Lairds - connections or coincidences?We’ve acquired the Lairds from a recent marriage, and as no-one else seems to have researched them I’ve had a preliminary search.I’ve traced the Lairds back definitely to one Joseph Laird who was born in about 1796 and who committed suicide in 1830 in Newington in Surrey. After his marriage to Alice Burr at St Giles without Cripplegate in 1819 he lived in Wood Street, which runs north from Cheapside to London Wall actually in the City itself. During the later 1820s he appears to be paying taxes in Newington while having his children baptised from the Wood Street address at St Alphage, London Wall. By 1829 the family has moved entirely to Newington, and his son Harry was baptised at Holy Trinity Church, with the family address now Peacock Street.Joseph’s origins however seem to be a mystery. There was a Joseph Laird baptised in Redbourn, Hertfordshire on the 31st August 1806, (the register entry gives his birth date as 26th April 1796, which would tie in with the Joseph who died in 1830 at the age of 33). This Joseph’s parents were Michael Laird and Charlotte, and this is such an unusual combination of names that it’s possible to trace them back to their marriage at St Michael, Wood Street in the City of London on the 7th February 1791. In the same church they had two children baptised: Charlotte in 1802 and William in 1805, while four others (Gracey, Eleanor x2, and Matthew), in addition to Joseph, were baptised at Redbourn. Old industries in Redbourn included making straw plait and hat making, and Michael Laird, a straw hat-manufacturer of Redbourn was bankrupt in 1807. So is Wood Street a connection or a coincidence? Charlotte Rowbottom was Michael Laird’s second wife; his first wife Hannah Roser had died in 1790. They had married in St. Botolph without Aldersgate in 1781 and the register states her home parish to be Windlesham in Surrey, and that was where she was buried. They don’t appear to have had any children. There is a sizeable family of Lairds in Windlesham and Bagshot at the end of the 18th and at the start of the 19th century; so is Michael connected to this family or is this another coincidence? His possible baptism wasn’t a million miles away at Old Windsor on the 31st May 1759 to parents Thomas Laird and Eleanor, and he appears to have been apprenticed to James Searle, a barber in Chobham in Surrey in 1774.And then I came across the will of William Laird, Baker, of Bagshot, who died in 1795. He named his children thus: William, Thomas, Michael, James and Joseph, of whom the last two were to take on his bakery business. James and Joseph were baptised in Windlesham, in 1768 and 1770, respectively, to parents William and Eleanor. Eleanor died in 1771, and William married Grace Puddefoot on the 22nd December that same year. Grace is mentioned in his will. Assuming - as is usual in wills - that the children are mentioned in descending order of age, William, Thomas and Michael were born before 1768, and have either moved away or established their own businesses, or both. William and Thomas with their families can be traced to Berkshire, where they established bakeries in neighbouring towns. So that leaves Michael unaccounted for ... it could of course be possible that the five children mentioned in William’s will aren’t siblings, but cousins, adopted nephews - he carefully doesn’t say “sons”. So I’m pretty sure that the Redbourn and Bagshot families are linked in some way: there are so many coincidences in names, places and occupations ... a work in progress.William Laird of Tunbridge WellsWilliam Laird, the son of Michael and Charlotte Rowbottom was baptised at St. Michael Wood Street on the 24th March 1805, unlike his siblings he survives to appear in the 1851 census where he gives his birthplace as Redbourn, Hertfordshire. William married Elizabeth Lawrence at St Giles without Cripplegate on the 1st October 1826, and they were living in Frant in Sussex, just south of Tunbridge Wells, when their first four children were born. William was working as a Coach guard and a Coachman according to the Frant baptisms. By 1841 they had moved into Tunbridge Wells itself, living in Bath Yard, and William gives his occupation in the census as Stage Coachman. They had nine children in all, culminating in twins Frederick and Henry born in 1846; two of their sons died in infancy, and a daughter, Ellen, died aged 15 in 1846. In 1851 William was a patient in the Tunbridge Wells Infirmary, with Elizabeth still living in Bath Yard with her three youngest children, Charlotte, 11, Emma, 8, and Frederick,4. William died in 1854, but by then his daughter Eliza had already married Henry Johnson in 1850, with their first child being born as Henry Johnson Laird in 1849; Henry Johnson was suitably a Tonbridge Ware maker at the time of the 1851 census, and living in Tunbridge Wells. Charlotte LairdOn the 30th July 1859 Charlotte Laird gave birth to a son in Tunbridge Wells. When she registered his birth she gave him the name Pearson Boyd, and as is the way with illegitimate births he officially acquired her surname. He was baptised in Tunbridge Wells as Pearson William Laird on the 30th October that year, when his parents