Pocket watch mystery

Piecing together this timepiece's journey

Geo Donald pocket watch
The pocket watch in which is inscribed
the name "Geo. Donald". The watch is
being held by James Silver's great-great-
granddaughter Melanie who is a jeweller/

By Warren Nunn

This picture is of a pocket watch (or fob watch) manufactured sometime in the 1800s in Scotland with the name "Geo. Donald" inscribed on it.

It is in the possession of descendants of James Silver who grew up in Scotland and moved to Australia in 1890 when aged 27.

On the assumption that James Silver brought the watch with him from his home country; how then did it come into his possession?

When discussing this in 2017, James Silver's granddaughter June Nunn (nee Dobbs) suggested it may have been given in payment for work done.

James Silver was a carpenter who did his apprenticeship with a fellow named James Troup who lived at Cockley, Maryculter in the Aberdeenshire district.

James Silver grew up not far away both at Burnside farm and Crossley farm, both farms being within walking distance of each other and also a similar distance from Cockley farm.

According to the 1881 census, there was a George Donald who farmed at Drumoak about 3km away and just across the River Dee from where young James Silver was learning his trade.

So it is no stretch of credibility that James Silver at some point between 1881 and 1890 did some work for George Donald. And it is also a possibility that George gave James this watch in payment.

It would not have been an unusual thing at the time and still happens today where people trade their time for goods.

None of this can be proved, of course, and who's to say that the watch belonged to the same George Donald? However, the circumstantial evidence is compelling.

And there is a little twist to the scenario in that George Donald's daughter, Christina, married one of James Silver's distant cousins, Andrew Silver.

James Silver (born April 1863) and Andrew Silver (born December 1862) grew up about a kilometre apart and they would have known one another.


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Silver newspaper research

What follows is drawn from Aberdeenshire newspapers and relates to the Silver surname.

Aberdeen Evening Express 08 September 1955, page 21:
SILVER.-Suddenly, on September 7, 1955, William Silver, aged 60 years, beloved husband of the late Bella C.Warrender. Funeral from Belle Villa, Main Street, Cruden Bay, on Saturday, September 10, at 1.45 pm, to Cruden Churchyard. All friends respectfully invited.

Aberdeen Evening Express 08 June 1955, page 17:
SILVER.-Suddenly, at the Royal Infirmary, Foresterhill, on June 7, 1955, Herbert Silver, stage manager, H.M.Theatre, aged 59 years, dearly beloved husband of Margaret Low, 110 Hutcheon Street, Funeral service at Aberdeen Crematorium on Thursday, June 9, at 2.30 p.m, to which all friends are respectfully invited.

Aberdeen Evening Express 03 March 1955, page 18:
SILVER.-At 307 Springhall Road, Northfield, Aberdeen (the residence of his son, Ronald, on March 1, 1955, Robert Austin Silver, aged 65 years, beloved husband of Isabella Forbes, and late of 91 King Street. Funeral on Friday, March 4, at 2pm. (service 1.45), to Trinity Cemetery. All friends respectfully invited.

Aberdeen Evening Express 19 November 1954, page 23:
SILVER.-At Foresterhill Maternity Hospital, on November 16, to Mr and Mrs Herbert Silver (nee Jessie Stuart), 82 Cornhill Drive, a son. Both well.

Aberdeen Evening Express 19 October 1954, page 19:
SILVER.- At Foresterhill, on October 17, 1954, to Mr and Mrs D.J.Silver, 22 Rowan Road, a brother for Eleanor. Both well.

Aberdeen Evening Express 26 April 1954, page 14:
SILVER.-At Foresterhill, on April 23, to Mr and Mrs Alfred Silver, 38 St Clair Street, a son (baby died later).

Aberdeen Evening Express 18 March 1953, page 11:
SILVER.-At 57 Richmond Street, on Tuesday, March 17, 1953, Barbara Buchan, beloved wife of George Silver. Deeply mourned. Funeral private. No flowers.

Aberdeen Evening Express 08 January 1953, page 7:
SILVER.- At a Nursing Home, Aberdeen, on January 7, 1953, Catherine Mitchell, eldest surviving daughter of the late Mr and Mrs David Silver, Elmbank, Hillside, Montrose. Funeral Private.

Aberdeen Evening Express 25 November 1952, page 11:
HAY.-At 51 Canal Road, Aberdeen, on November 23, 1952, Robert Hay, aged 78 years (tailor) beloved husband of the late Helen Silver. Funeral private. No flowers please.

