Tuesday, 21 August 2007

James Merrilees of Stanwell -1890s

The following has been kindly sent to us by Darryl Gwynne - decendant of Mr Merrilees.
Darryl lives in Canada but we are now corresponding via e-mail. I am in the process of editing the following:-

Gwynne Family

James Merrliees of East Lothian, Scotland

According to the entry on the marriage certificate of James Gwynne his father was James Merrilees. James Gwynne was probably named after his father and the surname Merrilees was exceedingly rare in Wales. The names, along with James Merrliees' occupation as Steward, make it almost certain that I have the right man as father of James: Scotsman James Merrilees (the only Merrilees in the south Wales censuses of the time) was Steward to the Hon. W. H. Yelverston of Whitland Abbey. There seems little doubt that James Merrilees abandoned his lover Mary Gwynne. He was across the channel in Bristol in 1841, when she and her two children had already been confined to the Pembroke Workhouse where she died a year later. James was back in the Pembrokeshire - Camarthenshire border area by 1851. It seems very unlikely that James would have been rejected as a husband by Mary or her family; he had a good career and was from a respectable family in Scotland so it is almost certain that Thomas and Hannah Gwynne would have wanted him to "do the right thing" and marry their daughter.

In May, 2007 I followed the trail of James Merrilees and his ancestry, starting in west Wales and ending in East Lothian, Scotland. James turns up in the 1851 and 1861 censuses as the Steward (person responsible for the day-to-day running of the estate) for the household of the Honourable William Henry Yelverton, former Member of Parliament and resident of the Victorian house at the ruins of Whitland Abbey. The Abbey House is located in Camarthenshire near the Pembrokeshire border just a few miles south of the Castell Dwyran area where Thomas Gwynne was born. William, a wealthy Irishman, had acquired the estate through his marriage to Lucy Morgan. (T. Bunbury website). Gillian Parker, owner of Whitland Abbey House, gave me a tour around the estate and showed me documents pertaining to Whitland history. The original Abbey (one of many ruined following the dissolution of monasteries by Henry VIII in the 1500s) was the main Cistercian House in west Wales and identified with the national aspirations of the Welsh people and princes (monks had settled at Whitland in 1151 under the patronage of Rhys Ap Gruffydd) (Terence James Manuscript).

James Merrilees apparently had become relatively wealthy by about 1870 - probably from a paternal inheritance - as by 1871 census he had moved to his own property, Thane Cottage, just a short distance into Pembrokeshire in Amroth where he was a farmer of 21 acres. In the 1870s he had moved north again (back toward Whitland) to Stanwell Villa, Llanteg, in Crunwear parish, Pembrokeshire (Llanteg: Turning Back The Clock), where his acreage had increased by seven (1881 Census). In 1871 and 1881 James lived with servant, Elizabeth Davies, a milkmaid who was about 10 years his elder. Following that he lived alone, and remained a bachelor. James lived at Stanwell Villa from at least 1881, through 1891 to the end of his life in 1896. All censuses list his birthplace as Scotland and the 1851 sheet gives a more specific location as East Lothian (just east of Edinburgh). James Merrilees outlived his son James Gwynne by about three years. Stanwell Villa still stands near the village of Llanteg. The current owners have modified the orginal stone house by adding a second story. James Merrilees died of natural causes at Stanwell Villa aged 85 on March 14 1896. According to death certificate information, an inquest was held two days later. Such an occurrence did not necessarily indicate suspicious circumstances. It could mean that the coroner needed more information relating to the cause. For example if a doctor has not seen the deceased or could not determine cause-of-death then a post-mortem took place which may result in an inquest. An inquest might also be called if a death occurred away from home or out in public (Dyfed email list March 2007).

