17 March 2013

notes on Family History - Alexander BARCLAY 1800-1865

Alexander Barclay 1800-1865

Alexander Barclay was my 4x Great Grandfather. He was born in Dornoch, Sutherland, Scotland to James Barclay (a shoemaker) and Ann Barclay (nee Murray). Alexander was one of seven children. This is the only Scottish connection I have in my ancestry.

In 1815 he sailed to the Atlantic island of St Helena.  The whereabouts of the rest of his family is still a mystery and it is not known why he went overseas at such a young age. It was an unsettling time in Scottish history with the ongoing Highland Clearances and this may have been a factor.

Alexander soon joined the St Helena Artillery and his military career coincided with Napoleon's imprisonment in exile on the island from 1815 until his death in 1821.

In 1829 Alexander married Eliza BURCH (1797-1832) at St James' Church, Jamestown, St Helena. Eliza was previously employed as a slave to Captain and Mrs Shortis (in 1827 it is recorded that she also had a six year old free child.)  By now Alexander was known as Alex or Allen BARTLEY.  Alex and Eliza's daughter Margaret BARTLEY was born in 1829.  Both Alex and Eliza died on St Helena.

Margaret BARTLEY married Thomas SOWDEN an Englishman who was serving in the St Helena Regiment.  They married in 1852 and had the following children:

Annie Elizabeth Sowden b1856, born Jamestown, St Helena
Margarett SOWDEN 1859-1941, born Jamestown, St Helena
William Sowden b1865, born Chatham, Kent

Thus the line returned to England and my Great Great Grandmother Margarett SOWDEN married and bore 11 children, probably raising them largely single handedly as my Great Great Grandfather was in the Navy and then pensioned off before dying at a relatively young age.  Margarett also worked as a laundrywoman as well as raising my illegitimate Grandfather who was born not long after her own youngest child.

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