Aberdeen Evening Express 14 February 1952, page 6:
SILVER.-At 49 View Terrace, Aberdeen on Feb. 12, 1952, Elizabeth Hutcheon, aged 72 years, wife of the late George Silver, piano tuner. Funeral on Friday, Feb. 15, at 3 p.m. (service 2.45), to Old Machar Churchyard. All friends respectfully invited.

Aberdeen Evening Express 12 June 1951, page 10:
SILVER.-At Woodend Home, Aberdeen, on June 10, 1951, Caroline Austin, aged 81 years, widow of George Silver, Baker. Funeral on Thurs., June 14, at 3 p.m. (service 2.45), from the residence of her daughter, Mrs Pirie, 20 Willowbank Road, to Allenvale Cemetery. All friends respectfully invited.

Aberdeen Journal 05 April 1949, page 3:
MUTCH.-At Pendlecrag, 41 Morningfield Road, Aberdeen, on April 2, 1949, Rebecca Silver, widow of James Gibson Mutch, grain merchant. Funeral on Tues., April 5, at 2.45pm (service 2.30), to Allenvale Cemetery. All friends respectfully invited. No flowers.

Aberdeen Journal 23 October 1947, page 3:
SILVER.- At 49 View Terrace, Aberdeen, on Tues., Oct. 21, 1947, George, aged 72 years, piano tuner (retired), beloved husband of Elizabeth Hutcheon Williamson. Funeral on Friday, Oct. 24, at 2.pm. (service 1.45), to Old Machar Churchyard. All friends respectfully invited.

Aberdeen Journal 03 October 1945, page 3:
SILVER.-At Elm Bank, Hillside, Montrose, on Sept. 28, Mary Ann Low, aged 93, widow of David Silver, Home Farm, Craigo, Montrose.

Aberdeen Journal 13 October 1943, page 3:
SILVER.-Killed in action in October, 1943, W.O./A.G. Sergeant John Laverton Silver, beloved elder son of Mr and Mrs Silver, 1 Bellwade Terrace, Aboyne, aged 22 years. Funeral on Wednesday, 13th inst., at 2 p.m., to Aboyne Churchyard. All friends respectfully invited.

Aberdeen Weekly Journal 03 June 1943, page 5:
SILVER.-At the Stableyard, Glen Tanar, on the 24th May, 1943, William Silver (retired blacksmith), beloved husband of Margaret Dunn.

Aberdeen Weekly Journal 03 June 1943, page 5:
Masonic Honours. A large company attended the funeral from his residence, Stableyard, Glen Tanar, to St Machar Churchyard, Aboyne, of Mr W.Silver. He was born 75 years ago at Mill of Moutie, Fetteresso; served his apprenticeship as a blacksmith at Braemar, and later work for over 30 years at the smithy of Messrs Fletcher, Aboyne. Later he entered the employment of Lord Glentanar as caretaker of the Estate Recreation Hall. He was a prominent Freemason - the oldest in Aboyne - a keen bowler and highly esteemed in the community. He is survived by Mrs Silver and three sons, one of whom, James is in the Forces overseas. The Rev. D.Hamilton, Aboyne, conducted the service at the house, and the Masonic service at the grave was taken by the Rev. G.Martineau, Aboyne.

Aberdeen Journal 08 April 1942, page 4:
SILVER.- At Dumfries, on 6th April 1942, to Helen, wife of Douglas Silver, B.Q.M.S., R.A., a son (Both well.).

Aberdeen Journal 12 January 1942, page 4:
SILVER.-Suddenly, at 270 Victoria Road, on 10th January, 1942, William Silver (of Messrs Lewis Smith and Son), beloved husband of Jane Fraser. Funeral (private) to Springbank Cemetery. No flowers.

Aberdeen Weekly Journal 22 January 1942, page 5:
MR WILLIAM SILVER. - Mr William Silver, who has died at his residence, 270 Victoria Road, Aberdeen, was one of the best known commercial travellers in the North of Scotland. He was sixty-one years of age and spent the whole of his business life with Messrs. Lewis Smith and Son. Ltd., for whom he was representative for fully forty years. He was particularly well known in Aberdeen and in Orkney and Shetland. He was a man of many interests. He was a past president of the Aberdeen branch of the United Commercial Travellers' Association, he was a member of the St Machar Lodge of Freemasons, and was an elder of the East Church of St Nicholas. He was keenly interested in golf, football and cricket, and was a member of the Balnagask Golf Club. Mr Silver is survived by Mrs Silver and by a son, who is serving with the Forces in Africa, and two daughters.

