I am trying to trace the family of my ggg grandfather, Thomas Donaldson. Specifically, I want to find out the names of his parents. Thomas emigrated from Fife to the United States in 1811. I have obtained three letters (dated 1815-1816) he wrote to his mother in Cupar. The records were in the Durham records office. In addition, there is a note from one of his sister’s descendants. The Donaldson letters were written during the time he married Betsy Hough, who lived in the Quaker town of Waterford in Loudoun County, Virginia.
Here are some of the facts and deductions gleaned from those letters:
• Thomas was a weaver and spinner of flax and hemp in Ohio and Virginia.
• He married Elizabeth (Betsy) Hough in spring 1815 in Virginia.
• Elizabeth gave birth to a son in fall 2016. Thomas writes, “His name, as no doubt you would expect is Andrew.” From that, I assume Thomas’ father’s name was Andrew. There is no other reference to a living father, so I assume he is deceased.
• He mentions three sisters: Margaret, Jean, and Hannah. He learns that Margaret has married John Reekie and moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia. I found reference to this on the FamilySearch website: Mary Donaldson married John Reekie; Kilmany, Fife, Scotland; 17 Dec 1816.
• Of Jean and Hannah, he writes, “ But my dear sisters Jean and Hannah, I must not forget you in this letter—you are the only comfort of your aging mother.” Thomas never mentions any brothers or other sisters. He does mention an uncle, David Reekie. I found a reference on Ancestry.com to Agnes Donaldson’s (b. 1752 in Ceres, Fife) ) marriage to David Reekie. Agnes had a younger brother, Andrew, born in 1760. I think Agnes and Andrew’s parents may be Thomas Donaldson and Margaret Nairn.
• Other names referenced are George Hutton, Robert Archibald, and Mr. Gilchrist.
• Thomas is very zealous– many references to his religious beliefs—perhaps a Quaker, like his wife. I wonder if his father was some sort of minister.
• A explanatory note written in 1932 about the letters specifies that Jean Donaldson married Thomas Blackwood. Her daughter, Margaret, married Robert Storrar. Their daughter Anne was grandmother to Dr. A. J. Kirk.
So, in pouring through online records, I find many Donaldsons in Fife and many of those have the given names of Thomas, Andrew, Margaret, and Jean! My head is spinning from seeing all the same names (-:
Assuming that Thomas’ father is named Andrew, my original theory was that Thomas was the son of Andrew and Margaret Richardson Donaldson. They had a son Andrew and daughters Margaret and Jean. That theory is problematic because a Canadian passenger list has that whole family arriving in Canada in 1815, which is the same time that I have proof that Thomas was in Ohio/Virginia, and his mother and sisters were in Cupar. Also, there are four brothers in that family and they are not mentioned anywhere in Thomas’ letters.
There is a FamilySearch record of Andrew Donaldson marrying Mary Watson in Cults, Fife on 24 Mar 1786. That looks promising.