05 July 2011
Dougall: A Reverend
In memory of Robert Dougall, Cabinetmaker
d. 27.5.1894 age 58y
Also his son James d. 5.3.1825 age 2y
Erected by his surviving son
the Rev. John Dougall,
Minister of St Andrew Scots Church, Sydney
On receiving this transcript from Scottish Monumental Inscriptions I questioned the fact that Robert, born ca.1836, could have had a son born in 1825. Project spokesperson Helen is the nicest lady imaginable and sent me a photograph of the headstone which is very clear that the cabinetmaker died in 1854.
One would expect that this monument was erected when the father died in 1854 or shortly thereafter, if John Dougall was visiting from Australia. Constructing more exercises for myself, who was this Rev John Dougall and do his ancestors relate to mine? Since I highly doubt a close relationship to my Midlothian Dougalls, I made this a purely Internet tangent.
Even though Australia does not have the only Sydney in the world, I quickly eliminated Sydney, Nova Scotia, as a target. It does have a St Andrews Church, now United Church of Canada, but its history is not revealed online.
Scots Presbyterian Church in Sydney, New South Wales (NSW), Australia, was founded in 1823 by Rev. John Dunmore Lang (1799-1878). The church’s website has a sketchy nineteenth-century history, mainly concerning Dunmore Lang’s career. He was the first Presbyterian clergyman to serve “the Convict Colony.” No other clergy names appear during his tenure, nor is Dougall’s name in the list of inducted ministers post-1878. I’m thinking this doesn’t necessarily exclude his being a temporary acolyte, but did he enhance his own stature on his father’s gravestone?
There is no death registered for John Dougall 1854-1920 in the less-than-comprehensive “Australia Deaths and Burials 1816-1980” on FamilySearch.org. The index to Statutory Deaths in Scotland on ScotlandsPeople gave 106 results all over the map between 1855 and 1920... too much for my dwindling credits to pursue a man whose main identifier is a father called Robert. If Rev John stayed in or died in Scotland, I’ve no idea where he might have lived or preached.
But “Australia Death Index, 1787-1985” on Ancestry.com shows a Rev John Dougall died in 1871 in Sydney, Woolloomooloo, New South Wales: no. V18713114 102—appearing to be the official death registration number. The search results also show plain John Dougall died 1871 NSW, father ROBERT, mother SUSAN, registration place Maitland West, NSW, no. 4258. It appears the second entry is from “Australia Cemetery Index, 1808-2007” on Ancestry.
Interestingly, a Mrs Dougall died 1871 in Woolloomooloo no. V18713115 102, also registered as Susan Dougall at Maitland West NSW, no. 4261. Her parents are not named. Woolloomooloo is a district in the city of Sydney. Notice the juxtaposition of the registration numbers. Was Susan the Reverend’s wife? Mother? Daughter? Did they die at the same time? And why are they buried in Maitland, about 160 km miles north of Sydney? You can see that obtaining the death certificates and/or burial information would presumably be more revealing.
Next move, back to Scotland: on the new FamilySearch.org for a parish birth/baptism for a John Dougall 1820-1840. Great ... 287 results ... all the MacDougalls and even some Douglas entries (Patience, self! this happens in some databases). No, skip that and go to the IGI at the old FamilySearch.org where I get one result (filters allowed, thank you): John was baptized 3 June 1824 in Edinburgh parish, Midlothian, son of Robert Dowgall and Susan McCulloch (OPR extraction). This does not conflict with a brother James who was born before March 1823 according to the gravestone.
Duly following up, thanks to FreeCENScotland I find John as a 16-year-old in Robert and Susan Dougall’s 1841 Edinburgh household (their only child) at 39 Albany Street, and as a 26-year-old divinity student in 1851.
Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae should help me out here, but Dougall’s entry was the barest possible outline: born in Edinburgh in 1824; arrived in New South Wales in 1853; served 1854 at St Andrews, Sydney, and East Maitland 1869-1871; died in 1871. It seems likely he attended either Divinity School (Kirk of Scotland) at the University of Edinburgh or New College (Free Church).
One notices the odd gap in Fasti from 1854 to 1869. Or is it a gap? Maybe the entry means he was continuously at the Scots Church until his appointment to East Maitland. However, it seems the man was barely settled in Sydney when his father died, so he might have taken an extended leave in Scotland. From the Sands Directories for Sydney and New South Wales 1858-1933 (intermittent) on Ancestry I learned that Rev John Dougall was resident at 450 Kent Street, central Sydney, from 1861 to 1868. The street number fluctuated a little— 450, 452, 458, 460—Kent Street.
Did John bring his mother Susan back to Australia with him? Did he marry a Susan? Both Scottish and Australian marriage indexes were searched 1851-1861 and later. Three possibles emerged: to Agnes Isabella Laing in 1853 (Edinburgh city); Elizabeth Howarth in 1859 (Goulbourn, New South Wales); and Agnes Graham in 1861 (St Michael’s, Linlithgow). There are no appropriate deaths indexed in New South Wales for Dougall women with these forenames. The directories online are not consistent enough to indicate if a “Mrs” Dougall survived him.
I have not ordered certificates, contacted the churches, or explored potential children/descendants. Any possible connection to my Dougalls will be back in the 18th century or earlier.
Were John and Susan the victims of a local accident or mutual illness? If I had the precise dates of deaths, I could search the Sydney Morning Herald, digitised at Australia Trove by the National Library.
A one-dimensional exercise has minimally placed the Reverend in the location where, ca.1854, he said he was. It seems a shame he must have served a congregation that may now have no collective memory of him.
 Hew Scott, Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae, vol. VII (Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd, 1928), 587; digital image, Internet Archive (http://www.archives.org/ : accessed 1 July 2011), 587.