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The search for Margaret McQueen's trip to America


Margaret’s last brother was born in Burghead in 1833, at least the last one for whom we have birth records, and our search of the Ardclach and Burghead 1841 census does not yield any record of her family.

 We have zeroed in on the Barque Clio, arriving in New York City on June 11, 1836, with James, carpenter age 40, Margaret his wife, Margaret spinster age 18 and David and James ages 7 and 5. 

 The mother of James’ children was Elizabeth Mitchell, and we have concluded she must have died between 1833 and 1836.  Then I found a marriage of James McQueen shipwright of Burghead to Margaret Baxter, of Roseisle, which is a nearby village, on 12 April 1836.  I began a search to find out the following:  could the James and Margaret we see landing in New York on the Clio on 11 June have been married on 12 April and still have been in time to board the Clio?

 From the Edinburgh Scotsman, 19 Mar 1836:

Well, that won't help us, certainly 4 April would be too early, but that is Leith, not Cromarty where they would have boarded.

From the Scotsman, 9 April 1836:

Well, that’s not good!  To Newcastle!  What about New York?  And heading south, away from Cromarty!  

Then I was lucky enough to obtain a clipping from the Aberdeen Journal, 16 Mar 1836:



This is promising.  It looks to me as if Newcastle was a clerical mistake – New York, Newcastle, whatever...  And here we learn that it was expected that there be a 10-15 day duration between the date of leaving Leith to the date of leaving Cromarty.  Since we know the Clio cleared out of Leith on 6 April, running late, we would expect it to leave Cromarty between the 16th and the 21st

But since they were running late they must have tried to make up for lost time because, from the Inverness Courier, emailed to me by the reference librarian at the Inverness Library, dated 22 April 1836, which was a Friday:


This states that the Clio departed on April 15, 1836.  Of course, this does not prove that the James and Margaret aboard the Clio were the couple married in Burghead on 12 April, nor does it link them to our Margaret with any certainty, but it proves that the puzzle solution we are proposing COULD have happened.  So far it is not contradicted by any inconvenient realities that would make it impossible.

A cousin of mine has a book titled "Chapone on the Improvement of the Mind.  Dr. Gregory's Legacy to his Daughters.  Lady Pennington's Advice to her Absent Daughters, with an Additional Letter on the Management and Education of Infant Children."  London, J. F. Dove, 1827.  The book is inscribed on the inside cover, "From George Mitchell To Margaret McQueen, 14 April 1836." 

This could very well be a going-away gift, presented the day before departure.  Books were not common possessions, and this book, with advice suitable for a young girl facing a future in a distant land far from family, was a small size which could be tucked into her bags.  The fact that it was preserved well over a hundred years shows that Margaret valued it.  I think this is another bit of evidence that April 15, 1836, was a very special day in her life.

I also know of another clipping which I don’t have yet, from the Leith Commercial Lists, summarized as “from Leith, with 41 passengers to New York 6 Apr 1836."  Interesting that there were 41 boarding at Leith, and 74 altogether, meaning 33 boarded at Cromarty. 

I have searched for more information about the James and Margaret McQueen we see in the 1850 Brooklyn census, although this James is listed as a cartman, not a carpenter, and for a Presbyterian church in Brooklyn where they might have been members, but without success so far.