Exploring the Reavie connection

Margaret Reavie was my great great grandmother and another of my Scottish ancestral lines. I am told by my Aunt, that Margaret’s surname was pronounced “Ray-vee”, the family was very specific about it. My Aunt also recalls spending time in the summer months visiting many of her Reavie cousins in Southwestern Ontario and in Michigan.   Indeed, it was her grandfather Edward James McTavish who was the eldest son of Margaret and her husband James McTavish. It seems that he was close to his siblings and the extended families would find time to get together. In a box of pictures that was given to me a few years ago, there are many of family gatherings from years gone by – unlabeled and therefore, unknown to me. They could be pictures of various Reavie cousins but I fear, I will never know.

James McTavish and Margaret Reavie cropped

James and Margaret Reavie McTavish circa 1875

In my McTavish family history book, written by a distant cousin in 1952, there is a whole section dedicated to the Reavie family. They were inter-twined with the McTavish’s apparently but I have been curious as to where that began and how deep those relations do go. The details in the book are about Archibald McNair who met his future wife Jane Reavie while immigrating from Scotland to Ontario in 1855. The story tells of the two meeting on the ship, falling in love and then marrying after their arrival. After settling first in Hastings County, they made their way West and settled in Ripley, Huron Township in Bruce County. Two of their daughters would marry McTavish men – Mary McNair married George McTavish, son of John McTavish and Margaret Murray, and Sarah McNair married Peter Alexander McTavish , son of Duncan McTavish and Elizabeth Husband. Alexander and Jane are buried in the McKenzie-Lochalsh cemetery right across from Duncan and Elizabeth.

Alexander McNair 1831-1880

And, several Reavie’s would marry McTavish’s too! Of course, Margaret Reavie married James McTavish and her nephew Edward James Reavie would marry James’ niece Libby McTavish – he the son of her brother Edward Reavie and his wife Susan McNeil and she the daughter of his brother John McTavish and his wife Sarah Lofft. There were quite a few Reavie’s and McTavish’s in the census’ for Huron Township in Bruce County! But how were they all related, or were they?

And so my research commenced! A couple of research tips saved me from the very beginning…Reavie was originally McIllreavie back in Scotland and Reavie, pronounced Ray-vee is spelled in so many different ways. I had to use many an asterick to yield the proper search results. I first found a headstone for Margaret, she died in 1877 at the age of 38 years, putting her birth at about 1839. A marriage registration from 1868 in Kincardine, transcribed her name as Margaret Davey. Her parents are listed as Edward and Jane and her age given in 25 years (making her birth year about 1843) and she says she was born in Canada. In the 1871 census, she is found in Bruce County South, is listed with her husband James and newborn Edward James. In this document, she is listed as 30 years old (1841) and born in Ontario. No death registration has been found for her but her name is inscribed on a tombstone in the Ripley cemetery with a death year of 1877 and, that is the last we hear about her.

James McTavish, Margaret Reavie and Ann Jane Reid

So, if Jane Reavie McNair came to Canada in 1852, and Margaret was born sometime around 1840 in Ontario, can these two Reavie women be related? Not sisters, but maybe cousins?

Looking at Canadian records for Jane Reavie did not yield any information on her parents. No ship information (in which she reportedly came with her parents), no marriage registration and although a death registration was found for 1901, her parents are not listed. In the 1861 census, she and Alexander can be found in Elzevir, Hastings with their first three children. Alex McNair (farmer, born Scotland, 38y), Jane (wife of above, born Scotland, age 34y), Neil (born Canada age 4y), Mary (born Canada, age 2y) and Jane (born Canada, age 1y). In that census and surrounding the young McNair family, are numerous Reavie’s. There is a family headed by Archibald Reavie (farmer, born Scotland, age 38y), Margaret (wife of above, born Scotland, age 34y), Margaret (born Canada, age 8y), Elizabeth (born Canada, age 4y), Mary J. (born Canada, age 2y). Also, a family headed by Neil Reavie (farmer, born Scotland, age 25y, single), Mary (born Scotland, age 60y, widow), Betsy (spinster but also a widow, born Scotland, age 35y), Margaret Barber (born Canada, age 6y), Elizabeth Barber (born Canada, age 4y), Mary A. Barber (born Canada, age 2y), Jane Reavie (born Scotland, age 65y), Angus Reavie (labourer, born Scotland, age 20y), Archibald Reavie (farmer, born Scotland, age 65y), Margaret Reavie (wife of above, born Scotland, age 65y) and Neil Reavie (labourer, born Canada, age 20y). What a find and yet, what does it tell me? Sometimes, looking at who is living close by our ancestors can yield the best clues! There are numerous potential parents for Jane listed – Archibald and Margaret? Widow Mary? But, the clues about where and when the children were born would help me narrow things down when looking at records in Scotland.

