October 20, 2009

My Family Story

So my family on my Dad's side was always straight forward until a discussion with Auntie Annie brought about some questions.

My surname is Neill which we obviously get from my Father, his father however was Alexander Westwood Neill. Now it turns out that he was raised by Janet & George Neill but he was not their son he was brought into the family after his mother died in Child birth. He was not legally adopted by the Neill family but was raised as their son and took their name, possibly for school and so as not to raise any questions but there was no secret within the family.

So the situation was that that we discovered that we were not infact of the Neill clan we were Westwoods and with no legal adoption there was some slight discussion about whether our name should have been changed. Legally I cannot take the Westwood name as I am second generation Neill registered and therefore it is my family name. But it raised the question of "Auntie Annie" and our cousins Willy and David, while "family" were we actually related and why was my Grandfather taken in by the Neill's.

Well this weekend I found out the truth, we were in Dingwall and we met up with Cousin David, he has become the family historian and has been tracing the family tree, he has got some branches back to 1630, he has found family in the states, Canada and New Zealand, family that has gone to England and Ireland, all over the world, some very tenous links but family that seperated within the 1700's but we are all linked in the ether.

So the discussion was around the family Neill and further back and while it was fascinating there was always the question does this actually apply to my family? were these people from the 18th and 19th centuries anything to do with me all. (this was not really going through my mind but it was a thought I had in the past).

Then David came out with the most recent revelation he had discovered, John Fraser born in 1810, John had 2 daughters Fanny & Margaret.

Margaret Fraser married Adam Moffat in 1871
They had a daughter Janet Moffat (1883 – 1943)
Janet Moffat Married George Neill (1880 – 1971)
They had a son George Proudfoot Neill
George Neill married Annie Dick in 1943
They had 2 sons Willy Neill & David Neill

Fanny Fraser married Alexander Westwood in 1875
They had a son Robert Westwood (1883 - )
Robert Westwood married Catherine Ballantine in 1908
They had a son Alexander Westood
Alexander Westwood married Roy Low in 1941
They had 4 children, Alexander, George, Robert & Margaret

So what happened in history was that Robert Westwood's wife Catherine Ballantine died in childbirth when Alexander Westwood was born (My Grandfather). Robert could not look after the new born baby for whatever reason and his cousin Janet Moffat took him in and raised him.

So George and Alexander were raised as brothers however they were in fact second cousins, my Dad and his cousins Willy and David were raised as 1st cousins but in reallity they were 3rd cousins. So we are still familynot as close as how everybody was raised but closer than suspicions might have been with the partial stories we were told when we were younger. So possibly I should not be a Neill but I am still a branch on the family tree that I have always known.

The connection is my Great, great, great Grandfather John Fraser, born in 1810 nearly 200 hundred years ago.

1 comment:

  1. Very cool! Glad it all worked out for you, in the end, and nothing too much to legally quibble over. My paternal grandfather came from Italy, so I'm 25% Italian as reflected in my name. The rest of me is an "American Mutt" of English, German, Swedish and who knows what else?!?!