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Introduction / Eday and Papa Westray Grays / John Gray

Peter Gray and Margaret Taylor

Peter Gray was born in the island of Eday in Orkney. It is not known how he came to be in Kincardineshire. His parents were John Gray, a fisherman, and Janet Reid. At the time of the 1871 census, he was a lodger at the Railway Gatehouse, Glenbervie, described as a railway labourer born in Kirkwall, Orkney rather than the island of Eday in the North Isles of Orkney. The registration of the birth of his children, his death registration and other census all indicate his birth in Eday.

He was married twice, first to Margaret Taylor and second to Mary Jane Warden.

His first marriage was on 8th June 1871, when he was 27 years old. Margaret Taylor was a domestic servant at Mains of Barras, Kinneff, the daughter of William Taylor, a ploughman, and Margaret Melvin. Peter and Margaret were married according to the Free Church of Scotland at Douck Lane, Stonehaven, Dunottar.

Margaret Taylor already had a son, John Symmers Taylor born on 9th March 1864.

Peter and Margaret were to have six children:

  • Barbara Melvin Gray b. 3rd July 1873 at Mains of Ury in the parish of Fetteresso She died on 24th April 1892 at the age of eighteen at Bonhard, Edzell.
  • William Gray b. 1st March 1879. He was found dead in his bed on 10th July 1889 at Inch of Arnall in the Parish of Fettercairn at the age of ten. The death registration indicates that this was supposed to be due to the effect of eating unripe fruit. Reference on the death record is made to the "Register of Corrected Entries", which then records "inflammation of the stomach and bowels".
  • Mary Jane Gray b. 7th October 1881 at Candy, Glenbervie.
  • Peter Gray b. 12th November 1883. Peter went to New Zealand and there are descendants.

Peter left the railways where he worked as a surfaceman to go to the land. The birth registrations of the children indicate that by 1873, he was a ploughman at New Mains of Ury in the parish of Fetteresso, Kincardineshire. The family moved around although Peter remained on the land. Subsequent births indicate agricultural labourer or ploughman. On the birth of their son Peter Gray in 1883, his occupation is given as cattleman.

The information on the place of birth for the children in the 1881 census indicates that the family were moving quite frequently over their married life.

1881 - Cairnton, Fordoun
Relation Age Occupation Born
Peter Gray Head 36 years Ag Labourer Eday, Orkney
Margaret Gray Wife 34 years Fetteresso, Kincardineshire
Margaret Gray Dau 9 years Scholar Glenbervie, Kincardineshire
Barbara M Gray Dau 7 years Scholar Fetteresso, Kincardineshire
James A Gray Son 4 years Scholar Dunottar, Kincardineshire
William Gray Son 2 years Scholar Dunottar, Kincardineshire

Each of these places is within a small number of miles of each other. They were at Auchcairnie of Fordoun at the birth of their son, Peter Gray, in 1883. Fordoun is slightly south of Stonehaven.

Margaret Taylor died of pneumonia at the age of 39 on 27th December 1885 at Tewel, Fetteresso.

Peter Gray was to remarry on 1st December 1888, his second wife being Mary Jane Warden.

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