are said to be William and Charlotte Laird; I have a suspicion that Charlotte’s brother was standing in for the real and absent father. In the 1861 census the baby appears as William P. Laird, living in Martin’s Place, Basinghall Street, Tunbridge Wells, with his mother Charlotte, a Milliner, uncles William (a Fly Driver) and Frederick Laird, and widowed grandmother Elizabeth, née Lawrence. When Charlotte’s sister Emma married Linstead Loder Smith in St Pancras in December 1863 Charlotte was there as a witness. Two years later, in June 1865, Charlotte married Henry Lukes in the same church, and her brother-in-law Linstead was a witness. Emma and Linstead had three children: Linstead Loder Smith born in the March quarter of 1862 in Islington; Ada Smith born in the June quarter of 1864 in St Pancras, and who probably died that same quarter; and Lottie Smith born in the December quarter of 1866 in Holborn. It seems likely that Emma died at about this time and handed the care of her children over to her sister Charlotte who hadn’t had any more of her own. Her husband Linstead spent the next twelve years, until his death in 1878, living at 90 Fetter Lane, with the occupation Clerk, and claiming to be single, with occasional admissions to the Homerton workhouse in the City of London. Charlotte and Henry, now going by the names Lottie and Harry, crossed the Atlantic as steerage passengers in 1870 on the steamship Virginia, arriving in New York on the 8th August. The Virginia belonged to the National Steamship Company which was founded in Liverpool in 1863. The Company’s original intention had been to sail from Liverpool to the US south, however, due to the civil war, routes were set up to New York, and in 1870 London was added to its Le Havre, Liverpool, Queenstown route.Lottie and Harry were accompanied on the voyage by three children: William Lukes, 7; Linstead Loder, 7, and a five-year old girl with the surname Loder but with an indecipherable first name which should be Lottie. Emma’s children seem to have lost their Smith surname, but that may be more an error on the part of whoever compiled the passenger list. William Lukes’s age could equally be a badly written 9, and he is almost certainly Charlotte’s son. By 1880 Harry and Lottie are in Alameda, California. Confusingly, there are two likely households: in Oakland there is an H. Lukes, with his wife Sharlot, both born in England, and with about the right ages, he is working as a “Foreman at Asylum”. In Berkley & Ocean View are Harry and Lottie Lukes, with the right ages, both born in England, and he is working as a Carpenter, which was the Lukes’ family trade back in Gravesend in Kent where he had been born. Living with this second couple is a son called Freddie, aged 19 and born in England, he is working as a butcher. In 1880, William Lukes, Charlotte and Henry’s son, seems to be working as a Carpenter in Skadgit River, Whatcom in Washington State. So if the second Lukes couple is ours, could Freddie possibly be an adopted and renamed Linstead Loder Smith junior?William Lukes asserted his own name and date of birth, July 1859, in later records. Working with his father as a carpenter, he married Katherine Lucile Walker in Alameda in 1883, and they appear on the 1900 census with three children: Lottie, Harry and William. His mother Charlotte had died on the 1st March 1888 in San Francisco, and Henry Lukes married again in 1894; he was to die in 1921. William Lukes (aka Pearson Boyd Laird, Pearson William Laird, William P. Laird) died in 1912 in California.Pearson BoydPearson Boyd is not the sort of name you pull at random out of thin air to give to a newborn baby, it has to be a clue to the identity of the child’s father. It didn’t take much research to find two sons of Alexander Pearson Boyd who attended Tonbridge School in Kent in the 1850s. The older of the two, called Pearson Boyd, was at the school from 1854 to 1855, his brother John William Boyd attended from 1852 to 1859. When Pearson Boyd left the school he went to the East India Company Military College at Addiscombe in Surrey, where he probably stayed for two years, when having passed his examination he was appointed at the India Office on the 8th April 1859. As the examinations were held in June and December each year he had presumably sat his just before Christmas 1858, two months or so after Pearson Boyd Laird was conceived. Was he perhaps a regular visitor to his brother at his old school? And did they visit the nearby bright lights of Tunbridge Wells?Photo of Addiscombe Place, Surrey, c.1859, at that time housing Addiscombe Military Academy, with 9 cadets posing in foreground. Is Pearson Boyd one of them? Click to enlarge.https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Addiscombe_Seminary_photo_c.1859.jpgBy July 1859 Pearson Boyd is named in the Quarterly Army List of Her Majesty's British Forces on the Bengal Establishment among the Cornets & Ensigns. He appears to have been promoted to Lieutenant in the autumn of 1860, and he was serving with the 42nd Regiment Assam Light Infantry when he died on the 31st December 1863 at Debroogurh (Dibrugarh). He was aged 24, a bachelor and intestate, and the cause of death was "disease of brain". A post-mortem was held, and most of his possessions found in the small room that he occupied were sold at auction on the 14th January 1864 raising nearly 340 rupees. For the full list of items sold - from his single-barrelled gun and silk pyjamas to his toothbrushes - their price and purchasers click here.Estate of Lieutt Pearson Boyd Dec'd. Inventory filed 11th May 1865. C.J. Davis, Chief Clerk. Estate Pearson Boyd late a Lieutenant in HM's 42 Regt Assam Lt InfantryDate of Administration 6 September 1864 : IntestateInventoryWearing apparel, a Gold ring, Sundry pieces of furniture, variety of Small Articles, Sold by Committee of adjustment Debraghur & nett proceeds remitted R339.6.3A Double Rifle, 1 pair pocket pistols, 1 Fishing Rod, 2 Portmanteaus & some clothing made over to Mr W. B. [William Boyd] Buckle for the mother of deceased on payment of Rupees 111.0.0Sundries and Books sold by Messrs Mackenzie Lyall &Co. & nett proceeds received 34.13.3[Total] R. 485.3.6Reserved effects1 Sword 5 religious books, 4 likenesses & old Cashbox, a Copper Card plate and some letters : made over to the Uncle Mr W. B. Buckle of Berhampore to be sent to the Mother of Deceased[signed] C.S. Hogg Administrator GeneralUnfortunately, at the time of his death claims against his estate exceeded 2000 rupees owed not only to bankers and merchants, but also to tailors and hotels in Calcutta. Even from the sale of all his goods, with his cash in hand and back pay added over 1000 rupees had to be found. At this point I began to wonder whether “disease of brain” was a military euphemism for suicide.Charlotte must have carried a torch for Pearson as she wanted to remember him in the naming of their baby. Were some of those letters in his reserved effects from her? If so, his parents would have found out about the relationship. It is perhaps telling that she did not marry until a year after she could have found out about his death, a suitable mourning period.The Boyd family were no strangers to India; Alexander Pearson Boyd while described as “late of Bengal Civil Service” in the documents surrounding Pearson’s death, states himself to be a “retired Ceylon merchant” in the 1851 census; his wife Charlotte Louise Buckle was the granddaughter of his uncle William Boyd, and the half-sister of the William Boyd Buckle mentioned above. His brother William Smith Boyd was, according to a newspaper report in 1882: “at one time proprietor of large indigo plantations in Bengal, whilst down to 1845, the coffee, cinnamon and sugar properties, in which he was interested in Ceylon, exceeded that of all other proprietors put together.” Buchan Observer and East Aberdeenshire Advertiser 4 July 1882. Along with the Buckles, who married at least twice into the Boyd family, the Boyds as Bermondsey shipowners also profited as convict contractors.It is possible to trace the family back through Alexander’s father Matthew Boyd of Bermondsey, and later Camberwell, who was born in 1766 in Kilmarnock in Ayrshire, in Scotland. His parents were John Boyd, a merchant, and Grace Kerr, and his grandparents were Robert Boyd, a glover, and Margaret Thomson all of Kilmarnock. Earlier genealogists were determined to fit these Boyds into the line of the Earls of Kilmarnock who were also Boyds; but that doesn’t work, there is no way even the youngest son of an Earl would be described as a Glover in his children’s baptism records. That same article from the Buchan Observer in 1882 also tells the story of the family’s descent from the Earls of Kilmarnock, almost as if our Boyds were complicit in the re-telling: after all who wouldn’t want such a family history where the 4th Earl, who backed Bonnie Prince Charlie, was captured at Culloden and executed on Tower Hill in August 1746. In reality Robert Boyd, son of William Boyd, 1st Earl of Kilmarnock, was born in 1670 in Kirkintilloch and died in about 1710 in the Lowlands; Robert Boyd, the glover, was born in Kilmarnock in about 1688, probably to parents John Boyd and Agnes Blackwood, and died in 1759. Interestingly in the Kilmarnock Register of Mortality he is described as a Skinner; the London Boyds and Buckles were members of the Skinners Company, and Tonbridge School has had a long association with the Skinners.So when William Lukes described his father’s line as Scottish in the US censuses was he aware of his actual parentage?
Hopkins families: the Lairds
90 Fetter Lane was otherwise known as the White Horse Tavern or Chambers, and in January 1858 the London City Press described it as a “monster lodging-house” and a “well-conducted and useful refuge for the homeless [where] there are usually about 250 hale men who have no employment or social status, and yet in every way deserving of help”. By 1881 things weren’t looking quite so rosy: “White Horse Tavern, Fetter Lane, a house which many years ago was a well-known posting house, but was now degenerated into a cheap lodging-house, accom-modating about 800 sleepers every night.” (Reynolds's Newspaper 9 October 1881). The Norfolk, Kent and even the Manchester newspapers at the end of the 18th century have advertisements for coaches carrying passengers and parcels to and from the White Horse Inn.