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Helen Prentice of Biggar, Lanark, Scotland


Helen Prentice of Biggar, Lanark, Scotland
By Linus Joseph Dewald Jr., Editor
Fall 2001 and Revised 25 Feb 2017

Update of 25 Feb 2017: This article is replaced by our Summer 2005 article entitled William Prentice of Biggar, Lanarkshire.

We are helping Angela Bruce of Ft. St. John, Canada, in trying to identify the ancestry of Alexander Prentice and Christina Hope, the parents of Helen Prentice. Here is what we have so far:

1. Alexander Prentice may have been b. c. 1780-1790 at an unknown location, perhaps in, or near, Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland.

He m. Christina Hope. They had 1 or more children, including:

  1. Helen Prentice, b.c. 1813, Biggar, Lanark. . . . . . . . . [2]

2. Helen Prentice, b.c. 1813, Biggar, Lanark. She appears in the 1881 census, then age 68 and b. 1813 in Biggar, Lanark, Scotland. She d. 13 Jun 1888 at the age of 77 according to a record in the Parish of Innerleithen, County of Peebles, Scotland. In that record she was clearly identified as the daughter of Alexander Prentice and Christina Hope.

Helen m. John Mowbray on 30 Mar 1834 in Kirkurd, Peebles, which lies about 15 miles east of Biggar. His birth date is unclear. The 1841 census gives his birth year as c. 1811, Walston, but the 1851 census indicates he was b. c. 1803 and is shown in the 1841 census for Bowbridge,Colinton, Midlothian as an agricultural labourer.

Helen's obituary of 23 Jun 1888 reads as follows:

    Obituary. -- On Saturday last, in the churchyard here, were laid to rest the remains of one who was long well known in Walston parish, viz., Helen Prentice, widow of the late John Mowbray of Elsridgehill. Shortly after their marriage, they emigrated to America, from which they returned after a short stay, leaving behind them three brothers of John Mowbray, who still remain in Ontario, in the Huron district.

    The family were cousins to the late George Meikle Kemp, the Architect of Sir Walter Scott's Monument, Princess Street, Edinburgh, and it is a well-known fact that one of them, Joseph Mowbray, was intimately associated with Kemp during the modelling of the same, and had charge of the model during the period of its exhibition in Princess Street Gardens, and was present when Queen Victoria was one of the visitors.

    The late Mrs. Mowbray had in her possession an arm-chair made by G.M. Kemp, and presented to his uncle (her father-in-law), Thomas Mowbray. The said chair is now the property of his grandson, Mr. Thomas Mowbray, joiner in West Linton, and will be carefully preserved by him as an interesting and historical family relic. Mrs. Mowbray spent most of the years of her widowhood in the town of Biggar. 1881 Census Mowbray Hotel West Linton Peebleshire Helen Mowbray Widow 68 Born Biggar Lanark

Their children included (per 1841 Bowbridge census and 1851 Dolphinton census):

  1. Christian Mowbray, b. c. 1836. Not shown home in 1851.
  2. Thomas Mowbray, b. c. 1836.. Not shown home in 1851.
  3. Margaret Morbray, b. c. 1840, Walston. At home in 1851.
  4. Robert Mowbray, b. c. 1842, Colinton. At home in 1851.
  5. Helen Mowbray, b. c. 1848, Dolphinton. At home in 1851. She m. Robert Crawford, son of Robert Crawford and Margaret Forsythe. Children:
    1. Hugh Crawford.
    2. John Mowbray Crawford. He m. Margaret Forrest.
    3. Helen Crawford.
    4. Robert Crawford.
    5. (perhaps) Colin Crawofrd.

She might be related to William Prentice shown in the 1881 Biggar census who was then 60 and b, c. 1821 at Biggar, He lived at Heavyside Lodge in Biggar. Also shown with his wife, Elizabeth, were:

  • Agnes Prentice, b. Lanwadem Edinburgh, daughter. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . [3]
  • Elizabeth/Lizzie Prentice, born Biggar, a visitor.

