The Saga of Colin Campbell

What happens if there is an error in an original source document? When Colin CAMPBELL and Margaret MIDDLEMISS married[1], Colin’s father was listed as Peter CAMPBELL and his mother was listed as Elizabeth CAMPBELL M.S. DUNCAN.

A descendant of his[2] gave his mother’s maiden name as ANDERSON which raises two questions:

  1. Could there be another Colin CAMPBELL married to another Margaret MIDDLEMISS?
  2. Could the information in the Marriage Register is a mistake?

First, I checked ScotlandsPeople for his parents’ marriage (Peter CAMPBELL and Elizabeth DUNCAN) between 1876 and 1896 which is ten years either side of Colin’s estimated birth year (20 when married in 1916). This returned no records. This doesn’t rule out the possibility that Colin was illegitimate.

Second, I searched for Colin’s birth record between 1895 and 1897 and restricted it to the County of Lanark where they were married because CAMPBELL is a common name. This returned seven index records, but I had no way to differentiate between them.

Next, I searched for a Census record. The nearest available Census date was 1911 so I searched for Colin CAMPBELL aged between 13 and 15, restricted again to Lanark. It returned a single record[3]: in the district of Milton at 17 Grove Street, Glasgow, that showed a Peter CAMPBELL aged 47, and his wife Eliza aged 46, with children Elizabeth 20, Walter 17, Colin 14, and Alexander 5; all were born in Lanarkshire. This is the same street where he lived when he was married six years later, and I have researched enough of my Glasgow ancestors to know that it was common for families to frequently move and often only a few doors along the street. This could be the same Colin CAMPBELL, father Peter and mother Elizabeth.

I returned to the birth records where two of the seven were in Milton, but one had a middle name and Colin did not, so I chose to purchase that record. This was Colin CAMPBELL[4], born 16 November 1896, father Peter CAMPBELL, mother Elizabeth CAMPBELL maiden surname ANDERSON.

Jean’s father was Peter CAMPBELL, son of Colin CAMPBELL and Elizabeth ANDERSON. I am still not convinced that these two families actually the same people. CAMPBELL is a very common Scottish name, so is Elizabeth and Peter, and Glasgow in 1896 was very densely populated, there could still be two Colin CAMPBELL’s with a father called Peter, a mother called Elizabeth, and a son called Peter.

So, I have not yet answered either of the two questions. My next step is to research Peter to see if he provides any clues.


[1] Scottish Marriage Register, 1917, GROS Data 644/13 10 Margaret Middlemiss and Colin Campbell ( Accessed 22 September 2018)

[2] Adams, GF, Family History Workbook, unpublished, p 99-100.

[3] Scottish Census 1911 644/9 10/7 Page 7 of 35 Colin Campbell ( accessed 8 October 2018)

[4] Scottish Birth Register, 1896, GROS Data 644/8 1527 Colin Campbell ( Accessed 8 October) 2018)



Solemn Grandure

On the ninth of February, 1895, a man known only as a “Special Reporter” described the scene of a recent bush fire, perhaps this was how John Davis may have felt that night.

He wrote:[1]

“Having left Echunga after sunset, I had at least one advantage of travelling in the dark. The innumerable burning logs and trees which mark the extent of the devastation caused by the recent fire presented a scene of solumn grandeur not easily to be described. For many miles in every direction these brilliant glaring objects shone with an intense ruddy light, which, in the deep silence and solitude of the forests, was most imposing to behold.”

It could not be easily described, because to describe something, is to equate it to some similar thing already seen and known. These early Europeans would have been used to seeing a bright star-lit night, something that amazes many modern people accustomed to light pollution. They would not have been used to seeing a brightly lit landscape, unless they had recently arrived from Europe, Adelaide was yet to have universal street lighting. Few if any would have seen fireworks and no one could imagine have imagined flying, let alone the visage of city lights far below.

No, the scene facing this nameless reporter would not have been easily described. It would not have been easily forgotten either. The landscape, many locals escaping with only the clothes on their back,[2]  having lost their entire life’s work, and some who lost their lives. Everything changed, and all in a matter of a few short days.


[1] 1859 ‘MACCLESFIELD.’, South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 – 1900), 11 February, p. 3. , viewed 03 Feb 2017,

[2] 1859 ‘No title’, The South Australian Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1858 – 1889), 8 February, p. 3. , viewed 03 Feb 2017,

Begin at the beginning

For a host of reasons I won’t bore you with, I have decided to throw my current family history research out (figuratively and not so figuratively ). And START AGAIN.

The software I was using is now obsolete,  and I have to use some legacy software to retrieve it.  I have downloaded digital images of nearly all the information I have found so far and I am able to reference all my data.

Beginning at the beginning is easier than trying to backstep especially now that I know how to properly reference.

There is never anything wrong with rechecking my findings so off I go.