Margaret Smith

My Maternal 3rd Great-Grandmother

St. Andrew's Parish Church, taken in 2009.

My maternal 3rd Great-Grandmother, Margaret Smith, was born on May 1, 1798 in St. Andrew's Parish, Orkney, Scotland.  She was the third of five children born to James Smith and Margaret Foubister, both of St. Andrew's parish. The rural homestead of the Smith-Foubister's was known as "Skeetquoy".

On November 15, 1828  Margaret (30) married Peter Heddle (28) at St. Andrews.  Their homestead, where they farmed and raised seven children together, was known as "Neuks" or "Nook".  Their eldest son, John Heddle, would become my 2nd great-grandfather, on my mother's side of the family.  Margaret can be found in the Scottish Census every ten years from 1841-1871 living at the same location.  She was widowed in 1870 when Peter died; she lived at home with her son James Heddle and daughter Margaret Walls Heddle who, having never married, maintained the property until the early 1900's.  On April 1, 1878, a month before her 80th birthday, Margaret died at home of "infirmity of old age"; her son James was present.

Taken at St. Andrews Parish 2009; former site of "Neuks" in foreground.

St. Andrew's Parish in Orkney Islands (www.orkneyjar.com)

St. Andrew's Parish (in yellow). Map from: www.orkneyjar.com

The Orkney Islands lie off the northern tip of Scotland, where the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean meet. Orkney is made up of 70, or so, islands — of which, only 16 are inhabited. Exact agreement as to the total number of islands is difficult as many are little more than skerries - small uninhabited islets.

Lying on latitude 59 degrees north - which is only 50 miles south of Greenland - Orkney is, at its widest, 30 miles from east to west and 53 miles north to south. With a total coastline of approximately 570 miles, the islands cover an area of 974 square kilometres (376 square miles), more than half of which is taken up by the Mainland, the group's largest island.

Orkney can be divided into three distinct regions - the North Isles, the South Isles and the Mainland. Of the islands, less than one-third are inhabited, the islands having a total population of 19, 245 (2001 census). The majority of people live on the Mainland, with the greatest population concentrations being around the main towns of Kirkwall and Stromness.

The principal island is now simply referred to as "the Mainland" - a corruption of the Old Norse "Meginland". The Norse originally referred to the island as "Hrossey", meaning "Horse Island" in Old Norse. The Mainland can be divided into two "sectors" by an invisible line that runs roughly between Kirkwall and Scapa. These are known locally as the East Mainland and West Mainland. The usual way to refer to a location within these areas is to refer to their parish.

The Mainland is sub-divided into 13 parishes, St. Andrews being in the East Mainland.

According to the Orkney Family History Society, the population of St. Andrew's Parish in the mid 1800's, when Margaret Smith Heddle was living there, was approximately 900 (the total population of Orkney was approximately 31,000).

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Muggs | Reply 22.07.2014 14.37

Nice history and geography lesson.it'hard to believe the family tree is 100's of years old

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29.08 | 18:46

John. Can you email me at grannykba@gmail.com - then we can connect directly. ..

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16.08 | 11:58

Hi Karen, if you are interested, please visit my facebook page
regards john crome.

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16.08 | 10:36

Unfortunately Karen, I cannot offer any photo's but, I may have a small snapshot taken of me outside No 35, when I was about 3. If I can find it.

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16.08 | 10:03

Dear John. That's very interesting. Do you have any photos? I know it's gone now as I tried to find it when I visited London.

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