Following on from my previous post (Family Mystery) on this subject I realise that I hadn’t updated the blog to show where I’d got to.  More details on my family history is on the web at

Some judicious asking around by my cousin on some of the genealogy forums he frequents got some interesting ideas.  On checking the marriage and death certificates of James Kemp & Ann Dewar’s children it became clear that there were a lot of inconsistencies in the details of their mother’s details and of her parents. In particular Duncan Kemp’s death certificate is interesting because he died in 1891, just after the census (an interesting story which I will write up separately). His mother was listed not as Ann Dewar, but as Isabella MacDonald. At first we thought this might just be a coincidence and there were two Duncan Kemps with a father called James. However the 1911 census put paid to that idea as there is an address for his father on the procurator fiscal‘s report into the death.

So it looks like my great, great grandfather James Kemp (1842-1911)  was an interesting character. He married Ann Dewar and had a daughter with her (who we can find in the 1890 census living in Cupar, Fife – where she was born). At some point around 1870 he leaves his wife and takes up with Isabella MacDonald (natural daughter of one Donald Roy MacDonald of Keppoch, born in Kintail 1844). He has several children with her, starting with Duncan born in 1870 and, on going to register the birth discovers that he cannot register it himself unless it is for his wife. So gives the name of his wife as the mother of his son, just not the name of his son’s mother! This misrepresentation is carried on for the remaining children and then again when poor Isabella dies (at the relatively young age of 46).

Perhaps I ought to put together my evidence package and ask GRO Scotland to fix this error, although I suspect that after the passage of 121 years they will be reluctant to do so.

However when I am visiting GRO Scotland on Friday I will try and get some time in their family history centre to fill in some more of the gaps.

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