Robert McCulloch and his ancestry

On his marriage to Eupham Gilles in 1744, Robert was described as ‘landsman’. This could mean someone who unloaded goods from ships, but does not necessarily tell us much about his station in life - was he a labourer or working for a family concern? His children were all born at Kettlestone Mill, but it’s hard to tell if he was working the mill as miller, of tenant of a piece of ground there as a small farmer.

He was born on 19th May 1709 and baptised on the 2nd June, the baptismal witnesses being ‘Alex[ande]r Smith late Dean of gild and Henry duncan Baxter’. He was the second of several siblings, children of James McCalla and Margaret Finlason - the first sibling, John, is in records as ‘John McCall’, son to ‘John McCall’ and Margrat Finlason,  then Robert and Elizabeth as ‘McCalla’ (with father James) and remaining siblings James, Alexander and again Alexander as ‘McCulloch’. Three siblings, John (1707), Elizabeth (1711) and Alexander (1715) died as infants, with their father James listed as paying for use of the ’ten shilien mortcloath' in August 1708, July 1711 and July 1716.

Displaying these as a list, James McCulloch and Margaret Finlason had children:

  • John Mccall, 1707, apparently dying 1808
  • Robert McCalla, 1709
  • Elixabeth McCalla, 1711, dying apparently that year
  • James McCulloch, 1713
  • Alexander McCulloch, 1715, apparently dying 1716
  • Alexander Mcculloch, 1718.

While McCulloch was a familiar name in some parts of Scotand, it was not common in Linlithgow, making it possible to track this family. James McCalla and Margaret Finlason were however married in Muiravonside on 12th December 1704 (recorded as James Mcaula and Margrat Finlason). The witnesses to the marriage were named as Thomas Miller and David Taylor, who may have been connected with either party as both appear to have been resident in Muiravonside at this point. There is a later marriage, in 1717, of a John Mcaulla there, but nothing to say if there was a connection.

Henry Duncan, the baxter (baker), was again a witness to the birth of Alexander in 1715, and on this entry the father James is described as a coal carrier. On the entry for James, 1713, the father James is described as a workman (and the mother’s name given as Henderson rather than Finlason) witnesses being Alexander Smith and Andrew McKown, a certer . Alexander Smith and Henry Duncan had been also the witnesses to the baptism of the first child, John, with father James described as ‘servant man’, and Henry Duncan witnessed the baptism of the first Alexander, in 1715, along with George Cook, weaver.. Possibly James may have worked for either Duncan or Smith, as a carrier or general servant. 

The younger James (born 1713) appears to have been married to Margret Harvie in 1737, his description being ‘son to James Mcculloch Indweller in Linlithgow in this Parish’. And, a 'James McCulloh' was buried on 17th June 1756, with a charge of £3 for use of the second mortcloth; this could have been either the brother or the father of Robert.

From the above, it seems that James McCalla or McCulloch, senior, was a workman or servant. Robert’s marriage to Eupham Gilles may have represented somewhat of a step up in social standing for him, although this could be otherwise depending on the relationship between James and Alexander Smith. 

This would seem to be the end of McCulloch records in this line. There was a John McKulloch in Linlithgow, who married Jean Kendmond and had childen with her, but the marriage was in 1687 and while there was a child James, he was born in 1690, making him only 14 at the marriage with Margaret Finlason in 1704; legal but very unlikely. It may be more likely that James McAula/McCulloch was born and baptised in Muiravonside parish or in another parish nearby, and that the register has not survived. (The Muiravonside baptism register begins from 1689, that from Slamannan from 1881.) There was a James McCalllay born in Bathgate in 1674, father John, and a little further away a James McKaale in Dalkeith in 1676, father John and mother Helen Wilson, but grasping at either of these would be pure speculation. And with McCulloch, McCalla and variants being relatively scarce names in the Linlithgow area, it is also possible that James had come from further afield.

For Margrat Finlason, we know that she was married in 1704, and had children from 1707 until 1718. She is likely to have been born between the mid 1670s and the mid 1680s. Again there is problem of records, as there are none from Muiravonside. There are several possible candidates, but none with both parents’ names appearing among her children. Once, again, this would appear to be the end of the search for this line.

Time for a sideways step, therefore, to the Gilles burgesses of Linlithgow, from whom Eupham Gilles who married Robert McCulloch was descended.

© Jenny Blain 2017, 2019 and 2020    email me