Is John Wimburn Laurie the same person as James Wimburn Laurie?

0 votes

Several books that I have read mention Col. James Wimburn Laurie of Halifax, Nova Scotia as being instrumental in housing and finding homes for the early transports of British Home Children arriving with Louisa Birt from the Liverpool Sheltering Home. I cannot find any biographical information about him. I can find reams of information about John Wimburn Laurie. He lived in Halifax at the right time, had political connections and appeared to be fairly wealthy. Can anyone tell me if they are the same person?

WikiTree profile: John Laurie
in Genealogy Help by David Carlson G2G5 (5.4k points)
I'd be inclined to think they were brothers, just from the names.

Its a good question.  One of the Library and Archives Canada pages refers to him as Colonel JWC Laurie, which does sound like John. Its possible James is a typo on that page, but I haven't examined the period sources. 

If he is consistently referred to as James, then its more likely that they were two different men with a similar name - it wasn't uncommon at that time. Certain names were repeated a lot, inspired by someone important in the family, religion or society.  It might be useful to look backward in the family to see where the Wimburn came from, and how many others had that name.

I also think it a little strange to refer to a deceased Lt. General as Col. in an historical document. We usually refer to a retired military member by the most senior rank achieved.

It appears to me that there is more information about Col. James Laurie and the British Home Children in the Nova Scotia Archives. They're likely closed to visitors right now, but when things open up a bit, you may be able to arrange for a lookup. Meanwhile, I'd go looking online in case.  For instance I see a mention of Col. James Laurie in Belize before John joined the British Army.  That could be your man too.

I just reread a portion of  "The Children's Home Finder" (a book about Annie MacPherson and her part in the BHC, written by Annie's niece, Lilian Birt). In there are references to Lieut-General J. Wimburn Laurie CB of Oakfield, NS. He is the person that sent an invitation to Louisa Birt in 1873 asking that the children be brought to Nova Scotia. I have answered my own question but I still don't understand why he is sometimes referred to as James when his name was almost certainly John.
Glad you solved the mystery!  

I can think different reasons why his name might have been mistaken: it could have been a nickname, or a mistake in the very document that people choose for official reference to a specific file.  If you decide to look into his, your research may find the answer to that question too.
One of the names could be his middle name that the family referred to him growing up especially if he was a Jr to his father’s name. I have seen this several times in my family, even very recent generations. Another could be a close family member was also a John, possibly even an army member, so he began using James to differentiate.
If you look into the etymology of the name John, it lists James, among others (Jack, Johnny, Jackie, Jim, Jimbo, James) as a nickname.

1 Answer

+2 votes

Not what you are looking for, but might be useful 

First name(s) John Winburn

Last name Laurie

Year -


In Loving Memory Of\nLieut.General \nJohn Winburn Laurie,C.B.C.B. \nServied in Crimea,\nThe India Mutiny,\nAnd in The N.West Campaign 1885\nInspecting Field officer and D.A.G\nOf the Nova Scotia Militia,\nAnd Members of the Canadian\nand British Parliaments\nBorn,1,Oct.1835,Died,30,May,1918 \n

Place St. Margaret's Anglican+ / Oakfield

County Halifax

Province Nova Scotia

Country Canada

Record set Canadian Headstones Index

Category Life Events (BDMs)

Subcategory Civil Deaths & Burials

Collections from Americas, Canada

Index copyright

by Marion Poole G2G6 Pilot (706k points)
Thanks. I saw this plaque earlier by I didn't reference it because I'm not sure where the creators of it got the death date that they used (1918 vs 1912).

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