Silver cousin's undeniable courage

By Warren Nunn

THE call to arms in war-time tends to bring out the very best in people.

Note he gave his birth year as 1879 when, in fact, it was 1876. Also, as far as can be established, he was not a widower.

William Walker Silver was one of those countless brave men.

Heroic deeds, heart-breaking loss, dreadful suffering during and long after the conflict ends are all part of conflicts that cut short millions of lives.

World War 1 was an horrendous and pointless event which impacted families across the globe. William Walker Silver's little family was just one of them.

Born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1876, he was named for his father who was a "teacher of phonography".

That means he was expert in shorthand. No surprise then that William's younger brother was named George Pitman Silver after Sir Isaac Pitman.

I still have my Pitman's shorthand textbook. I never did really master that skill though.

But back to William Walker Silver who grew up in gritty Glasgow in a blended family that included two older half sisters, Margaret and Elizabeth, and brothers George and Abiel.

Both Margaret and Elizabeth took the Silver surname and it seems possible that William senior was their real father.

A distant cousin connection

Interestingly, William Walker Silver's health problems don't fit the stated decription of "minor defects". He died within weeks of this document being issued.

My interest in William Walker Silver is because of a family connection as a second cousin, three times removed.

In other words, he and my maternal great grandfather James Silver were second cousins.

That also means that William's grandfather George Silver and James' grandfather John Silver were brothers.

William senior died in 1883 from a bronchial condition aged only 60. William junior was just seven.

On the 1891 census, the family is at 132 W Graham St, Glasgow. Betsy Silver is a widow aged 50 and four of her children are with her; Lizzie is 17, William 14, George 10 and Abiel 8.

In 1901, they were at 37 Bank St, Glasgow: Elizabeth (Betsy), is 60, Elizabeth (Lizzie) is 26, William is 24, George is 20 and Abiel is 18

The family seems to have survived well as, by the time of the 1911 census, Lizzie, aged 37, is single and a commercial bookkeeper; William, aged 34 is also single and a "measurer in building construction" (a quantity surveyor); and George, aged 30, single, is a company secretary in a law firm.

Abiel, aged 28, had gone to Ireland and was working as a shop assistant in a Belfast drapery.

The war and much change

In the following years the family would be much changed as were countless others the world over, chiefly by the war.

In May 1913, aged 37, William Silver, a surveyor, born in Scotland, arrived in Quebec, Canada from Glasgow aboard the S.S. Grampian.

An excerpt from Private William Walker Silver’s military records.

On the passenger manifest, it states he intended to work as a surveyor in Winnipeg, Canada.

It is presumed he remained in Canada until 1916 although no other record is yet found to confirm that but it best explains why William Walker Silver came to Montreal and enlisted in the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force in 1916.

He presented himself as being aged 36 as his attestation paper shows. He was passed fit to serve.

He had no Canadian address which suggests he may have left his job to join up.

His military record has at least one other interesting entry as he also is listed as a widower.

However, no marriage record can be found for him before 1916, either in Canada or Scotland.

He did eventually marry; in Glasgow, Scotland, in October 1918 to Elizabeth Macgregor, aged 37.

That marriage certificate describes him as a bachelor.

In his military record, his physical description and medical notes show he was a small man in poor health.

He was 5ft 4 1/2ins (162.5cm) high, had black hair and dark brown eyes.

Sad picture of an ailing man

Chronic bronchitis.

Over the three years and 27 days he served in the 12th Field Company, Canadian Engineers, No 503189 Private William Walker Silver’s health deteriorated as is borne out by the various notes including:

"Moderately well developed, thin and debilitated looking man who appears older than stated age."

"This underdeveloped man _ pigeon breasted _ poorly developed chest..."

"Enlisted 15 Feb 1916 Montreal. In France 23 months. Had contusion right foot 31-12-17 to 26-1-18."

"Prior to enlistment subjected to colds and sore throats. In Nov 18 at Etaples France … troubled with an irritating cough."

"Dec 7/18 sore throat came on suddenly followed by cough and phlegm."

"Partial loss of function of respiratory system from bronchitis.."

Details of William Walker Silver's health struggles. Click image for larger view.

"Flat and poorly developed chest. Expansion very poor. No impaired resonance with the exception of moist rales heard over both base of the lungs."

"Subjected to frequent coughs especially when lying down. Expectorates phlegm."

"Measles, scarlet fever, whooping cough and convulsions during childhood. Abscess over his chest at age of 22. German measles at 26 years. Malarial fever 1895-1898."

How did he catch malaria?

Malaria is not exclusively a tropical disease I was surprised to find, so even though William Walker Silver had never left his homeland before 1913, he was one of those rare cases recorded in Scotland.

It seems that William Walker Silver's continuing bronchial condition may have made him susceptible to illness. Measles, scarlet fever, whooping cough; German measles as an adult; he was plagued by various ailments.

Despite those hardships, William made himself available to serve Canada and saw action in France.

His main injury was a crushed big toe on his right foot which must have been serious because he spent time in hospital.

A crushed toe. Click image for larger view.

With hostilities over, he was granted extended leave in 1918, as well as permission to marry; which he did on 21 October, to Elizabeth Macgregor in Glasgow.

We are left to guess how he became acquainted with Elizabeth given he moved to Canada in 1913 and joined up there in 1916.

Presumably they were known to one another before he left Glasgow and remained in contact.

Little chance to build a life

William Walker Silver's discharge certificate. Click image for larger view.

He could not have had much time with his new bride as he was sent back to his unit on 4 December 1918 and stationed in Whitby, Yorkshire, England.

There’s no record of him having leave after this time and, eventually, he was sent back to Montreal where he was discharged on 20 March 1919.

William Walker Silver was obviously deathly sick at the time.

This entry from his discharge papers makes that clear: “Shortness of breath due to Chronic Bronchitis caused by exposure. Disability existed before enlistment but was aggravated by service.

He died 39 days later, still in Montreal, on Monday, April 28.

He never got to see his wife and family again back in Glasgow. William Walker Silver’s life was one of hard work and struggle with poor health.

However, he stood up for a principal, left his homeland but still fought under another nation's flag … and should be rightly remembered for his courageous and selfless contribution to humanity.

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Old images give up their secrets

By Warren Nunn

Grace Helen Silver: born 20 Mar 1895, at Kooroongarra, via Millmerran, died 12 Feb 1897, at Kooroongarra. Click for larger view.

For anyone fortunate enough to have photographs of family members going back multiple generations, identifying people can be almost impossible.

Fortunately some images have names on them and others are recognisable from later pictures. Some even have the name and location of the studio.

The source of the images helps as well. For instance, I have images from my grandparents' property at Boolburra, some of which connect to my maternal great-grandparents James Silver and Janet Todd.

They had six children, including my mum's mother, Bella Dobbs (nee Silver). She was the eldest, but two of her sisters died before their second birthday. 

Business name gives clue

Her younger sister, Grace, pictured at right, has been identified partly because of the photographer's name; "T.Mills (late A.Lomer & Co.) photographer, Ruthven St, Toowoomba".

Given that the business only started to advertise in 1895, (see, there appears little doubt that this is indeed Grace Helen Silver.

Another image is that of twins Eva and Nettie Silver, who were born 18 November 1899, also at Kooroongarra.

Eva lived to be 98

Silver twins Eva and Nettie. Click for larger view.

It's obvious by the photograph that Eva was the more robust of the twins.

She lived to be 98, but Nettie, like her older sister Grace, did not see her second birthday.

It's a harsh reality for families that some children don't live through those early years.

It was more common 100-plus years ago without the medical help we now take for granted.

For James and Janet, it must have been a wrench to lose two of their first four children.

And the heartache did not end there because their youngest, James, died aged 34. 

James and Janet eventually moved from Kooroongarra to Millmerran and then to Taringa in Brisbane.

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By Aberdeenshire Silver descendant Warren Nunn

Reverend Alexander Silver was for about 40 years the spiritual leader of Dunnottar church near Stonehaven in Scotland. He was described as “many-sided and sterling in character”.

He was a larger-than-life, quick-witted individual with a keen, hands-on interest in contributing to a community that highly valued Christian endeavour and dedication.

In 1829 he succeeded his older brother John as schoolmaster at Fordoun about 10 miles (16 km) from Dunnottar where he would afterwards see out his days as a pastor.

A copy of a portrait of Reverend Alexander Silver that hangs in Dunnottar Church. Image kindly provided by the church.

He was thrust into the role of schoolmaster when his brother was killed in an unfortunate accident that also took the life of another man.[1] Along with a third individual they were all thrown from a gig which hit a bridge near Glenbervie. As an aside, more than 30 years later Sandy Silver was also involved in a buggy accident.[2]

Sandy Silver was born in 1804 at Mill of Uras (south of Stonehaven) the youngest child of John Silver and Elizabeth Thomson. Research suggests he may have had four siblings: John (1793-1829), Jean (1795-unknown), Elizabeth (1798-1857) and James (1800-1865).

Rev Silver attended Marischal College, Aberdeen, between 1818 and 1822, graduating from the arts faculty filius Joannis agricolae.

