Ireland to Scotland - 2 Portabellos? Run out of ideas...

+2 votes

Peter MacDonald and Catherine (Mulvey) MacDonald were married, lived and had children in Portabello (Duddingston) in Midlothian, Scotland in the second half of the 1800s.

Census records on Familysearch have blank birth locations for them, but on you can see them as "Ireland", and interestingly enough the 1871 shows Peter as having been born in Portobello, Ireland (which is in Dublin). (My subscription has now lapsed but I can still see those records).

That smells a little fishy to me. I guess it's possible that both of them were born in Ireland and moved to Scotland (together?) before being married, and perhaps went to Portabello because it had the same name as where Peter came from? Or is it more likely that he was actually born in Portabello Scotland and whoever wrote the census record or transcribed it assumed it was Portabello Ireland? And if so, why are the other census records marked as Ireland?

Because there's a date range on the census records (1843-47 for Peter, 1844-1851 for Catherine), no 100% confirmed birth location for either of them, AND MacDonald appears to be spelt several different ways in different records, I'm struggling to come up with any other way of moving forward. I'm relatively new to all this so I'd love some ideas on what I could try next?

Thanks in advance,


WikiTree profile: Peter MacDonald
in Genealogy Help by Matt Steady G2G2 (2.9k points)
I googled the one in Ireland says wikipedia is an AREA in Dublin and the one in Scotland says wikipedia is a SUBURB of Edinburgh

You can probably google some maps on this and possibly can do a bit of research on the FORMATION

The one in Ireland is more likely just a "district name" the one in Scotland might well have a legal formation date dunno about that

As to why they went from one Potobello to another, asking WHY is a quagmire, since we can't fathom the mind of another even when we've known them 50 years -- it's going to rest in speculation
Thank you - I appreciate your time. I suspect these two will be a dead-end. Too many people with those names, and not being sure of which country let alone city they come from... :)

All the fun of the fair!

2 Answers

+1 vote

Your answer may well lie in the two later children's birth records: 

*1884 - Daughter Agnes McDonnell born (from census records - birth record required)

*1886 - Daughter Jane McDonnell born (from census records - birth record required)

Typically those records will show where and when the parents were married. They'd be available (for a relatively low price) on
by Bobbie Hall G2G6 Pilot (176k points)

Hey thanks Bobbie! That's a really useful site. You can search for free and pay to see the docs, but I can't actually find either of them on there which is really odd. Jane in particular I should be able to find as we have date and place from the census. And I've opened up a can of worms with family memories with Agnes but I won't go into that ...

I think I've got the marriage record though here: 

Peter Macdonald

Scotland Marriages, 1561-1910
Name: Peter Macdonald
Spouse's Name: Catherine Mulvay
Event Date: 08 May 1866
Event Place: Duddingston,Midlothian,Scotland


This could be your Jane:

MCDONALD JANE F 1885 684/1 214 Duddingston and Portobello
That's it! Great stuff thank you. I can see it now ... wow it even gives the time of birth and street address! It confirms the marriage. I wish all records were this detailed!
That site is a bit naughty - have to buy 30 credits, but it doesn't tell you that looking at the image takes 6 credits not 1! Not a biggie

If I remember right, there are a couple of different "credit" amounts. Maybe one credit for a long index, maybe a different amount for a census record?

It's not dirt cheap, but what you get from a successful find is usually well worth the cost. Just go gently :) ... and try to be as certain as possible that you have the right record. 

I probably have spent more there than on any other genealogy site, but then I do have a Scottish husband.

And be sure to download the record and save it. You can go back later, but it's easier if you do it while it's fresh in your mind.

Yes that makes sense - getting Jane's birth record was great :)
+1 vote
I suggest you use Scotland's People database and do searches for Scotland. I input Peter MacDonald and for your time period there were literally 630 birth records for 1800 on.

Scotland's People is at no cost. Also, if you sign up for a free Family Search account, you do not have to be a LDS church member, then you automatically get access to Ancestry. I use both in my Scottish searches. Scotland's People also has marriage records, which may help you in your search. Keep in mind that name spellings were not as standardized.

Also, have you looked at the MacDonald Clan web pages dedicated to genealogy? My clan is MacFarlane, and I found 60+ ancestors on there that took me back into the 1200's.
That Scotland's People database is the one connected to familysearch isn't it? Or it is somehing different?

I use familysearch extensively but when I tried the buttons to get the free ancestry account it said I didn't qualify at this time (presumably because I'm not an LDS member).

I'll definitely check out the Macdonald clan pages -that's a great idea. If the ancestry sources saying that they are from Ireland is true so it might not be that helpful but it would be good to look through it and check!

Thank you for your helpful answer!
I don't think there is any connection to Family Search. ScotlandsPeople is a government site.

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