James died a wealthy man. He owned seven properties, and left five pounds to each his tenants, "who shall not be in arrears with their respective rents." He also bequeathed charitable legacies to Sunday Schools for "Bible teaching and no other purpose" (for many years he was superintentdent of Sunday Schools in Amroth: see gravestone information below). Merrilees left Stanwell to his grand-nephew with the strange proviso "that he change his name to Merrilees within 12 months" and should reside at Stanwell. This proviso appeard to have been overcome, however, as the property was sold by 1911.

For his own lasting monument James left 30 pounds for a tombstone made from "Scotch red granite" (Llanteg: Turning Back The Clock). The large red gravestone is still in excellent condition sheltered by trees on the east side of the Crunwere churchyard, and reads:

To the Sacred Memory of
James Merrilees of Stanwell Villa
Died 14th March 1896 aged 85 years. Buried 18th March 1896
He was a native of the lowlands of Scotland and was
The red ganite gravestone of James Merrilees (background)
for many years churchwarden for the parish of Amroth
and Superintendent of the Sunday school at Amroth
Honour thy father and thy mother that thy
days may be long in the land that the
Lord God giveth thee
1891 From The Mirage.
Even Now a Halo Lingers Over
Those Hollowed New Born Spheres
Gathering the Heart's Best Treasures Home
And Longing for a World to Come

The links between generations of Merrilees are firm: in 1868 a James Merrilees of Aberlady, East Lothian, left a will which describes his son, and co-executor for the will, James as a farm overseer at Whitland Abbey in Wales. Our Merrilees male lineage consists of many generations living in the East Lothian area of Scotland. With only one exception, all are named James. In total there are six generations, possibly even seven (see below) of James, and eight if we include James Gwynne. To reduce confusion I borrow a device from monarchial history and use I to V for all the James Merrilees in the direct male lineage. James I, my 8x great grandfather, was a fairly wealthy 17th century blacksmith - James Mirrieleyes. Jan Kelly's family history of the "clan" (yes, there is even a Merrilees tartan: see the Merrilees Website) revealed a direct line back to this James.
The "farm overseer" James (V) of Wales was the reprobate who deserted young Mary Gwynne and their child, yet he remains the link to a direct paternal line of ancestry for us Gwynne males back to about 1610! It is fascinating to consider that this link might be eventually proven in a genetic way.
The Y - chromosome of males is inherited intact from father to son to grandson, and so on through the male line, and is therefore expected to show a reasonable correlation with surname (Jobling 2001).
There are exceptions, of course, including illegitimacy such as in the case of Mary Gwynne and James Merrilees. The Merrilees family historians have had the Y chromosome genetic material (DNA) of many Merrilees male analysed. It turns out that a common male Y "haplotype" turns up in males of all the main groups of Merrilees living today who have given samples. I intend to have my DNA analysed to see if our Gwynne males have inherited this same Y- type. This is one of those rare occasions in which a genealogical paper trail of ancestry can be potentially verified using genes!

The 1868 Imperial Gazetteer of Scotland (edited by John Marius Wilson) describes James V's
birthplace, Aberlady (population in 1831 about 973), as "a parish, . . . on the north-west coast of the county of Haddington (East Lothian); bounded on the north by the frith of Forth, which here forms Aberlady bay, and by the parish of Dirleton; on the east by Dirleton and Haddington parishes; and on the south by Gladsmuir parish ... The village of Aberlady, 5 miles north-west of Haddington, consists of one long street of a good appearance. It is occasionally resorted to by the inhabitants of Haddington as a bathing-place; but the surrounding country presents little that is attractive to the stranger."

