Researching Family History

We have been looking into the Stewart, McPhail and MacIntyre families of Auchindrain, which included 100-year-old Margaret Stewart. Thanks to the help of some of you, we’ve been able to confirm that four generations of this extended family lived at Auchindrain, from the 1881 census right up until 1961.

The Stewart, McPhail and MacIntyre family tree



Census data has been incredibly useful to us, anchoring a family to our site and usually a specific building, but sometimes key people don’t ever appear in a census. This includes Lachlan McPhail, who doesn’t fit neatly within either our McPhail family tree or the Auchindrain census data.


Lachlan MacPhail’s death, as reported by his daughter Bessie to the Dunoon Sheriff Court in 1893


According to the death report from Dunoon sheriff court, Lachlan died at Auchindrain in 1893, with this being reported by his neighbour Angus McKenzie. We know the McKenzie family well, as Angus and his father George lived in our building ACHDN.W between 1881 and 1901. But Lachlan isn’t in the 1891 census for Auchindrain. Instead, he’s just down the road in Furnace, staying with his wife Catherine in Inverleckan Cottage and working as a van driver. Prior to that, he lived with his mum and dad in Auchintibert, a now abandoned township just up the road. If Lachlan did die in Auchdrain in 1893, he perhaps moved in and then died quite soon afterwards.  We can find no connection between Lachlan and the McPhails who were living at Auchindrain at the time, other than that they were living in the East Township (around our current carpark), so were definitely neighbours of the McKenzies.


Lachlan’s death certificate says that he died in Killean instead of Auchindrain


Unlike the Sheriff Court report, Lachlan’s death certificate says that he died in Killean, and the registrar to confirm his death isn’t our own Eddie McCallum, which it would have been should he have died here. So, did he live and die in Killean, and Angus MacKenzie was considered a neighbour as he lived in the next township over? Did his daughter, Bessie, tell the Sheriff that he died in Auchindrain as she thought it was a better-known local town? Or is there a mistake and Lachlan never had any connection to Auchindrain at all? We’ll let you know if we find out…