The Homeplace – Kirkbride
Kirkbride, Keir – a farm in Dumfries and Galloway. Keir was a parish in Dumfriesshire for both civil and religious purposes from the seventeenth century until 1975. The hamlet of the same name, holds the parish church. The church itself is in the gothic style and was built from 1813-1815. It features a pencil steeple and battlemented tower. The other notable building in the village is the mill, built in 1771.Kirkpatrick MacMillan, inventor of the bicycle, was born, lived, and was buried in Keir. The Gazeteer of 1868, notes Keir as being 12 m nnw of Dumfries, ac 7890, Pop 849. Keir Hill rises to from 800 t0 900 feet above the sea. Its inhabitants are mostly engaged in agriculture, except those employed at Barjarg lime tjuarry [quarry]. Keir Mill was the site of the invention of the first bicycle with pedals. Kirkpatrick MacMillan was born in 1812, the son of a blacksmith.
He held a variety of postions as a young man, before becoming a blacksmith himself, in 1824, and eventually returning to work with his father at Coathill Smiddy at Keir Mill. He pulled teeth for both horses and humans and was a popular fiddle-player at weddings. Kirkpatrick MacMillan died in 1878 and was buried in the Kirk yard in Keir, where he is remembered by a plaque on the Smiddy which reads ‘He builded better than he knew.’
Kathy McCubbing Hopkins writes,
My McCubbing family can be traced back to the late 17th century in Keir, Dumfriesshire, where they lived for centuries, and were tenant farmers at Kirkbride Farm. McCubbin families have lived in Dumfriesshire for centuries with the earliest record, according to The Surnames of Scotland by George F Black, being that of Martin MCubyn or MCubine who was a tenant in the mill of Dalfubill in 1376. Dalfibble is north-east of Amisfield.
There are only 5 branches of McCubbin families which can be identified in this sparsely-populated locality in the 18th century and it seems likely that they are all related, and that there is a link with Alexander McCubbin, the covenanter martyr, who reputedly came from nearby Glencairn, and was hung without trial in 1685, in Irongray, because of his beliefs. Certainly generations of the family have grown up to believe that he was an ancestor.
John McCubbin(g) was born c1745. He married Margaret TAIT, 1775 in Keir, Dumfries. He died in 1805 in Kirkbride, Dumfries. So far, records show that the couple only had one son, Andrew, born 1776 in Keir. He was a farmer and married Agnes Black. They had five sons and one daughter. Near the age of 41, Andrews wife Agnes died, possibly with childbirth her last child. Andrew later married to Hellen Henderson and they had a son, Philip in 1822. Andrew lived his entire life at Kirkbride Farm and he, his wives, and his parents are buried in the old churchyard at Keir.
Billy McCubbin, a descendant of Andrew and Hellen, who now lives in Ayrshire, still tends these family graves.
Andrew McCubbin and Agnes Blacks descendants continued to live at Kirkbride, others spanned out through Dumfriesshire, to live in places with the charming Scottish names of ; Glenmidge, Tynron, Glencairn, Dunscore, Auchenage, Penpont, Willowgrove, Lochmaben, Tinwald, Kirkmahoe.
Further afield, they went to the parishes of Kirkcubright, Urr, Wigtownshire, Ayrshire, and then on to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Liverpool. Some young McCubbin lads went to Australia. One went to Canada.
1. John, being the eldest son of Andrew MCubbin and Agnes Black, took over Kirkbride Farm when his father died, and, like his father spent his whole life farming there. The farm was a substantial enterprise, between 22 and 35 acres, and when he died Johns estate was valued at £405 15s 0d a substantial amount in 1877. He married Annie Paterson in 1827 and they had 9 children between 1827 and 1846. Some of their children were:
Mary (1829-1857) Mary worked as a dairymaid at Twomerkland, Glencairn before she married Alexander Stobo in 1855.
John (1835-1886) emigrated to Australia in 1855 and married his cousin Agnes (1846-1930) there. The story of his life and that of his cousin John (1833-1877) and his uncle James (1810-1888) who emigrated to Australia (and their descendants) is told separately.
Marion (1844-1924) Marion worked as a dairymaid at Fleughlarg, Glencairn before she married John Wilson in 1864. Their son (William Andrew McCubbin Wilson, 1882-1969) was awarded the British Empire Medal in the coronation honours of 1953. It was in his book Tynron, Dumfriesshire from the Mists of Antiquity and Verse, where I learnt of our ancestors belief that they were related to the martyred covenanter Alexander McCubbin:
I was born at Ingleston in the parish of Glencairn, near to the spot where five covenanters were shot on 29th April 1685 tragedy for which cold-blooded cruelty was unparalleled in Covenanting history. Also, one of my great-grandfathers, Alexander MCubine, was captured by Grierson of Lag, executed, and buried near Irongray Church on 3 March 1685. Ever since earliest childhood, I have listened to traditions of those saintly, heroic, liberty-loving men.
