My father-in-law John Robert Donaldson came from South Shields, County Durham and was proud of his Scottish roots, but vague on the detail, believing his ancestors came from around Edinburgh.
Research began by tracing the family back from South Shields, using birth, marriage and death certificates and census information. I was delighted to establish the Scottish connection in the 1851 census where Robert Donaldson, mariner was listed as being born c.1801 in Leith - this was a great bonus as often English census returns just say born Scotland without specifying a parish. Another one of those typical family history coincidences - Leith was the place where Robert's great great granddaughter Gillian was then working.
|John Robert with his youngest son Neil - my husband. |
No helmets worn in those days!!
Samuel's descendants included his youngest son Robert, grandson Robert who went from South Leith to South Shields, and his son another Robert who moved to Portsmouth - the linking factor the sea, with family occupations as a merchant, master mariner, seaman, roper, ship's carpenter, caulker and river policeman.
The first John Robert Donaldson was born in 1856 and the name perpetuated down the generations, with the family occupation changing to that of painter and signwriter. Here are some examples of my father in law's work.
Another photograph with Ian standing beside his father's work in South Shields. The story went that the railway company who owned the wall eventually tried to paint over the advert, but the original paint kept showing through.