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Welcome to my family history website. If you are arriving here from offsite then you may want to begin here. This page tells the story of the family of Jessie Brown Duncan's mother, Margaret Harten Hunter. The Hunter family were a very poor working class family from Glasgow, Lanark, Scotland whose ancestors came from Antrim, Ireland where their ancestry can be traced back to the early 1800s.
Please Note: This page is intended only as a narrative historical overview of this family. There is additional detailed information available for almost ever person presented on this page. To avoid the unnecessary work of double-entering some data, the additional information can be found in the accompanying GEDCOM database. Please make sure you click on the INDEX button at the bottom of the page so you don't miss out on potentially valuable additional information.
The research presented on this page is not mine alone. It contains information submitted by all the Fellow Researchers listed below. I am indebted to them for their generous contributions. This page is intended as a place for researchers to freely and cooperatively share our research with each other. It would be too cumbersome a task to reference each piece of data as to which researcher it has come from. The information shown on this page should be understood as a product of ALL of the Fellow Researchers. I am merely the editor and not the sole author. - Ryk
This page was substantially corrected and updated in February 2006. For those who are wondering how the origins of the this family could be so different than originally presented here, well the answer is quite simply. The presentation of the Hunter family previously shown here represented some of my earliest genealogical research. Honestly, it was full of errors. Since that time I have learned a great deal more about genealogy research, and it was not until 2006 that I had time to go back and recheck some of my earlier research on this family. You should find the information presented below to be substantially more reliable and accurate.
The name Hunter is an occupational surname relating to an early ancestor who hunted. In Scotland the name has its origins in those who were appointed as officers of the royal hunt. The office became hereditary and Clan Hunter is derived from the office of Royal Huntsman.
Click here to learn more about surnames.
The following is from the History of Clan Hunter, by Tom Hunter, Hunter Clan Officer for Canada and very close family friend.
The first Hunters arrived in Ayrshire in the opening years of the 12th century. Experts in hunting and field craft with generations of experience in the forests of their land of origin, these Norman lords were invited to Scotland by Scottish King David I who was himself brought up in the Norman court. In papers relating to the King's Inquisition in 1116, we find mention of WILLIELMO VENATOR (William the Hunter - 1st Laird) who was appointed as Royal Huntsman while his wife had the honour of serving Queen Matilda as a lady-in-waiting. William put his expertise to good use in the wild forests and fens, then rich with wildlife, which surrounded the site of the timber fortress, which was to become Hunter's Toun (now Hunterston, Ayrshire). As recognition of his family's skills, the title of Royal Huntsman became a hereditary appointment.
In the mid-thirteenth century King Alexander III of Scotland urged his liegemen to build in stone against possible incursion by Norsemen. It was probably about this time that the pele-tower of Hunterston Castle was constructed.
From this stronghold the family, allied with other powerful neighbours, faced down the aggression of King Hakon of Norway and drove him to defeat at the Battle of Largs in 1263. It sheltered them throughout the turbulent War of Independence, from which they emerged with their lands intact, having probably supported William Wallace and certainly Robert the Bruce. In 1374 the great king's grandson Robert Stewart, King Robert II (an ancestor of this author via the Stewart Family), granted William Hunter (10th Laird) a charter of lands for faithful services rendered. The family still possesses this ancient document. For many years, the Hunters continued to serve the Scottish Crown as Royal Huntsmen and as soldiers, sometimes at great cost.
The castle of Hunterston is located near the coast of the Firth of Clyde in North Ayrshire. It is one of the very few Scottish castles that is still in the hands of the original family. A Hunter has lived in Hunterston for over 800 years!
Whether or not our family is descended originally from the Hunters of Hunterston may never be known although it is an entirely reasonable possibility. However, our family enters known history in the early 19th century in Belfast, Antrim, Ireland. Our Hunters were Ulster-Scots, meaning that they were descended from Scottish settlers who had likely been sent to Northern Ireland as part of the British government's settlement strategy. For a further description of the Ulster-Scots in Glasgow in the 19th century, please refer to the Duncan Family Page.
Thus our Hunter ancestors were almost certainly Scottish, and probably Lowland in origin, however it may be a very long time before those origins can be verified, if ever. For now, we know that our Hunter family were living in Belfast at the turn of the 19th century. Our earliest known ancestor was William Hunter in Belfast.
William HUNTER was born ABT 1810 in Ireland, probably Antrim. Janet Duncan's family history records William Hunter's parents as "William Hunter and Unknown Kennedy", noting that Kennedy was born in Belfast, Antrim, Ireland. However, Janet had confused her Hunter-side great-grandmother with her Duncan-side great-great-grandmother, Mary Jane Kennedy who was also from Belfast. Son William's death registration records his parents names as William Hunter and Mary Law. William senior is recorded as a gardener and deceased in 1880. William and Mary cannot be found in the 1871 census. As they were dead before 1880 and in Ireland prior to 1868 then it is presumed that they died in Ireland and never accompanied their son to Scotland. William Hunter married Mary LAW b: ABT 1810 in Belfast, Antrim, Ireland. They had the following known child:
William HUNTER b: 1841 in Ireland, probably Belfast, Antrim, shown above as the son of William Hunter and Mary Law. William Hunter was born in Ireland, probably in Belfast, Antrim. He married in 1864 in Belfast, Antrim, Ireland to Mary Harten and their first known child was born in Belfast in 1866. Their second known child was born in Glasgow, Lanark, Scotland in 1868 suggesting that William and his wife and infant daughter immigrated to Scotland in 1867. As William's parents have not been found in any Scottish census records it seems likely that they remained in Ireland. William's reasons for immigrating from Belfast to Glasgow are unknown, but given the economic climate of that day it is likely that he was seeking better employment opportunities.
