Chapter 18
Scotish Forebears

When Hugh McNair and Ann Shearer Miller married in the Barony parish church of Glasgow, Ann was already several months pregnant. Their marriage, by banns, took place on December 31, 1863. To get away from gossip and family disapproval, as Dorothy Mitchell, Mum’s cousin, told us on one of the last visits Margaret and I paid her, Hugh and Ann left Glasgow. They sailed for Australia in March 1864, landing in Port Chalmers four months later, having decided not to disembark in Australia [DM]. Their parents never again communicated with them. Their baby was born at sea and they named her Janet Georgina; Janet after Ann’s mother (a slight variation from the Scottish tradition for naming children) and Georgina, according to Mum, after the captain of their ship. The exact date of the birth and the name of the ship are uncertain. Mum and Dorothy arrived at 23.5.64 on the “Vicksburg”, based on a newspaper article; but the birth reported there was of a Turnbull and the captain’s name was A. McN. Boyd, that is his Christian name was not George.

Ann did maintain a correspondence with one of her sisters, who later came to New Zealand, where she married a Mr Thom(p)son by whom she had several children. I have a group photo, given by Dorothy Mitchell, taken at the marriage of one of her daughters (Jess?).

Hugh McNair’s parents were William McNair and Grace Wilkinson [M.1]. They were married in Glasgow on June 23, 1839. I have been unable to trace either of their births or the names of their parents. At this time Glasgow was growing rapidly and there would have been many coming into the city from outlying shires.

William was a cooper by trade. Hugh, born in 1840, was apprenticed at the age of 16 for five years to William Chisholm and Co., coopers, of Central Street, Glasgow, to learn his father’s trade. His indenture papers, located by Graham Densem, are lodged in the Otago Early Settlers Museum. I am indebted to Graham for a copy of them. Dated June 23, 1856, they were effective from May 1 of that year. Among the conditions, they give Hugh’s wages as 4 shillings a week for the first year, 5 shillings for the second, 6 shillings for the third, 8 shillings for the fourth, rising to 10 shillings a week for the fifth and final year. The back of the indenture papers carries the discharge, which reads:

“Glasgow, 3 August 1861. We hereby certify that Hugh McNair has served his time out in our employment, we hereby recommend him as a good tradesman to anyone who may require his services, [sgd] Wm Chisholm and Co.”

At the time the indenture was drawn up William McNair gave his address as 63 Garngad Road. I have not searched censuses for this address. I have found no trace in the births records at the Mitchell Library, Glasgow, of brothers or sisters of Hugh. Perhaps he was an only child.

Ann Miller’s parents were James Miller and Janet Glen [M.1, M.2]. They married in Rutherglen on July 12, 1839. Six children were born to them in Rutherglen, of whom Ann was the eldest. The parish records of Rutherglen show that James was a “collier”, which presumably means he sold and delivered coal rather than mined it. According to Dorothy Mitchell, James and his family moved to Carluke while Ann was still a child, and there he was a precentor of the church. This must have been after the birth of their sixth child in 1850. If James and Janet had further children it was not in Rutherglen. The family returned to Rutherglen in 1859 [DM], Ann being then 19. It was after this that she must have met Hugh. I have not been able to trace either James Miller’s or Janet Glen’s births or forebears.

Hugh McNair gave as his address at the time of his marriage Parliamentary Road. A book, “The Tenement - A Way of Life”, by Frank Worsdell, shows, in a picture, taken, it would seem, after World War II, a row of old tenements four storeys high along one side of Parliamentary Road. These would likely have been there in 1863 when Hugh gave this street as his address. Hugh and Ann may have lived in such tenements after their marriage until they sailed to New Zealand. It is a street now much changed.