Silver surname

The Silver surname has for hundreds of years been prominent throughout Aberdeenshire, particularly in Maryculter and Fetteresso parishes.

It can be difficult to place people in the correct family line because earlier records contained less information. A certain amount of guesswork is needed and it becomes even more complicated by the type of family naming patterns that were practised.[3]

If Rev Silver’s family stuck to that protocol then his father John would have been named John after his father before him. It would have been the basis for Rev Silver’s eldest brother John having that Christian name.

Confused? You should be because I can’t be certain to which family he belonged because the two likely candidates prove hard to track. However I have concluded that Rev Silver’s father was born in Fetteresso and was buried in Maryculter. See following footnote for my reasoning.[4]

Silver family connections

Is his parentage that important? Perhaps not, but I’m interested because of my connection to the Silver family in the district given my great grandfather James Silver (1863-1949) grew up a few miles from where Rev Silver was pastoring.

My best guess is that there would have been a family connection in a previous generation but it’s unlikely I’ll be able to prove it.

Nevertheless, Rev Silver’s life is worth exploring and recording for posterity because of the impact he made in a life of public service which went beyond pastoral duties.

Alexander Silver ordained at Dunnottar

On 30 October 1844, the then 40-year-old Rev Silver was introduced to Dunnottar parishoners as their new minister in a ceremony attended by a large number of people despite what was described as unfavourable weather.[5]

It seems likely that Alexander Silver answered a call to pastor at Dunnottar because of the split that occurred within the Church of Scotland. It became known as the Disruption of 1843.

Rev Silver remained loyal to what was at the time known as the Established Church of Scotland, or what nowadays is broadly known as the Presbyterian denomination.

He thereafter gave the rest of his life to serving others. He did not marry, which was a little unusual for the time.

Several years later, Rev Silver is mentioned in connection with the Stonehaven National Security Savings Bank, an institution with which he was to be associated right up until his death.[6]

Educational focus

This became the pattern of his life. Along with his pastoral duties, Rev Silver was also committed to educating the district’s children, a contribution that won him praise on more than one front.[7],[8]

His commitment to the community he served was an extension of his pastoral duties but he always held close to his heart the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.[9]

Headstone on Rev Silver’s grave at Dunnottar Church near Stonehaven, Scotland. Photo taken September 2004 by Warren Nunn.

One of the measures of a man is any reflection on his life. When Rev John Watt spoke at Dunnottar church about Rev Silver’s passing, he painted a vivid picture of a faithful and true Christ-like servant whose life calling it was to serve others. Rev Watt’s address is worth reading and is below reproduced.[10]

The description of Rev Silver fits with and fleshes out what the bland public record tells us of his involvement in various organisations both commercial and public.

The Aberdeen Weekly Journal published a tribute which reinforced the high esteem in which the pastor was held.[11]

An extensive library

And there is added insight into his life found in the details of the sale of his possessions that included a library of about 1000 books.[12],[13]

Sandy Silver clearly understood his limitations and the march of time and the impact it was having on his duties as pastor.

He first revealed in 1878 that he needed help and that the parish should look for a successor.[14],[15] He even offered to forgo his stipend to effect the appointment.[16]

This almost brutal self-assessment showed how realistic Rev Silver was about himself and his abilities. He knew his body was giving out on him and so gradually withdrew from the more taxing tasks; the main one being that of pastor. It showed how seriously he took his calling and his determination to put others first in all things and allow the Lord to look after the rest.

Committed to his tasks up to final days

Still he remained as active as possible and, several weeks before his passing, recommitted to his involvement in the parish poorhouse. [17]

However, a few weeks later he suffered a stroke, lingered for 19 days and finally passed into the presence of the Lord he so faithfully served for so long. [18]

Reverend Alexander Silver's death certificate.
Reverend Alexander Silver’s death certificate. Note that his nephew James Silver signed as informant on the certificate. As a young man in 1851, James stayed with his uncle at Dunnottar manse, perhaps as part of his schooling.

For Rev Alexander Silver, he knew the proof of that which he so faithfully preached; that to be “absent from the body was to be present with the Lord”. For him, 2 Corinthians 5:8 had become reality.[19]

One thing for certain about Rev Silver is that his love of others and his willingness to give of himself was everlovingly expressed in his will which lists a number of relatives and friends who benefitted from his estate.[20] Again, it is a long and detailed document but worth reading through to gain a further insight to a man who lived out his life in line with his firm convictions that he was a sinner saved by grace.

Various other references to Rev Silver can also be read here.[21]

Fondly remembered long after his passing

More than 20 years after he passed away, Sandy Silver was remembered in an article that appeared in the Dundee Courier of 4 May 1908.[22]

The article “Men of the Mearns, Kincardineshire Wit and Humour” described an encounter at Stonehaven between Rev. Sandy Silver and an Aberdeen lawyer. The account is somewhat confusing and not really amusing and perhaps has much to do with the aforementioned divisions within the church. It describes a mild exchange between two people who were both about the Lord’s business, but it underscores that Sandy Silver didn’t take himself too seriously.

Later in 1908 there was another reference to Sandy Silver because of a wooden microscope he once owned that was a point of curiosity at a meeting of scientifically-minded men in Aberdeen.[23]