I visited Aberlady in May 2007 and found a pleasant seaside town. The church where James (V) Merrilees (of Wales) was baptised has a yard behind that connects directly with the coastal vegetation along the stony beach. According to the Aberlady Village Website there are several stories about the origin of the town's name. "In Pictish, Aberlady may mean "Aber" - mouth or confluence, at "ledaig" - a smooth place, i.e. the bay. In the story of St Kentigern the name used was "Aberlessie" - meaning "the mouth of stench" - referring to the piles of rotting fish to be found there. More favourably, Christian tradition held that the name Aberlady was
derived from an early chapel dedicated to "The Blessed Virgin Mary" commonly referred to as "Our Lady"." The site goes on to state that "Aberlady which was a local centre for weavers in the 18th century and also a noted centre for smuggling. Imports included bark for tanners, linseed cake, malting barley and guano. With the arrival of the railway in 1846 the shipping trade through the port of Aberlady declined. In 1845 the Burgh sold its rights of anchorage, etc. to the Earl of Wemyss. For the next twenty years or so a few farmers shipped in potatoes, manure, and so on from Leith. The last load to be unshipped at Aberlady was a cargo of stone from Fife for building Aberlady manse in 1863-64."

The Surname Merrilees

Jan Kelly gives the details.
"The name Merrilees seems to derive from an estate in the Binns / Linlithgow area of West Lothian, from an Old English word meaning “pleasant pasture." Henri de Merleis, living at
Myrge Laese in 1170, is named in the Staffordshire Pipe Scrolls. The same farm is named Meryleys (1529), Mureleyis (1602), Myrey Lees (1773), Merrylees (1830), and is presently a line of cottages at a cross roads. There is no “correct” way to write the word Merrilees; it is a spoken or heard sound rather than a spelling. In the 1600s it was more often spelled with an ‘i’ or ‘y’, more recently the name is spelled with an e, Merrilees. Despite its age, and the spread of the family into Midlothian, East Lothian, Lanarkshire, Renfrew and Ayr, the entire known Merrilees family descends through either James Merrylees and Elspeth Blair, or a brother or cousin (all male DNA tests are the same, for all branches of the family). It was not a large family, in the 1841 Census for Scotland there were 51 households in total with the surname Merrilees, with only half a dozen families in England. In 1691 in East Lothian, in the Hearth Tax records, there were 6 families."

James Merrylees and Elspeth Grieve

James (V) Merrilees was born in Aberlady on 15th January 1812. He was the second child and firstborn son of parents James (IV) "Myrrilees," a spirit dealer (in good scotch one would hope), and Elspeth Grieve. A third James (III) (Myrrilees) along with George Grieve, were listed in the parish records as witnesses for the christening on January 26th 1812. These were almost certainly the young James's grandfathers. Strangely, his mother Elspeth also used the Christian name "Euphemia" - the names changed several times over the christenings of her nine children from 1810 to 1828: she was Elspeth for the first five and number 8 and Euphemia for the 6th and 9th. She was buried as Euphemia. In 1821 (October 26) James (IV) and Euphemia appear in the Register of Seisins (referring to the act of registering possession of a feudal property) when the couple apparently registered ownership of a tenement and garden. The legal document reads as follows: "James Merrilees residing in Aberlady, seised, Oct 21 1821, in a Tenement and Garden on the south side of the Village of Aberlady: on Disp. by Andrew Whitehead, residenter in Haddington, with consent of Margaret Gardener his spouse, Oct 17 1821: and Euphemia Grieve, his spouse: seised, in liferent of said subjects" Twenty years later, the 1841 Census for Aberlady lists James (IV) aged 55 Spirit Dealer, Euphemia age 53, along with (daughters) Euphemia aged 20, Anne aged 15, and Margaret aged 13. Euphemia died in 1853 and James (IV) in 1868 (aged 83). A gravestone still well preserved in Aberlady Kirk (church), reads as follows (beginning with their daughter Barbara):

In memory of
Barbara Hunter
the beloved wife of
Alexander Hunter
who died 20 October 1840
deeply regretted by all
who knew her
Also her mother Euphemia Grieve
wife of James Merrilees
who died 2 February 1853
Also Isabella Merrilees wife of
John Thomson who died Dec 12 1859.
Also James Merrilees their father
who died 12 Sept. 1868 aged 83