Andrew(c.1846-1923) Andrew farmed Auchenage and Huntfield Farms in Keir. He married Janet Hiddleston in 1877 and they had 6 children. One of their descendants is Leslie McCubbin, a 3rd cousin who I met whilst researching the familys history lives in Dunscore, Dumfriesshire with his wife, in the heart of the countryside where his family have lived for generations.
Leslies father, Philip Andrew McCubbin (1900-1991), was a committed member of the Free Church at Dunscore, as had been his own father, Andrew (c.1846-1923), a respected member of the community. Leslie McCubbin reports that his grandfather, Andrew, was a staunch member of the church and walked several miles, several times a day, on Sundays to attend services. He never gambled or drank, in accordance with his beliefs. His obituary noted, His death removes from Keir parish, where all his life was spent, one highly respected for his integrity of character and kindly disposition.
2. Joseph, the second son of Andrew McCubbin and Agnes Black, was born 1806 and died at Keir, age 15.
3. William, the third son of Andrew McCubbin and Agnes Black, was born Keir, 1803. He married Jane Stitt (McMath). He worked as a farmer, lived his life near the homeplace and is buried at Keir Mill. They had eleven children. Their first son, John, born Morton, Dumfries, 1833, went to Australia. He died there at Yarrow Creek, 1877, in Coborra, NSW. William and Janes youngest son, Joseph, born 1857, married Janet Rorrison, became a Commercial Traveller and moved to Edinburgh. One of his sons, John A Rorrison McCubbing became a Dental Surgeon. John Smith McCubbing, who has been most helpful in compiling his grandfathers family tree, is descended from second son, Frederick William McCubbing, born 1894, Edinburgh. The majority of this family settled in Edinburgh.
4. James, the fourth son of Andrew McCubbin and Agnes Black, born 1810 in Kirkbride went to Australia, where he became a successful business man and married Christina MacIntyre there.
5. Andrew, the fifth son of Andrew McCubbin and Agnes Black, was also born at Kirkbride Farm in Keir. He married Jane Shennan, 1829 and between 1830 and 1842 they had children, Andrew, Anne, David and Joseph. The family lived and worked at the farm in Keir until the 1860s. Although Andrew was the fifth son, he seemed to have had some of the land in his own tenancy, being described on the census of 1851 as a farmer of 20 acres, but this reduced to 12 acres by 1861. Jane died 1871 and Andrew remarried Martha Whan, 1875 and they had two children, James Whan McCubbin and Matthew McCubbin. By 1882 they had moved to Harbour Street, Creetown in Kirkcudbrightshire. They stayed there for the rest of Andrews life and he worked as a driver/carter.
Andrew, the eldest son of Andrew McCubbin and Jane Shennan, had 6 children with Annie Mundell. By 1883 he had become a farm overseer and by 1891 a (tenant) farmer in his own right.
Between 1881 and 1891 he acquired Spedlins Farm, Lochmaben where he and his wife lived for the rest of their lives. Their son, William, took over the farm when Andrew died.
Andrews son William was probably not a retiring sort of person: The Dumfries and Galloway Standard in 1897 reported, under the title Riotous Conduct that: Yesterday in Lockerbie Police Court, Provost Henderson imposed a fine of £1 on Wm McCubbin, farmer, Spedlins, Lochmaben for riotous conduct and refusing to quit the Kings Arms Hotel, Lockerbie on Thursday.
David, the second son of Andrew McCubbin and Jane Shennan, was born 1837, in Keir. David, like the rest of the McCubbins worked as a farm servant. In 1851 he worked at Woodhead Farm (where his younger brother Joseph would later work) when it was tenanted by John McKinnell. David married to Jane Carruthers in 1857, he gave his usual address as Island Ady, County Mayo, Ireland and their first child James was born there in 1858. Their daughter Sarah was born in 1859 in Kirkmahoe, before her father died of typhus fever when he was only 21.
Jane remarried in 1862 to Ebenezer Neilson and confusion prevailed down the generations for descendants of David and Janes son James (in Liverpool). They had taken the name Neilson, but the McCubbing name popped up from time to time which led to all sorts of speculation until 2005 when descendant Jackie Hayes contacted the McCubbin one-name project and the matter was finally researched and explained, and the family learnt that they really didnt have any skeletons in the cupboard!
