Coubrough/Cowbrough Project Update 12 December 1999

Greetings, Everyone:

It seems to be winter here in Canada already, and a long, long time since I last wrote. I have done some work on the family tree project over the summer. Unfortunately, we are no closer than ever to the "one original" Coubrough than ever, but I did meet some very interesting people along the way. I would like to welcome our newest members of "the project:" William Coubrough of Uruguay, and Rachel Posa, a New Zealander temporarily living in London, England.

Those of you who notice such things will have seen that I have a new e-mail address: . I also have a new web site at Right now, it mostly still has the stuff from my old site, but I am working on new things to put up, and hope to have it vastly improved early in the new year. Please come back and visit often. If you have information that you would like to put up on the site, or if you have a site you would like a link to, let me know. Most importantly, if you find errors in the information on the site, or something you don't like, please e-mail me so I can fix it.

One of the more important things on the new site is a brainwave Mary Westendorp (my 2nd cousin) and I cooked up between us: We are planning a tribal reunion of all the Coubroughs everywhere that we can convince to come and visit us here in Kingston, Ontario, Canada in August, 2001. We would love to meet you.

On another track, in August I had a lovely visit with John Coubrough and his charming wife, Bee. John is my fourth cousin, once removed, (he and my father share a great-grandfather) on our seemingly very sparse branch of the family shrub. John and his first cousin, Dave, are the only ones so far that I have been able to connect directly to my line. I grew up believing, along with the rest of my immediate branch, that all the Coubroughs in Canada were the descendants of my great-grandparents, Matthew and Elizabeth (Brown) Coubrough. (Grandpa Matt had three sisters, but, of course their children did not have the Coubrough name.) I have since discovered this to be total nonsense, but it does indicate how little interest they seem to have had in the rest of the tribe. John and Dave's grandparents, David and Mary Coubrough, moved to Montreal from Glasgow in 1906, but Matt and Liz either never knew or never cared because neither family seems to have contacted the other until I met John on the Internet in 1997. Matt and David were only second cousins, so perhaps this is an "excuse" for the lack of contact: I’d be hard put to locate—let alone contact—all my second cousins in an era of much better communication than Grandpa Matt had.

I still haven't proven any connection of our branch to anyone earlier than James (b abt 1750-1766) Coubrough and Jean Muir. At one time, I had thought that he might be the son of James Coubrough and Elizabeth Boyd, but I have unearthed some more data that seems to make it more likely that he was the son of a James Coubrough who was b. abt 1732, and who was in turn the son of Mathew Coubrough and Jonet Morison. Usually the first son of a marriage was named after his father's father, so I have assumed that James m. J. Muir was the son of another James, as that was what James and Jean called their first son. The second son, of course, was named after his mother's father, a third son would be named after his own father, and fourth son was generally named after his father's oldest brother. Any additional sons would be named after other members of the family, often alternating between the parents' brothers. In the case of James and Jean, however, the father and both grandfathers had the same name, so the second son was probably named after his father's oldest brother. I have so far found no record of a marriage of Mathew and Jonet's son James, but that doesn't really mean anything except that I haven't found it!

Without evidence to the contrary, I have assumed that men were not more than 60 when their youngest child was born, or less than 19 when they married, which is where I got the guestimate of 1750-1766 for James m. J. Muir. Also in the absence of evidence, there is the possibility that James m. J. Muir was the son (rather than the grandson) of Jonet Morison, but I think it unlikely as he would been about 78 years old in 1810 when his youngest child was born. It would explain, though, why they named their second son Malcom: Matthew C. and J. Morison seem to have had only two sons who survived past early childhood, the younger of whom was named Malcom. If Matthew m. Jean Muir was indeed the son of Jonet Morison, his only brother would have been Malcom. Jean Muir, b. abt 1764, was the youngest of seven children, none of whom were named Malcom. If anybody else has any information or any ideas on where else to look, I would love to hear them.

Mathew, b abt 1700 (married Jonet Morison in 1725), was the son of John Coubrough and Isobel Lyle, m. 1696 in Campsie. This John was probably born in Campsie parish sometime between 1644 and 1677, but I have not yet been able to confirm his parents. I suspect that he was the son of yet another John as that is the name he gave his first son, though he may also have been the son of either Malcom C. & Margaret Smyth or Matthow C. and Jonet Sheirer.