References and notes

  1. Aberdeen Journal, Wednesday, 29 July 1829.
    FATAL ACCIDENT.- On Saturday last (25th), a meeting of the Parochial Schoolmasters of Kincardineshire was held at Fordoun. Mr Murray, manufacturer, and church treasurer for the parish of Fetteresso, Mr Silver, schoolmaster of the same parish, and Mr Hendry, schoolmaster of Glenbervie, were returning home together in a gig from the meeting. At about ten in the evening they reached the bridge over the water at Glenbervie, where the road turns at almost a right angle. The wheel here came in contact with the parapet wall, and the shock threw the gentleman out with such violence, that Mr Murray and Mr Silver were killed on the spot, and Mr Henry was dreadfully cut and bruised, but strong hopes are entertained of his recovery. Mr Murray was found inside the parapet, against which his head had struck; and with the shattered gig lying upon him. Mr Silver was thrown over the bridge, a height of 14 or 15 feet, and fell on a hard stoney place where there was no water. Mr Henry upon recovering a little was able to scramble home; but so stunned that he was unable to tell where or how he fell. Their unhappy situation was discovered by some men passing along the road within half an hour after the melancholy catastrophe took place. Mr Murray and Mr Silver were both very highly respected and esteemed by all who knew them, as most exemplary and correct in every way. They were most useful and beloved members of society; and their premature death is greatly lamented by all ranks of the community.See picture of bridge at to text
  2. Aberdeen Journal Wednesday 6 May 1863.
    STONEHAVEN. – On Saturday, as the Rev. Alexander Silver, of Dunnottar, was being driven home in his gig by his servant, the horse got frightened at a railway train which passed while they were under the bridge that crosses the road about a mile out of town. The horse become unmanageable, and brought the gig in violent contact with a cart, and both the occupants of the gig were thrown out on the road by the violence of the concussion. The driver was badly cut about the head and face, and otherwise hurt; but we are glad to say that the rev. gentleman escaped little or none the worse. | Return to text
  3. Scots often named children by following a simple set of rules:
    1st son named after father’s father
    2nd son named after mother’s father
    3rd son named after father
    1st daughter named after mother’s mother
    2nd daughter named after father’s mother
    3rd daughter named after mother
    Source: to text
  4. There are two possible John Silvers who are Sandy Silver’s father (by my reckoning). As follows
    SILVER, JOHN (Old Parish Registers Births 258/ 20 154 Fetteresso) Page 154 of 3079 May 1754, Silver, John Silver in Old Hilloch had John baptized witnesses James Duthie in Netherley and Alexander Milne in Mill of Monquich.
    SILVER, JOHN (Old Parish Registers Births 258/ 20 132 Fetteresso) Page 132 of 307. 11 Feb 1750 Silver. John Silver in Cantlayhills had John baptized in face of congregation. I’m suggesting it was John Silver of Old Hilloch born 1754 based on the following burial No 264/0000200232 at Maryculter: Silver: John Silver, from Fetteresso Parish, was interred in the Old Churchyard of Maryculter April 14th 1831. | Return to text
  5. Aberdeen Herald and General Advertiser 2 November 1844, p3.
    STONEHAVEN, Oct. 30.-Ordination-The induction of the Rev. Mr. Silver to the parochial charge of the parish of Dunnottar took place, this day at twelve o’clock. Notwithstanding the very unfavourable state of the weather, the church was completely filled during the whole service, which was continued till four o’clock in the afternoon. The highly interesting and instructive services of the day were conducted by the Rev. Mr.Flowerdew of Fordoun, who delivered an eloquent and appropriate discourse from the first clause of the 16th verse of St. Paul’s second epistle to the Corinthians. Mr. Silver received a hearty welcome from the number and highly respectable congregation as they retired from the church. | Return to text
  6. Stonehaven Journal 26 December 1848, p4.
    SAVINGS BANK.-The annual general meeting of the trustees and managers of the Stonehaven National Security Savings Bank was held in the Bank Office on Tuesday week, the Rev. Alexander Silver, minister of the parish of Dunnottar, in the chair. | Return to text
  7. Montrose, Arbroath and Brechin Review; and Forfar and Kincardineshire Advertiser. 29 June 1849, p4.
    STONEHAVEN. The exemplary efforts of the Rev. Mr. Silver of Dunnottar, for the spread of education, are deserving of our warmest commendation. While other ministers are letting some of their hitherto side schools to old retired farmers, Mr. S. has, at his own expense, erected a commodious school and teacher’s house within his parish, and has at sametime made great exertions to get a salary for a teacher at the south side. | Return to text
  8. Aberdeen Press and Journal 29 May 1850 p6.
    As part of a lengthy report on the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Sandy Silver is mentioned for his educational “zeal”.….. The report then detailed several instances of zeal and liberality to promote education in connection with the Church. Honourable mention was made of the proprietors of the Forth Iron Works; of a benevolent gentleman in the parish of Cathcart; of the heritors of the parish of Cruden; of Mr Silver, the minister of Dunnottar … | Return to text
  9. Aberdeen Press and Journal 23 October 1850, p5.
    STONEHAVEN.-On Monday, the annual meeting of the Stonehaven Bible and Tract Society was held in the United Presbyterian Church. The Rev. Mr Silver of Dunnottar opened the meeting by devotional exercises… | Return to text
  10. Stonehaven Journal 11 September 1884, p4.
    THE LATE REV. ALEXANDER SILVER FUNERAL SERMON Service was conducted in Dunnottar Church on Sunday for the first time since the death of the late minister, the Rev. Alexander Silver, and, in terms of the resolution of the Presbytery of Fordoun, the funeral sermon was preached by the Rev. John Watt, Fetteresso. Notwithstanding the inclement nature of the weather, there was a good attendance at the Church, which has been draped in black since Mr Silver’s death on the 25th Aug.Mr Watt preached an eloquent and appropriate sermon from 1st Corinthians, xv. 54-55 (So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?”) and closed as follows:-“Well do we know that often, very often, we are made to feel keenly enough the vanity of man apart from immortality. We feel it when a monarch dies, bidding adieu to his gleaming sceptre and sparkling crown. We feel it when all the thunders of the battlefield could not open the conqueror’s ear, sealed by the hand of death; when the voice of the orator who was wont to kindle the passions and emotions in the human breast is hushed for ever on this side ‘the veil;’ when the poet’s hand cannot, as of yore, touch his lyre and bring forth streams of melody. We feel it sorely when of friends, in the light of whose countenance we lived, we have nothing left by the clammy clay; an even that must be parted with. A few days ago we laid in the resting place of the grave the dust of a friend of many years, your aged pastor, and it closed over the mortal remains of man many-sided and sterling in character. It is not possible to do full justice to his memory in the few words to which I must confine myself, but the tribute to remembrance I offer is not formal. It is hearty and sincere. We began our ministries together. I was very young, and he was of mature age. Many a time and in many a way was I, like many another, greatly benefited by his judicious counsel. We differed, indeed, often in opinion and views of things, but our friendship remained unbroken. I may almost say, with him has passed away the generation of ministers with whom, in this Presbytery, I began my labours in the vineyard of our Lord. Two still survive, but years and infirmities have removed them from the scenes of their work. The face and voice of the departed, long familiar to us, have disappeared, but his name will live for more than a generation in many abodes. His fourscore years were spent, I may say, in the place of his birth, and his local lore was extensive and useful. Gifted with high mental endowments, with a clear judgment, a very depth of common sense, and an enormous power of grasping character, he also possessed, until the time of decay set in, a splendid memory, from the storehouse of which he poured forth floods of facts, always interesting and particularly pleasing. Of his wit and humour this is not the time, perhaps, to speak, but let me say there could be no greater mistake than to suppose for a moment that he was not a serious-thinking man. There underlay all appearances a heart that was true and leal (faithful and true), and soul under the power of deep religious impression. With geniality of nature there was combined a profound sense of duty towards God and man, and in the discharge of it he did not weary. He illustrated the truth that life-courses are often determined by strange, nay, seemingly mysterious, events. A terrible accident, which filled the country-side with consternation and many homes with mourning, put an end, I have heard him say, to plans suggested by his mathematical proficiency, and assigned him a quiet dwelling and a laborious calling in Fetteresso. For 17 years he taught the parish school, and both to minister and elders he was a constant and most valuable help. All parochial matters, felt the touch of his guiding hand. Many traces of it I have found in our session records, especially in regard to the poor, the management of whose funds entailed great labour, with not always the recompense of gratitude, the only remunerations, when it was had, of those days. In all his scholars the feeling of attachment to him was strong; and the experience he brought with him from the offices he filled as schoolmaster was of immense service to the parish over which he was ordained as pastor. Every one knows with what singular administrative skill he presided at its public boards. With something like parental love he nourished and extended an institution which has been a great blessing to many, as having led them to lay in store the fruits of industry for an evil day or the time of age. Hope was long deferred but at last the dream of his early days was turned into a reality. He became a minister of the Church of Scotland, and it was a proud day to him when he was entrusted with the pastorate of Dunnottar. With vigour he entered on its high duties, and did them well till his hands grew too feeble to hold the pastoral staff. His kindness, his attention to his people were proverbial. Words of Christian comfort were not his only givings to the sick, the poor, the dying; while his advice and help in difficult and delicate affairs of life were almost daily deeds.His preaching was sturdy and sound. It was truly a message of Divine mercy to sinful men through Christ crucified. The glorious gospel of the blessed God was fully and faithfully proclaimed by him. He had great knowledge of the human heart in its good and evil, and his sermons were such as to reach it and touch it and move it. His appeals were often stirring. His delivery, without being oratorical, was very impressive, and I still hear the deep, solemn tones of his voice in Sacramental addresses. His work is over. His course is finished.The grasshopper had become a burden, and in kindness his Master released him from his earthly house, fallen to ruin. He now sleeps in your sweet and historical church-yard, in the tomb of a gifted predecessor, and near the sacred dust of old Covenanters who have given name and fame to the castled pile in which, like John in Patmos, they were in ‘tribulation for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.’ What more need I, can I, say but this. Many of you will often think and speak of your departed pastor. Follow him in his life of integrity, usefulness, and Christian piety. Sabbath by Sabbath you pass the sleeping-spot of martyred fathers whose noble resistance of regal and prelatic despotism is one of the grandest pages in Scotland’s proud history. Kindle your faith and the simple shrine. Value the liberty and cleave fast to the Church they bought for you, and remember that the world of God is the foundation of both. If even a portion of their hold zeal and high hopes only dwell in you, your lives will be lofty and true and good. As for death, you shall be able to contemplate it in the spirit of the poet’s ‘last man,’ as he points to the sun an exclaims-‘Go tell the night that hides thy face Thou saw’st the last of Adam’s race,On earth’s sepulchral clod, The darkening universe defy To quench his immortality Or shake his trust in God.’ Amen”. | Return to text
