoneykirk. Am descended from him through his son Charles (b. 1768) who married Margaret Kerr in Glasgow in 1795. They both appear to have died young as their only son John (1796-1851) was raised in Stoneykirk but apparently without them.

    You have Withers and Kerrs in your background. Would love to correspond. Write me at