The Rest of the Merrilees Story

James (IV), father of "James in Wales," was born in Direlton, East Lothian, on 15 December 1785, the second child and son of James (III) Merrylees and Isabel Barrie who produced seven children (mainly in Direlton) between 1783 and 1800. "James Mirralees labourer and Issobell Barrie daughter to James Berrie labourer gave up their names for marriage"at Canongate Church in Edinburgh on 23 November 1781. James and Isabel are buried not far from the looming tower of Direlton Kirk. Their monument (still well preserved) reads:
Richard Runciman
Wright, Kingston
To the memory of
James Merrilees
His father in law, who died
June 23rd 1841 aged 84 years
and of his wife
Isabella Barrie
who died January 27 1841
aged 83 years
and also his daughter
Christina H. Runciman
who died 23 Febry 1846 aged 20 months
and also of his wife Barbra Merrilees
who died at Glasgow 24th Augst 1850
aged 50 years

According to Jan Kelly, James (III) and Isabel's last child "Barbara born 1800 married Richard
Runciman. When she died Richard emigrated to Otago on the South Island of New Zealand in 1853 on the (ship) Rajah with his five children and with Alexander Merrilees his nephew." James and Isabel's first child William at the ripe old age of 72 also eventually emigrated to New Zealand. James Merrylees (III) was born in North Berwick on July 1 1757, the last child (of eight born between 1739 and 1757) of William Merrylees and Barbara Smith. Barbara was born on February 28 1714 in Gladmuir to William Smith and Jean Heriot. The birth of William Merrylees and his twin brother Christian on May 5 1703 was announced in the parish register "bapt. to James Mirrilies and Agnes Wilson his spouse twins called William and Christian. witn. Wm. Thomson and Wm Smith." These are first twins to turn up in our family history. This brings us back to Aberlady where the Direlton Kirk and Merrilees Monument twins were the last of seven children of James Mirrilies (II) and Agnes Wilson. James (II) and Agnes were married in Aberlady on 29 October 1682. This James was recorded as paying two (Scots) shillings Hearth Tax in 1691. James (II) was born on 23 July 1648, the fifth child of James (I) and Elspeth Mirrilyes. On "ye 27 of Jully James Mirrilyes maried to Elspeth Blair" in the Ormiston (East Lothian) parish church on the north bank of the River Tyne. They had eleven children, mainly born in Pencaitland, between 1641 and 1661. Given their marriage date, James (I) and Elspeth would have been born about 1610-15. Jan Kelly's report states that "(James I) may have been born in eastern Midlothian, probably Inveresk or Dalkeith
(just east of Edinburgh), not in East Lothian. Parish records started around 1596. (James I) lived in Pencaitland for most of his life, where he was the blacksmith. The two Ormiston parish records (for births of three of James and Elspeth's children) may be his wife’s home parish. There is a "Testament dative” (died intestate) for James (I) and Elspeth in 1664, to settle their affairs (see Appendix). The other four Merrilees known at the time are named John, Robert , David, and Nichol. James, though, would seem to be the son of an earlier James Merrilees (note: this would be a sixth James Merrilees!), the man who witnessed at the baptism of (James I and Elspeth's first son and second child) Johne (born 1643). Alternatively he could be the James born to David, b. 1617, in Dalkeith." Both James (I) and Elspeth died in 1663. As mentioned, they died "intestate" meaning there was no will. The 1664 "Testament Dative" (see Appendix) listed their goods and chattels worth about £260 and which consisted of "two horses estimated . . . to £40, item, one cow and one calf worth £20; sown on the ground crops in the year of God above . . . 