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Re: Walter Falconer
Posted by: john falconer (ID *****4701) Date: May 08, 2009 at 12:52:13
In Reply to: Re: Walter Falconer by john falconer of 671

More information at the bottom re Walter's death and internment.


Walter Falconer (Great-Great-Great Grandfather) (1809-1892)
Walter Falconer was born in 1809, the son of Janet Gibson and Walter Falconer. The Old Parish Record of his birth and baptism states: "Walter Falconer in Colintoun [Edinburgh] and Janet Gibson had a son named Walter, born in fornication on the seventh of September 1809, and baptised the 29th of October. Witnesses James Waugh and William Chats. "
It is possible that the Colinton Kirk Sessions would have also recorded more details of this immoral relationship, as Church leaders’ typically both admonished and fined people for fornication in the early nineteenth century. But it seems that there are gaps in the Minute Book of the Colinton Kirk Sessions from 1804-1820, and the time of Walter’s birth. It is also uncertain if Walter’s parents actually married in Scotland, as no marriage entry seems to exist in the Old Parish Registers either. Typically though, in cases of illegitimacy where the child took the father’s surname at Baptism and continued to use that surname in later life (as Walter certainly did), marriage had normally followed the birth being registered. It is impossible to say for definite however. One wonders if any public acts of penance were also performed by Walter and Janet though for the act of fornication. This was typically the outcome for parents involved in an illegitimate birth (along with a financial punishment imposed by the Church Eldership.).
In 1832, Walter Falconer married Hannah Stevens (also known as Stephen(s)) in Edinburgh. The Old Parish Records outline: "Walter Falconer, Baker, Darlings Buildings, Stockbridge, and Hannah Steven's (residing) in No 20 St. Andrews Square in the Parish of St. Andrews, Edinburgh, daughter of the late John Stevens, gentleman's Servant in Montrose, gave up their names for the Proclamation of Banns Matrimonal. " The proclamation further states that the marriage was "contracted, owing to the parties having returned with their certificate signed by the Elder of the District." Walter and Hannah, also known as Ann(e), were married on the 6th of July 1832, in the Parish of St. Cuthbert’s in Edinburgh.
By 1841, census records show that Walter and his family were living in Montrose in the County of Angus at that time . Most likely, this was because his wife, Ann, was born in that area. Ann had been born in Montrose to John Steven and Isobell Burnett as the Parish of that area recorded in 1807: “John Steven and Isobell Burnett his spouse, had a lawful daughter, born 28th July 1807, baptised named Ann.” The Falconer family were certainly living in Montrose from 1836 onwards however, as their five children at the time of the census had all been born in that Parish, save one. Apart from Jessie (1833), who was born in St Cuthbert’s Parish in Edinburgh, Jane (1836), Walter (1837), John (1839) and George Muirhead Falconer (1840) were all born in Montrose between 1836 and 1840. The 1841 census does not record John as living with the family however, as he died as a baby in 1840 of croup.
The Census of 1841 also states that the Falconer family were living on the High Street in the town of Montrose. It is not absolutely clear what number of house they were living at on the High Street though. It seems however, that Walter was still working as a baker while living in Montrose. He was additionally living next door to other baker men who also lived on High Street in Montrose, most notably: John Paton (20), Robert Stephen (20), (possibly a relation of his wife?), James Kidd (30), and Maurice Neilson (21).
By 1851, Walter had moved across Angus. He was living in the parish of Dundee, while continuing to work as a baker at the time of the census of that year. The family at that time were living at 85 Murraygate in the town centre of Dundee. Four more children had been born since the last census: Isabella (1842), William (1844), James (1846), and Duncan Stewart Falconer (1849) had all been born since 1841. Duncan was born in Dundee, while the other children were born in Montrose. It is likely then that Walter and the family had stayed in Montrose for the best part of 10 years and had moved to Dundee sometime between 1846 and 1849.
Walter employed four other men while living and working in Dundee. Two other bakers, one called James Flemming (23) from Greenock, the other called William Hewit (30) from Dundee, were working for Walter in the Murraygate. Two apprentices were also being trained at the same time according to the 1851 census. John Davidson (15) from Dundee, and Alex Rhynd (16) from Stanley in Perthshire, were learning the baking trade from Walter, who was eventually to become a Master Baker.
By 1861, Walter had returned to Edinburgh . He was living at number 43 Candlemaker Row (East Side) at the time of the Census that year. The family of nine were staying in a house with three windowed rooms in the Parish of Old Greyfriars. Walter’s first wife Ann, also known as Hannah, died in 1860 on July 15th , and he had remarried, to a lady called Isabella Sinclair in the same year. Hannah or Ann was buried in the Newington Burial ground near the Dalkeith Road and the present University Halls of Residence.
The 1860 marriage certificate to his second wife Isabella, confirms that Walter’s parents were indeed Walter Falconer and Janet Gibson which corroborates the Parish birth and baptism account above. It does also tend to suggest that Walter’s parents did indeed marry, despite the fact that no marriage certificate exists in the old Parish Register. Isabella was a fisherman’s daughter, also living on Candlemaker Row, and she 17 years Walter’s junior at the time of the marriage. Walter and Isabella were married at 43 Candlemaker Row on November 29th 1860. Isabella was originally from Pultney, Wick, in Caithness.
Walter’s children were well on the road to adulthood when the family were living at 43 Candlemaker Row in Edinburgh. His eldest son Walter was 24 in 1861, and he was also working as a baker according to the census records. Similarly, George Muirhead Falconer, (my great-great-grandfather), was working as a baker in 1861, aged 20. It is impossible to say for definite, but Bakehouse Close on the Canongate was within easy walking distance from where Walter and his sons were living, so possibly they were working there?

