A surprising connection has been found between a newly discovered slab at Kirkmichael and a thriving plant nursery in 19th century Uckfield, Sussex! For the Highland Archaeology Festival 2018 we had offered the experience each Saturday of attending whilst a previously unrecorded slab was excavated. Despite the rain, it attracted great interest from visitors, with some coming back for more on subsequent weeks!
We had previously spotted there was a slab buried between two Cameron tablestones but we had not uncovered it as it was fairly deeply buried. However, on 6th October, I removed the turf and the first layer of soil, and scraped off the remaining soil with a piece of plywood – we are paranoid about damage.
I take a breather whilst uncovering the slab between the two Cameron tablestones; photo by Andrew Dowsett
Using plywood to remove the final layer of soil; photo by Davine Sutherland
Just to confirm we restored the slab afterwards just as it was! photo by Jim Mackay
I had expected it to be a Cameron stone given its location, and it was, in a way, although the word Cameron did not appear! I had to explain the whole story to the audience, along with telling them that the symbols that looked like the letter f were in fact the long s – so Christan Fraser not Chriftan Frafer!
The name Mckedie appears; photo by Jim Mackay
The full inscription in lovely sharp letters (but with Christian missing an “i”) – photo by Andrew Dowsett
The new inscription was short enough. In clear lettering it read “Iames Mckedie / Christan Fraser”. No dates, but the couple are well-known as there is a story attached to them. Now, I explained to the onlookers, in this part of the world “Mckedie” or “Mackeddy” or “Mckiddy” are patronymics or aliases for “Cameron”. Don’t ask me why. But in reality we had three Cameron stones in a row. More recently, we made an astonishing discovery about the more southerly of the three stones, which shed new light on a character who appears in this story, James Cameron, seedsman and gardener. For more details see our complementary Story behind the Stone here.
The patronymic was equally mystifying to this particular Cameron family. These are the children in the baptism register of the couple, under the surname of “McKeddy” and its variants, and a couple of other we’ve picked up from other sources: James (1788-1861); Christian (1791-1860); Margaret (1793-1875); David (1796-1876); Isobel (1801-); Helen (c1802-1888) and John. There were probably more children after 1802, but this was at the worst point of the Reverend Arthur period, when virtually no baptisms were recorded. How James McKeddy was described in the register allows us to follow his movements: in 1788 “shoemaker in Newtown of Brealangwell”, in 1791 “shoemaker at Burnside”, and from 1793 onwards “shoemaker at Balblair”. While he may have moved location, his humble business remained the same.
Well, his son David Cameron (1796-1876) was away somewhere in the 1830s and 1840s, making money. He is recorded in various later census returns as “retired coach-builder”, “fundholder” and “dividender”. At some point he needed proof of his birth date. In this situation, normally you would simply seek an extract from the baptism register. But of course the baptism record was in the name of Mckeddy. He asked his sister to sort it out and she approached the Kirk Session.
At the Church of Resolis the 3rd day of November 1834. … An application at this meeting was made to the Session by Christian Cameron residing at Jemima Ville respecting an extract which She had received from the Clerk of the Baptism of her brother David Cameron out of the parish Register of baptisms of date Augt 1796 & in which her brother's surname is erroneously inserted. She further stated, that the real surname of her & of her brothers family and forefathers is Cameron, but that from the first of them who came to reside in this Country they Received the patronimick Surname of Mackiddy; That after the Baptism of her brother David in the year above mentioned her father authorised the Kirk Officer to get her brother’s baptism registered & that the Kirk Officer had given to the Clerk of Session the surname of Mackiddy instead of Cameron & which was accordingly inserted, consequently that the extract which She has now received from the Clerk of her brothers baptism & in which he is designated Mackiddy & not Cameron will not answer the purpose for which her brother at present demands such extract. It being consistent with the Sessions proper knowledge that the said David Cameron & his family & forefathers were really of the surname of Cameron & not Mackiddy they therefore unanimously resolved to correct this Clerical Error in the Register by erasing the surname Mackiddy with the pen & putting the surname of Cameron in place of writing the said name of Cameron on the Margin & duly attested by their Moderator and Clerk.
The baptism register entry can be seen still bearing this correction. It is amusing to note that the patronymic even made it onto the father’s tombstone!