Aberdeen Weekly Journal 06 February 1941, page 5:
SILVER. At Mains of Monduff, Muchalls, on the 28th January, to Mrs and Mrs. A.Silver, jun, a daughter.

Aberdeen Weekly Journal 20 June 1940, page 5:
SILVER.- At 92 Gray Street, Aberdeen, on 16th June, 1940, Alexander Silver, aged 64 years, beloved husband of Margaret Donald. Deeply regretted.

Aberdeen Journal 17 June 1940, page 3:
DEATH OF MR A.SILVER, ABERDEEN Mr Alexander Silver, fishmonger, 92 Gray Street, Aberdeen, who died yesterday was well-known in the public life of the city. A native of Aberdeen, Mr Silver was for twenty years manager of the Fish Supply Stores, and was a prominent figure at the harbour. On the firm changing hands, Mr Silver, along with his son, Mr Alex. Silver, jun. commenced business at the corner of Gray Street and Bromhill Road as a fishmonger. For over six years Mr Silver represented St Nicholas Ward on the Parish Council. For many years he was connected with the Hospitals' Fund Association, acting as convener of some of its more important committees. Mr Silver was a life member of the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary Council, the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, the Nursing Association and the Aberdeen Asylum for the Blind. In 1928 he was chairman of the General Council of the Scottish Clerks' Association. The old Lifeboat Saturday Fund also found in him a useful member. Mr Silver was keenly interested in sport and was one of the oldest official judges of the Scottish Amateur Athletic Association. He was a member of the Great Western Bowling Club. Practically all his life he was a member of Gilcomston (St Colm's) Parish Church, and for many years was a trustee and elder. Mr Silver is survived by Mrs Silver and a family of two sons and two daughters.

Aberdeen Weekly Journal 18 April 1940, page 5:
SUTHERLAND-SILVER. - At Aberdeen, on 12th April, 1940, Charles, youngest son of Mr and Mrs Sutherland, Brace of Scurdargue, Rhynie, to Margaret Isabella, daughter of the later Walter R.Silver and daughter of Mrs Wilson, and stepdaughter of Lieutenant J.Wilson, R.N.R., Bogie Road, Rhyne, Aberdeenshire.

Aberdeen Weekly Journal 21 March 1940, page 5:
SILVER.-At 36 Summerfield Terrace, on 18th March, 1940, James Silver(baker), aged 72 years. Funeral on Thursday, 21st March, at 2 p.m (service 1.45 pm.), to Allenvale Cemetery. This is the only intimation and invitation.

Aberdeen Weekly Journal 21 December 1939, page 5:
WOOD-SILVER. - At Mariners' Chapel, Aberdeen, on the 14th December, 1939, Adam, fourth son of John Wood, Cove Bay, to Helen Thomson, youngest daughter of Mr and Mrs John Silver, Whitehills, Cove Bay.

Aberdeen Journal 15 August 1939, page 11:
SILVER. - Suddenly, at Marchbank, Bieldside, Agnes Murray Silver. Funeral private. No flowers.

Daily Record 03 August 1939, page 10:

ROBB.-On 1st August, 1939, at 33 Mugiemoss Road, Bucksburn, Aberdeen (the residence of her son), Margaret Silver, widow of William R.Robb, settmaker, Bayview, 23 St. John's Road, Bucksburn, in her 81st year. Funeral to-morrow (Friday) at 2pm. from 33 Mugiemoss Road to Newhills Churchyard. Friends please accept this (the only) intimation and invitation.

Aberdeen Weekly Journal 01 June 1939, page 9 (two funerals)

SILVER. - At 33 Lilybank Place, Aberdeen, on 30th May, 1939, James Silver (late of J.McAdam & Son), husband of the late Isabella Ingram. Deeply mourned. Funeral on Friday, 2nd June, at 2pm., to Grove Cemetery. All friends respectfully invited.

Aberdeen Weekly Journal 01 June 1939, page 9:
SILVER. - At 1 Ardley Terrace, Stonehaven, on 25th May, 1939, Ann Brown, widow of James Silver in her 88th year.

