My Research  

First Steps

Where to start, which end of the string? The advice I had been given suggested that I should start with Parish Records but which line to follow?

Looking at the information I had received two things intrigued me, one of each side of the family, so lacking any discipline I decided to try and satisfy my curiosity.

On the Maternal Side what on earth is a Borrow Officer, John McRinkine's employment?

  To solve this problem I looked up the OPR index for births in Kirkcudbrightshire in 1778 to find the record for Adam Rankine. From this I found that the entry was in the Kells Parish Records #868/1 Frame 160, so it was off to the cabinets, extract the correct reel and stick it in a reader. Scrolling through soon found the entry on frame 160.
John McRankin, Borrow Officer of New Galloway & his wife Annie Aitken had a son Baptized by Mr. Gilespie named Adam
Searching the internet produced no explanation of a Borrow Officer. Asking the other volunteers in the centre drew a blank, even after they had looked at the entry. Then one of the volunteers suggested trying to view the entry on another machine. This machine has a huge flat screen and when the roll was transferred to it the mystery was solved. The entry actual read :
John McRankin, Excise Officer of New Galloway & his wife Annie Aitken had a son Baptized by Mr. Gilespie named Adam
I know you will find it difficult believe that we could have mistaken one for the other, but these records can be very difficult to read and sometimes you read what you expect to read, so be careful, if you're not sure get somebody to check what you see BUT don't suggest anything to them, in this case I should have said 'What is his occupation? or What does that say?' not 'Is that Borrow Officer?'

On the Paternal Side what was a lass from Liverpool doing marrying a Scots boy in Edinburgh in 1843?

  This time I couldn't look up her birth as we don't have the English OPRs. Instead I first looked up the marriage of William Mackay and Mary Ann Orrell in South Leith on 18th July 1843.
William Mackay Coachman residing at No 21 Bernard Street, Leith, parish of South Leith. and Mary Ann Orrell residing at Granton, Parish of Cramond, daughter of James Orrell, Mason, there, were three times proclaimed in Order to Marriage in the parish church of South Leith on the 16th July 1843 & no Objections offered, and were married at Granton on the 18th July by the Rev. James Fairburn, Newhaven
Not much help, the only new fact is that her father was a mason.
So I had a look at the 1841 census so see if I could find the Orrells. And there on Page 12 of ED 3 of the Cramond #679 census of 1841 we find
Granton Pier Houses   1 James Orrell 50   Contractor for Masonary   E
      James do 18   Mason Apr.   E
      Thomas Orrell 3     Y  
      Elizabeth do   25     E
      Mary A. do   16     E
      Margaret do   14     E
do.   1 Thomas Orrell 30   Dock Contractor   E
      Ann do   25     E
      John do 3 months     Y  
      Mary Sheppard   15     E
      Catherine Jackson   8     E
Actually this entry goes over onto the next page but we have two Orrell families, both from England.
One father is a Dock Contractor, the other a Contractor for Masonry ( the spelling in the table is taken from the census entry). In addition is there any significance in the name of their abode, Granton Pier Houses, or the presence of two young, apparently unrelated girls in Thomas Orrell's household, could they be servants? If so this would suggest that Thomas has a higher position than one would suppose from the address, which contained numerous families. They other fact that helps us is James's son Thomas's age - 3 years. As his birth place is in Scotland then James arrived in Scotland at the latest 1838.

Going onto the Internet and typing Orrell Granton 1838 into Google produces 179 results and gives us the probable answer to the original question.

On 21st April 1837 King William IV gave royal approval to The Granton Bill, allowing the Duke of Buccleuch to make and maintain a pier at Granton. The contract was awarded to Messrs. John Orrell & Co., Liverpool.

I don't think that it's too much of a stretch to suppose that the James and Thomas living in Cramond, were both related to the main contractor and moved north to build Granton Pier. Indeed when John Orrell commenced further works in Burntisland, Fife, Thomas moved there.

Subsequent investigation showed that James had retired by 1851 and went to live his daughters Elizabeth and Margaret who had returned to Lancashire.

I haven't proved a relationship between James, Thomas and John, so they don't appear anywhere in my tree . . . yet!!

So my first two questions were answered and I got a glimpse into the fascinating world of my ancestors.