My Route to Southern Ayrshire
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The_Pettit_Family_Crest.gif (47886 bytes)I had never been to Ayrshire or Scotland until my visit in April of 2001 but believe I now know more of the history of southern Ayrshire than that of my own county of residence in Clearwater, Florida. It was in the late summer of 1999 that I began building this website for my ancestral hometown of Maybole in Ayrshire. In the process of constructing the site, which is now over 1000 pages and 3,000 images I have gained an appreciation of life as it is now for the citizens of the town as well as the times and circumstances as witnessed by my Maybole ancestors. By profession I am an accountant and banker. For more about me visit my personal site at

jeanmoorespassportphoto.jpg (25267 bytes)I have been researching my family history and Scottish roots off and on for the past five years. My connection to Scotland is by my grandmother, Jean Gardner Moores, born 5 February 1907, who left Glasgow in 1927 for Long Island, New York. My grandmother died some years ago but I can still recall her quite distinct Scottish accent and stories of her very difficult life at the beginning of the 20th century in Glasgow. Moores_family_1926_Glascow_Scotland_Charlie_AndrewJeanJimmy.jpg (105586 bytes)Her father was a waiter and her mother scrubbed office floors.  Together they earned just enough to house and clothe a family of six children.  My great grandparents, Charles Adolphus Moores and Elizabeth Brown Gardner had 12 children in all but 6 died in early childhood of various causes in the less than ideal living conditions of turn of the century Glasgow. My great grandfather, Charles, died in 1922 as a result of complications from his exposure to mustard gas in service with the Highland Light Infantry in WWI. It was after my great grandmother, Elizabeth, died in 1926 that her children hoped to improve their lives by immigrating to American.

MooresChildren.jpg (45691 bytes)My connection to South Ayrshire comes from my great grandmother Elizabeth Brown Gardner born, 1 January 1870 in Smithy Brae, Maybole, Ayrshire, the illegitimate daughter of Margaret McWhirter. By the census of 1871 Elizabeth's mother was married to Andrew Gardner, a currier who no doubt was employed inGardner'sdeathcertificate.jpg (85637 bytes) the preparation of leather for the prosperous shoe factories of Maybole.  The family evidently moved back and forth between Maybole and Glasgow, as alternating births of the children in this family were recorded in the two locations. Andrew died mysteriously in Glasgow as the result of a fall from a second storey window. Three news articles reported his death. The text from one of these is as follows:


About four o'clock this morning a constable found the partially dressed body of a man with blood flowing from his mouth, nose and ear lying in a court at 180 Moncar street. Observing that the two storey window under which the body was lying was open the constable awakened the inmates of the house when he found that the body was that of Andrew Gardner age 50, a carrier who lodged in the house. The inmates stated that Gardner had lodged with them for the past three months. About half-past eleven last night he came home the worse of liquor and refusing to take any food went immediately to his bedroom and was not seen alive afterwards. He is supposed either to have thrown himself or to have fallen over the window and death was due to fracture of the skull. Gardner belonged to Maybole.


gardnermomument.jpg (47456 bytes)Andrew Gardner's body was shipped back to Maybole where he was buried in the Maybole cemetery two days later. Not all of the families experiences were misfortunes such as this. On the tragic death of her husband, Margaret must certainly have written to her brother James McWhirter born 1848, Maybole, who by this time was prospering as a merchant and doing extremely well in Brisbane, Australia. James McWhirter immigrated to Australia in 1880 and established a department store in a complex of buildings long known as a landmark in the city of Brisbane. Known now as McWhirter's MarketPlace this shopping centre is still standing and in use this day.

WmMcWhirterb1808.jpg (32588 bytes)Margaret and James' parents were William McWhirter, born 4 October 1808 in Maybole and Allison Bell Eaglesham, born 1816 in Maybole. Including Margaret and James they had nine children. William McWhirter was a farmhand at Knockdon farm, Maybole in 1837 as recorded with the birth of his first child Janet. The family attended Maybole Old Church as indicated by their listing among the subscriptions for repair to the church in 1874. William later became a road surfaceman and was so at his death in 1893 in Maybole where he is buried with his wife Allison in the cemetery.

WilliamMcWhirterdeathcert1893.jpg (73047 bytes)William McWhirter's father was also a William McWhirter born 1 July 1773 in Maybole. He married Agness Newal born Sept 1774, Kells, Kirkcudbright. William is recorded among the burgesses of the town on a list prepared for the purpose of a poll tax in 1834. His occupation was given then as a weaver but with this industry in decline it is not surprising that his occupation as recorded by the census of 1851 was noted to be 'retired carter'. William McWhirter and Agness Newal had seven known children. One of these children, an Anthony McWhirter, born 1812 is the ancestor of Norris McWhirter of Guinness Book of World Records fame. Norris McWhirter, also an avid family historian, send me a letter two years ago confirming our relationship as third cousins. Since that time, with the help of another newly discovered cousin, Dr Edward Thompson, (Director, School of American Studies, University of Dundee, Scotland)  we have gone on to further explore the McWhirter ancestry in Ayrshire and Kirkcudbrightshire with probable connections to McWhirters as recorded in the session book of the Parish of Minnigaff, Kirkcudbrightshire in the late 1600's.

May 2001

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