Walter’s daughter, Isabella, was also working as a barmaid in 1861. His son William was working as a warehouse boy, while his son James was also working as a message boy. Walter’s youngest son Duncan was still at school. There is no mention of Walter’s daughter Jane in the 1861 Edinburgh Census, who had married James Flemming (one of Walter's apprentices in Dundee), and had moved to Glasgow. His daughter Jessie is also absent from the Edinburgh records too, although she would have been nearly 30 years of age at this time. Jessie married David Rioch in 1858 who was a shipmaster from Montrose; she was still living that area with her husband David and her daughter Georgina in 1861.
By 1871 , Walter had moved to Kincardineshire. He was living at Bank Street in the town of Tulliallan with his second wife Isabella, and his son John, aged two. Walter and Isabella had two years previous had a son called John Falconer on the 5th of January in 1869 when Walter was 59. John had been born at 605 Heriot Mount in district of Newington in Edinburgh. In 1871, Walter and Isabella’s second son was also born on the 21st of June in Tulliallan, named David. Walter was 61 when David was born.
The 1881 census records Walter as a widow for the second time . His second wife Isabella died on the 3rd of June in 1877 at 4 Union Court in Edinburgh from heart disease and bronchitis. Walter registered the death, and could sign his name. Two years prior to his wife dying, his eldest son Walter had also died in the district of the Cannongate in Edinburgh. Walter (Junior) died of chronic bronchitis and emphysema at the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh . He had never married, and died at the age of 38 in 1875. It seems therefore that Walter (Senior) was living with his two youngest sons John and David in Edinburgh in the District of St Cuthbert’s at 12 Beaumont Place in 1881. Walter’s age appears to be erroneously recorded in this census as 41, however it is highly likely that this is indeed the correct person in the census due to the birth location being Colinton and it appears he was the only Walter Falconer born in Colinton ever.
Ten years later, the census records show that Walter was living with his daughter, Isabella Dall at Newhaven Road in Leith, Edinburgh. It seems that Isabella had also been widowed by 1891. Both Walter and his daughter Isabella were living in a house with 4 rooms, shared with Isabella’s four children, John, Isabella, Jane and, Walter Dall.
Walter Falconer died a year later in 1892 in the district of South Leith, Edinburgh, at the age of 82. He died of senile difficulty at 1 Elisafield in Bonnington. His death certificate records him as being the widow of Ann Stephen, his first wife. It is interesting that Walter’s second wife, Isabella Sinclair, was not even stated on his death certificate as was traditionally the case. This may be due (in part) to the death being registered by George Muirhead Falconer, who was Walter’s second son to his first wife, Hannah (Anne). It may have been an issue of family loyalty, or perhaps simply an error of omission.
Strangely, there are a few further inconsistencies with documentary evidence surrounding Walter’s death. Walter’s father is recorded on his death certificate as being John Falconer (a Seamaster of the Merchant Service), while his mother is recorded as Janet Gibson. This is an inconsistency of evidence, and it seems to contradict both Walter’s Baptism and second marriage records). Both these other records suggest that Walter’s father was named Walter Falconer, and not John. The likelihood of the former being true is strengthened due to the fact that the information on the marriage document was signed by Walter himself, and so one must conclude that Walter’s father was almost certainly Walter Falconer senior. Walter’s marriage certificate (more likely again to be accurate and relevant) also suggests that Walter’s father Walter was a ploughman.
It is highly probable that Walter’s death certificate is inaccurate in both the name and the occupation of his father then. This may be explained by the fact that the death was registered by George Muirhead Falconer, Walter’s son. Most children did not know their grandparents (or what they did for a living) due to life expectancy being poor in those days’ . It is interesting though that the occupation of Walter's father is ‘erroneously’ recorded a Sea Master, and it may suggest the occupation of another relative called John or grandfather or even great grandfather. Nonetheless, at the very least, it certainly implies a connection with the family to seafaring and shipping. The connection to a grandfather sailor may be strengthened due to the fact that Walter Jnr was illegitimate, and in those cases may have indeed been brought-up by his grandparents instead of his biological parents.
The death of Walter was recorded in South Leith Parish Church on the 28th January 1892. He was not buried in the grounds of the Gothic Leith Parish church however; rather Walter was buried at Rosebank Cemetery in Leith (which was closer to where he lived in Elisafield, and also previously in New Haven Road.) The Internment record of Walter’s death (obtained from Mortonhall Cemetery Bereavement Services in Edinburgh in 2009), throws up a bit of a further mystery however.
The Internment record shows Walter's name as being Alexander Falconer. The address noted on the Internment Manuscript is 1 Elisafield in Leith though, which matches the undisputed death certificate details from South Leith Parish for Walter. Indeed the age reference of Walter is also identical when comparing the Internment Transcript to the Death Certificate - that of 82 years old. The date of death and burial is only a few days' apart too – 31st January 1892 on the internment, and 28th January on the death certificate. It is highly possible that Walter Falconer did indeed have two forenames then. It seems that this is indeed the correct Internment record for his death in 1892 and that it is ‘consistent’ with the Statutory Death Record. Walter may have been known by more than one name throughout his life - which was not an uncommon practice in nineteenth-century Edinburgh.
Walter or Alexander's grave is unmarked in the Rosebank Cemetery, a burial place renowned for being the last resting place of many Leith merchants and Ship Masters. No headstone exists for the grave. The burial site is located in section CW 124 P 7 in the cemetery grounds though. The marked and memorial stones to either side of Walter's grave are: CW 118 - Jessie Porter, and CW 125 - Margaret Crawford. The lack of a headstone is slightly curious, as Walter had worked as a baker for almost all of his adult life, and at one stage was employing other bakers in his service. One wonders what may have happened if he was unable to afford a headstone at the time of his passing.

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