According to the birth record of his daughter Barbara, James, m. J. Muir, was a wright by trade. The record does not specify exactly what he did, but a wright was a skilled woodworker. For example, a millwright made the wooden gears for watermills, and a wainwright made wheels for wagons and carts, while a cartwright made the carts themselves. (Thanks to Una Fisher, of Rothesay, Bute, Scotland for this little tidbit.)

Those of you who have been following these irregular monologues of mine for a while will recall that much of the information we have to date is based on an old (1881) genealogy that we call the Ellrig Tree. According to that tree, the eldest child of John C and Helen Stevenson was one William Coubrough, baptised in December, 1684. Following the naming convention noted above, I have been looking for said John's father to be a William and could find no evidence of any such person. I recently found out why. William was not John and Helen's first son: he was the first son who lived. John and Helen had a son named John, who was baptised 3 February 1683, and died quite young. They had another son named John who was baptised in April, 1687, so I would think that the first one was no more than four years old when he died, though he was probably still alive when William was baptised in 1684. Otherwise, William would probably have been given the dead child's name. It seems to have been very important that the children be named in the correct order. Anyway, all this is to say that I should likely be looking for another John as the father of the one married to Helen, not William as I have been. On the same line, though, the Ellrig document also did not say that Helen and John also had a daughter, Margaret. That is:

John Couburgh m. Helen Stevenson, probably in Falkirk, Stirling, about 1682

John, bapt. 3 February 1683 d. before April 1687

William bapt. 12 December 1684 married Mary Moir abt 1717, probably in Falkirk.

John bapt. 21 April 1687

Margaret bapt. 25 August 1689

All of John and Helen's children seem to have been born in Falkirk parish, but they didn't all stick around there. For example, William and Mary Moir seem to have been married in Falkirk, and had their first three children there, but the fourth, another William, was baptised in 1723 at Campsie, and the last, James (married Elizabeth Boyd), was baptised in 1725 at Airth, Stirling. This younger William seems to be the one who married Agnes Wright, and was the father of the William who married Margaret Gourley.

James and Elizabeth Boyd don't seem to have lived long enough to see their three youngest children grow up. I found IGI index records showing three children living at Airth, Stirling, as relatives of one Alma Findlay, with no parents listed: William, b 1772; Henry, b 1774; and Thomas, b 1777. James and Elizabeth lived at Airth, and these names and ages exactly match their three youngest children.

This William, b. 1772, grew up and moved to Dundee, in Angus, where he married Catherine Wedderburn. He seems to have accumulated some wealth somewhere along the way. When his son, William Kay Coubrough, married Margaret Carstairs in 1855, he gave his father's occupation as "Ship owner." William Kay was likely no slouch himself, as he listed his own occupation as "merchant," and his usual residence as "Liverpool." Possibly it was on one of the family ships that young Thomas Coubrough and his new bride, Katherine Wylie, took passage to Uruguay when he went searching for work. Thomas was the son of the elder William's brother, Henry, b. 1774 (i.e., William Kay and Thomas were 1st cousins). On a recent "ego surf" of the Internet, I found that William Kay Coubrough was a founding member, in 1868, of the Manx Society which seems to have been a group of men who paid to have various sorts of antique Manx manuscripts privately published. I haven't been able to find out anything else on this angle, but am keeping an eye open.

Speaking of Coubroughs publishing books, there seems to have been one Archibald Coubrough who was a bookseller and stationer with a shop in Glasgow, which operated from about 1778-1803, though for part of that time it seems to have been run by a John Coubrough. I have been told that there is still a printing and stationery shop in Glasgow which still goes at least partly by the name Coubrough and is still run by descendants of the original owner. 

I have found some other small bits about branches which currently seem to be unconnected. With luck, they won't stay that way. I would be most interested to hear any other ideas or information that anyone has on any of these lines. The first bit has to do with some folks who I am sure are connected to each other, but I am not sure how. We have to travel all over the British Empire to find them.

