I have a Alexander MacKenzie who was living in Tranent (possible village of Elphinstone) when his first child was born in 1784 and all his children were born there. He married Christian Knox from the local area, no marriage record can be found but she was only 22 when their first child was born so a year or so before perhaps. On various children's records it states father was soldier/pensioner. When his son remarried in 1867 it gives a full description Sergeant in the 42nd Highlander regiment.
I have search various sites - but military history not my area of expertise - can not find any relevant records. I am assuming Alexander was from the Highlands but where and when (no burial record can be found)I don't know - he died before 1823 as stated on child's wedding and assume he was older than his wife to reach sergeant before 1784. He had various children roughly 2 years apart so had assumed he had quit the army by then. I looked up the 42nd history and in the 1770s they fought in the America Wars - it states in 1783 the regiment was sent to Novia Scotia but couldn't see if they returned to barracks by then and where was the barracks - have no idea how and why Alexander came to be in East Lothian by 1784. Can anyone advice me where I should look for rolls and how Alexander came to be in East Lothian. Any help much appreciated Thanks
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12-06-2021, 9:10 AM #1
- Join Date
- Jun 2021
Alexander MacKenzie 42nd Highlanders @ 1770s
12-06-2021, 12:09 PM #2
Welcome to the British Genealogy Forum.
Of course names of geographical areas have changed over the years, but the 1843 Gazetteer for Scotland describes Tranent as "a large village or small town" on the mail road to London, close to Edinburgh, Prestonpans, Haddington, Musselburgh, Dalkeith and Edinburgh. Elphinstone (aka Dunmore) is further away.
Why are you assuming that Alexander came from the Highlands? There is an entry for an Alexander McKenzie born in 1760 in Edinburgh, which corresponds with a suggested link to Christian Knox's husband on the extracted rcords section of Family Search. It's worth checking.
According to Wikipedia. the 42nd (eventually to become the Black Watch) went, as you say, to Nova Scotia and then in 1786 to Cape Breton Island. The returned to Portsmouth in 1789, and marched North, arricing in Glasgow in 1790 and thence Edinburgh in Nov 1790. The Castle was their barracks.
The story continues on Wikipedia, with plenty of citations, starting in 1808 with their departure for the Peninsular War.
Since it seems that they morphed into the Black Watch, a good place to start may be the Black Watch Museum in Perth.
If they retained their base at Edinburgh Castle, East Lothian seems like a reasonable place for soldiers to set up home with their families, especially after they retired. Tranent would have given easy access to Edinburgh and the regiment, if he needed it. Even today, villages around army or RAF bases tend to be full of retired servicemen!
It's a good idea to stick to the paper trail. 22 was not so young for a girl to marry. If they married the year before their first child, he was possibly born around the early-middle 1760s, and life in the army back then was hard. Soldier aged and (with wars in the tropics, the death rate was high enough the the path to promotion could be short.
12-06-2021, 12:29 PM #3
- Join Date
- Jun 2021
Thank you Lesley. I must admit to seeing the Alexander MacKenzie birth but it didn't feel like it fitted with the naming of the children, there is a William but 4th son which is usually named after brother/grandparents. There is some research of the family on line but some very muddled trees. I guess I was assuming that if Alexander joined the army and worked his way to Sergeant and married by 1783/4 he would have been a great bit older than his wife - maybe judging by todays standards. I will have another dig at some of the military records on line with a later birth date and Edinburgh as date of birth. Most of the MacKenzie's I could find in the 42nd were from the Highlands but will have another look. Thanks again.
12-06-2021, 2:48 PM #4
Murphy's Law of genealogy said that as soon as you start relying on one of the "rules", there will come a ghostly snigger as the researcher discovers that the couple being sought ignored such things. Even if they try (and none of my lot did), things get in the way - grandfather has to jump the queue because he won't live long enough to see his turn, one of the children died, there's all sorts of reasons.
Try the Black Watch Museum - they're very helpful. When my sis in law went in, looking for Boer War casualties from both our families, the came up with a photo of my Great Grand Uncle in full Black Watch uniform, before he left for the War.
Edinburgh is a possibility for his birth, but not necessarily so. Often, once a regiments sets up house somewhere, it became home, no matter where the men were from. Personally, I keep 2 files - a black one for data found on the paper trail, and a grey one for unverified stuff I find on the web. It gets transferred when I or a trusted contact have check it.
13-06-2021, 9:46 AM #5
- Join Date
- May 2009
The National Archives at Kew also hold some records for the 42nd Highlanders. Muster books and paylists 1777 - 1786 have ref WO12/5479. Record is not online though. You would need to visit Kew or pay for a copy.
TNA also record where some other records are kept such as at the Black Watch Museum.
If you go to TNA website's catalogue search called Discovery and put in '42nd Highlanders Muster' or similar as search terms it should display the sorts of records they have.
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