Aberdeen Weekly Journal 04 May 1939, page 9:
SILVER-HENDERSON.-At the Ramsay Arms Hotel, Fettercairn, on 29th April, 1939, by the Rev. C.L.Hunter, George Christie Miller, eldest son of Mr and Mrs Silver, Burnside of Thornton, Laurencekirk, to Christina Muir Summers, daughter of Mr and Mrs. Henderson, Chapelhaugh, Methlick.

Aberdeen Journal 04 March 1939, page 6:
SILVER-DAVIDSON.-At North Church, Queen Street, Aberdeen on 2nd March, 1939, by the Rev. William Hamilton, Robert Silver, Broomhill, Kinellar, to Sarah A.C.Davidson, youngest daughter of the late Mr and Mrs Davidson, Mill of Cowie, Stonehaven.

Aberdeen Journal 08 March 1938, page 1:
SILVER. At Mains of Monduff, on 6th March, 1938, to Mr and Mrs Silver, jun., a son (stillborn).

Aberdeen Journal 25 September 1936, page 9:
Death on island of Hawaii. A message has been received in Laurencekirk from Hawaii reporting the death in Papaikau of Mr William Silver, a native of the town, at the age of sixty-seven. Mr Silver went to Hawaii forty years ago and was manager of the Onomea Sugar Company, one of the most flourishing concerns in the island. The death of Mr Silver breaks a link in a chain of splendidly successful Scottish farmers, who, by their energy, ability, and skill, had created in Hawaii a colony of plantations which show, by their great returns, the constant care and knowledge of those men who had them in their care. Not the least of these fine agricultural workmen was Mr William Silver. Pedro Elazer Racelis, pastor-missionary of the Filipino Congregational Church of Papaikau, said the death of Mr Silver was a shock to the membership of the church and to the entire Filipino community of Onomea Sugar Co. It was through his magnanimous nature that the Filipinos of Papaikau were able to worship in such a dignified church. Mr Silver was a brother of Mr George Silver, 60 High Street, Laurencekirk, and Mr James Silver, Johnston Street, Laurencekirk.

Aberdeen Journal 27 July 1936, page 1:
SILVER.-At Wardhead, Lumphanan, on the 26th July, 1936, Annie B.M.Campbell, dearly beloved wife of Robert Silver. Sadly missed and deeply mourned. Funeral on Tuesday, at one o'clock, arriving at Durris about 2 p.m. Friends please accept this (the only) intimation and invitation.

Aberdeen Journal 18 June 1934, page 1:
SILVER.- at Middleton Cottage, Pitfodels, Aberdeen, on the 16th June, 1934, Jean Smith, widow of George Silver, Belhelvie Lodge. Funeral on Tuesday, the 19th inst., at 1.30 pm (service 1.15pm.), to Trinity Cemetery. All friends please accept this (the only) intimation and invitation. No flowers, by request.

Aberdeen Journal 14 February 1934, page 1:
SILVER.-At Morningfield Hospital, on 12th February, 1934, Mary Roy Mackie Silver, retired teacher, aged 70 years, eldest daughter of the late Mr Francis Silver, shipmaster, and Mrs Margaret Silver, afterwards Mrs Caufield. Funeral from the hospital on Thursday, 15th, at 2.15 o'clock, to Nellfield Cemetery. All friends please accept this (the only) intimation and invitation. No flowers, by request.

Aberdeen Journal 25 July 1933, page 1:
SILVER.-At Otago Cottage, Cults, on 23rd July, 1933, David Alexander Silver, retired bank agent, aged 75 years. Funeral on Wednesday, 26th inst., at 2pm. to Allenvale Cemetery, Aberdeen, arrived about 2.30 pm.

Aberdeen Journal 27 June 1933, page 1:
SILVER-LAMB.-At the Northern Hotel, Kittybrewster, on the 17th June, 1933, by the Rev. J.A.Crawford, Fintray, Andrew, second son of Mr and Mrs Silver, Mains of Monduff, Muchalls, to Ethel, granddaughter of Mrs Lamb, Bog of Fintray, Kinaldie.

Aberdeen Journal 09 January 1929, page 1:
SILVER.-At 18 Northfield Place, Aberdeen (the residence of her son-in-law, John Muirden), on 7th January, 1929, Ann Grubb, aged 85 years, widow of James Silver. Funeral on Thursday, 10th inst., at 1.30 pm. from Cairnton to Newmachar Cemetery. Friends please accept this (the only) intimation and invitation.

