Categories: Runciman Lineage 1b - William Runciman of Crail.
Much of this biography has been auto-generated but been added to with personal notes.
|John's baptism recorded in the Old Parish Record.|
Found multiple copies of DEAT DATE. Using 12 DEC 1852Array
Prior to import, this record was last changed 11 AUG 2013 .
John's father William was skipper of the fishing boat which suffered the loss of 8 lives in the Crail Fishing Disaster 1765.
Some facts and comments about the early Runciman ancestors are summarised in The Early Generations.
It's likely that John Jamieson is closely related to young John Runciman bearing in mind Jamieson is his mother's maiden name. This indicates that John returned to Crail at some point, possibly around the age of 14, to take up this apprenticeship. His ties with North Berwick presumably remained strong (all his Runciman family would have been there or in its surrounds) as he marries Jean Barrie there and chooses Dirleton in East Lothian for the family home.
John Runciman (1762-1852) is commonly referred to by researchers as ‘Orphan John’ as his mother died when he was about 7 months old and his father drowned when he was 2-and-a-half years old. Along with the two other youngest siblings they were collected on the day of their father’s drowning by his grandfather Richard and taken away from their fisherman’s cottage in Crail to live with Richard. It’s not been determined whether Richard’s wife Janet Gourlay was still alive at this point. Richard was 63, probably a farm labourer, living at Castleton, a farm just outside North Berwick on the road to Auldhame, also a farm and onwards to the villages of Whitekirk and then, about a mile further on, Tynninghame. Only a mile beyond Tynninghame lay the Great North Road linking the two capital cities, London and Edinburgh. Depending on weather – and so the level of rutting etc on the roads – a coach and horses could take up to 18 days to complete that journey. By comparison trains are now timetabled to make the journey in between 4-5 hours.
We can only speculate at what the family unit might have been in John’s young days. Although we cannot say whether his grandmother Jannet (Gourley) was still alive when the orphans arrived at Castleton it’s a reasonable assumption that there would have been at least one female family member running the household while Richard worked probably all daylight hours at least 6 days per week, with possibly lighter duties on a Sunday to enable church attendance. At that time the church at Whitekirk was probably closest and certainly the most natural as it absorbed the ‘parishers’ from Tyninghame on the demolition of their village church in 1761. Tyninghame had been the grandparents’ family church for at least the first 20 years of their marriage whilst living at Whaup Knowe.
The most likely female homemaker candidates are the daughters of Richard and Jannet who by this time were all adult. Renay (Rennie) was the youngest, born in 1746, so she would have been 19 at the time of the orphans’ arrival and unmarried. It’s interesting to note that she marries in 1776, the year in which John would have reached school-leaving age and taken a job, perhaps taking him away from home. It also makes her 30 which falls in the older age range for marriage at the time – could this be an indication of family duty coming before personal life? It’s known that John undertook an apprenticeship as a Crail Weaver with John Jamieson. It’s reasonable to assume John J is a member of his mother Elizabeth Jamieson’s family, quite likely Orphan John’s grandfather or perhaps an uncle. This gives us a pointer that he was indeed away from home in his early working years. An entry in the Crail Weavers Minute Book reads : ‘RUNCIMAN, JOHN: son of dec William Runciman, mariner in Crail; bound app to John Jamieson, late Deacon, June 14 1780’. It’s not clear whether this records a commencement or completion of the apprenticeship but certainly John would be of the right age to be completing a normal 4 year apprenticeship in 1780. This record is made one week before his 18th birthday. [The Minute book (which covered the years 1747-1790) was copied onto blank leaves of the 3rd Crail Shoemakers Minute Book (1755-1834), which is now in Crail Museum, by the Rev Mr Reid of Crail in 1895, from the original, then in the possession of the Earl of Lindsay. A later extract of various trades Minute Books was made by Fife Family History Society, from which this extract was taken.]
While the enforced removal from Crail to the surrounds of North Berwick was yet one more upheaval to befall the young children following their parents’ deaths the environment was certainly a wonderful place to spend a childhood. Castleton farm overlooks the Firth of Forth as it enters the North Sea with views stretching across to the Fife shore and the famous & historical Bass Rock in the foreground. Tantallon Castle is a just a child’s stroll away, even then a ruin and no doubt a favoured playground.