Hastings 1861 census - Reavie and McNair

Before turning to research in Scotland, I needed to narrow down the location. I did search for deaths for anyone with the last name Reavie in Ripley, Huron, Bruce, Ontario. I came across a death registration for Edward Reavie, born in Durham County, about 1842 who had died in Ripley in 1928. His father is listed as Edward Reavie and mother Mary McConnachie – both parents were born in Argyll, Scotland. Edward Jr., was born in September 1841 in Durham County. His burial was also in the Ripley Cemetery, and it is he who was married to Susan McNeil. From his marriage registration, I learned his parents were Edward and Jane. From this record, I had a location in Ontario of Durham County and I had a county in Scotland of Argyll. I also had a last name of McConnachie for their mother. I then opened up a search for a death in Michigan (based on the summer holidays described by my Aunt) for anyone whose parents were Edward Reavie and Mary Jane McConnachie. I then turned up a death for Jane Rutherford, who died August 26th, 1899 in St. Ignace, Michigan. Her parents were listed as Edward Reavie and Jane McConnachie. When she died, she was 69 years, 2 months and 12 days of age and she was born in Argyll, Scotland. The record also says that she had been married for 26 years and had delivered 8 children, 5 of which were still living. Find a Grave told me that Jane was buried in the Lakeside Cemetery and that she was born June 14th, 1830 and that her husband was Robert Rutherford. All great information that linked my Margaret to brother Edward and sister Jane. Their parents were Edward Reavie and Mary/Jane McConnachie who were from Argyll, Scotland. This gave me plenty of information to do a search on Scotland’s People.

RUT - Jane Reavie Rutherford death 1899 Michigan

A search on that site for a marriage record for Edward McIlreavie (including spelling variations) in Argyll, yielded two results – one for Edward marrying Jean McGeachy on December 14, 1826 in the parish of Killean (he from Killmory, she from Beachmore) and the other, for Edward marrying Jean McConnachie on May 1, 1828 in Killmory, Killean parish. The second one matches the names on the death records from Canada. Insert marriage.

REA - Edward McIlreavy and Jean McCoannchy marriage 1828

Baptisms for this couple were also searched and four were found including Mary in 1829, Jean on June 14, 1831, Peggy in 1833 and Peter in 1834. Other Reavie families having children in Killean at the same time included John and Jean Watson, Neil and Mary McEachin and Archibald and Lizzy McNaught, among others. Interesting, some of the baptisms to Edward and Jean, use a nickname for him of Iver. This, I have found to be a common nickname for Edward over time. Jean’s baptism date of June 14, 1831 matches up with the date of birth claimed on her tombstone and could have been a calculation error or a baptism a year after her birth. The location within Killean for Jean’s birth was Killmory. Interesting to note on the baptismal listing for Jean, the entry just before is for Archibald McIllreavy – lawful son of John and his wife Jean Watson. INSERT There were no other baptisms for Edward “Iver” and Jean after 1834. And, if Margaret and Edward were born in Ontario, Durham specifically in 1839 and 1841 respectively, they must have emigrated around 1835.