Aberdeen Journal 30 June 1922, page 1:
SILVER.-At Woodbank Cottage, Pitfodels, Cults, on the 28th June, John Silver, gardener. Funeral on Saturday, 1st July, at 2 o'clock pm. To Springbank Cemetery. Friends please accept this (the only) intimation and invitation.

Aberdeen Journal 22 December 1920, page 1:
SILVER-LOW.-At Gondolier Rooms, Aberdeen, on the 16th, by the Rev.R.S.Sleigh, M.A., Herbert, youngest son of the late W.Silver, baker, and Mrs Silver, to Maggie Dingwall, eldest daughter of Mr and Mrs Low, 72 Summer Street, Aberdeen.

Aberdeen Weekly Journal 12 December 1919, page 8:
SILVER.-At 96 Auchmill Road, Bucksburn, on the 7th inst., Jane McDonald, widow of Robert Silver, settmaker, aged 81 years.

Aberdeen Journal 09 December 1919, page 1:
SILVER.-At 96 Auchmill Road, Bucksburn, on the 7th inst., Jane McDonald, widow of Robert Silver, settmaker, aged 81 years. Funeral on Wednesday, the 10th inst., at 2.30 p.m., to Grove Cemetery. Friends please accept this (the only) intimation and invitation.

Aberdeen Journal 02 July 1919, page 1:
Silver weddings. MILNE-FARQUHAR - SILVER-FARQUHAR.- At the Northern Friendly Hall, George Street, Aberdeen, on the 29th June, 1894, by the Rev. Dr J.A.McClymont, B.D., Holburn Parish Church, John L.Milner, water inspector, Aberdeen, to Helen, eldest daughter of William Farquhar, mason, Aberdeen:
also at the same time and place, John Silver, tailor, Aberdeen, to Williamina, second daughter of William Farquhar. Present addresses- 357 Hardgate and 43 Watson Street.

Aberdeen Journal 24 August 1911, page 4:
SILVER-BLACKMORE.-At Dunedin, New Zealand, on the 5th April, 1911, by the Rev. R.R.M.Sutherland, William McDonald Silver, late of Aberdeen, to Alice, daughter of Maunsel Blackmore.

Aberdeen Weekly Journal 04 October 1918, page 6:
SILVER - At 6 Whitehall Place, Aberdeen, on the 2nd inst., Alexander Silver, late Morrison's Economic Stores. Funeral on Saturday, 5th inst., at 2pm., to Allenvale Cemetery. Friends please accept this (the only) intimation and invitation.

Aberdeen Journal 16 February 1912, page 6:
SILVER.-Suddenly, at Aberdeen, on the 15th February, Agnes C.Silver, eldest daughter of John Silver, gardener, Woodbank, Cults, aged 33 years. Funeral on Monday, 19th inst., at 2 o'clock to Springbank Cemetery. This the only intimation and invitation.

Aberdeen Journal 11 December 1912, page 4:
SILVER-BROWN.-At 9 Marine Terrace, Aberdeen, on the 6th inst., by the Rev. John Gordon, St Fittick's Parish Church, Torry, William Silver, G.N., of S.Railway, Aberdeen, to Jessie Brown, eldest daughter of George Brown, 6 Green Street, Rothes.

Aberdeen Journal 28 November 1913, page 6:
SILVER.-At 33 Lilybank Place, Aberdeen (the residence of her son), Elizabeth Laverton, widow of John Silver, miller, aged 68 years. Funeral on Saturday, 29th Inst., at 12.30 pm., to Maryculter Churchyard. Friends please accept this (the only) intimation and invitation.

Aberdeen Evening Express 12 January 1914, page 5:
SILVER.-At Aston Villa, Scalloway, on the 10th inst., the wife of John Silver, of a son.

Aberdeen Weekly Journal 06 March 1914, page 10:
SILVER.-At 45 Summerfield Terrace, Aberdeen, on the 2nd inst., John D.Silver, seaman, aged 74 years - deeply regretted.

Aberdeen Evening Express 09 December 1914, page 3:
SILVER.-Killed in action, on the 30th October, 137 Private John Silver 2nd Gordon Highlanders, aged 22 years, beloved grandson of Mrs G.Henderson, 87 Summer Street, Aberdeen. Deeply regretted.