  11. The Aberdeen Weekly Journal, Saturday, August 30, 1884
    DEATH OF THE REV. ALEX. SILVER, DUNNOTAR.-Many will hear with regret of the death of the Rev. Alex. Silver, minister of Dunnottar, which occurred at the Manse there on Monday morning. Deceased had been in declining health for some time back, and quite recently he received a shock of paralysis, from the effects of which he never rallied. Mr Silver was a native of the parish of Dunnottar, having been born in 1804 at Mill of Uras, where his father carried on the business of miller, &c., for a good many years. He obtained his early education under his brother (the late Mr John Silver) at the old Parish School of Fetteresso, which was then situated at the Kirk Town. From thence he went to King’s College, Aberdeen, where he completed his education and graduated with high honours as M.A. Subsequently Mr Silver acted as tutor in several gentlemen’s families, and about the year 1830, his brother being accidentally killed (actually occurred in July 1829 and reported in Aberdeen Journal), he succeeded him as teacher of Fetteresso Parish School, carrying on the work with a considerable amount of success. Being of a sociable disposition, he entered into the amusements as well as the studies of the young people with great enthusiasm, and was exceedingly well liked by all his scholars. In 1844 the pastorate of Dunnottar Church was rendered vacant by the translation of the late Rev. Mr Irvine to Peterhead, the active duties of which he carried on with great acceptance down to about six years ago, when failing health compelled him to secure the services of an assistant. Of a sympathetic nature, he was ever ready to give consolation and assistance to those in distress. He had a most retentive memory, and was possess of a large fund of humour, and anecdote, and folk lore – qualities which made him a universal favourite in the district. He held the offices of chairman of the Parochial Board and School Board until advanced years compelled him to resign. He was vice-chairman of the Combination Poorhouse Board for the county, the assistance he gave at its institution proving very valuable. He also acted as actuary of the local savings bank* for many years, and took a great interest in its success. Mr Silver likewise held the office of prison chaplain until the closing of the county prison in 1878, and was able in that capacity to be a great deal of good. He was never married. Proceedings had been instituted by the Presbytery of Fordoun for the appointment of an assistant and successor to Mr Silver in room of the Rev. Robert Davison, who was translated to St Cyrus a few weeks ago, the church having been preached vacant on Sunday; but in consequence of Mr Silver’s demise, the proceedings will in terms of the regulation of the General Assembly have to be again de noso.*Inverbervie Savings Bank. | Return to text
  12. Stonehaven Journal 23 October 1884, p1.
    Notice of sale of household furniture, milch cows, brougham & gig and other effects at Manse of Dunnottar. A list of late Rev. Alex. Silver’s effects included: Mahogany couch, mahogany book case, musical box, barometers, microscope, telescope, four-posted and iron bedsteads, dressing tables, wash-hand stand, coal scuttles, crockery, kitchen and dairy utensils, 2 milch cows, box and long carts, set of cart harness, turning lathe and tools, stone roller, brougham, gig, two sets of gig harness. Deceased’s books and silver plate will be sold in Stonehaven on a day to be afterwards announced. Brown and Murray, auctioneers. | Return to text
  13. Aberdeen Press and Journal 3 December 1884, p1.
    Sale of books and silver plate. On Saturday, 13th December there will be sold, within the townhall, Stonehaven, the whole library, consisting of nearly 1000 volumes of theological, historical, biographical, and miscellaneous works, which belonged to the late Rev. Alexander Silver, of Dunnottar; together with his silver plate, comprising table, dessert, and other spoons; forks (large and small), toddy ladles, dividers and waiters; also, a number of plated articles, comprising tea and coffee pots, sugar basins, cream and hot water jugs, candle stick, &c. | Return to text
  14. Aberdeen Press and Journal 01 April 1878, p4.
    RESIGNATION OF REV. ALEX. SILVER, DUNNOTTAR. – The Rev. Dr Mearns, Kinneff, conducted the service in Dunnottar Parish Church yesterday, and at the conclusion of the service intimated that the Rev. Mr Silver had applied to the Presbytery for an assistant and successor, and while doing so said he could not refrain from referring to Mr Silver’s generous resolution to allow the assistant the whole of the stipend. He had now to state that the Presbytery had accepted Mr Silver’s offer, and that the rev. Court would meet in the church on the 10th inst., to receive any objections which might be tendered by the congregation. | Return to text
  15. Aberdeen Press and Journal 04 September 1878, p4.
    THE APPOINTMENT OF AN ASSISTANT AND SUCCESSOR TO REV. ALEX. SILVER.-A pro re nata (in the circumstances) meeting of Fordoun Established Presbytery was held in Dunnottar Church yesterday-Rev. John Reith, Rickarton, moderator. The Rev. John Brown, Bervie, clerk to the Presbytery, intimated that the meeting had been called to receive, examine, and judge the appointment of the Rev. Robert Davidson, assistant in St Bernard’s Parish, Edinburgh, to be assistant and successor to the Rev. Alex. Silver, Dunnottar Church. The form of call, containing 185 signatures, with letter of acceptance from Mr Davidson, and other papers relative to the appointment, were then examined, and no one having appeared to object, the Presbytery unanimously sustained the call. | Return to text
  16. Aberdeen Press and Journal 11 April 1878, p3.
    PRESBYTERY OF FORDOUN.-The Established Presbytery of Fordoun met in Dunnottar Church yesterday-Rev. Dr Mearns, Kinneff, moderator. The application of the Rev. Alex. Silver, minister of Dunnottar, for an assistant and successor was considered. The members of Presbytery expressed themselves as satisfied, that on account of age and failing bodily strength, Mr Silver was unable for the full discharge of his duties, and being also satisfied that the allowance to be made to the assistant is generous and ample, resolved unanimously to concur in the prayer of petition. It was also resolved to relieve Mr Silver of his pulpit duties at once. Rev. Dr Mearns was reappointed moderator of the Kirk Sessions, and Rev. John Watt, Fetteresso, was appointed to preach in Dunnottar Church on Sunday first, and to give the necessary intimation for revising and adjusting the roll of membership, &c., previous to making the appointment. The next meeting of Presbytery was fixed to be held in Laurencekirk on the 1st May. | Return to text
  17. Dundee Advertiser 9 June 1884, p7.
    Kincardineshire Combination Poorhouse Rev. Silver re-elected vice-chairman. | Return to text
  18. 1884 SILVER, ALEXANDER (Statutory registers Deaths 255/ 42)From death cert: 1884 deaths in the parish of Dunnottar in the county of Kincardine No 42 Alexander Silver Minister of Dunnottar Parish (single) August 25th 1885 6.15am Manse of Dunnottar Male 80 years. Father: John Silver master meal miller (deceased). Mother: Elizabeth Thomson (deceased). Paralysis 19 days.Informant: James Silver, nephew, Nether Criggie, Dunnottar. | Return to text
  19. 2 Cor 5:8 KJV translation: We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. |Return to text
  20. 22 December 1884. Inventory of the personal estate of the late Revd Alexander Silver. At Stonehaven the twenty second day of December in the year One thousand eight hundred and eighty four. In presence of John Guthrie Smith, Esquire, Advocate, Sheriff of Aberdeen, Kincardine andBanff. Compeared Arthur Wellesley Kinnear, Solicitor in Stonehaven, as Procurator, and gave in the inventory of the personal estate of the deceased Reverend Alexander Silver and oath there-on underwritten desiring that the same might be inserted and registered in the Sheriff Court Books of Kincardineshire, in the Sheriffdom of Aberdeen, Kincardine and Banff, along with an Extract Registered Deed of Settlement and Codicil executed by the said deceased. Which desire the said Sheriff foundreasonable and ordained the same to be done accordingly and of which inventory and oath and extract Registered Deed of Settlement and Codicil thereon?? follows viz:- Inventory of the Personal Estate wheresoever situated of the Reverend Alexander Silver Minister of the Parish of Dunnottar, in the County of Kincardine, who died at the Manse of Donnottar on the twenty fifth day of August Eighteen hundred and eighty four. Scotland.1.Cash in the house say 12/4/3Note. Used in payment of debts2. Growing crops and other effects sold by public roup on 9th September 1884 conform to Roup Roll 38/19/0Interest thereon to date of oath to inventory -/8/1039/7/103 Household furniture and other effects sold on 25th October 1884 conform to Roup Roll215/0/11Interest thereon to date of oath to inventory 1/7/3216/8/25. Books and silver plate sold on 13th December 1884 conform to Roup Roll98/2/10No interest accrued 98/2/105. Gold watch, body clothes and other effects belonging to deceased unsold, per appraisement 38/0/0391/18/106. Cash at bankers:-(1) Balance due to the deceased on are Account Current with the Bank of Scotland, Stonehaven 4/6/9Interest thereon to date of oath to inventory 0/0/94/7/6(2) Deposit receipt by the Agent Town & Country Bank, Limited, Stonehaven, in favour of deceased dated 15th May 1883 104/13/8Interest thereon to date of oath to inventory 3/19/5108/13/1(3) Deposit receipt by the Agent Town & Country Bank, Limited, Stonehaven, in favour of deceased dated 6th July 1883 30/15/2Interest thereon to date of oath to inventory 1/0/331/15/5(4) Deposit receipt by the Agent Town & Country Bank, Limited, Stonehaven, in favour of deceased dated 5th October 1883 50/0/0Interest thereon to date of oath to inventory 1/6/9 51/6/9(5) Deposit receipt by the Agent Town & Country Bank, Limited, Stonehaven, in favour of deceased dated 5th November 1883 40/0/0 Interest thereon to date of oath to inventory 1/0/1 41/0/1(6) Deposit receipt by the Agent Town & Country Bank, Limited, Stonehaven, in favour of deceased dated 14th November 1883 18/0/0 Interest thereon to date of oath to inventory 0/8/9 18/8/9(7) Deposit receipt by the Agent Town & Country Bank, Limited, Stonehaven, in favour of deceased dated 7th January 1884 20/0/0Interest thereon to date of oath to inventory 0/8/7 20/8/7(8) Deposit receipt by the Agent Town & Country Bank, Limited, Stonehaven, in favour of deceased dated 6th March 1884 26/0/0Interest thereon to date of oath to inventory 0/9/4 26/9/4(9) Deposit receipt by the Agent Town & Country Bank, Limited, Stonehaven, in favour of deceased dated 7th April 1884 50/0/0Interest thereon to date of oath to inventory 0/16/2 50/16/2