3. Agnes Prentice, b. Lanwadem Edinburgh, daughter

  • (probably) William Prentice, b. c. 1872, Peebles. Living with William and Elizabeth in the 1881 Biggar census and called a grandson. Might be son of Agnes.
  • Marion Sommerville, born Traquir Peebles. Living with William and Elizabeth in the 1881 Biggar census and called a granddaughter. She was a cousin of Christina (see below).
  • Christina Prentice, b. 28 Sep 1879, Heavyside Lodge, Biggar, Lanarkshire. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . [4]

    6. Christina Prentice, b. 28 Sep 1879, Heavyside Lodge, Biggar, Lanarkshire. Granddaughter of William Prentice, above. By email of 24 Aug 2004, Sally Pagan advised Christina was the illegitimate daughter of Agnes Prentice, a domestic Servant and that there is no information on who Christina's father may have been.

    Christina continued to live with her mother and grandparents, their address in 1891 being The Lodge, Symington, which is to the south of Biggar. After completing her schooling, Christina left home and went into domestic service. In the 1901 census, she is recorded as working as a Housemaid (domestic) at Gosford House, Aberlady. Gosford House belonged to the Earl of Wemyss, who remains its owner. Gosford House was a sizable property as a total of 16 people are listed as living and working there.

    She m. John Guy on 22 Jun 1905. He d. in 1917 in WW I.Their wedding was in Christina's hometown of Biggar, being celebrated at the Clydesdale Hotel. John was said to be a grocer of 29 Iona Street, Leith, and Christina a 'Spinster, illegitimate' of Symington, Lanarkshire, the daughter of Agnes Prentice, a housekeeper. The witnesses were Thomas A Guy, presumably a relation of John's, though not a sibling, and Christina's cousin Marion Sumerville. The Marriage Register records that the ceremony was 'After Banns published according to the forms of the Established Church of Scotland'.

    Following their wedding, Christina and John settled in Edinburgh. Children:

    1. Robert Prentice Guy, twin, . 21 Mar 1906 in the St. Andrews district, Edinburgh. He m. Sarah Cunningham Lyon, They had Two children:
      1. John Lyon Guy. Children:
        1. Michael Robert Guy.
        2. Kristina Guy.
      2. Sally Prentice Guy. Children:
        1. Alison Jane.
        2. Colin John.
        3. David Andrew.
    2. (infant) Guy, b. 21 Mar 1906, but d. young.

    Christina and John then moved to Musselburgh, east of Edinburgh, possibly living at Magdalene Cottages. Children:

    1. Elizabeth Cairns Guy, b. 14 Feb 1908, Musselburgh. The name Cairns came from the Prentice side of the family. She m. Staney Lemon and had one child:
      1. Maureen Lemon.
    2. Jean Scott Guy, b. 1911 Musselburgh. She m. Norman Taylor. Children:
      1. Cristine Taylor.
      2. Jane Taylor.
      3. Lyndsay Prentice Taylor.
    3. Agnes (Nancy) Guy, b. 1916, Musselburegh.. The latter being born shortly before her fathers 1917 death in WW I. She m. James Kyles. Son:
      1. Guy Kyles.

    Who are Alexander Prentice's Parents?

    So far we have no clue other than that he may have been in, or near, Biggar where his daughter, Helen, was born. A search of our Scotland Births files shows that on 23 Sep 1787, an Alexander Prentice was born to James Prentice and Janet Young in Biggar. Further investigation is needed to determine if this the correct family.

    For other men named Alexander Prentice who were born in that same general area in that same general time frame, see our Spring 2007 article about Alexander Prentices of Lanarkshire, Scotland .

    Correspondence:   If you have any information about the folks mentioned in this article, please send your information to us at the Prentice Newsletter. Be sure to give the full title and date of this article in the Subject line of the email.

    Caution: If you don't use the above email link, your email to us may be deleted as spam by our email filter.


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