When were they born?

I have recently asked someone to help find some information after I found an age discrepancy across 2 records relating to travel.  I expected a simple answer of yes, here is the information, or no the information no longer exists.  What I got was a whole line of new questions regarding the ages of my ancestors who came out from Scotland in 1840.

This first age discrepancy that I found was with Donald Cameron (jnr) who migrated to New Zealand during the last quarter of 1840.  In a supporting document given out at the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the ship “Blenheim” in 1990 has the age of Donald Cameron as 15 (at time of travel).  However in the recent document (and subsequent live online document) “The Blenheim People” has Donald Cameron’s age as 16.

I tried to do some initial research into this discrepancy.  I found that the earlier figure appears to have been sourced from the N.Z. Gazette 2 Jan 1840, some time before the voyage which was left Scotland in August of that year.  I attempted to find this document online however I had no luck. It appears that the Papers Past website although having this paper archived, did not have it for the date I was interested in.

The later date comes from the embarkation list (in its original form) which has been uploaded to FamilySearch website.  This handwritten document states where and when the ship left, who captained it, and lists all the passengers with their genders and ages in family groups.  This document is very convincing to indicate the ages of people given at the time of departure.

There are other variations of age between the two documents for this family group and they are as follows;

  • Son, Alexander 16 and 17
  • Son Donald 15 and 16
  • Son John 9 and 10
  • Son Duncan 6 and 8
Before I go any further, I must state there was another age discrepancy with Donald (snr) the father who was stated to be 46 in both documents, however at his death in February 1860 he is stated to be 75 which would have made him 56 at the time of travel.  It has been noted that he probably falsely gave the age of 46 to be younger than the travel age limit of 50.  Although not helping with the validity of the other ages, at least this gives some insight into the reasoning for this false age.
 
Having asked someone from the genealogical society to validate where the ages came from in the 1990 supporting document, had come back with some inconsistencies with the other family members.  Mainly between the headstone and the BDM (Births, Deaths, and Marriages) website records.
 
For a little bit of background the family was buried at the Bolton Street Memorial Cemetery in Wellington.  The plot contained 10 family members, and the inscription on the headstone is as follows;
 
Sacred to the memory of Donald CAMERON Senr., d. 12 February 1860, a. 75, Donald CAMERON, d. 27 June 1866, a. 38, Anne CAMERON, wife of Dugald CAMERON, d. 30 April 1870, a. 26, Christina CAMERON, wife of Donald CAMERON Senr, d. 18 December 1872, a. 75, Dugald CAMERON, d. 16 March 1873, a. 50, Christina Anne CAMERON, dau of Dugald CAMERON, 3 September 1877, aged 14 years, Christina CAMERON dau of Alexander CAMERON, d. 26 October 1878, a. 19 years, Alexander CAMERON, d. 19 December 1899, a. 76, Also of Hugh CAMERON, son of above Alexander CAMERON, who died 21 December 1910, a. 47, also Mary CAMERON wife of Alexander CAMERON, who died at Mangapakeha, 11 October 1911, a. 77.
 

Also worthy of noting, is that during the construction of the motorway in the 1960s, the grave, along with nearly 3500 other bodies were exhumed and moved to a common vault. As a result the headstone relocated to another place in the cemetery.

Plot 68N for the Cameron's before they were moved due to the building of the motorway
The Same headstone taken December 27 2015.

My researcher found variances between this inscription and the supporting death records displayed in the BDM website (https://www.bdmhistoricalrecords.dia.govt.nz/home).  I will break each record down as she found them;

Sacred to the memory of Donald CAMERON Senr., d. 12 February 1860, a. 75

The BDM when searching for deaths for Donald Cameron from and to date 12/02/1860 returns Registration Number 1860/1061 with a Date of Birth/Age at Death as NR

Donald CAMERON, d. 27 June 1866, a. 38

The BDM when searching for deaths for Donald Cameron from and to date 27/06/1866 returns Registration Number 1866/2551 with a Date of Birth/Age at Death as 40Y.
 