Ireland GRO gives date of marriage as 10 MAR 1864. Margaret Harton Hunter's birth record shows her parents marriage date as 10 MAR 1863. The 1864 date is preferred as the GRO entry is more likely to be accurate and it is closer to the birth date of their first child. No death record has been found for William Hunter in Scotland. He may have returned to Ireland.
William HUNTER married on 10 MAR 1864 in Belfast, Antrim, Ireland to Margaret HARTEN b: 1845 in Tremore, Tyrone, Ulster, Ireland, daughter of David Harten and Mary Ann Jackson. Information on the Harten family is presented further below. William and Margaret had the following children:
William Hunter died BET 1876-1880. Margaret Harton married secondly on 16 NOV 1880 in Dennistoun, Glasgow, Lanark, Scotland to Thomas GILLILLAND (possibly a corruption of the Gaelic gille Fhillan or "servant of St. Fillan"). In 1881 Margaret was living with her second husband and the children of her first marriage. Margaret had no known children with her second husband.
William Hunter (above) married Margaret Harten, daughter of David Harten and Mary Ann Jackson. The earliest known ancestor of the Harten family was Rodrick Harten:
Rodrick HARTEN, b ABT 1777 in Ireland. Rodrick (or "Rodney") is found only in William Harten's Ancestral File. No further documentary evidence has been found to confirm his identity. The same Ancestral File claims that Rodrick died in the poorhouse in Springburn, Lanark, Scotland, but this may have been confounded with his son's information and may be unreliable. Rodrick's wife is unknown. Nothing more is known of him except that he had one known son:
Family correspondence indicates that David's wife, Mary Ann Jackson, died in Whitehouse District, Belfast. David is not found in Scottish census records for 1861 or 1871, thus it is presumed that he lived nearly his entire life in Ireland and only came to Glasgow sometime between 1871-1873 after his wife died and presumably to be with his daughter and her family.
According to David's only surviving son, William, David had a very large family with many sons. All of his sons except for William are said to have died in the Crimean War (ca. 1854-1856).
David's official cause of death is recorded as "softening of the brain". His grandson noted the following: "He was a very small, reserved man. While sitting on a bench in Glasgow Green, he toppled over dead. No cause of death could be found at the inquest. So, after he was buried, his body was lifted for medical purposes, and it was found that his brain had gone to liquid."
The following excerpt comes from David's son, William, as preserved in Beverly Jackson's family notes:
David Harten and Ann had a nice home and a large farm in scotland. Because of the people they were, a man that worked on there farm , need to be baled out of jail , the man ran away and David had to sell the house and the farm to payoff that bill. So he went to work at the whighthouse which was for poor people work. It was allso the poor house, the would buried them to. When sitting on a bench in Glasglow David fell dead after the funral his boby was taken for Medical purposes and found that he's brain had turned to liquid. David brother's were killed in the Criman War. David was a small man died about 1874.
David Harten is presumed to have married to Mary Ann JACKSON b: ABT 1805 in Probably County Monaghan, Ireland, although no record of their marriage has been found. Mary Ann Jackson`s parents are unknown. Janet Duncan`s family tree mistakenly record`s Mary Ann Jackson`s name as "Margaret Jackson". David and Mary Ann had the following family:
William and Jennie were childhood friends who married young and were happy together. She was 3 months pregnant when they married. They had seven children, only three survived to adulthood.
As a Mormon, William appears to have been a practicing bigamist.* He was married to his first two wives at the same time. William married firstly on 2 APR 1892 in Belfast, Antrim, Ulster, Ireland to Jennie GIPSON b: 9 MAY 1870 in Ballyhomage, Antrim, Ulster, Ireland. They had the following children:
William married secondly and bigamously in 1901 in Belfast, Antrim, Ulster, Ireland to Annie REA b: 1868 in Middleborough, Yorkshire, England. William's first wife, Jennie, died in 1903. His second wife, Annie, died in 1912, after which William married thirdly and non-polygamously on 2 APR 1914 in Preston, Franklin, Idaho, USA to Sarah MCDONALD b: 22 JUN 1878 in Belfast, Antrim, Ulster, Ireland. They had the following children:
* Note: According to descendant Beverly Jackson, William was not a bigamist and his marriage to Annie Rea took place after the death of Jennie Gipson, however this conflicts with the dates shown above which were sent to me by Beverly, stating that Jennie Gipson died in SEP 1903 while William married Annie Rea two years prior in 1901. I am awaiting clarification on this matter from Beverly.
Janet Orr Duncan, daughter of Robert Wilson Duncan and Margaret Harton Hunter (shown above), prepared a family tree, probably sometime in the 1960s. My mother, niece of Janet Duncan, had a copy of this tree which I recall first seeing as a very young boy. (The tree is currently in my possession.) Janet's family tree was my first source document from which I began my genealogical research. You will note Janet's tree is referred to frequently above and on the Duncan Family Page. Subsequent research has revealed that Janet made some minor errors in her tree and these errors have been identified above.
People researching this family include the following. If you wish your name added to the fellow researchers' list, please contact me.
|Hamilton, Ontario||all branches of this family|
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This page was last updated on October 15, 2010