2 bolls barley, 3 bolls oats, and 3 bolls peas (lots of details of the crops followed), £90 money (worth about £7,500 in today's currency); the whole household furniture of their dwelling house [clothing, personal possessions] of the abode with a smith anvil? and hammer and . . . materials belonging to a smith estimated all in to the fowine (?) of £80 Scots."
Aberlady Village Website. www.aberlady.org.
James, Terence. Dyfed Archaeological Trust document on Whitland Abbey (courtesy of Gillian
Jobling, M.A. (2001). In the name of the father: surnames and genetics. Trends in Genetics 17:
Merrilees Clan Website. www.merrileesclan.org.nz
Llanteg Local History Society. Llanteg: Turning Back The Clock:
Appendix 1. The 1868 Will of James (IV) Merrylees
(Record of Commissary Court, Haddington (the county seat) Vol XVI Inventories and Deeds. Ref SC 40/40/16, pp 362 366). According to Jan Kelly the original is three pages in length and very wordy.
Here are just a few of the details:
"Inventory of the personal estate ... of James Merrilees residing in Aberlady who died Aberlady 12 Sept 1868. Given up for confirmation by James Merrilees, Farm Overseer, Whitland Abbey, Wales,and Robert Merrilees, Manager to Messr. Cross, Seed Merchants in Glasgow, Trustees and Executors of the Deceased.(values are probably in Scots Pounds). Cash £2.10.0: value of household including bed, table linens, books, body clothes etc, £15.8.0. Deposited in the Bank of Scotland, Haddington, £170.0.0. Interest thereon to deceased's death £1.9.7. do. to the date of oath to this inventory £0.5.11, = £171.15.6 principal, = £189.13.6. Principal sum due to the deceased by his son Robert Merrilees £700.0.0.Estate £889.13.6. In summary: "I James Merrilees:" ... executors James and Robert ... to pay
"at the first Whitsunday or Martinmass next after my death": to son Robert £200: to daughter
Euphemia Merrilees wife of George Nichol Commercial Traveler in Edinburgh, £200 [codicil that
Euphemia's money to be withheld by the trustees who will pay her the interest on it: if she dies,
money to return to estate, it is not available to George Nicholl]: to daughter Margaret Merrilees wife of Edmund Strachan, gardener in Dumfriesshire, £200: to granddaughter Euphemia Thomson daughter of John Thomson and his wife my deceased daughter Isabella £70 [adjusted to £80 in codicil]: to granddaughter Euphemia Rennie daughter of John Rennie and his wife my deceased daughter Marion Merrilees £70: to sons of Margaret Merrilees, James Edmond Strachan and Robert Edmond Strachan £80.All of the daughters' money to be in their own names and not available to husbands.Books to be divided amongst the whole of children and grandchildren, plus the crockery, bed, table linens, and etc., all itemised. James in Wales to receive no pecuniary advantage as he will succeed as heir to heritable property in the village of Aberlady, this property to remain in the family."
Appendix 2. 1664 Testament Dative of James (I) Mirreleyes
"Translation" (in right hand column)of the Testament Dative (i.e. intestate, when the preson died without
leaving a will) and Inventory of Goods and Gear for James "Mirreleyes" in 1664 (From Jan Merrilees Kelly)
25 OF MARCH 1664 25 of March 1664
THE TESTAMENT DATIVE AND INVENTAR The Testament Dative and inventory [?]