This gets tricky, because if you include the ages and dates from above, Donald is at least 41 when he died.  To get him to be 40 at the time of his death, he has to be 15 at the time of travel.  I have a theory that he might have been aged up (much like his father was aged down) as he is listed as a labourer and 16 could have been the minimum age for him to travel with that title.  This sort of points out that 38 is probably wrong, and 40 has a high chance of also being wrong. It also puts some doubt into the ages in 1840 so they may also not be reliable.

Anne CAMERON, wife of Dugald CAMERON, d. 30 April 1870, a. 26

The BDM when searching for deaths for Anne Cameron from and to date 30/04/1870 comes up with nothing, but does come up with something when using first name Ann.  Her aliases also include Annie and stated that she was a school teacher in Wellington and she may have been baptised in 1845.  It appears that she was names as Ann in her death notice in the Wellington Independent 3 May 1870.

Christina CAMERON, wife of Donald CAMERON Senr, d. 18 December 1872, a. 75

The BDM when searching for deaths for Christina Cameron from and to date 18/12/1870 comes up with Registration Number 1872/11313 with a Date of Birth/Age at Death of 81Y.
 
It is hard to work out what is accurate here, it puts her birth at either 1791 or 1797, however her age at the time of travel in September 1840 was 46 which would make her birth right in the middle of these two dates. Therefore other supporting information is needed before confirming either date. 

Dugald CAMERON, d. 16 March 1873, a. 50

The BDM when searching for deaths for Dugald Cameron from and to date 16/03/1873 returns Registration Number 1873/8021 with a Date of Birth / Age at Death as 30Y.
 
The age of 30 at the time of his death is inaccurate as Dugald was born in Scotland and was on the passenger list with the rest of his family for The Blenheim in September 1840.

Christina Anne CAMERON, dau of Dugald CAMERON, 3 September 1877, aged 14 years

No records returned in the BDM for this, even by widening the dates.

Christina CAMERON dau of Alexander CAMERON, d. 26 October 1878, a. 19 years

No records are returned in the BDM when searching for deaths for Christina Cameron from and to date to 26/10/1878, however a record is returned when using a to and from date of 20/10/1878 with Registration Number 1878/3266.
 
This would indicate that Christina died earlier than is on the headstone, this maybe the burial date instead.

Alexander CAMERON, d. 19 December 1899, a. 76

The BDM when searching for deaths for Alexander Cameron with a from and to date of 19/12/1899 returns Registration Number 1899/7595 with Date of Birth/Age at Death of 75Y.
 
This is not conclusive enough to determine the correct age at time of death. If he was 16 at the time of travel in 1840, then he would be 75 at time of death, and if he was 17 at the time of travel he would have been 76 at the time of death.

Also of Hugh CAMERON, son of above Alexander CAMERON, who died 21 December 1910, a. 47

The BDM when searching for deaths for Hugh Cameron with a from and to date of 21/12/1910 returns Registration Number 1910/3215 with Date of Birth/Age at Death of 47Y.
 
This is accurate in both cases.
 

also Mary CAMERON wife of Alexander CAMERON, who died at Mangapakeha, 11 October 1911, a. 77

The BDM when searching for deaths for Mary Cameron with a from and to date of 11/10/1911 returns Registration Number 1911/8152 with Date of Birth/Age at Death of 77Y.
This is accurate in both cases.
 

[UPDATE 31/10/2019] It has been brought to my Attention that there is another body in that grave that is not included on the headstone.

Donald died 1866 aged 1 year 10 months (Public Cemetery Register).

The BDM has him aged 1 year.

 

Conclusion

As a result I will need to probably order some documents, some further research is being done by the Friends of Bolton Street Memorial Cemetery.  I am now on the hunt for further documents.  Where the dates are slightly different might be differences in death date and burial date, I will continue to update my Ancestry tree with new information as I find it.

Although a timely process, I have discovered how to add custom repositories and use online sources as custom sources.  I have found this useful when adding information from FamilySearch.org, which ancestry do not use as a resource, but you can add it as a repository with details about the website, then add source references to particular urls targeted at particular individuals. Then download images and attach that to the resource.

 
 

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