The first couple is Matthew Coubrough and Margaret Duncan. Matthew seems to have been born in Alloa, Clackmannan, in about 1823. I could find no baptism record for him there, but that is the birthplace he gave when he registered the birth of his son, John, in 1855. He also said that he and Margaret, daughter of Elizabeth Sinclair and Alexander Duncan, were married in Barrhead in 1851, but the IGI says they were married in Neilston Parish. Is Barrhead in Neilston Parish? Son John's birth registration record also says that he had three older sisters, all of whom were living at the time of John's birth. I have been able to find the name of only the oldest of these girls when I found her marriage record. After the birth of John, Matthew and Margaret vanished into thin air, and I could find no more record of them in Scotland.

Some time later, I accidentally happened across them in when I found an entry for their daughter Catherine in the Australian birth index. Catherine was born in Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia, in 1858, so they must have moved there sometime between when John was born in 1855, and Catherine in 1858. I could find no record of the names of the second two daughters, so I don't know if they grew up or if they died young. Matthew and Margaret eventually had 4 children in Australia: Catherine, abt 1858; James, abt 1862; William Alexandre, abt 1865; and Andrew Duncan, abt 1868. Little William Alexandre died in 1868, aged 4 years. The Australian record index only gives the registration year for an event, not the month or date, so possibly William had been born late in 1864, rather than 1865.

I found the marriage records for two of Matthew and Margaret's daughters who both seem to have married the same man! Thomas Henry Bucknell married Catherine Conbrough, daughter of Matthew and Margaret Conbrough, in 1876, probably in Fitzroy. They had one daughter, Sarah Bucknell, in 1877, but Catherine died in 1878, leaving a husband and an infant daughter. Said husband seems to have married his wife's older sister, Elizabeth Sinclair Coubrough, in 1880.

I think that one of Matthew and Margaret's sons must have been the father of the two ANZAC soldiers I found in the records of the Australian War Memorial at Canberra. Victor Thomas John, b abt 1890, and Alexander, b abt 1896, were both at Gallipoli in 1915. Alexander seems to have been wounded badly enough that they sent him home to Australia in December of 1915. Usually only men who were missing important body parts were sent home. Everyone else was sent back to work after some time in a hospital or whatever. Victor was one of those who was shipped to the Somme in the spring of 1916. He never saw Australia again: He was 26 years old when they buried him in France. Alexander died in Launceston, Tasmania, in 1972, but I was not able to find out if he had any family. Both of these young men gave their birth place as Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia, though one gave his mother as his next of kin, and the other gave his father, one R.E. Coubrough. I have not been able to find out if Victor and Alexander were brothers or cousins. Today, though, Fitzroy is a part of the city of Melbourne, a fact which led me to believe that these two were connected to two other lines I found in Australia.

One of the other lines was very short: One William Coubrough, clerk, age 33, travelled to Melbourne from Liverpool in 1869. That was all I found out about him, and I have no idea whether he stayed in Australia or whether he went back. Nor do I know if he was one of the English Coubroughs or one directly from Scotland.

The other line was a bit longer. In the Scots birth records, I found one James Coubrough, registered at Glasgow on August 9, 1866. He was the son of John Coubrough and Margaret Harrold (or Herald or Herrald or Harold). These folks seemed to have come out of nowhere, until I found the Australian index mentioned above. John and Margaret seem to have been married in Melbourne, Australia in 1857. Possibly John was a cousin or brother of Matthew. Margaret and John had 4 children in Australia before returning to Scotland: Thomas, abt 1858; Kestrina, abt 1860; Johanna, abt 1862; and Mary Ann, abt 1864. Tragedy struck the family in 1865 when seven-year-old Thomas died. It was perhaps around this time that the family decided to go back to Scotland. James was born at sea on July 8, 1866, and the ships master reported his birth to the registrar at Glasgow on August 9. John and Margaret had 3 more children in Scotland: John, 1868; Catherine, 1870; and Donald, 1873. I have no connections for any of these children, but I would love to hear more if any of them belong to you.