    (10) Deposit receipt by the Agent Town & Country Bank, Limited, Stonehaven, in favour of deceased dated 5th July 1884 24/9/7

    Interest thereon to date of oath to inventory 0/5/4 24/14/11 378/0/7

    Stocks and shares of public companies:-

    (1) Two thousand five hundred and fifty pounds Great North of Scotland Railway 4 per cent lieu stock at the price of 106/10/0 per cent at date of oath to inventory 2715/13/0

    Half yearly dividend due thereon 49/18/9 2765/13/9

    (2) Seventy two shares of the Capital Stock of the Town and Country Bank, Limited (formerly the Aberdeen Town and Country Bank) of the price of 17/7/6 at date of oath to inventory 1251/0/0 Half yearly dividend due thereon 28/19/7 1279/19/7

    (3) Twenty two shares of the Northern Agricultural Company, Aberdeen, at the price of 7/15/0 at date of oath to inventory 170/10/0

    Note. No dividend accrued 4216/3/14

    8. Pension:- (1) Proportion of pension due to decease by the commissioners of supply for Kincardineshire as Retired Prison Chaplain from 26th April 1884 to date of death 2/2/8

    (2) Proportion of pension due to decease by the Magistrates of Inverbervie and arrears 0/5/4

    (3) Proportion of pension due to deceased by Government for quarter ended 30th June 0/18/6

    Proportion of pension due to deceased by Government from 30th June to date of death 0/7/7 1/0/1 3/8/1

    9. Commission due to deceased as one of the Trustees of the late John Duncan, Feuar?, Stonehaven 19/9/3

    10. Grain stipend due to the deceased as minister of Parish of Dunnottar for first half of crop and year 1884 he having survived Whitsunday and died before Michaelmas estimated at 105/0/0

    Money stipend due to the deceased for said period 5/0/0 110/0/0


    Debts due to the deceased upon the following document:-

    (1) Ten debenture bonds per 100/0/0 each by the American Freehold Land Mortgage Company of London Limited in favour of deceased date respectively 14th November 1882 and number from F360 to F369 1000/0/0

    Interest thereon from 1st July 1884 to date of death of oath to inventory 23/16/8 1023/16/8

    (2) Debenture bond by the Colorado Mortgage and Investment Company of London, Limited, in favour of deceased number 345 and dated 20th July 1880 500/0/0

    Interest thereon from the term of Whitsunday 1884 to date of oath to inventory 18/2/9 515/2/9

    (3) Debenture of the New South Wales Mortgage Loan and Agency Company, Limited, in favour of deceased numbered 384 and dated 28th July 1880 500/0/0

    Interest thereon from the term of Whitsunday 1884 to date of death 16/13/0 516/13/0

    (4) Debenture by the Texas Land and Mortgage Company Limited in favour of deceased numbered 33 and dated 11th July 1883 500/0/0

    Interest thereon from Whitsunday 1884 to date of oath to inventory 18/3/3 518/3/3 2573/15/8

    Total amount of personal estate in the United Kingdom 7705/0/0

    Signed AW Kinnear, John G. Thomson, Sheriff Clerk Depute. Schedule of debts due and owing from the deceased at the time of his death to persons resident in the United Kingdom and Funeral Expenses.

    I Debts

    1. James Brown, Fishmonger, Aberdeen 0/17/5

    2. Margaret Walker, half year wages & Board. Wages 10/6/0

    3. Euphemia Chalmers do____ do___ 8/6/0

    4. James Gillespie half year wages & Board. Wages 11/0/0

    5. N.N. (?) Forbes rent of land for crop 1884 10/1/0

    6. One half of grain stipends for crop 1884 due by deceased to Reverend Robert Davidson as his assistant and successor in the charge of the Parish of Dunnottar as per agreement between them say ________ 105/0/0

    II Funeral Expenses

    James Nicols, Undertaker 8/10/0

    Alexander Skerret, Gravedigger for making grave and other work connected therewith 1/6/6

    Robert Taylor account for work taking down and resetting tombstone 0/12/6

    James Sinclair for grave cloths and attendance 2/1/6

    Dr Leslie for attendance 4/10/0

    James McLachlan, draper, for servants mournings as authorized, by deed of settlement 11/4/6

    Miss Howarth, dressmaker 0/6/6

    Total amount of debts and funeral expenses 174/1/11


    Total amount of personal estate as per foregoing inventory 7705/0/0

    Amount of debts and funeral expenses as per schedule 174/1/11

    Nett value of personal estate chargeable with duty 7330/18/1

    Signed A. W. Kinnear, John C Thomson, Sheriff Clerk Depute. At Stone have the second day of December, one thousand and eight hundred and eighty four years. In presence of John Craig Thomas, Sheriff Clerk Depute of Kincardineshire. Appeared Arthur Wellesley Kinnear, Solicitor and Bank Agent Stonehaven executor of the deceased Reverend Alexander Silver Minister of the Parish of Dunnottar in the county of Kincardine who being solemnly sworn and examined depones, that the said Alexander Silver died at Dunnottar Manse in the county of Kincardine aforesaid, domiciled in Scotland, upon the twenty fifth day of August eighteen hundred and eighty four without ever having been married. That the deponent has entered upon the possession and management of the deceased’s estate as executor, nominated by him, along with the Reverend William Mearns, Doctor of Divinity, Minister of the Parish of Kinneff and Robert Tindal, Sheriff Clerk of Kincardineshire in a General Deed of Settlement executed by him upon the twenty eighth day of December eighteen hundred and eighty four, and along with a relative codicil thereto dated the eighth day of October eighteen hundred and eighty three registered in the Sheriff Court Books of the County of Kincardine the second day of September eighteen hundred and eighty four and extract of which Deed of Settlement and codicil is now established and signed by the deponent and the said Sheriff Clerk Depute of this date as relative hereto: That the deponent does not know of any testamentary settlement or writing relative to the dispersal of the deceased’s personal estate or effects or any part thereof other than the said general deed of settlement and relative codicil. That the foregoing inventory signed by the deponent and the said Sheriff Clerk Depute as relative hereto is a full and complete inventory of the personal estate and effects of the said deceased Alexander Silver wheresoever situated and belonging or due to him beneficially at the time of the his death in as far as the same has come to the deponent’s knowledge; that the deponent does not know of any money or property belonging to the deceased secured by Scottish Bonds or other instruments excluding executor; that the said deceased had no heritable estate in this country in as far as known to the deponent; that the said deceased Alexander Silver was due and owing at the time of his death to persons resident in the United Kingdom the debts enumerated in the foregoing schedule. That these debts are payable by law out of the estate and effect comprised in the foregoing inventory are not any of these voluntary debts made payable under some instrument delivered to the do?? Thereof within three months before the death of the deceased or debts in respect whereof a reimbursement is capable of being reclaimed from any real estate of the deceased or from any other estate or person whatever. That these debts with the funeral expenses or the said deceased as also shown in the said schedule amount to one hundred and seventy four pounds 1/11. That the nett valued of this date of the said personal estate and effects situated in the United Kingdom including the proceeds accrued thereon down to his death and after deducting the amount of the said debts and funeral expenses is seven thousand five hundred pounds sterling and does not exceed seven thousand six hundred pounds sterling; That confirmation of the said personal estate is required in favour of the deponed and the said William Mearns and Robert Tindal. All which is truth as the deponent shall answer to God. (Signed) Ar W Kinnear, John C Thomson, Sheriff Clerk Depute, Written by John McDonald. Collated by Robt Tindal.

    Follows extract registered deed of settle and codicil before referred to:- At Stonehaven the second day of September one thousand eight hundred and eighty four the deed hereinafter engrossed? was presented for registration in the Sheriff Court Books of the County of Kincardine for preservation and is registered in the said Books as follows:-