I was interested in what David had been up to when he needed proof of birth. His business had been profitable enough for him later to purchase his own house in Jemimaville. I turned to his will (SC25/44/11) written in 1876, not long before his death.
This is the last Will and testament of me David Cameron residing at Jamimaville … I give, devise, and bequeath all my real and personal means and estate whatsoever and wheresoever to my sister Helen Cameron and my niece Christina Cameron, jointly or survivor, with power to sell my property here, house and garden and half the proceeds to be given to my brother James’ family residing at Uckfield, Sussex. And I appoint Doctor John MacKay, at present acting as Factor for the Estate of Poyntzfield Executor of this my will. In witness whereof these presents written by Donald McDonald, Teacher at Cullicudden … witnesses Thomas Ferguson, Postmaster, and Robert Ross, Baker, both residing at Jamimaville, and Elders of the Established Church of Scotland.
Uckfield? A village and parish in Sussex, a long way from Jemimaville! Unfortunately the parish records for Uckfield are not at time of writing on line which stymied me for some time, although the family was easily picked up through the census returns (I have expanded the dittos):
Uckfield 1841 High Street
James Cameron 50 Nurseryman Scotland / Georgina Cameron 40 y / James Cameron 9 y / Ellen Cameron 7 y / Mary Jane Cameron 4 y / Margaret Henderson 19 F.S. Scotland
Eldest daughters Christiana (13) and Georgiana (11) at this time were lodging with other girls in All Saints Parish, Lewes, presumably a school boarding-house. I have been unable to find when James and Georgiana married, but from the age of the children I would estimate it to have occurred around 1827.
Uckfield from the south, in 1871, by Samuel Hieronymus Grimm (such a wonderful name)
The High Street, Uckfield, where James Cameron and family lived
Uckfield 1851 High Street
James Cameron head mar 62 Nurseryman employing 12 men 7 boys Scotland / Georgiana Cameron wife mar 55 Maresfield Sussex / Christiana Cameron daur unm 23 nurseryman’s daur Uckfield / James Fragar [presumably Fraser] Cameron son u 19 do son Uckfield / Ellen Cameron daur u 17 do. daur Uckfield/ Mary Jane Cameron daur 14 Uckfield
James Cameron had obviously done well for himself, running a nursery with 18 employees!
His wife, Georgiana Roots (very apt for a nursery man’s wife!), was born in 1795 in the adjacent parish of Framfield, the daughter of Thos. and Lucy Roots.
I find advertisements for Uckfield Nursery as far back as 1813, as in the example below left from the Sussex Advertiser of 4th October 1813, where you will note that Cameron was not just growing material – he would plant it for his customers by the acre.
The advertisement below right from the Sussex Advertiser of 13th August 1832 shows him to have two nurseries, one at Uckfield and another at Nutley in the neighbouring parish of Maresfield, and also that he was diversifying into breaking in new ground.
The Sussex newspapers often held advertisements seeking workers for the nursery, or sales promotions or snippets about the business. One that particularly took my fancy was in the Sussex Advertiser of 1st October 1832, in a report on the Newick Horticultural Society show. Cameron often judged and entered such shows. This report mentions “our attention was first attracted by Mr. Cameron’s splendid collection of Dahlias, comprising nearly 200 varieties, and well deserving the admiration they excited; also a fine assortment of applies, viz., Franklins, Golden Pippin, Ribston Pippin, Flower of Kent, Nonesuch, Canadian Reinette, Wellington, Northern Greening, Hawthorn-dean, Wadhurst Pippin, Royal George, Bognor Russet, Shepherd’s Seedings (from the tree which first introduced the variety into this part of the country), Cameron’s Pippen (so named by the Society in honour of Mr. Cameron, who raised it from seed, esteemed by the Judges an excellent apple, and a desirable variety for cultivation); – A beautiful Bouquet of miscellaneous flowers…” The prizes awarded included “Mr. Cameron, a beautiful stand of globe and anemone-flowered dahlias, Cameron’s pippin (so named by the Society) and Franklin’s golden pippin.”
