On this page Sheila Sedgwick details the results of much patient research into the people who inhabited Ballater in the 19th Century. Descendents of many of those mentioned still live in the village and many people viewing this page from elsewhere will recognise the name of their forebears.
Although this page deals primarily with people, the information does overlap a little with that on other pages. In particular, in the section called Personalities more details are given about a few colourful characters
In its first fifty years – roughly 1790-1840 – Ballater grew quite slowly. Some information on the early settlers is given below.
Smith and Mary Kerr, whose address was Bridge of Ballater, had a daughter
Ann in August 1793. This was one of the earliest baptisms in the new village.
A second daughter, May, was born in 1798. James Paterson and Elspet Hunter
had a son, William, born in September 1796.
Charles Clerk and Mey Lawrence seem to have started their faintly in June 1810 with Alexander. By September 1812 they had another son, William and in April 1814 yet another, then in August 1816, a daughter, Jane.
John Jamieson and Jane Jarvis had a son James in January 1811, then some other boys. Their last child was probably Isabella, born in 1824. At this early stage of Ballater's history, boys appear to have been arriving faster than girls.
Among the early occupiers of property seem to have been Robert Smith and his wife Margaret Macdonald, who in 1811 were living close to the river bank.
The wife of the Rev. Robert MacGregor, Missionary Minister and assistant, had a girl, Isabella, in August 1811. Another girl, Anne Brown, was born in September 1818, although there were probably others between. His wife, Janet Menzies was reputed to be very beautiful.
James Catanach and Elizabeth Watt had a daughter, Mary, in 1813, and another, Isobel, in June 1819, although again there may have been other children. George, son of William Paterson and Janet Stephen, arrived in April 1814.
A family of Mitchells also had a dwelling close to the river bank, which was later the site of the farm of Sluievannachie. One of the Mitchell girls, Anne, married George Sharp, a carrier for goods between Aberdeen and the Ballater area. Their first child, who was baptised William Farquharson, appeared in 1813 and then John in the September of 1814. Then in May 1814 came Helen. They had twin daughters, Charlotte and Anne, born in May 1824. Another of the Mitchell girls, Betty, married James Robertson and had a daughter in September 1828, Isabella.
Samuel McKenzie, whose wife was Margaret McDonald, had a daughter Mary, in 1814 and another, Elspet, in June 1818. Samuel was for many years responsible for the maintenance of the road from its junction with the Pass of Ballater, through the village to the Bridge of Gairn. Their son John was born in October 1821. (The two daughters, Mrs Dunn and Mrs.Elsie or Elspet McKenzie were living in Ballater in 1890.) Colin Coutts and Margaret Ferguson had a daughter Margarete in November 1816.
Residents appeared from outwith the area. John Skeaff, an Irish soldier, a drummer with Hopeton's Regiment, settled early in Ballater after his discharge. He married Elizabeth Davidson and raised a family. The first born was a son then there were a few daughters. In after years one daughter married Alexander Paterson who had a considerable shoemaker's business in the village. Another daughter Isabella, married Alexander Mitchell, druggist and grocer. Their daughter Margaret was born in May 1828 to be followed in August 1830 by Alexander then David in 1833. After several years in business he and his family emigrated to America. John Skeaff was not the only soldier to settle in Ballater, Most of those who did were of the 93rd Regiment.
The Fergusons, James and Jane, had a son John at the end of 1817, then a daughter Margaret in October 1819 and a son William in 1821. Peter McDonald and Lilias Grant had a daughter Charlotte, born in April 1819.
Alexander Gall and Isobel Stephen settled in the village, where their son James was born at the end of 1819. Alexander was a carpenter and for some years prior to 1848 he carried on his business at Burnfoot of Braichley. He went to Australia where his descendants still live. A son, Angus, was born to Angus Mclntosh and Catherine Gruer in 1819.
William Tastard and Mary Dingwall were among the early settlers: they had a daughter, Anne, born in 1819, followed by a son, William, in December 1823. A William Tastard and Anne Stewart had a daughter, Mary, in 1828 and another, Anne, in 1831 and a number of other children. This may be a different William, or he may have re-married. Charles Bowman had lived in Ballater but 'eloped' when Mary Dingwall accused him of being the father of her illegitimate twins Jane and Margaret, born in March 1823. A Mary Dingwall (the one mentioned previously?) had an illegitimate child to James Stephen in June 1825, baptised George.
Once settled in Ballater, couples perhaps decided it was time to raise a family. Most couples had children and again most families were large. The names mentioned give some idea of the names and numbers of people living in Ballater in the early years of the nineteenth century.
