Friday, January 07, 2011

On This Day in Scotland~January 07,1866

Portrait of Mary Bella

   On This day 145 years ago my Great Grandmother  Mary Isabella (Bella) Watson was born in New Deer, Aberdeenshire Scotland . Her Parents were Mary Imlay and James Watson. She was raised in the home of her grandparents Peter Imlah and Mary Wilson. 

 It took me awhile to find my great grandmothers birth record because I was searching with the name she used on her marriage record  "Mary Bella Watson", which gave her fathers names as "James Watson" both the 1871 and 1881 census show her as Mary Watson as well. I finally tried searching the birth records using just one parents name at a time. When I used just the mothers name I was able to find the birth record at last. The birth record  above  shows  that her name is actually "Mary Isabella Imlay" and under her name is the word Illegitimate . The following article from The University of Glasgow helps explain why the name Watson does not appear on her birth record.

"The mother was responsible for reporting the birth of an illegitimate baby, and the father's name could not be recorded unless he accompanied her to the registrar's office and declared himself willing to have his name on the register, or a court had already decided that he was the father and liable to maintain the baby.  The word 'illegitimate' was firmly recorded against these entries in the register, .Scots law, unlike English law, made a child born out of wedlock legitimate if the parents married after the birth.  The registrar had to make a note of this beside the original entry in the birth register, together with the date of the marriage.     But the law was strict about adultery.  Children born of an adulterous relationship could not become legitimate, even if their parents married when free to do so"

  With the above information in mind we can rule out that Mary Bella's father took responsibility since his name is not on the record or that he and Mary Imlay later married not only are the words "Legitimate" missing from under the word illegitimate but Mary Imlay mother of  Mary Bella married someone else 1871.  The discovery of  her birth record  started me asking a thousand questions, "Why did Mary and James not Marry? was he married to someone else? Did something happen to James before they could marry? When Mary Imlay married Cumming Smith why did great-grandma not go to live with them? Did James Watson ever play a part in is daughters life?  I hope someday to have answers to at least a few of my "whys"~ maybe if I'm lucky another family member will stumble upon this blog and have the answers I seek.

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