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James Donaldson - Family Historian

Tullibody Churchyard

James Donaldson of the Devon Iron Works was by all accounts very much a family man, and a person keen to record the details of his family's genealogy. His depth of feeling on the subject is best described by the account of this passion, found in his obituary in the Stirling Observer, 1st March 1838, wherein it states:-

Few possess so accurate a record, as he had, of their ancestors, descendants, and other relatives. In a large quarto bible he has neatly registered, in his own beautiful handwriting, the names of his great-grandfather and great grand-mother, the dates of their births, their marriage, and their deaths, and the names of all their children, (whose number is considerable,) with the time of their respective births and deaths. Then follows a similar record concerning his grandfather and grandmother, and all their children; then another regarding his father and mother, and all their children; then another regarding his father and mother, and all their children; then another regarding himself, his wife, and family; and then another regarding each of his sons and daughters that are married, and their families, leaving a blank to be filled up for recording, when it shall occur, the death of such as are alive. He had to perform the mournful task of filling up one of these blanks a few days before his death-namely, that reserved for recording the decease of his wife, who died only thirteen days before him, and as if he himself had died along with her, he not only filled up the proper blank, but also wrote the same after his own name, and in order to render it more perfectly correct, nothing more is necessary than to add the unit 3, for which there is a space after the 1; his wife having died on the 1st day of the month, and he himself on the 13th of the same month and year. Thus he has, as it were, with his own hand, inadvertently recorded in this register the time of his own death. It appears from this record that his forefathers had come from Comrie. His father, previous to his death, was the oldest inhabitant in Tullibody then alive. Mr Donaldson besides constructed a large but neat genealogical tree, with the names of his ancestors, descendants, and other relatives, in due order; and when the birth of a grandchild occurred, it afforded him much pleasure to add a new apple to his prolific tree, which is loaded with fruit, and has already been bearing fruit for several centuries, year after year.

It would be most interesting to learn if anyone currently knows the whereabouts of either James Donaldson's family bible or his Genealogical Tree. If anyone can help in giving family members sight of either of these historical family heirlooms please contact us here.

Tullibody Churchyard

It seems that James and at least some of his ancestors and relations were buried in this ancient and historic churchyard. Whether or not original tombstones were ever erected to them is not known, but James himself undertook to mark their passing by erecting a suitable memorial. This took the form of an iron headstone, which was seen by my grandmother, Elsie Runciman (pre 1955), and was thankfully recorded by John & Sheila Mitchell in their Monumental inscriptions (pre 1855) in Clackmannanshire. This was published in 1968 by the Scottish Genealogy Society. By the time I visited the site for the first time in 1977, James's thoughtful reflections had sadly disappeared completely.

The published information on the memorial is as follows:-

188 (an iron erection) (east side) "my fathers Peter, James, and John were buried here in the years 1748, 1781 and 1829 aged 68, 69 and 88 and my mothers Ch Melville, Jean Rae, Mary Rennie in 1746, 1783, 1817 aged 65, 72 and 76 years; (west side) ed by Jas Donaldson of Devon ironworks in memory of and to mark the spot where repose the ashes of his progenitors brothers sister and daughters Mary and Ann.

NOTE:- 188 equals the stone number attributed by the recorders. Thus we can place the memorial between 187 dated 1813 and 189 dated 1863.

As much of the Mitchell's published recordings were published in an abbreviated format, we cannot be certain what the exact text or spelling was, but enough is given here to at least give a sound corroborative base which can be compared with the entries in our copy of the family bible entries.


                                                        Family History in the Field


Thursday 13th May 2010

A Donaldson family reunion and gathering takes place in Tullibody Churchyard, with the Chris Calder of the Tullibody History Group.

Left to right:- Charlie, Helen, Mary, Dominic and Chris, with Keith taking the photograph.



Helen stands on the spot where it is thought where the Donaldson family burial plot is situated. Although no iron memorial survives, at least we know the position it once stood in.





Date last modified: Sat 01 Jun 13