Aberdeen Journal 28 April 1915, page 6:
GRAY.-At 342 Great Northern Road, Woodside, on the 27th inst., Helen Silver, widow of Robert Gray, dairyman, Woodside. Funeral on Friday, 30th inst., at 2.30p.m., to Nellfield Cemetery. Friends please accept this (the only) intimation and invitation.

Aberdeen Weekly Journal 04 June 1915, page 10:
SILVER.-At 23 Spa Street, Aberdeen, on the 2nd inst., Elizabeth Craighead, widow of William Silver, late of Damhead, Fiddie, Skene, aged 88 years. Funeral on Saturday, at 2 p.m., to Banchory-Devenick Churchyard.

Aberdeen Weekly Journal 31 December 1915, page 10:
SILVER.-At 6 Hunter Place, Aberdeen, on the 28th inst., Margaret Murray, beloved wife of James Silver, baker, aged 47 years. Funeral on Friday, 31st., at 2.30pm, to Allenvale Cemetery. Friends please accept this (the only) intimation and invitation.

Aberdeen Weekly Journal 12 November 1915, page 10:
SILVER.-At 568 Great Northern Road, Woodside, on the 5th inst., Mary Silver, aged 70 years.

Aberdeen Weekly Journal 24 December 1915, page 10:
REID-SILVER.-At the Foresters' Hall, Bucksburn, on 22nd December, by the Rev. T.B.Robertson, William Thomson Reid, only son of Mr and Mrs George Reid, Albert House, Bucksburn, to Bella, only daughter of Mr and Mrs Robert Silver, 96 Auchmill Road, Bucksburn.

Aberdeen Journal 26 May 1915, page 4:
SILVER.-At 29 Broad Street, Kirkwall, on the 21st inst., to Mr and Mrs John Silver, a daughter.

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Picture comparison

I have images from Scotland from various sources that connect to the Silvers of Kincardineshire. My line connects through Alexander Silver who married Isobel Falconer

See below for some comparisons between images with my narrative below.

Falconer sisters

Isobel Falconer at left with her sister Helen next, are identified with some degree of certainty. The image of Helen comes from family group on the back of which is written Mr and Mrs Martin (Helen Falconer married William Martin; as well the Martin family is referred to in correspondence that I hold). The next image is also Isobel Falconer (a bit younger and possibly wearing the same headpiece) and comes from a larger group image with her children (see below). The woman at right could be another of the Falconer sisters (perhaps Mary Ann) and the image is taken from a larger group photo (see further down the page).



Thanks to cousin Bob McD in Aberdeen who looked at this photo with a clear mind (as opposed to my fuzzy thinking) and proposed it was the Harvieston Silver family. Fairly obvious really given that the image came from a collection that belonged to my g-grandfather James Silver. I have added known images of the five Silver siblings and their mother Isobel Falconer who is seated in the front. So the brothers from left are John, James and Alex  with Hellen (left) and Isobel either side of their mother. And it also seems obvious that this would most likely have been taken about 1890 just before James headed off to Australia. I think you'll agree that the mother's 'hooded' eyes (is that an adequate description?) are obvious in some of her children. 



Identified on the back as Mr and Mrs Martin, which confirms this to be Helen Falconer (seated right) with her husband William Martin (left). Presumably the others are family members. Helen had five daughters and one son, so this doesn't help identify who the likely family members are. Note that Helen has similar 'hooded' eyes to her sister Isobel in the image of the Harvieston Silvers.


Compare the image of John Bisset that Ann Mackay provided (left) and the one found in the large group picture (see below). As well, compare the image of Barbara Simpson (left) with an image (right) from the same large group picture (see below).




Family group image that potentially includes John Bisset (standing far left) and his wife Barbara Simpson (kneeling third from left). As well the short woman at the back could be one of the Falconer sisters, and there is a strong case that it could be Isobel who married Alexander Silver because his sister Jane was married to David Bisset, and was the mother of above-mentioned John. If so, that then suggests the bearded fellow could be Isobel's husband, Alexander Silver. However, because Alexander Silver died in 1882, that requires this image to be before then. Comparing known images of Alex and Isobel's children, a case could be made for those standing to the right of Isobel as  son Alexander (who married Ellen Watt in 1894), daughter Hellen (who married Alexander Duncan in 1882; note he is not in this image), son John (who did not marry) and daughter Isobel (who married John Duncan in 1905). That leaves an unidentified man at far right because it is not my great-grandfather James Silver. The picture was obviously taken on a family occasion and it could have been in 1876 when John Bisset and Barbara Simpson married which seems strange given they are not pictured together and Barbara's dress doesn't suggest a wedding gown.