William Mitchell, of the family mentioned previously (?), and his wife Barbara Fleming had a son John born in April 1823 and a daughter Margaret the following year. Peter Mitchell and Jane Findlay had a daughter Esther in 1828, a daughter Anne at the end of 1829, a son John in December 1830 and Peter m May 1832. Alex. Mitchell and Ins wife Jane Cattenach had a daughter Jane in 1831.
James McPherson, William Grant, James Stephen, George Grant, Joseph Brown and a number of Cattanachs and Gordons together with Andrew Donaldson and a name that does not appear to be local, James Porter and his wife Margaret Warrack, all contributed to the population increase of Ballater.
Alexander McWilliam and his wife had a son John born in February 1821. Angus Stewart and Jane McQueen owned two or three houses in Ballater. They had a son, William, in 1821. A native of Tomintoul, Angus was generally known as "Tomin". He usually acted as "watcher" on the river during the fish spawning season. Unfortunately some of his so-called friends were in the habit of taking him to a local hostelry and plying him with drink while other "friends" raided the spawning beds to their heart's content. Even when "Tomin" did discover the poachers at work, they managed to give him the slip and continue activities in another part of the river.
settlers were Donald Courts and Margaret Ogilvie, whose daughter Anne
Also among the early inhabitants were George Clark and his wife Elspet Watson. George was a carpenter and had property near the bridge. Their first child, a daughter Jane, was born in October 1822. Alexander Smith and Margaret Robertson's first son James was born in December 1823.
James Forbes, whose wife was Catherine Tastard, was probably a mason. He was drowned in the Dee, date unknown, (but after 1823) when crossing the Dee at the Boat of Polhollick. A daughter, called Mary had been born in March 1817,and another, Catherine, in February 1823.
Alex. Riddell and Eliza Duncan may have taken up residence fairly early. Alexander Riddell was a blacksmith, which occupation he followed for many years. He and the woman who later became his wife were in trouble with the Session. A son James was born in May 1823, as a result of anti-nuptial fornication. They then married and had a daughter Elizabeth who arrived in December 1824, a son Alexander in September 1826, Jane in October 1828, Margaret in March 1831 and Catherine in April 1833. After a few years in Ballater Alexander rented the Victoria Hotel in Kincardine o' Neil. Alexander's father was both blacksmith and boatman on the Dee. His premises were on the north bank of the Dee roughly half a mile below Ballater and almost opposite the old Pannanich Lodge. The Riddell family had come from the Monymusk area in the 1780's when the stone bridge was being built. They were probably not the only family to seek such occupation here.
One Riddell brother settled in Ballater and one in Crathie parish. Several of their sons followed their fathers in the blacksmith's trade in Ballater and one in Crathie. (In 1877 two blacksmiths, James Riddell and James Wriglit lived in Ballater.) A third blacksmith, John Clark, was in Dorsincilly. He and Ills wife Isabella Eddie, had a son William Austin in March 1822.
Lewis and Margaret Stewart took up residence in Ballater. It is uncertain what Lewis' occupation was or where they had come from. He may have been employed on bridge building or house erection. They too raised a large family. Lewis Symon and Margaret Stewart had a son Leslie (an unusual name for the area) in 1824.
Stewart and Margaret Brebner; James Testard and Jane Brown; Joseph Brown
When Victoria became Queen, Ballater's population was increasing, with so many young children.
& the Post Office.
John Farquharson's brother Donald kept the Post Office for several years. He also had a considerable amount of property in Ballater. Donald's son John succeeded to the Post Office and for many years he too carried on a thriving business as a merchant. His daughter Elizabeth followed him in the Post Office. When she finished the Farquharson family had run the Post Office for almost a century. Some of their ground was sold by descendants and became the site of the Victoria and Albert Halls. St.Nathalan's Lodge of Freemasons also secured a feu and built a Lodge.
A family of Grants also undertook a great deal of work, while several other men did jobbing work on their own account, - men like James Michie, William Stewart, and James McHardy.
Millers, as one would expect, lived out of Ballater, but sold their grain in the village. James Ross was in Tullich and James Stephen in Bellamore.
Isaac Brebner (Bremner) already mentioned, was Ballater's first tailor, moving in at an early date from Tullich. In the early days too, William Ritchie and two sons traveled round the area, staying in the household of customers until the required work was completed. Later they ran a large business in Ballater itself.
There were other tailors, some consecutive, some concurrent. Among them were Joseph Smith and Robert Cattanach, both tailors and dodders with fair sized businesses. Others involved in the same line of business were Wilkie and Son, Matthew Ritchie, John Coutts, and two Barron brothers for a short time. Robert Davidson and David Wilkie were in business when Queen Victoria died.