Joseph, the youngest son of Andrew McCubbin and Jane Shennan, born c1841, married Margaret Armstrong. Together, the couple raised two sons, William Armstrong and Andrew and two daughters, Jane and Margaret. Kathy McCubbing Hopkins, who has done extensive on this project, is descended from this line. William grew up in a rural environment, both of his parents being farmworkers. They seem to have lived in a number of farms: at Aiket in Ruthwell, at nearby Clarencefield, in Little Firthhead Cottage, near Dalbeattie and at Hangingshaw Cottage in Applegarth. It is clear that the family were of limited means, Joseph aspired to own his own farm but faced financial difficulties and eventual bankruptcy (see later). By this time Joseph appears to be known as MCubbing, rather than McCubbin.
Their son William served his apprenticeship in blacksmithing at Cargenbridge, Troqueer, Kirkcudbrightshire. William married Agnes Hoatson Callender and started their married life in Kirkcudbrightshire, likely near Agnes family in Auchencairn. Kathy relates: For years my father and uncles spent holidays at Auchencairn where the family lived on Main Street, and visited relatives at nearby Seaside Farm on the coast. The couple later settled in Boness, a thriving industrial town at the time. Their children and grandchildren were raised there.
Kathy writes, Andrew, Williams brother emigrated to Port Colborne, Welland County, Ontario. Andrew had a son George who wrote to my father George in the 1950s. Dad kept that letter for the whole of his life and wondered what had become of his uncle Andrew and his family in Canada.” Further research by Kathy: “I have confirmed that my great Uncle Andrew (1887-1960) Williams brother – married (Margaret Linn Graham 1888-1946) in 1913 at the Village of Grimsby in the County of Lincoln, Ontario, Canada. He was a grocer and she a dressmaker. They are buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Welland, Ontario with their son George Philip McCubbin (1913-1958) (who my father was named for) and his wife Yolanda A McC (1919-1983).”
6. Philip, son of Andrew and second wife Hellen Henderson, born 1822, in Kirkbride, married Mary McKie. Philip was a Farmer. The couple had nine children between 1856 and 1872. Their first five children died young. The remaining children, William, Mary, David and Andrew, lived long lives near their homeplace.
Occupations & Accomplishments
Farming was, and still is, at the heart of some of those who continue to live in the homeplace area. Early census records find the McCubbins working as Farmers, Ploughmen, and Ag Labs. There were good times and bad times in the farming life, as is everywhere in the world. Farmers looked forward to the yearly fair – the Rood fair held in Dumfries. Buying and selling horses on the Whitesands was always the biggest part of the Rood Fair.
In a letter to his son John, in Australia, John senior wrote February 1859 from Kirkbride –
We caught a two year old filly at the Rad [Rod] fair and we have got a new cart for her, and your brother Andrew is going to drive her but he is not begun yet as the weather is but coorse yet [coorse being a Scottish term meaning ‘rough]
The hard part of farming was trying to make a go of it. In 1886, Joseph McCubbing appeared before the court and declared bankruptcy. He had been trying to buy a farm on his own and ran into difficulties. The Sheriff, who seemed to have a heart when Joseph was asked to give up even the shillings in his pocket, remarked
That seems rather hard. Besides, how is a man to subsist if you do not leave him a few shillings for his wife and family?
Industrious women who werent required on the farm, found positions as Housekeepers, Domestic Servants, Cooks, Grocers. One was a Hawker of Baskets. Males moved into other areas – one became a Gamekeeper, another a Shoemaker in Penpont, others – a General Merchant, Farm Overseer, Plumbers Apprentice, Commercial Traveller, Chief Engineer Officer in the Navy, an Innkeeper and Publican. In Liverpool, McCubbins were Marine Firemen. In Edinburgh, a McCubbing became a Dental Surgeon.
An exceptionally industrious person was William Andrew McCubbin Wilson, born 1882 to John Wilson and Marion McCubbin. He was awarded a British Empire Medal in Coronation Honours. He wrote “Tynron, Dumfriesshire, The Mists of Antiquity and Verse”, in 1957. In an early census we find him as an apprentice merchant. A year before he died, he wrote a letter to a family relative in 1968, and relates,
I will be 86 come August, considering my age, I am thankful to say I keep very well, and very well looked after. It is a grand job, nothing to do, sitting at a good fire and waited on hand and foot. Yes the evening of my days are a bed of roses. I have given up all my public duties after over 61 years with the Post Office. My niece-housekeeper took it over. As Parish Registrar I gave it up after 42 years.
He had been asked about some mementoes in his possession, and replied,
Regarding those old Tea Cups I must tell you their history. But I cannot part with one, they cannot be separated. My great Grandfather bought them for the Christening tea party of my Grandfather John McCubbin born at Kirkbride Keir in the year 1801, died at Kirkbride 1877. The cups were passed then to my Aunt Agnes who lived in the Glen of Lag. She died there in 1896. Then Aunt Margaret received them. When I got married July 1910, she gave them to me.
Apparently William willed the cups to the Dumfries Burgh Museum.