Now to a different corner of the Empire: South Africa. In Johannesburg, Grant Andrews Office Furniture operates out of a converted house, "which is located on the ridge overlooking Jan Smuts Avenue. The property has a fascinating history. Stoneleigh, the first house to be built on it, was designed by architect Robert Howden in 1918 for owner Mr. James Coubrough who acquired the land for £700. OK Bazaars co-founder Len Miller bought the site from Coubrough in 1933 for £3250 and demolished Stoneleigh to re-build his own home in the art deco style characteristic of the '30s." (From the Grant Andrews web site.) I have not been able to connect this Coubrough to any of the branches I have so far, but Donald Coubrough of Portage la Prairie says that an uncle of his seems to have gone to South Africa some time between 1898 and 1902. By the families oral tradition, this uncle became a wealthy man, which would seem to fit with the idea of a man who could afford to hire an architect to design his house. Any help here would be welcome if anybody knows anything else about this line.

In one of my web travels, I came across a cemetery record of a Jessie S. Coubrough who is buried in the Cascade Mountain cemetery, in Montana, USA. For you folks of the Ellrig line, she was one of yours. She was the wife of one Beaumont M. Burrell, whom she married in 1889 in Dennistoun District, Glasgow. They probably left for the United States soon after as Jessie died April 16, 1892 in Montana. I didn't find any record of any children, but Jessie was Janet Steven Coubrough, daughter of William Coubrough and Jane Bryson. William was the youngest son of William Coubrough, Surgeon, & Margaret Aitken. William who married J. Bryson seems to have been a printer by trade, at least according to their 1859 marriage record. They seem to have moved to New Zealand some time between the birth of their second daughter, Margaret Aitken Coubrough, in 1862, and the birth of their son, William, in abt 1869. Jane and William disappeared from the Scots records after Margaret's birth, but they surfaced again in the 1881 census where Jane listed herself as both wife and head of the house. She seems to have had most of her children with her, but there is an interesting wrinkle: Jane gave the birthplace of her 7-year-old daughter, Emma Jane, as being at sea, near St. Helena, and the birthplace of her 2-years-old daughter, Helen D., as Falkirk. (I think she must be the Helen Dawson Coubrough, b 1878, who I found in the GRO(S) index). Given this birth order of the two girls, it would seem that Emma Jane was born on the way home to Scotland. Helen's age would also imply that her father had been around sometime in the last three years, at least. My question is: Why did Jane list herself as both wife and head of the house? Perhaps she was separated or divorced from William and that was why she had all the kids and there seemed to be no sign of William? Or maybe she had brought the younger ones back to go to school, temporarily leaving her husband behind? The fact that Helen was born in Scotland seems to indicate that William had been back in Scotland at some time in the recent past, or else her mother gave the husband's name for the child instead of the real father? Does anybody know for sure?

In any case, Jane and William's children were: Jessie, b 1861, Falkirk; Margaret, b 1862 Falkirk;. William b abt 1869, West Port, N Z; Archibald, b abt 1871, Auckland, N Z; Emma Jane, b abt 1874, at sea near St. Helena; and Helen Dawson, b 1878, in Falkirk. According to the Ellrig genealogy, they also had one other child, about whom I have not found anything—not even whether it was a girl or a boy. Does anyone else know?

One last item, still with the Ellrig line: The David Coubrough, son of John Coubrough and Christian Dun, who married Janet Moyes in December, 1854 in Glasgow is the same David who married Mary Ann Brazier in November 1869, also in Glasgow. David seems to have been hard on wives: When Janet died, she left David a young widower with 5 young children. His marriage to Mary Ann Brazier lasted less than a year as she died in October, 1870—two months after their only child, Malcom, was born, and a month before they would have had their first wedding anniversary. Poor David was now a widower with 6 children. He doesn't seem to have married again. By 1870, his oldest daughters would have been 15 and 13—old enough to care for the home and the younger children.

I guess that about covers pretty much everything I have dug up over the past few months, though, as usual, there seems to be just as many questions as there ever was. Every answer seems to lead to more questions. But I guess that is what keeps those of us with no lives of our own coming back for more. Happy New Year, Everyone. I look forward to hearing from all of you whenever you have time.


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