OF THE GOODES & GEIR PERTEINING & BELONGING of the goods and gear pertaining and belonging
TO UMQUHILE JAMES MIRRIELYES IN WESTER PENCAIT- to the late James Mirrielyes in Wester Pencaitland
LAND AND UMQUHILE ELSPETH BLAIR HIS SPOUSE and the late Elspeth Blair his spouse
THE TYME OF THAIR [RECENT?] DECEISS QUHUA DECIET the time if their [recent?] decease . QUHUA deceased
[UIR?] THE SAID JAMES IN THE MONTH OF ERGUST [UIR?] the said James in the month of August
i aj SIX # THRIE SCORE THRIE YEIRS AND THE SAID DE- thousand six hundred three score and three years and
the said de-
CECST ELSPETH BLAIR IN THE MONTH OF DECEM- ceased Elspeth Blair in the month of Decem-
BER IN THE SAID YEIR OF GOD FAITHFULLY MADE & ber in the said year of God faithfully made and
GIVEN UP BE JOHN MIRRIELYES SON TO THE SAID UMQUHAE given up byJohn Mirrielyes son to the said late
DEFUNCT AND ONLY [ ] DATIVE [ ] AND NEIR- defunct and only [ ] Dative [ ] and nearest
AND THE SAINYNE OF THE SAID ACTT THE SAID DAY OF and the signing of the said Act the said day of
MARCH 1664 YERES BEIRS March 1664 years BEIRS.
IN THE FIRST THE SAID UMQUHAE JAMES MIRRIELYES AND In the first the said lateJames Mirrielyes and
his said spouse had no other goods or gear pertaining
BELONGING TO THEM THE TYME OF THEIR DECEISS FIEFD EXCEPT belonging to them the time of their decease fiefed except
THE PARTICULARS FOLLOWING TO WITT TWA HORSS ESTIMAT the particulars following, to wit, two horses estimated
[ ] to xl Lib ITEM ANE COW & AND CAEF WORTH xx Lib [ ] to £40, item one cow and one calf worth £20.
ITEM SOWEN ON THE GROND CROPT & YERE OF GOD ABOVE Item, sown on the ground crops in the year of God
SPEIT TWO BOLLS BEIR THRIE BOLLS OATES & THRIE BOLLS PEISS SPEIT 2 bolls barley 3 bolls oats and 3 bolls peas
[ ] BEING COLLECTED [ ] IN AHIND THE SAMYNE WITH THE [ ] being collected [ ] in behind the same with the
INNES THAROF EXTENDIT ONLY TO VI BOLLS BEIR NYNE INNES [interest?] thereof extended only to 6 bolls barley
BOLLS OATES AND SEX BOLLS PEISS PRYCET OF THE BOLLS BEIR bolls oats and six bolls peas priced? of the bolls barley
WITH THE FODDIE vi Lib OF THE BOLLS OATES & FODDIE iiii Lib with the fodder £6 of the bolls oats and fodder £4
and of the bolls peas with the fodder £3. Sum of the
lxxxx Lib MONEY ITEM THE WHOLE INSIGHT AND PLENNISHING £90 money. Item, the whole household furniture
of their dwelling house [clothing, personal possessioons]
of the abode with
a smith anvil? and hammer and [ ] materials belonging
TO ANE SMYTH ESTIMAT ALL IN [ ] TO THE FOWINE OF to a smith estimated all in [ ] to the FOWINE of
lxxx Lib SCOTTES MONEY £80 Scots money
SUMMA OF THE INVENTAR …………….ii # xxx Lib Sum of the inventory … £230
FFOLLOWS THE DEBTS AWINE TO THE DEID Follows the debts owing to the dead.
the [ ] RESTAND [remainder?] owing to the said
former James Mirrielees
and his said spouse the time of the REXUE decease
UIR [be ] John Reid in Coalstone £20 by one Anne
Blair in Woodend? £12
SUMMA OF THE DEBTS AWINE TO ¥ DEID … xxxii Lib Sum of the debts owing to the dead, £32
SUMMA OF THE INR WITH THE DEBTS ii # lxii Lib Sum of the inventar with the debts, £262
FFOLLOWS HER DEBTS AWINE BE ¥ DEID Follows here debts owing by the dead.
Item, the [ ] RESTAND [remainder?] owed by the
said former defunct and his said
spouse [at] the time of the decease, to Sir Lancelot
Sinclair of Remstone
FOR THE [ } OF SONE PARCELS OF LAND CROPT SEISED xxx Lib for the [ ] of SONE parcels of land cropped, seised
Item, [ ] to him half a DUSSANE [dozen?] of hens and
half a DUSSANE
of capones, price of the hen 8/- and of the capon