He certainly had a thing about dahlias. I see an advertisement in the Sussex Advertiser for 24th November 1834:
Superb Dahlias. Mr. James Cameron, Nursery, Seedsman, and Florist, Uckfield,
Begs to inform the Nobility, Gentry, and all the Fanciers of the above class of splendid Flowers, that he has now purchased from the first growers in England, an extensive collection of the newest and best varieties, which he will warrant true to name and description – Catalogues of which will be forwarded on application to him, at his Nursery, Uckfield, shewing heights, prices, &c., from 1s. 6d. to 21s. each, all of which may be had from the 1st to the Middle of May, 1835, and forwarded to any part of the kingdom.
Uckfield Church about 1780, by Samuel Hieronymus Grimm
The parish of Uckfield lies contiguous with Maresfield, Buxted and Framfield, and close to Newick and Rotherfield, all of which crop up in this story
The Sussex Agricultural Express of 5th February 1861 announced his death, and you will note that James was highly regarded: “On the 28th ult., Mr. James Cameron, aged 72, an old and much esteemed inhabitant of that place.” After his death, Georgiana ran the concern herself. The Surrey Gazette of 22nd October 1861 thanked the public for their very liberal support conferred on her late husband and announced her plans to continue the business.
But alas, she herself was to pass away just a few years later, on 19th March 1864, at Uckfield. Georgiana had applied for probate of her husband’s will back in 1861, but (presumably because the administration duties were not complete) her daughter Georgiana re-applied after her mother’s death as the surviving executrix:
James Cameron. Effects under £1,500. 7 June 1864. The Will of James Cameron late of Uckfield in the County of Sussex Nurseryman deceased who died 28 January 1861 at Uckfield aforesaid was proved at Lewes by the oath of Georgiana Wilson (Wife of Thomas William Wilson, Shopkeeper) of Withyham near Tunbridge Wells in the said County the Daughter the surviving Executrix. Former Grant at Lewes May 1861.
A decade later daughter Georgiana, by now widowed and remarried, became the administrator of her mother Georgiana’s estate:
Georgiana Cameron. Personal Estate under £20. 29 August 1878. Administration of the Personal Estate of Georgiana Cameron late of Uckfield in the County of Sussex Widow who died 19 March 1864 at Uckfield was granted at the Principal Registry to Georgiana Clark (Wife of John Hudson Clark) of South-street Cliff near Lewes in the said County the Daughter and one of the Next of Kin
However, back in 1865, Georgiana having become the executrix of her father’s will, “The Misses Cameron” then instructed the sale of much of their inheritance. Advertisements ran in the Sussex Advertiser and other papers August to October 1865 publicising the forthcoming sales of the house on the High Street at Uckfield, the nursery at Maresfield and much of the stock at the nursery at Uckfield.
It can be seen from these just how extensive the business was.
I haven’t investigated the children in detail. I note that in 1881 three of the sisters (Ellen Cameron, Mary Jane Cameron and Georgiana Clark) were living as annuitants in the parish of Rotherfield, Sussex. You can see the parish of Rotherfield at the top right corner of the plan of parishes above; they had not moved far from Uckfield at this point.
There was still no clue as to how James had become settled in Uckfield in the first place, and then luckily I came across a piece in the Gardener’s Magazine, December 1832 edition, clearly written by James himself.
The search was now on, not for James, but for his uncle, Alexander Cameron, who had established the business 50 years earlier, so about 1780. I was able to track him down, albeit he lived for a period in the adjacent parish of Buxted. This is what I found.
Alexander married Anne Savage on 18th October, 1780, in Framfield, Sussex (again, a parish adjacent to Uckfield). His brother James, you may remember, had married Christian Fraser, and was making a living as a humble shoemaker in Resolis. Alexander however was doing well for himself, having settled in Sussex. As to what drew him from Resolis to Sussex in the first instance, perhaps there are documents in the East Sussex Record Office in Brighton which hold the answer.
Most of the children of whom there are records died young, and Ann herself died in her early fifties. Her burial record states that she was Anne Cameron and buried at St Thomas, Framfield, on 26 th January 1799. Her age was given as 53 which suggests she was born c1746. The records state “from Uckfield” where the family were living at that time. Some of the children I have identified are as follows.
Elizabeth Cameron was baptised on 8th January 1782 at Buxted, and died aged 16, being buried on 22nd August 1798, again at Framfield, the records stating “from Uckfield.”
John Savage Cameron, clearly named after his mother, was baptised on 24th November 1783, at Buxted. He appears to be the only child of whom I have a record who lived a full life, and we shall return to him!