    I, the Reverend Alexander Silver, Minister of the Parish of Dunnottar, in order to settle the success to my estate real and personal after my decease and for other good causes and consideration, do hereby give, grant, assign, convey and dispone? to and in favour of the Reverend William Mearns, Doctor of Divinity, Minister of the Parish of Kinneff, Robert Tindal, Sheriff Clerk of Kincardineshire and Arthur Wellesley Kinnear, Solicitor and Bank Agent, Stonehaven, as trustees for the purposes after mentioned, and to such other persons as may hereafter be nominated by myself or be lawfully assured by my trustees and to such of my said trustees as shall accept, and to the survivors or survivor of those accepting, and to the heir of the last surviving trustee, a majority of my accepting and surviving trustees resident in Great Britain for the time being always a quorum, and to the assigned of my said trustees or their foresaids, my whole estate both heritable and moveable, real and personal, of whatever description, presently belong to me or which shall belong to me at the time of my decease; with full power to my said trustees and their foresaids, so far as not otherwise directed by me, to sell my trust estate by public auction or private bargain, to grant conveyances thereof, and to receive the prices thereof, hereby discharging purchasers from all responsibility as to the application of which the debtors shall not be answerable; as also to pursuit and defend, or to compound, transact or refer or settle by the advice of counsel all question affecting any trust estate; as also to name factors and agents either from their own number or otherwise, and to pay such factors or agents a suitable remuneration for their trouble, but for whom they shall not be answerable further than that they were habit responsible at the time of their appointment; and in general with the fullest powers to manage my who trust affairs as freely as I might have done myself and against all mortals, and I hereby bind and oblige me and my foresaids to make this conveyance effectual where required by completing tittles in our own persons and granting special conveyances in implement thereof to my said trustees and their foresaid; and further I do hereby nominate, constitute and appoint my said trustees and their foresaids to be my sole executors and universal intromitters with my moveable means and estate, with all the powers competent to executors; but these presents are granted in trust for the ends, uses and purpose following, videliset?; in the firstplace, for payment of my just and lawful debts and funeral expenses, including such sums as my trustees shall think proper for the mournings to my servants and for the creation of a suitable enclosure and tombstone at my burial place, and of the expenses of this trust, and for fulfilment of all obligations incumbent on me; Secondly, for the payment of such legacies as I may bequeath by any writing under my hand however informed the same may be and though found in my repositories or in the custody of any third party undelivered at this time of my death. Thirdly, I divest my said trustees at the first term if Whitsunday or Martimmas after my death to make payment to my housekeeper Margaret Walker as a reward for her long and faithful services to me of the sum of one hundred pounds sterling free of legacy duty and also to purchase for her from such insurance company as they may select a free year annuity of fifteen pounds sterling, which annuity shall commence to run as from the date of my death, and shall be paid as an alimentary provision to the said Margaret Walker free of secession or legacy duty at two terms in the year, Whitsunday and Martimmas, during all the days of her life; Fourthly, for payment to my late servant Margaret Glennie, now Margaret Mason, at the first term of Whitsunday or Martimmas after my death of a legacy of one hundred pounds sterling as an acknowledgement of her long and faithful services to me and of her attention to me since she left my employment, which legacy shall be paid to her free of legacy duty on her own receipt and exclusive of her husband just martiti; Fifthly, for payment at the first term of Whitsunday or Martimmas after my death or as soon thereafter as convenient of the following legacies to the persons afternamed videlicet; To each of my said trustees who shall accept office as a trustee and act as such the sum of fifty pounds sterling; to Eliza Donaldson, wife of John Walker, Spurryhillock, Fetteresso, the sum of ten pounds sterling; to Ann Mowat, formerly in my service and now in the service of Mr and Mrs Fowler, London, the sum of ten pounds sterling; to Elizabeth Paterson, formerly in my service, now wife of Joseph Walker, Mason, Aberdeen, the sum of ten pounds sterling; and lastly, with regard to the residue and remainder of my said means and estate heritable and moveable remaining after fulfilment of the foregoing purposes of this trust, I direct my said trustees to convert the same into cash, and at the firs term of Whitsunday or Martimmas after my death or as soon thereafter as practicable, to divide the proceeds among my nephews and nieces the lawful children of my deceased brother James and of my deceased sister Elizabeth equally share and share alike; declaring that the lawful children of any of my nephews and nieces who may be already dead or who may predecease me shall be entitled equally among them to the share or shares of the said residue which their deceased parent or parents would have been entitled to had he, she, or they survived me; and declaring further that any sums deposited by me and found standing in the names of any of my said nephews and nieces in the Books of the National Security Savings Bank, Stonehaven, conform to deposit slips in my possession shall be taken into account in estimating the residue of my said means and estate and shall be counted as part of my shares of the said residue to my nephews and nieces in whose names the said sums may be standing; and I reserve my own ?? of the premises and full power to alter and revoke these present in whole or in part; and I dispense with the delivery hereof and of all writing made in relation hereto and declare that the same shall be effectual although found in my repositories or in the custody of any other person to whom I may have entrusted the same at the time of my death; and I consent to registration for preservation on witness whereof I have subscribed these presents, written on this and the two preceding pages by George Weir, Apprentice to the said Arthur Wellesley Kinnear, at Manse of Dunnottar, the twenty eighty day of December, eighteen hundred and eighty, before these witnesses, James Gillespie, residing at Kirktown of Fetteresso and Euphemia Chalmers, residing at Manse of Dunnottar, both my servants (Signed). Alex Silver, James Gillespie witness, Euphemia Chalmers, witness. I the Revered Alexander Silver, named in the foregoing deed of settlement, do hereby bequeath to Euphemia Chalmers, my servant, provided she is in my service at the time of my death, the sum of fifteen pounds sterling free of legacy duty as a reward for her attention to me payable at the first term of Whitsunday or Martimmas after my death or as soon as thereafter as convenient; and I consent to registration hereof for preservation. In witness thereof I have subscribed this codicil written by Arthur Wellesley Kinnear, Solicitor, Stonehaven, at Stonehaven, the eight day of October eighteen hundred and eighty three years before these witnesses James Milne and James Brown Junior both clerks to the said Arthur Wellesley Kinnear. (Signed) Alex. Silver, James Milne witness, John Brown Jr witness. Extracted upon this and the eleven preceding pages by me Sheriff Clerk Depute of Kincardineshire in the Sheriffdom of Aberdeen, Kincardine and Banff. (Signed). John C Thomson. Written by James Burness Cunningham, collated by John Craig Thomson, signed 12th September 1884. Stonehaven 22nd December 1884. This is the extract of the deed of settlement and codicil referred to in the oath emitted by me of this date to the verity of the inventory of the personal estate of the late Reverend Alexander Silver Minister of the Parish of Dunnottar in the County of Kincardine. (Signed). Ar W. Kinnear, John C Thomson, Sheriff Clerk Depute. Written by John McDonald. Collated by Robt Tindal. | Return to text

