Forgotten tales

stories of my family

James Ross (1827-1892) – his early life

James Ross was born on 31 January 1827 in Kincardine, Ross and Cromarty, Scotland, the fifth child of James Ross and Catherine Urquhart. His father was a blacksmith and he had lots of siblings. I cannot find a census for 1831 but in 1841 when he was 14 years old he was living with his parents in Gledfield (the 1841 census says he was 12 years old and his older brother John was 14, but my other records indicate that in 1841 James was 14 (born 1827) and John 15 (born 1826).

In any case, James Ross, who was Gran’s grandfather, was born and grew up in the highlands of Scotland, until he was at least 14. Sometime between 1841 and 1851 he decided to leave Scotland and seek his fortune in England. He secured a position as a servant in Great Malvern, in Worcestershire, possibly through a fellow Scot, Mary Furmage, whose mother was a Jane Ross (so Mary Furmage may have been his cousin) and who came from Kilmuir, which is just down the road from Kincardine. Mary, who was some years older than James, was already working at the house in Great Malvern where he found work, Chatsworth House. The head of that house was a widow named Ann Warwick, a businesswoman who appeared to manage real estate (“proprietor of houses”).


1851 England census James Ross

Sometime between 1851 and 1855 James met and married Mary Marston, an English born girl who grew up in Wales, in Montgomeryshire. I have not been able to find any reference to this union in the marriage indexes. How and where they met is unknown, but it is possible that Mary also entered service at Chatsworth House in Great Malvern where she met James. They would have been forced to resign their positions in order to marry and they may well have moved to Wales where they lived with Mary’s parents. Their first child, Alice, was born in 1855 in Welshpool, which is quite close to Tregynon. James became a carpenter and joiner, a trade he took with him to Australia when they eventually migrated. Mary’s father was a also a carpenter and joiner and it seems likely that James learnt the trade from his father-in-law.

After Alice was born the young family moved to Birkenhead, near Liverpool, where they lived in a house with James’ brother John and his wife, as well as two of Mary’s younger brothers, Ambrose and Richard. Three sons were born to James and Mary during the ensuing years. The last of these was my great grandfather, William Ross, Gran’s father.


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