This image was provided by James Murray Silver of Palo Alto, California. There at two images at left of James Silver who was married to Mary Ann Falconer; the next image is of his son James Silver who married Anne Finlay and moved to America, followed by his grandson, James Silver, who married Hazel Conkin and his great-grandson James Silver who died unmarried in WW2.

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Harvieston fire

Two articles about the Harvieston Farm fire

Dundee Courier 31 January 1902, PAGE 4.


A disastrous farm fire broke out on the farm at Harvieston, near Catterline, about six miles south of Stonehaven, yesterday (Thursday) forenoon.

It appears that while one of the domestic servants was engaged in lighting a boiler fire in the granary, an infant son* of one of the tenants (a child only three years of age. NOTE: This would have been Alexander Silver's son James born 15 Mar 1898. About 1920, he emigrated to Australia where he died in 1973.) secured the box of matches and commenced playing with them.

The main house at Harvieston farm. Image Warren Nunn 2004.

In taking the matches from the box they became ignited and fell amongst some combustible material. In an incredibly short space of time the granary, in which there were 100 quarters of grain and 80 quarters of straw, which had been stored only a day or two previously WAS ABLAZE.

Mr A. Silver, one of the join tenants, was in Stonehaven market when the outbreak occurred, but the other tenant, Mr John Silver, was at home, and he, together with Mr Adam Watt, farmer, Hilton, Mr Cooper, Coastguard officer, Catterline, and three of his men were quickly on the scene, and made a determined effort to prevent the flames from spreading.

At the same time attempts were made to liberate the 80 head of cattle in the byres, and the 8 horse that remained in the stable. These efforts were attended with great difficulty, for the fire spread so fast and the smoke rolled with such increasing density that the poor animals became bewildered. Twelve fat cattle and a fine bull, which was valued at 30 pounds, refused absolutely to leave the burning byres and PERISHED IN THE FLAMES.

Their carcases were burned to a cinder. Energetic efforts were next directed to the isolation of that portion of the building which still remained untouched, and, thanks to the fine walls, a portion of the steading was saved. Ere this was accomplished, however, damage to the extent of fully 2000 pounds had been done.

Amongst the furnishings destroyed was a very fine threshing mill of the most moder design, valued at 160 pounds.


It may be mentioned that the farm steading of Harvieston was of recent erection, and was reckoned amongst the finest in the county. The steading belonged to the Montrose Educational Trust, have been purchased by the Town Council out of the legacy left by the late Mr John Erskine, of Montrose, for educational purposes.
This makes the fourth farm fire that has occurred in Kincardineshire within the past fortnight.

Article published in The Evening Telegraph, Thursday, January 30, 1902


To-day a telephonic message was received at Stonehaven Coastguard Station from the Catterline Station, intimating that the steading at the home farm of Harveston**, parish of Kinneff, was ablaze, and requesting the assistance of the Stonehaven Fire Brigade.

As the brigade has no fire engine, but depends upon the excellent gravitation supply possessed by the county town, it was not considered advisable to send the brigade, but Inspector Farquharson, of the county police, at once drove off to superintendent operations at the fire.

The estate of Harvieston belongs to the Montrose Educational Trust, having been purchased many years ago by Montrose Town Council as an investment of a large sum of money left by the late Mr Alexander Thomson, a Montrosian, who realised a competency abroad, for educational and charitable purposes.

The steading was rebuilt over 20 years ago, and is one of the finest in Kincardineshire. The farm is tenanted by Messrs J. & A. Silver. Mr Alexander Silver left the farm after breakfast time this morning to attend Stonehaven weekly market. There was no appearance of fire when he left, but on being appraised of the news, he drove with Inspector Farquharson for Harveston**.

This is the fourth farm fire in Southern Kincardineshire during the last fortnight. In connection with the others two parties are presently in Stonehaven Prison pending inquiries.
**Harvieston is correct spelling.

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Isobel Menzies Silver

Isobel Silver

Isobel Menzies Silver (1860-1934) lived with her brothers at Harvieston Farm before getting married later in life (aged 46) to a widower named John Duncan, who was the brother of Alex Duncan who'd married her eldest sister Helen and moved to England.
There is a 1930 letter she wrote to her Australian niece Bella Dobbs (nee Silver).


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Alexander Silver (1809-1882)

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