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Digital Subscriptions > Family Tree > Family Tree September 2018 > Your questions answered

Your questions answered

With our panel of experts Jayne Shrimpton, Tim Lovering and Celia Heritage



Q.After nearly 20 years of successfully sorting out my ancestors, I am left with one stone (not just brick!) wall. My Scottish great-grandmoTher Jessie Ayson.

All I know of Jessie’s early years is that by computation from later censuses in England, and The fortunate survival of a birthday postcard, she was born on 24 October 1846, and in 1911 gave her place of birth as Blairgowrie, however There is no trace of her in The Old Parish Registers (OPRs).

The first documented appearance of her is in England in The 1871 Census as a laundrymaid in The household of George Lascelles. It may or may not be coincidence that his wife was Louisa Murray, a daughter of The 4th Earl of Mansfield at Scone Palace, which is, of course, near Blairgowrie.

The next record was her marriage in York on 3 August 1877 to Francis Beams, a footman from Bibury, Gloucestershire, at The same establishment. She gave as her faTher, William Ayson, merchant of Perth. Following him up, he was The Baillie of Blairgowrie, but died bankrupt at The end of December 1846, having faThered three known illegitimate children, of whom Jessie may have been one oTher.

After a short post as butler at Crosby Court in Thornton-le-Beans, Francis and Jessie moved south to Devizes for The rest of Their lives (she died in 1916) and served as staff at The Broadleas estate of The Ewart family.

There is a possible maternal link with The family of David Gibson, police inspector of Perth, in The 1908 will of one of his sons, William, later a gunsmith of York. Jessie received £25 and was referred to as his ‘niece’, so perhaps Jessie was an illegitimate daughter of one of his sisters.

I would be grateful for any thoughts as to Jessie’s origin.

Richard Bridgland

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About Family Tree

The wish to find out about your family history always begins with a question. That special something that you want to know about those who’ve come before you, that missing piece of the puzzle that you'd like to find about your own roots... So, because the internet is such a very valuable resource for hunting for these family history clues, this issue we’ve got a bumper guide to help your research. Read it and discover how to: 1. Search smarter and trace that family story. 2. Learn new search hacks and make new discoveries. 3. Get the low-down on searching the major family history websites. Lastly, you may notice something different this issue – our new look! Re-energised and packed as ever with know-how, advice and real-life tales, our revamp will provide you with fresh inspiration to find your family’s story.