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Elsie Cameron 1860-1932



The eldest daughter of James and Elspet Cameron was Elsie.  Just so as to avoid any possible confusion, she too was often referred to as Elspet!   Elsie and Elspet appear to have been largely interchangeable at that time, as Jack and John or Rob and Bob would have been until the last 20-30 years.


Elsie is of particular significance, as having been My Mum's Grandmother, she is the earliest person about who I could get first hand information, not just from records.  Mum was 10 when her Grandmother died  and as Elsie by then lived in the bothy adjoining Chapelton, she was very much part of the family. As the baby of the family Mum adored her Granny and had many memories.


The 1871 census shows the 10 year old Elsie at home with Mum and Dad as one would expect.  However by  1881 she is no longer there, now aged 20 she presumably had to go and earn a living, certainly until such time as she married.  In the 1881 census there is an Elsie Cameron living as a domestic servant on a farm in Urquhart Parish. The farmer there was a  Mr. James McPherson. This Elsie Cameron is of the correct age and is recorded as having been born in Duthil Parish. There was in fact only one E. Cameron born in Duthil  from January 1859 to December  1861.  So whilst there is no  concrete proof , it is highly likely that this is the correct Elsie Cameron.

By the time of the 1891 Census Elsie has moved again. This time to the house of her Uncle Gregor (Grigor) Cameron at Chapelton in Deshar.  By 1891 at the age of 30 she has also acquired a baby son John who was born in 1889. Unfortunately she had not acquired a husband.

Official naming Peter McGregor as John's Father.

John Cameron 1894-1948

1901 Census, Deshar.

From the number of children whose birth record has Illegitimate scrawled across it, sex and pregnancy outside of marriage may have been frowned upon in those days but clearly a lot of it went on, as it always has and always will do.  


Despite this for an unmarried girl, having a baby was about the worst thing she could do from the view of society at Lange and she would have had a very hard time. Life will not have been easy for Elsie.


Having said that, Elsie  must have been up to the challenge as she lived at Chapelton for a further 43 years though she never married. By all accounts unless you were family she was a formidable lady.

The 1890’s were not a good time to have an illegitimate child,  especially if the child’s father was not known and there was nobody with which to share society’s disapprobation. Elsie must have had strong feelings on this issue,  as in a step that was highly unusual at the time she pursued a paternity suit in the Sheriff’s  Court in Inverness. The Father was Peter McGregor from Balnacruie Farm, just along the road from Chapelton. Whether or not he admitted to having had a small part in the matter is not recorded.  The Court  however found in Elsie’s favour and whilst still illegitimate Peter McGregor was recognised as John’s father. There is an entry in the Index of Corrections to birth certificates.

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