Anne Cameron was baptised on 21st March 1786 at Buxted, and died young as well, being buried on 26th January 1799 at Framfield.
Alexander Cameron was baptised 27th June 1788, in Buxted, and died aged 5 days, being buried on 21st July 1788 at St Thomas, Framfield, the records stating “infant from Buxted.”
Luke Cameron died aged 2, by which I believe was meant 2 days, being buried on 25th October 1789, again at St Thomas, Framfield.
And Alexander himself died in 1830 and is also buried at Framfield. The burial record informs us that Alexander Cameron, a widower from Uckfield, was buried at St Thomas’s on 15 February 1830. His age was given as 89, which suggests he was born c1741. This unfortunately is just a few years before the surviving Resolis baptism records commence, so we cannot pick him up here, back in his home parish. I would be surprised if there was not some reference to his parents in the Record Office. I have hopes that my nephew and nieces who live in Lower Beeding, Sussex, may be persuaded at some time to try a little research!
Church Road, Framfield, with the church of St Thomas à Beckett appearing
The Church of St Thomas’s, Framfield, where Alexander Cameron and Ann Savage were married in 1780, and the burial ground where they and several of their children were laid to rest
From these records you can track Alexander and Anne as they moved from Buxted to Uckfield. I note that there is in the East Sussex Record Office (reference AMS/2745) a contract for a lease for 15 years from 25 March 1807 at £10 from Thomas Maryon Wilson of Charlton House, Kent bt, to Alexander Cameron of Uckfield, gardener, of 2 acres meadowland in Uckfield (on the west, the road from Maresfield to Lewes; on the north, other lands of Thomas Maryon Wilson occupied by Joseph Soper; on the east, other lands of Thomas Maryon Wilson occupied by Joseph Soper; on the south, land of John Smith, gent). I do not know if this was when Alexander Cameron first established himself at Uckfield or if this was just him expanding his enterprise. I presume that Anne was from Framfield as they married there, and she, her husband and her deceased children were all buried there. In fact, I note an Ann Savage baptised in Framfield on the 2nd of May 1747 to parents John and Elizabeth Savage, and I assume this is she.
The surviving child, John Savage Cameron, led a most interesting life. He became the land agent of Eastbourne, Sussex, and engaged in strategic investment. The following is adapted from an on-line study of Greyfield Colliery in the parish of Clutton, in Somerset.
By an indenture dated 9 Mar 1833 between the Earl of Warwick and John Savage Cameron, the Earl granted Cameron the rights to sink a pit and search for coal under his estate in Clutton for 40½ years from 29 Sep last past in return for the Earl receiving a tenth of the coal raised from the pit or money equivalent. A further document dated 12 Mar 1833 set out the shares of the partners in the venture, namely John Savage Cameron land agent of Eastbourne 4/8, David Cook of North End Farm, Clutton 2/8, Samuel Foster of Lincoln’s Inn 1/8 and the Earl of Warwick 1/8 and at the same time it was reported that the necessary engines, works, machinery and horses etc. had been obtained.
This was the birth of Greyfield Colliery, which at first was known as Clutton New Coal Works. Cameron died on 18 Oct 1833 and in his will left his 4/8 share to his nephew Alexander Cameron Ford. Ford subsequently sold half of his share to John and William Rees Mogg, leaving him with 2/8. Extract of an Indenture dated 28 Sep 1839 between Samuel Forster (sole executor of John Savage Cameron, land agent of Eastbourne, deceased), Alexander Cameron Ford and John Rees Mogg, gent. of Cholwell House. Refers to Lease dated 9 Mar 1833 between Earl of Warwick and John Savage Cameron, of mines lying under Earl of Warwick’s property … from 29 Sep last past for 40½ years for 1/10 of the coal extracted. John Rees Mogg now acquires from Alexander Cameron Ford a 1/8 part of Grayfield Coal Works (being part of 4/8 devised to Ford by will of Cameron) for £1,500 etc. William Rees Mogg acquired a further 1/8 share from Ford at the same time.
I would never have believed that the family of Rees Mogg would have cropped up within these Kirkmichael pages!