  21. Aberdeen Press and Journal 25 December 1850, p5.
    STONEHAVEN NATIONAL SECURITY SAVINGS BANK.-The annual general meeting of the trustees and managers of this institution was held in the Bank Office on Tuesday last – the Rev. Mr Silver, minister of Dunnottar, in the chair…..
    Aberdeen Press and Journal 03 September 1851, p6.
    SCHOOL EXAMINATIONS.-The annual examination of the Fetteresso and Dunnottar parish schools took place on Wednesday, in presence of the ministers of the respective parishes, the Rev. Messrs. Thomson and Silver, and a number of the parents and guardians of the pupils.
    Aberdeen Press and Journal 15 October 1862, p6.
    COMBINATION OF POOR-HOUSE FOR KINCARDINESHIREOn Saturday a meeting was held in the Anchor Hall, Stonehaven, of delegates from various Parochial Boards in Kincardineshire on the subject of a Combination Poor-House for the County. A.W.Kinnear, Esq., Chairman of the Parochial Board of Fetteresso, presided. The delegates present from 14 parishes were-Sir John S.Forbes, Bart.; Sir Thomas Gladstone, Bart., Mr Scott of Brotherton; Mr Carnegie of Redhall; Mr Badenach Nicolson of Glenbervie; Mr Taylor of Kirktonhill; Mr C.Tindal; Mr Dickson, Laurencekirk, factor for Ury; Rev. A.Silver, Dunnottar; Mr Glenny, Fernieflatt; Mr Hunter, St Cyrus; Dr Keith of Easter Muchalls; Baillie Thomson, Treasurer Wood, Mr Forsyth, Mr Henderson, and Mr Weir, Stonehaven.
    Aberdeen Press and Journal 19 July 1865, p5.
    Kincardineshire Farmers’ Club. Report of annual competition and show mentions Rev A.Silver, Dunnottar.
    Aberdeen Press and Journal 08 May 1867, p3.
    STONEHAVEN-FACULTY OF SOLICITORS.-In order to inaugurate the formation of a Society or Faculty of Solicitors for Kincardineshire, a dinner was given to the members and a few other friends by Mr A.B.Shand, Sheriff of the county, last week in Lynch’s Station Hotel. Covers were laid for about twenty guests. The chair was occupied by the Sheriff, who was supported on the right by Sir James Horn Burnett, Bart. of Leys, Lord-Lieutenant of the county; Mr James Tindal, Stonehaven; Mr Patrick Dickson, Laurencekirk, &c.; and on the left by the Rev. A.Silver, of Dunnottar, &c.
    Aberdeen Press and Journal 08 January 1868, p5.
    STONEHAVEN NATIONAL SECURITY SAVINGS BANK.-The Annual Statutory Meeting of the Trustees of this Institution was held in the Bank Office on Tuesday the 31st Dec. 1867-James Tindal, Esq., the treasurer, in the chair. The Rev. Mr Silver of Dunnottar, the actuary, read the report of the auditor, containing a statement of the affairs of the Bank…
    Aberdeen Press and Journal 25 May 1870, p4.
    INSPECTOR OF POOR WANTED. Applications are requested for the office of inspector of poor and collector of poor’s rates, for the parish of Dunnottar. The salary is 40 pounds per annum, and the party appointed must find security to the extent of 200 pounds to the satisfaction of the Parochial Board. Applications, in candidates’ own handwriting, accompanied by certificates of character and qualifications, must be lodges with the Rev. Alexander Silver, Dunnottar, Stonehaven, Chairman of the board, on or before 11th June.
    Aberdeen Press and Journal 05 June 1872, p7.
    KINCARDINESHIRE COMBINATION. The annual meeting of the representatives of the various parishes embraced in the Kincardineshire Combination, was held at Stonehaven on Saturday. Mr Nicolson of Glenbervie was re-elected chairman, and Rev. A.Silver, Dunnottar, vice-chairman for the year.
    Aberdeen Press and Journal 12 March 1873, p3.
    PARISH OF DUNNOTTAR.-On Wednesday the last day for nominating candidates for the School Board of this parish, resulted in the following parties being proposed and seconded; viz:-Rev. Alex. Silver; Wm. Ritchie, Esq., Dunnottar House; Messrs James Jack, fish curer; John Thom, farmer, Uras; Robert Mitchell, farmer, Gallowton; James Carnegie, farmer, Toucks; Jas. Brown, farmer, Upper Criggie; and David Hutcheon, retired teacher, Stonehaven.
    Aberdeen Press and Journal 19 March 1873, p6.
    As above, this article records that Rev. Silver was elected to the Dunnottar Parish School Board.Aberdeen Press and Journal 09 July 1873, p5.
    DUNNOTTAR.-The School Board met on Thursday in the Parochial Board office, Stonehaven-the Chairman (Rev. Alex. Silver) presiding. A letter was read relating to the conveyance of the Brackmuirhill School to the Board. It was agreed to take over the school subject to the approval of the Board of Education, but at the same time it was resolved to call the attention of Donaldson’s Trustees to the fact that religious instruction was to be given “according to use and wont,” the Board being of opinion that future Boards should note be fettered in that matter. From a census of children, it appears that there are between five and thirteen years, 390 children, of whom 77 have never been at school.
    Aberdeen Press and Journal 08 October 1873, p7.
    DUNNOTTAR SCHOOL BOARD.-This Board met on Thursday in the Board Room, Stonehaven-Rev. A. Silver presiding. It was agreed that religious teaching be conducted within the schools according to use and wont. A letter from Mr Cook, Edinburgh, was read as to the leasing Brackmuirhill School, and the Clerk reported that 49 applications had been lodged in reply to his advertisement for a teacher to this school. A committee was appointed to prepare a leet (A leet is a list of candidates for a job, award, contract, etc.). The time table, as prepared by Mr Bain, teacher, was agreed to, subject to any alteration that may be made upon it by the Inspector. A report of a joint committee of Fetteresso and Dunnottar, with reference to a proposed new school at Dykenook, was tabled and agreed to. It was recommended that expenses be equally divided between the parishes, and that the teacher should be paid yearly by the parishes, according to the number of children from each parish.
    Aberdeen Press and Journal 05 November 1873, p3.
    DUNNOTTAR SCHOOL BOARD.-This Board held a special meeting on Thursday-Rev. Alex. Silver presiding. Out of a leet of 49 candidates Mr Wm. Martin, Free Church teacher, Durris, was appointed teacher of Blackmuirhill Public School, at a salary of 50 pounds per annum, with fees, Government grants, and free house and garden. It is understood that his wife will assist Mr Martin in teaching; but as there are only two rooms and a closet in the house there is a probability that a new building will have to be erected.
    Aberdeen Press and Journal 22 March 1876, p8.
    Report of his Rev. Alex. Silver’s re-election to the Dunnottar School Board.
    Aberdeen Press and Journal 06 June 1877, p7.
    Report about Kincardineshire Combination Poorhouse. Rev. Silver still vice-chairman.
    Aberdeen Press and Journal 13 September 1877, p4.
    Lengthy report about a large dinner gathering hosted by Rev. Dr Mearns, Kinneff, proprietor of the estate of Disblair and Kinmundy, lists Rev. A. Silver as a guest.
    Aberdeen Press and Journal 14 June 1879, p3.
    Reference to Rev. Silver being re-elected vice-chairman of the Kincardineshire Combination Board.
    Aberdeen Press and Journal 02 October 1878, p4.
    Report of Rev. Silver’s successor, Rev. Robert Davidson, being welcomed to Dunnottar.
    Aberdeen Press and Journal 11 January 1879, p2.
    Report on National Security Savings Bank shows Rev. Mr Silver still had role of actuary.
    Dundee Courier 28 February 1879, p8.
    Rev. Silver re-appointed to represent the board on the Committee of Management of Combination Poorhouse.
    Dundee Courier 11 November 1881, p5.
    NATIONAL SECURITY SAVINGS BANK.-We understand that the Rev. Alexander Silver, who has conducted the business of the Savings Bank here with much acceptance for many years, has resigned the post, and that Mr David Carr, solicitor, has been appointed actuary in his room. |Return to text
  22. In an article published in the Dundee Courier on 4 May 1908 headed MEN OF THE MEARNS Kincardineshire Wit and Humour. Stories New and True there is an article sub-titled Sandy Silver which reads thus: Let us begin with the Kirk. No subject appeals more strongly to the heart and head of a Scotsman than this, and round the kirk and the kirkyard some of the best of Scottish anecdotes centre. Many of the old-time ministers of the Mearns were fine specimens of the Scottish divine, and their memory yet lingers in the fond remembrance of old parishoners. In the Stonehaven district, for example, the stories that cluster round the name and fame of the Rev. Alexander Silver (“Sandy Silver,” as he was affectionately called) are well known and exceedingly numerous. Mr Silver was gifted with a rich fund of genial humour, and he was always ready to give a Roland for an Oliver (measure for measure) in the jesting game, though not always with advantage to himself. This recalls the episode which took place at Stonehaven Station when a certain Aberdeen lawyer who was reputed to unite in his person the two distinct yet distant qualities of godliness and worldly-mindedness was distributing religious literature from the carriage window in the presence of Mr Silver. “Heave them oot, sir, they’ll do muckle guid in this benighted quarter,” was the minister’s biting remark. The lawyer, stung by this, retorted ill-naturedly- “Mr Silver, do you know what the folk in this quarter say about you?” “No, but nae doot you can tell me,” was the reply. “Well, they say ye laugh a’ the week and greet on Sunday”-an allusion to the minister’s style of preaching. Mr Silver’s memory is yet green in the county town, and will be for a long time because of his kindly character and the good deeds he did whilst minister of the church of Dunnottar. | Return to text
  23. Aberdeen Press and Journal 25 September 1908, p7.
    Report of the Aberdeen Working Men’s Natural History and Scientific Society mention Rev. Silver….He also had charge of a microscope kindly lent by Sergeant W.Donald, R.E., Kirktown of Fetteresso, used by the late Rev. A.Silver, minister of Dunnottar Parish, while parochial schoolmaster, of Fetteresso, about 1830-1840. This instrument is largely made of wood, and when shown alongside the modern microscope, with mechanical stage and sub-stage, one wonders how microscopical research could have been carried on at that time. | Return to text
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Red Lion Inn

The Red Lion Inn at Uckfield, Sussex in 1915. Image taken by visiting Scottish cousins.

Gertrude Duncan, the publican's daughter who became a hospital administrator

By Aberdeenshire Silver descendant Warren Nunn

Gertrude Duncan was an extraordinary woman. Born into a publican's family, she grew up to have a significant role in hospital administration in America.

Gertrude Duncan's parents Hellen and Alexander and her eldest sister Isabella most likely in late 1883.

Gertrude Duncan's parents Hellen and Alexander and her eldest sister Isabella most likely in late 1883.

Gertrude was the third daughter of Hellen Silver and Alexander Duncan and was my maternal grandmother Bella Silver's first cousin.

Gertrude's parents were from Scotland but lived mostly in England as her father moved around as a farm bailiff first in Wales and then in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Buckinghamshire and Surrey.

Alexander and Hellen married in 1882 in Scotland and the 1891 census has them living at Byfleet, Surrey.

The Duncan family moved from Wales to England after the eldest child, Isabella Margaret, was born at Aberayon, Glamorgan, Wales in 1883.

The next child, Hannah Watt, was born in 1885 at Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire.

Gertrude Agnes Helen was next born, in 1886, at Elton, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire.

Her birth was registered nearby at Oundle, Northamptonshire. The two places are about five miles apart.

The first son, Herbert John, was born in 1888 at Wansford, Northamptonshire.

His brother, Joseph Thomas Nicholas, the youngest of the Duncans was born in 1891 in Surrey where the family finally settled.

For at least some of their schooling, Gertrude and her sisters benefitted from the generosity of the Countess of Rosberry, Hannah de Rothschild, who provided free education at several schools she established. 

The Duncan girls were at Mentmore, Buckinghamshire, until the family moved to Surrey in 1891.

Around that time Alexander left the farming life behind to become the publican at the Red Lion Inn on London Rd, Dane Hill, Uckfield, Essex. 

The Duncan family on the 1901 census at theRed Lion Inn, London Rd, Dane Hill, Uckfield, Essex, England

The 1901 census entry for the Red Lion Inn, London Rd, Dane Hill, Uckfield, Essex, England. Note that Gertrude Duncan is not with her family on census night. She is with the family on the 1911 census as the next image shows.

The Duncan family on the 1911 census at the Red Lion Inn.

The 1911 census for the Red Lion shows that Hellen is now widowed after Alexander died the previous year aged 67.
Gertrude is back with the family. No record is yet found of where she was in 1901.

Even though Gertude is with the family in 1911, according to the 1920 US census, she had emigrated to America in 1910, so she may have been only been visiting her family in 1911. The 1920 census shows that Gertrude was a student nurse at the Ellis Hospital in Schenectady, New York.


The 1920 census shows Gertrude Duncan at Ellis Hospital.

Gertrude was back in England in 1915 when her mother died. Along with her brother Herbert, who had emigrated to America in 1913, she returned to New York on the Lusitania leaving from Liverpool on 20 March 1915. Only a few weeks later, on 7 May, the ship was sunk by a German U-boat.


Gertrude and Herbert on Lusitania ship manifest 1915

Gertrude Duncan and her brother Herbert, passengers on the Lusitania in March 1915.


From the bare facts it seems that Gertrude was otherwise engaged between the years she arrived in the US and when she is found at the Ellis Hospital in 1920.

On the Schenectady, New York, City Directory in 1928, Gertrude is, for the first time, known as the assistant superintendent of the Ellis Hospital.