The first plasterer in Ballater was William Mitchell who earned on an extensive business on Deeside for many years, without any opposition. His sons followed him in the business which did well. Munroe and Wright then opened a rival business.
There were four stonemasons in Ballater around 1880, - William Anderson,: James Coutts: James Reid: George Wilson: Charles McLagan and Jos. Robertson were carpenters about the middle of the century. In the late 1870's to 90's there were four groups of wrights, Messrs. Alex. Elmshe: George & Peter Grant: James Ross Jnr. and James or John Farquharson. Thomas Dick was the village plumber towards the end of the century.
Ballater supported two stoneware dealers, W. James and Peter Riley; a woman flour dealer, Jessie Gordon; John Summers, a fruiterer, and George Smith, a saddler. Margaret Pringle was a baker and confectioner, Francis Rae the Chemist, and William Reevie, the photographer. A firm known as The Northern Agricultural Co. supplied coal, lime, manure and animal feeding stuffs at Ballater station. By 1880 there were General Merchant businesses run by Messrs. Birse, Coutts, Ferguson, Rae and Thomson. They were also grocers, as were William Low, and Jessie Murray. There were a number of businessmen, like Henry Illingworth with his woollen mills.
There was a gas works, with Robert Menzies as manager. The Inland Revenue (Excise) department had a supervisor, four officers and an assistant. There was, of course, an important railway station because of the visitors to Balmoral. Most of the crowned heads of Europe and Russian rulers appeared at one time or another, so the station master was considered to be a man of some importance. In 1877 it was James Cowie.
Messrs. Elijah Burwell; ? Cowie: James L. Douglas: R.G. Foggo, Ballater Lodge; Peter Lamont: John Livingstone: Lewis Ritchie: Robert Thomson; Gilbert Wilkinson, Monaltrie: ? Yule. The Doctor was Dr. Jack, and the minister the Rev. John Middleton, M.A. A number of ladies seem to have been householders, - Mesdames Cameron: Cumming: Margaret Farquharson of Sweetbriar Cottage: Jane Hall: Janet Leslie, Viewfield Cottage: Mitchell; Nicol: Paterson: Jane Ross: Simpson. Also, presumably householders, were the Misses Jane Cumming: Margaret Logan: and Stewart. These are Ballater folk, resident within the village, and no account has been taken of those who resided at Tullich, Glen Muick or Glengaim.
J. J. Carter was supervisor of the Inland Revenue, A. Chivas was the local policeman, and Donald Farquharson the sheriff officer.
into the twentieth Century…
The Inland Revenue Officer also had a child baptised. That list only deals with those who had children in 1900. Others of similar occupations had their children born in another year. John Stephen was a Railway porter. His wife Jane had a son John. Another Railway porter was Alexander Gordon and his wife Mary Ewan. There was also a Railway guard, Peter Shepherd whose wife was Barbara Still: James Marr, roadman (surfaceman) and his wife Jessie Smith: Hugh Livingstone, painter and Elizabeth Macauly. Together with John Knowles, watchmaker and his wife Elizabeth Mi chie they all had children the next year. George Robertson, slater, and Jessie Massie: Henry Duncan, shoemaker and Isabella Simpson: and James Anderson and Mary Moir also became parents. Charles Forbes, carpenter and Euphemie Ritchie had a son named after his father, while another carpenter George Beddie had a daughter Susan. Three masons resident in Ballater had children, - James McLaren, James Micllie, and Robert Sturton. Two others, James Beattie and Anne Forbes and Henry Ross and Barbara Coutts had a son and daughter respectively. The coal merchant William Glashan, George Smith, blacksmith, Alexander Craig, merchant, William Abercrombie, carpenter, William Deans, hotel keeper, and plumber Thomas Mitchell, all had children.
John Watt, the miller at Mill of Prony had married Jane, the daughter of the woollen miller at Balgairn, Henry Illingworth. Their son Denton (keeping up a tradition of that name in the family) was born in 1900. He was my uncle.
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|Introduction||A History of Royal Deeside||The Deeside Railway||The Old Military Road||Old Kirkyardst|
|Queen Victoria and Royal Deeside||John Brown, Loyal Servant||Francis Farquharson||Lord Byron, poet||Alexander Gordon|
|Macbeth and Braemar||Braemar Gathering and Highland Games||History of Braemar||Clan Farquharson||Bridges of Ballater|
|19th Century Ballater||History of Dinnet area||Aboyne History||Aboyne Wartime Poetry||Aboyne Great War Records|
|History of Dinnet||History of Tarland||Scott Skinner, the Strathspey King||Glen O' Dee Hospital||Brunel's Bridge|
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