REA - Jean Reavie baptism 1831

While on Scotland’s People, I also searched for any baptism for a Jean/Jane Reavie in Argyll between 1825 and 1835. There were four – Janet to Archibald and Lizzy McNaught in 1831 in Killean, Jean to Iver and Jean McConnachie also in the same place and year, Jean to Neil and Mary McEachin in Killean in 1832 and finally, Jean to Donald and Margaret McKellar in 1831 but in Campbeltown. Flashing back to the 1861 census in Hastings County, Alexander and Jane McNair are residing beside Mary Reavie, age 60, a widow. Could Jane Reavie McNair be the daughter of Neil and Mary McEachin?

Since Jane did not come to Canada until 1855, I searched on FindmyPast for census records for the Reavie’s in Killean parish.  In 1841, I found a Mary McEacher (age 40y), Jean McIllravie (age 9y), Nile (age 7y), Catherine (age 5y), Agnes (age 5y), Angus (age 3y) and Betty (age 15y) residing at Beach, Killean, Argyll, Scotland. No Neil is listed and the village of Beach is also known as Bechmore, which is the location for Jean’s birth in 1832, according to the parish records. In the 1851 census, Jean is listed as a house servant in Mid-Muasdale, Killean. A search for other baptisms for Neil and Mary shows that they had Peggy in 1826, Neil in 1833, Kate in 1835 and Angus in 1838. These names are familiar based on the 1861 census. These pieces of information can logically be compiled into a theory – that Edward Reavie and Jean McConnachie are the parents of Jean Reavie Rutherford, Margaret Reavie McTavish and Edward Reavie. This family emigrated to Durham County in about 1835 and these three children made their way to Ripley, Huron, Bruce at some point. And, the Jean Reavie who married Alexander McNair was the daughter of Neil Reavie and Mary McEachin. Neil died some time before 1841 and the family emigrated to Hastings County, Ontario around 1855. Between 1861 and 1871, Alexander and Jane McNair moved to Ripley, Huron, Bruce for unknown reasons.

A search in the Durham County census in 1852 for a Reavie family, gave me two results. One for a John Reive born age 60y (1789) in Scotland, with a wife (Mrs.) also age 60y and born in Scotland and three children – John (age 35y), Janet (age 23y) and James (age 17y) all born in Scotland. The other is for Jean Reive, a widow aged 54y, born in Scotland. Children listed with her are Jane age 18y, born in Scotland, Peter age 16y, born in Scotland, Archibald age 14y, born in Ontario, Margaret age 12y, born in Ontario and Edward age 10y, born in Ontario. This family is three entries away from the family of Duncan and Christian McConnachie.

Durham 1851 census Reive

Looking further back, the 1842 census for Durham County, has a listing (improperly transcribed) for Job Reavie – this is for Ed Reavie. Location, number of children and arrival dates all line up with what is known. Further research on this family finds that eldest daughter Mary, married Duncan Cardis in 1850 and the family also moved to the Ripley area. She is buried in the Pine River Cemetery. Middle son Peter, remained single but is found living with his brother Archibald in St. Ignace, Michigan. Archibald married Elizabeth Currie in 1867, was residing in Ripley in 1871 and then moved to St. Ignace, Michigan where he died in 1915.

I then turned back to Scotland’s People and did a search for Edward Reavie parents. Given a marriage date of 1828, I searched for a baptism in Killean between 1780 and 1810. There was only one Edward or Iver baptized in this time, on August 21, 1798, in Muasdale, Killean. His parents are listed as Archibald McIllreavy and Margaret McNiven.

REA - Edward McIlreavie baptism Muasdale 1798

They were also parents to several other children, including a John born in 1792 but I could find no baptismal record for a Neil Reavie. And, as a result, I cannot prove that my great great grandmother Margaret Reavie McTavish was the cousin of Jean Reavie McNair. In fact, none of this Jane’s family moved to the Huron, Bruce area – only Jane. But, the area was clearly a draw for the McNair’s and I can only conclude that there was a familial tie between the Alexander McNair and the McTavish’s. I know his mother was Mary McTavish, perhaps she was a sister to my 3x great grandfather Duncan McTavish? I will keep searching to find the connection, as I know there is one just waiting to be found.

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