x s INDE 5 Lib 8 s ITEM TO JAMES DAILL SERVAND FOR HIS YEIRS 10/- INDE £5.8.0. Item, to James Daill, servant, for his
FIE [ ] iii Lib TO ELSPETH SCOTT SERVAND FOR HIR YEIRS fee [ ] £3, to Elspeth Scott, servant, for her years
FIE [ ] iiii Lib ITEM TO JON LAELAW SERVAND FOR ANE fee [ ] £4, to Jon Laelaw, servant, for an
YEIRS FIE xii Lib ITEM TO {J ] BLACK SERVAND FOR ANE years, fee £12,. item to J. Black servant for an
YEIRS FIE vi Lib MONEY years fee £6 money
SUMMA OF THE DEBTS AWINE BY ¥ DEID lxxxviii Lib xii s Sum of the debts owing by the dead, £88.12.0
(S NOTA 4 LIB 14 s) - note in margin S NOTA £4.14.0 [fee to the lawyer?]
RESTS OF FRIE GEIR THE DEBTS DEDUCED i # xli Lib xii s Rest of free gear the debts deducted £141.12.0
TO BE DIVYDIT IN THRIE PARTS DEIDS PARTS - lxxxxiiii Lib viii s To be divided in three parts DEIDS parts £94.8.0
SIR JOHN NISBITT & NONDIRSTANDING & NOE DECERNED & Sir John Nisbitt and notwithstanding and not discerned
CONFERME TO ¥ [ ] AND ANNE BLAIR WRIGHT IN [ ] confirmed to the [ ] and Anne Blair Wright in [ ]
AND DAVID MIRRIELEYS SMITH IN DUDDING- and David Mirrieleys smith in Dudding-
STONNE - BECOME [ ] AND ANE ACT BEIRS stonne - become [ ] and an act BEIRS
¥ - symbol for ‘the’ iaj - thousand # - replaces the document’s script symbol for hundred: Lib, short for Libra, Scots Pound
Roman Numerals: i, 1; v, 5; x, 10; l, 50 Word endings: ’it’ instead of ‘ed’ - diviydit, divided - ‘and’ for ‘ing’, awand, owing.
1 boll = 3 bushels 3 pecks, or 1.944 gals BEIRS: beir, beire, Sc. f. bear, beer, bere, bier, birr; obs. pa. tense bear v.; also = of both.
Not known.
Testament Dative - The Commissary Court apointed an executor when someone died intestate. Written in ‘Secretary hand’.
MFA News Sept 1999 Volume IV. Original in Scottish Record Office, Ron Merrylees in Yorkshire had it transcribed. Some words not legible.
David Mirrieleys, smith in Duddingstone, was probably b 1614, the son of Nichol Mirrilees & Margaret Steill, he married Agnes Johnstone in 1651, and was the smith in Duddingstone after 1660. He was thus the same generation as James and Elspeth. James may be son of David Mirrileis (& Janet Cleghorne?) b 1617 Inveresk. Relationship? Why is there no distribution to James and Elspeths’ children?James (IV) Merrylees' Will, dated October 16 1868 (Appendix 1), was "given up for confirmation by James Merrilees, Farm Overseer, Whitland Abbey, Wales, and Robert Merrilees, Manager to Messr. Cross, Seed Merchants in Glasgow, Trustees and Executors of the Deceased." Interestingly the will states "James in Wales to receive no pecuniary advantage as he will succeed as heir to heritable property in the village of Aberlady, this property to remain in the family."
The link between James Merrilees and East Lothian, Scotland begins with the 1851 census where it is listed as James' birthplace. The link was fleshed out after I found the Merrilees Clan Website and subsequently contacted William Merrilees of Scotland and Jan Kelly (nee Merrilees) of New Zealand (now known to be fifth cousins to me and to each other) who supplied information. Jan provided a complete and impressively detailed family history from which most of the following is derived.


  1. barbara merrilees is buried what cemetery?
    runciman and mitchell names can be looked up abbotsford slip dunedin


  2. You might not be aware but one of the cottages on teh South side of Main Street, Aberlady, is called Merrilees Cottage - very probably the home of the 1682 Merrilees.

    Ian Malcolm
    0131 244 4929 (w)