Student nurses at Ellis Hospital in 1920
Some of the student nurses at Ellis Hospital in 1920 when Gertrude Duncan was doing her training. There is no known image of Gertrude. Image courtesy of the Schenectady County Historical Society.

The 1940 census shows she is now 52, single, and is earning $2400 a year as the assistant superintendent of Ellis Hospital.

She had not completed any tertiary education.

Gertrude continued her association with the hospital for the rest of her life.

A newspaper article from the Schenectady Gazette in 1943 reports that Gertrude was attending the annual convention of the Association of American Hospital Administrators.

Gertrude was New York state's representative on the body.

In 1951, there is an article in The Troy Record that mentions Gertrude's ongoing association with the Ellis Hospital and as a medical administrator.

She had been secretary and treasurer of the Northeastern Hospital Association for several years.

In 1955, there is another mention of Gertrude's association with the hospital as she and her colleagues were planning a celebratory gathering.

Also in 1955, Gertrude made what may have been her last voyage to visit family back in England. She arrived back in New York from Southampton on the Mauretania on 24 May 1955.

Gertrude Duncan on 1928 City Directory
Gertrude Duncan's entry in the 1928 City Directory. First mention of her being assistant superintendent at Ellis Hospital.

After 32 years at Ellis Hospital, Gertrude retired in 1953. Her final months were marked by illness and she passed away in Saratoga Hospital in October 1966 aged 79.

The following obituary appeared in Glens Falls Post Star on Monday 31 October 1966:

Miss Gertrude Duncan

Saratoga Springs-Miss Gertrude Duncan, 79, of 45 Greenfield Ave, died Friday in Saratoga Hospital following a long illness.

Formerly of Schenectady, she was a registered nurse and assistant director of Ellis Hospital, Schenectady, for more than 32 years until her retirement in 1953.

Miss Duncan was a communicant of St George's Espiscopal Church.

She is survived by a brother, Herbert Duncan of Burnt Hills, and several nieces and nephews.

The office for the burial of the dead and a memorial Eucharist will be celebrated at noon today by the Rev. Darwin Kirby Jr., rector, at St George's Espiscopal Church, Schenectady.

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A Silver lining

Census records are a treasure trove of information for genealogists and can produce a number of ‘yes!’ moments of discovery.

As census-taking improved and more information became available, the task of tracking a person or a family was also made much easier.

Back in 1841 only basic details were provided such as place of residence and for those aged 20 or older, their age was rounded up or down five years. So while you could be somewhat sure you had the right family in 1841 you had to compare it with the 1851 census to have it confirmed. Mostly that works out.

Click for larger view.

As way of illustration, the follow is a transcript from the 1841 census for a farm named Crossley about 12 miles from Aberdeen in Scotland. The John Silver aged 60 is one of my great-great-great grandfathers. If interested you can click on the image at right for larger view.

1841    Crossley, Fetteresso, Kincardine, Scotland

John Silver, aged 60, farmer

Helen Silver, aged 55

Alexander Silver, aged 30, agricultural labourer

Jean Silver, aged 25, female servant

John Silver, aged 15, agricultural labourer

Isobel Falconer, aged 13, female servant

Robert Thow, aged 12, agricultural labourer

Elizabeth Taylor, aged 11, female servant

So what we have could be seen as just a list of names with ages and occupations. The next person to focus on is Alexander Silver, aged 30, who is my great-great grandfather in this line.

Because the 1841 census does not state whether a person is married or single, we have to refer to the 1851 census record or investigate marriage records to discover that.

Other people on the record to look at are Isobel Falconer, aged 13, a servant on the farm along with Robert Thow, aged 12, and Elizabeth Taylor, aged 11.

On the same page of this census entry the Silver family have as neighbours the Thow family and the Taylor family, also part of Crossley farm. Other information I have tells me that the Silver family leased Crossley, so the two other families could be joint tenants. My guess is that Robert Thow and Elizabeth Taylor were children from the neighbouring families.

But what about Isobel Falconer, aged 13? Where was she from? On the 1851 census, we find Isobel Falconer, aged 23, single, at Stripeside of Crossley with her family. Given Crossley and Stripeside of Crossley are in the same parish, we can assume they may have been neighbouring properties although that is not yet confirmed.

So the Silver family and the Falconer family most certainly were known to one another. 

My Silver family is still at Crossley in 1851 where, by this time, my great-great grandfather Alexander Silver is aged 42 and still single. However in November 1851 Alexander did get married and this is a transcript of that parish record:

Maryculter marriages 1851: Silver and Falconer. Alexander Silver in this parish and Isobel Falconer in the parish of Feterresso were matrimonially contracted on the 28th November 1851 and after proclamation of banns were married on the 11th December 1851 by the Rev John Bowen, in presence of witnesses. 

Isobel Falconer who
married Alexander Silver.

So now I discover that the Alexander Silver and Isobel Falconer who married in 1851 were in the same household in 1841, he as the farmer’s son and she as a farm servant.

This is further confirmed by the 1861 census where we find Alex and Isobel and children at Burnside, most likely a neighbouring farm to Crossley. There are several farms named Burnside in Aberdeenshire but Burnside Farm, Maryculter, which is closer to the River Dee than other Burnsides is the likely place. And given that many of this Silver family were buried in Maryculter on the River Dee, it’s reasonable to assume that they lived close by.

1861 census for Burnside Farm, Maryculter:

Alexander SILVER, aged 51, farmer of 60 acres born Maryculter, Kincardineshire

Isabel SILVER wife, aged 32, born Strachan, Kincardine

Helen SILVER dau, aged 8, born Maryculter, Kincardineshire

John SILVER son, aged 5, born Maryculter, Kincardineshire

Alexander SILVER son, aged 2, born Maryculter, Kincardineshire

Isabel M SILVER dau, aged 10 Mo, born Maryculter, Kincardineshire

John Copland 14

Harriet Findlay 19

John Irmay 15

Then, 10 years later, the family is back at Crossley.

1871 census for Crossley, Fetteresso, Kincardine:

Alexander Silver head married, aged 61, farmer of 150 Acres 80 Arable Employs 2 Men 2 woman born Maryculter, Kincardine

Isabella Silver wife married, aged 44 years, born Strachan, Kincardine

Hellen Silver daughter unmarried, aged 18, farmer’s daughter Maryculter, Kincardine

John Silver son, aged 14, farmer’s son Maryculter, Kincardine

Alexander Silver son, aged 12, scholar Maryculter, Kincardine

Isabella M Silver daughter, aged 10, Maryculter, Kincardine

James Silver son, aged 7, Maryculter, Kincardine

Ann Fraser servant, aged 16, domestic servant Fetteresso, Kincardine

Robert McKilligan servant unmarried, aged 29, Nigg

William Duncan servant, aged 14, farm servant Glatt? Aberdeenshire

So the 1871 reveals their youngest child is James Silver, who is my great-grandfather.

Alexander SILVER   M, aged      71 M Maryculter, Kincardine, Scotland      Rel: Head   occ:  Farmer Of 120 Acres 80 Arable Employs 2 Men 2 Girls 1 Boy

lsabella SILVER  M, aged 53 F Strachan, Kincardine, Scotland          Rel:  Wife

Hellen SILVER    U, aged   28 F Maryculter, Kincardine, Scotland        Rel:  Daur

John SILVER      U, aged    25 M Maryculter, Kincardine, Scotland        Rel:  Son

Alexander SILVER U, aged  22 M Maryculter, Kincardine, Scotland        Rel:  Son

lsabella SILVER  U, aged   20 F Maryculter, Kincardine, Scotland        Rel:  Daur

John ROBERTSON   U, aged   14 M Banchory Devenick, Kincardine, Scotland Rel:  Servant


We then go on to the 1881 census (above) where we find most of the family still together but my great-grandfather is missing. However, he is not far away on Cockley farm where he is apprenticed as a carpenter. As the youngest James proved to be the ‘boldest’ in that he left for Australia sometime about 1890 and married in Brisbane in 1892 to Janet Todd who hails from Kirkbrightshire, more than 200 miles by road from Aberdeen.

So, how did they meet? There is confusion over exactly where but Janet was in service somewhere in Scotland because she spoke about it to her grandchildren.

We can only assume that James Silver moved away from Aberdeenshire to find work as a carpenter and met Janet at some point because it is clear they both arranged to travel separately to Australia where they eventually married and had six children, five of whom survived to adulthood. Their eldest, Margaret Isabella, was my mum’s mum.

So about 11 decades after a teenager named Isobel Falconer met and later married Alexander Silver, I came into the world and a series of circumstances led to my existence. In other reminder of the closeness of the family connections in that area, Isobel Falconer's sister, Mary Ann married Alexander Silver's first cousin James Silver, who also happened to be his second cousin.

This is where things getting really complicated but, of course, we genealogists love such discoveries. The Silver boys were maternal first cousins as their mothers were sisters and they were second cousins because their paternal grandfathers were brothers. Whew!

So, a few names and ages on a page soon becomes a family story. It’s a story that’s been repeated millions of times and underscores just how fortunate we all are to have a life.

Live it well … and do some genealogy to … there are rewards to be had.

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