I give and bequeath the sum of five hundred pounds free of Legacy Duty to James Cameron of Uckfield and I charge my Estate situate in Uckfield aforesaid and now in the occupation of the said James Cameron with the payment of the said legacy and subject thereto. I give and devise and bequeath all my real and personal Estate of what manner or kind soever unto my nephew Alexander Cameron Ford his heirs exers and administrators and I appoint Samuel Forster of Lincolns Inn Gentleman sole Executor
Five hundred pounds to James Cameron! The Uckfield nursery was already a success, but with this legacy the business must have had a tremendous boost. When his brother David died in Jemimaville some years later David left a legacy to the family of James, so perhaps he had received financial assistance from James – he could certainly afford it.
The busy High Street of Uckfield nowadays
Jemimaville has changed little, albeit the occasional guided tour by the Kirkmichael Trust can cause a little commotion!
I have not pursued the family of James Cameron in Sussex, but I do wonder if any of the modern-day descendants realise their origins lie in the Black Isle, and that their earliest known forebears are buried in Kirkmichael – under the name of Mckedie!
James (1788–1861) as we have seen took over and greatly expanded his uncle Alexander’s plant nursery in Uckfield, Sussex.
Christian or Christina (1791–1860) was living with her brother David as housekeeper in their home in Jemimaville in 1851 and at the time of her death. She never married.
Margaret (1793–1875) married in 1840 John McIntosh, described when younger as a tailor or woolen draper, but becoming a general merchant and grocer. He owned his house cum shop in Jemimaville, and when David Cameron returned to Resolis, David bought the adjacent property in Jemimaville. Several relatives who were living with Margaret and John then moved in with David. Margaret was quite a bit older than John, and after her death he quickly married in 1875 a much younger widow, Robertina Urquhart, nee Peddison.
David (1796–1876) left the area and when he returned to buy a house in Jemimaville he is variously recorded as a retired coach builder, a fundholder and a dividender. He never married.
Isobel (1801–) I have been unable to track down.
Helen (c1802–1888), like Christian, was living with her brother David as housekeeper in their house in Jemimaville from 1851 through to her death in 1888. She also never married.
John (–) moved to Edinburgh to become a wright. He married Jean or Jane Crawford in the parish of Leith North on 15th May 1805, and, working backwards from that date, he must have been the earliest born of the siblings identified thus far. I don’t have a record of the baptism of their child, Christina, which must have been about the time of her mother’s death. Her mother tragically died less than three years after the marriage and her burial record is in the parish of Leith South: “Jean Craufoord Spouse of John Cameron wright Leith Walk aged 24 years died the 17th buried the 19th April 1808 in the Sailors ground 5 paces East and 2 North from Alexr Hills headstone”. John must have found difficulties in looking after the young Christina, or else he himself died, as Christina in 1841 appears as a niece in her aunt Margaret’s household in Jemimaville, and then moves when her uncle David returns to Jemimaville to act as a housekeeper in his family. She appears in all the subsequent census returns until her death as David’s niece, born in Edinburgh. I am not aware of any other children of John Cameron and Jean Crawford. Christina died in Jemimaville on 28 November 1899, and it was only through her death certificate that her parents were revealed, her father John thus emerging as an unrecorded child of James Mckedie and Christian Fraser. When she died, all the others of her household had expired, and so the informant was one “Charles Cameron cousin Sheeppark Resolis”.
Charles Cameron of Sheeppark appears in the records as the informant at many Cameron deaths, usually recorded as nephew or cousin. I have in the past tried to build up the different families of Resolis Camerons through these records, but concluded that whilst he was accurate when describing himself as a “nephew” I think when he said he was “cousin” he included being a second cousin! Nevertheless, even if he was a second cousin, Charles is the link that ties many of the Resolis Cameron families together. I have yet to work out how the family of Cameron alias Mckedie, the subject of this Story, are associated with these other branches. The informant of one death certificate was a daughter of Donald McDonald the Cullicudden schoolmaster (who wrote the will for David Cameron, the coach builder). She too called herself a “cousin” but she simply could not have been a first cousin. In time hopefully we can resolve these mysteries.
Nevertheless, the family of the couple commemorated on our recently-discovered slab are now well documented, including the surprising find of a successful plant nurseryman – in Uckfield, Sussex.
The Mckedie slab being temporarily uncovered; photo by Davine Sutherland