John McCubbin was recorded in “Coonabarabran, as it was in the beginning”. (PP65-66)
“Alfred Croxon sold his Castlereagh Inn to John and William Kerr. They were brothers, [and cousins of John McCubbin] natives of Dumfriesshire, Scotland. Both were young, single men and blacksmiths by trade. Like so many others, they had left their families and emigrated to Australia in the hope of finding a better life. William ran the blacksmith’s forge which, by now, had become a feature of most inns. He also owned a bullock team in conjunction with John McCubbin. The McCubbins were cousins of the Kerrs. Mrs McCubbin acted as a housekeeper for John at the Inn.”
p87 “During the 10 years of the 1870’s, the hotel business continued to thrive. They were still very primitive structures but could provide a meal and a clean bed for weary travellers.”
There were two licensed hotels in town at the beginning of the 70’s, Kerr’s Castlereagh Inn and the Court House Hotel run by Anna Maria Nelson. There were several others in close proximity: …including McCubbin’s Box Ridge Hotel. [apparently Box Ridge was a farm as well It became quite a going concern, with very large stock yards close by]. He was an Innkeeper of Red Heifer/Red Cow at Warana Creek.” (Coonambie 1855-1955″ Centenary, Ed Jack Stephens, Cumberland Newspapers Ltd) Was also the Postmaster and Newspaper Agent at Coolah, NSW (took over from Uncle James). In 1862, in Coolah, he married his cousin Agnes MCCUBBIN, daughter of James MCCUBBIN and Christina MACINTYRE. He died 1886 in Coonabarabran, NSW, at age 50.
The following letter of 1859, was to John in Australia, from his father in Keir:
JOSEPH MCCUBBING – King’s Commendation for Brave Conduct. Son of James and Marjory McCubbing; husband of Eleanor Margaret McCubbing, of South Shields, Co. Durham, born in 1894 in Durham, Sunderland, Nationality: United Kingdom; Rank: Chief Engineer Officer; Regiment: Merchant Navy, Date of Death: 26/02/1944, age 49, Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead; Grave/Memorial Reference: Panel 97. Cemetery: TOWER HILL MEMORIAL.
Facts of Interest
Alexander, the Covenanter
There is not much question about the relationship of Alexander MCubine, Covenanter to the McCubbins of Keir. It has been mentioned by several descendants.
William McCubbin Wilson wrote the following in a letter to a family relative in 1968:
A Familys Loss
In memory of the children of Philip McCubbin and his wife Mary McKie of Kirkbride, Keir
Before the days of modern medicine, there were tragic tales of whole families (or part of), dying of contagious diseases, such as Scarlet Fever, Typhoid, Cholera, Tuberculosis. Philip and Mary had six children. Mary, 6, Helen, 4, and Andrew, 2, died of Scarlet Fever within a week. Janet, 10, of Typhoid Fever. Prior to that, a new born died at 8 days old.
Letters and Treasures
Leslie McCubbin: (of the memorabilia he continues to share with the McCubbin Family History Association)
“…hunting through all my photos and other things I keep upstairs but still have two drawers to go through downstairs so expect to find a few more things on my hunt.
Gary Kelly: (of the letter of 1859 to John in Australia) My mother was named after her grandmother Christina Petrie (nee McCubbin), so as name sake she was given the letter from John McCubbin. At that time it held a lot of sentimental attachments. My mother kept the letter in her book and later gave it to my sister, I then had my sister copy it and restore the letter away as it is getting quite fragile.
Peter Wells: Whilst sifting through the papers of an Aunt who died in 2004 I found a letter to my Aunt from a relative, named W A Wilson, dated 1968 recording some family history.”
Peter’s sister, Helen Robinson, writes, Jan 2, 2006: My brother forwarded your email to me. I attach scanned copies of the letter. My aunt to whom the letter was written was Mary Ainsley, eldest daughter of Helen Ainsley, nee McCulloch.
Lisa Josey: “The Shell Pendant we have was given to John by his mother. Apparently his mother, Annie McCubbin (nee Paterson) picked two shells up on a beach after she saw him and his cousin off on the ship to Australia. She had the shells set with gold and attached them to a fob watch and sent them to her son and nephew. The gold on the shell that we have is engraved with a date (185_?) The pendant is shown in CUB Report 2007.
Thank you all for virtually sharing your family heirlooms.
Descendants: J Hayes, John S McCubbing, Lisa Josey, Ian Carruthers, Ian Stobo, Leslie McCubbin, Billy McCubbin, Michael Hjorjshok, Peter Wells, Helen Robinson
Kathy McCubbing Hopkins: Chairperson McCubbin Family History Association (McCFHA), Co-ordinator for Dumfries
Penny McColm, Co-founder of McCFHA, Co-ordinator for Australia and New Zealand – searched and documented sources.
In collaboration with Lorna McCubbin, Founder of McCFHA