Boys Lilias and Theresa in the family tree

Often Scottish families in the past named their children according to a simple pattern. So eldest son after father’s father, second after mother’s father, third after father. And for daughters the eldest was often named after the mother’s mother, second after the father’s mother, and third after mother. Younger children could be named after aunts or uncles, or other relations. Or a child could be named after the minister, or the local doctor, or a famous person, or an employer. And surnames were often passed down as middle names.

But sometimes naming patterns can be more unusual. Through the Dodds side I reach the Veitch family who owned Bowhill in Selkirkshire (selling it to the Dukes of Buccleuch) in the 18th century, and before that Glen estate in Peeblesshire, from at least the mid 17th century. James Veitch (1700?-1761) laird of Glen and Bowhill, my 7xg-grandfather, seems to have been particularly eccentric according to published local histories, and the names of his children reflect this. Well the names of children of his second marriage anyway. The children of his first marriage, my line, followed traditional Scottish patterns, and were straightforward, like Alexander, Susanna, Helen and William. But with his second marriage things went strange. The first two known children of that marriage were George and Charles, which is normal enough. But then he named two children Lilias Cessford Veitch and Theresa Conyers Veitch. But these weren’t girls! No, Lilias, named after his mother’s half-sister, appears later in life, married with children of his own, and – unsurprisingly – having dropped his first name and just appearing as Cessford Veitch. And his brother, Theresa Conyers Veitch, can be similarly proved to be a boy by legal papers. Little Theresa was named after the then Countess of Traquair. If he lived to adulthood I wonder if he, too, dropped the first name.

James Veitch left a detailed inventory of his goods after he died. He was an ardent Jacobite and his inventory included “a tree of the Steuart family” worth threepence. He also had “six maps of the shire of Peebles”, as well as many books, musical instruments, and a wide range of furniture and clothes. When he died he was living in Musselburgh, and had sold the family estates. He must have been quite a character, and is an ancestor I wish I could have met.

About vivdunstan

Academic historian, genealogist, former computer scientist, and Doctor Who fan.
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3 Responses to Boys Lilias and Theresa in the family tree

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  2. Pingback: Visiting Culloden Battlefield – a review of the visitor centre | Viv's Academic Blog

  3. Pingback: A Jacobite ancestor in fiction and reality, including his clothes and books when he died | Viv's Ancestry Blog

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