John & Jean Barrie married ‘irregularly’ at Haddington in 1787 and had it recorded in the parish church of North Berwick a week later. John is recorded of being ‘in this parish’ while Jean is recorded as ‘in Dirleton’. The page of the North Berwick parish register consists entirely of entries referring to irregular marriages elsewhere. Irregular marriages were a frequent occurrence in Scotland throughout troubled religious times and were described as such by the ‘Authorised’ church ie The Church of Scotland. The most common reason for worship outside the authorised church were disillusioned parishioners opting to worship in the Reformed Presbyterian Church & similar organisations established in the early 1700s following the Covenanters era and in ‘breakaway’ Presbyterian churches of the Reformation in the 1840s. Between these two dates there were always alternatives but the 1780s is not regarded as a particularly fractured time. The couple settled in Dirleton and apparently worshipped in the local parish church as their children were all baptised there.
It’s not known whether John followed his trade as a weaver. Unfortunately there is no record showing his occupation until the first Scottish census record of 1841. By this time John is one year short of his 80th birthday (although he has claimed to be aged 76) and he has reported that he is ‘independent’ which makes for satisfying reading. His wife Jean is the only other occupant. Unfortunately no address other than ‘Dirleton’ is shown by the census taker throughout the village. In the 1851 census his address is recorded as ‘The Bothy’, Dirleton. His son James and his wife live with him although John is shown as the Head of the household. One suspects this is in deference to his age rather than family economics as John was to die in the year following this census at the remarkable age of 90. In the 1841 census James and his wife Margaret are shown further up the census record sheet as living only two households away from John & Jean although there is nothing to indicate whether these are neighbouring houses in a row or in a rural setting. Either way, James is, with one exception, the nearest contact in times of need.
Orphan John is the essential pivot in the Runciman of Crail lineage. To understand why, we need to look at the 3 generations leading up to John. His great-grandparents were William R & Jean White. Which William this was is not definitively identified. The only credible William, as far as we can tell from parish records, was the only son in the family (there was a daughter also). William & Jean had 6 children, two of whom were sons. Orphan John’s grandfather Richard was one, the other also named William, was a man who joined up in the British Army, serving in the 3rd Regiment of Foot and fighting in the Seven Years War in Canada against the French. Eventually he was pensioned off in 1763 after 30 years’ service, ‘worn out’ to quote the Chelsea Pensioner records, at the end of the Canadian hostilities. There is no evidence in any records of a marriage or children for this William. So it fell solely on Richard to preserve the Runciman surname on the Crail line. Richard & Jannet had 9 children of whom 4 were male, including William of Crail. Three of the boys have not been traced beyond their baptism with only William of Crail’s family history being successfully researched. So it’s very possible that the 3 other boys didn’t make it to adulthood, or if they did there is no sign of marriage or children or, obviously, present-day descendants. This is perhaps an interesting area for fellow Runciman researchers to investigate.
So the baton was passed to William of Crail; he had 8 children with 3 mothers. However, only one was male – the 7th child, John. At this stage the line is highly likely to suffer from ‘daughtering out’. However from starting out at the tender age of two-and-a-half as an orphan, John survived to the ripe old age of 90 and had a long marriage to Jean Barrie with whom he had 10 children, 6 of whom were male. The 6 boys all married and had families. All present day descendants on the ‘Crail’ line who carry the Runciman surname are descended through this one pivotal ancestor. The majority of known descendants who carry other surnames through daughtered lines also channel their ancestry through Orphan John. However it has been one of the wider Crail family’s undoubted pleasures to find other descending lines from ‘grandfather’ Richard daughters as well as Orphan John’s daughters.
John died on 12 December 1852, according to the Parish Record of Dirleton Church at the age of 92 although in fact he was 90 years old. No doubt no-one including John knew the correct age! He was buried 4 days later on the 16th in Dirleton Churchyard. Unfortunately there is no evidence of a grave or stone by the time Gullane & Dirleton History Society wrote their book 'The Stones of Dirleton Kirkyard & its People' in 2006 despite drawing information from two kirkyard plans dated 1880 and 1887. It seems unlikely that a stone from 1852 would not have survived at least as long as the drawing up of these plans. It would be surprising also if lack of money was the problem as there is ample evidence of substantial inscriptions on other family stones around the same years. In total there are 17 Runcimans either buried or at least commemorated with inscriptions in Dirleton Kirkyard. One of John's sons, Richard, emigrated with his family to New Zealand within months of his father's death.
Alan Runciman, Ayr, Scotland 3rd great grandson
Thank you to Alan Runciman for creating WikiTree profile Runciman-527 through the import of RUNCIMANAlansPaternal4WikiTreeAug2013.ged on Aug 29, 2013. Click to the Changes page for the details of edits by Alan and others.
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John is 17 degrees from William Brewster, 22 degrees from Skye Driggs and 17 degrees from Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.