Peter McTavish – DNA match may provide missing clue

I have been working over the last three years to try and find my paternal 4x great grandparents in Argyll, Scotland.  I know that my 3x great grandfather Duncan was from a family of 24 children (2 mothers) and that he emigrated to Canada with two brothers.  I have identified the two brothers as Dugald and Archibald.  And, I have narrowed down their origin in Argyll as being within the parish of Kilmartin.  I am making an educated guess on this since the records from that parish are not available between the years of 1792 and 1818.  Duncan was born in 1794, Dugald it seems was born about 1797 and Archibald between 1783 and 1793.  Archibald is found in Glasgow working as a tailor in the early 1820’s and he had two children there.  He returned to Argyll some time around 1827 and married Catherine McNiven (or McEwan) in Kilmartin.  They had two children in Baligown (Archibald in 1828 and Jane in 1830) before departing for Canada.  I have been looking at every possible record for any McTavish (and Thomson) in Scotland and in Ontario to see if I can trace any of these siblings to their parents.  I believe that one of their sisters also emigrated to Ontario around the same time.  Catherine McTavish married John McAlpin in the Glassary parish in 1829.  The couple is found in Nassagaweya Township, Halton County, Ontario in 1842 and there is mention of John McAlpine, his father and brothers in a book about Nassagaweya Township, in the early 1830’s.  As this is the same location as my family, and there is a tie between Dugald McTavish and Andrew McAlpine, I have marked Catherine as their sister.  That makes 4 children of 24.  Lots to go with hopefully one of them leading the identification of their parents.

A few weeks ago, I had been reviewing my matches on the various DNA and Ancestry sites.  It has been an uncommon occurrence to find any matches that share my last name.  But I did come across one and so I sent him an email introduction.  Luckily he responded back and gave me some names of his ancestors.  There was a hit in my tree – he is a descendent of Dugald McTavish – making him my fourth cousin once removed.  Now, I had traced Dugald and with the sources that I did find, I was already very confident that he was a relation.  But, what is new is some further family information for that branch, including some pictures.  One of Dugald’s sons was named Peter McTavish.  Peter was born in Nassagaweya like the rest of his siblings but Peter ended up moving West in Canada, settling in Vancouver after stopping in Calgary for a few years.  I knew that Peter had married Mary McMillan but upon looking at the new files, I realized that they had married in Belmont, Westminster Township, Middlesex County, Ontario.  This is not near Halton County so why was he there or had Margaret come to Halton at some point?

Peter McTavish and Margaret McMillan family

Peter McTavish and Margaret McMillan

The location tweaked a memory – I had located a will for a John McTavish which was probated in 1855 in Belmont, Westminster, Middlesex, Ontario!  This John McTavish was married to Jean McClarty in 1814 in the Glassary parish, Argyll and together they had 8 children, a few who were born in Baligown.  Finding the will allowed me to track the family’s emigration to Ontario.  They emigrated in 1842, they were found in the 1841 census in Craignish, Argyll with a few of their younger children.  In Ontario, the family sometimes went by the anglicized form of their name – Thomson.  Jean/Jane Thomson was found on the 1852 census in Wesmintser, Middlesex, Ontario listed with her children Hugh, Mary and Isabella.  She is listed as a widow and is 58 years old.  She is listed again in the 1861 census living with son Hugh – she is now 65 years old and going by the Thomson name.  Also in 1861, I can find Jean’s son Alexander Thomson living in East Nissouri, Oxford. After this though, I cannot seem to find much about the the family in any online records.  Hugh is my only thread at this point – he was married to Betsy McLarty in 1862 in Elgin County.  He resided in Westminster, Middlesex until after the 1901 census, died in 1907 in Aylmer, Yarmouth, Elgin, Ontario.

1891 Census

Hugh McTavish 1891 census

Peter’s marriage to Margaret McMillan occurred in 1876 in Belmont.  Was it a coincidence that Peter McTavish was in Belmont at that time or was he visiting his cousin Hugh?  This is a new area for me to dig into some further research to see what I can find.  Sometimes these disparate pieces of information come together for a fleeting second and provide us with the one clue the helps us break through the brick wall.  So for now, my theory is that John was a brother to Archibald, Duncan, Dugald and Catherine.  Now, I intend to prove or disprove it!

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