18 January 2009

James Newell Gordon & Mary McQueen Anderson

Today we have something a little different. While looking through a box of old photographs in an antique shop in Thames (NZ) a few weeks ago I came across this certificate:-


In the same box was this large photograph of a grave, the names on the grave had the same surname as the person on the certificate.


So I set about finding out what I could on the Gordon family and have come up with a most interesting family. None of it gives me the slightest clue as to why/how these documents ended up in New Zealand but there is one hope left - see end of this article.

The story starts with Lord Armadale of Armadale and Graemsay in the Orkney Islands, Scotland. Lord Armadale was Sir William Honeyman, son of Patrick Honeyman and Margaret McKay. William was born on 6 Dec 1756 in Orkney and on 6 Feb 1777 he married Mary McQueen in Edinburgh, Scotland. William's father married twice and he had many children, one of them was Janet who was a full sister to Lord Armadale.

Janet Honeyman was born 25 Mar 1758 and on 11 Jan 1781 she married John Lieutenant Grieve also in Edinburgh. Amongst their children was Jean (aka Jane) Grieve born 25 May 1786 in Peebles, Scotland, she married William Anderson on 28 Jun 1805 in Glasgow, Scotland. Jean & William named one of their daughters after Lord Armadale's wife, Mary McQueen.

Mary McQueen Anderson was born 28 Oct 1807 in Glasgow, on the 30 Jan 1839 she married James Newell Gordon of Ireland in the parish of Glasgow, Glasgow City, Lanarkshire, Scotland.


The children I have found for them are:-

  • William Newell born c1839 West Indies died 1895
  • Jane Grieve born c1842 West Indies married Dr Henry F Meadows 1862 Brazil
  • James Muter Anderson born c1844 West Indies died 1875 Brazil
  • John Stevenson born 26 May 1847 Islington, London died 1854 Islington
  • Mary Anderson born Jun 1850 Islington, London married James Crichton Bushman 1874 Brazil

James & Mary Gordon and their children are living in England in the 1851 census but have disappeared by the 1861 census and I can find no further mention of them in any English census until 1891.


1851 Census - Source Citation: Class: HO107; Piece: 1499; Folio: 175; Page: 22; GSU roll: 87832. ©ancestry.com

From the cemetery photograph we know that John Stevenson died on the 5 Nov 1854 and his brother James Muter Anderson, died on the 12 Jun 1875 aged 30, in a mining accident in Brazil.

In the course of my research online I found a few books that mention James Newell Gordon as being the Superintendant of the St John d'el Rey Mining Co in Morro Velho, Brazil. One of them is 'British Enterprise in Brazil by Marshall Craig Eakin'. This book also suggests there was another daughter for James & Mary who married James Pennycook Brown but I have found nothing further on her.

Another book was 'The Romance of Lady Isabel Burton', written in 1867 partly by Lady Isabel, she tells of her visit to Morro Velho and its Environs in chapter 7. A small extraction says:-

Among other things, I determined to go down into the mine, which has the reputation of being the largest, deepest, and richest gold -mine in Brazil. We had been very anxious to visit its depths when we were at Morro Velho before, but Mr. Gordon had put us off until our return. It was considered rather an event for a lady to go down the mine, especially as Mrs. Gordon, the Superintendent’s wife, who had been at Morro Velho nine years and a half, had never been down. However, she consented to accompany me. She said, “I have never yet taken courage; I am sure if I don’t do it now, I never shall.”

James & Mary must have returned to England sometime after the 1881 census because Mary died there in 1885. Her death is registered in the 4qtr of 1885 (Gordon Mary Anderson M 77 Richmond S 2a 212) and in 1891 James is living with widowed daughter, Mary Ann Bushman, in Richmond Surrey, he's listed as a retired mining engineer. James' death is registered in the 3qtr of 1896 (Gordon James Newell 81 Richmond S 2a 220).


If you think you are connected to this family and would like the above documents please get in touch with me. Tomorrow I go to check my local library to see if I can find the NZ Genealogist Magazine that has an article on 'The Morro Velho Gordons' which might yield a NZ connection.


Audas Viator said...

Dear Dawn in NZ,

Very nice blog! A bit more information can be gleaned from Lady Isobel's husband, Sir Richard Burton, in his description of travels in Brazil: "Explorations of the Highlands of the Brazil with a full account of the gold and diamond mines". It can be downloaded from http://www.archive.org/details/explorationshig00burtgoog.

Nice work!

William A. M.

Murfomurf said...

Hello Dawn
I came to your blog via a search for a passenger list for the Fairsea! Now I have discovered that you used a University of Adelaide eBook which was put together by my partner, Steve, who is the Systems Analyst and eBooks custodian (read "enthusiast") there. I chase ancestry across the Web sometimes as there is not much family information left behind for me. I was born in NZ and now live in Adelaide, South Australia. I have a real mystery photo which I thought you might speculate upon! There is no information attached to it, but my father kept it all his life, even after throwing out stuff related to his own brothers and sister. You can see the photo at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/murfomurf/1201768907/. Any idea about why these musicians are in the water? The photo was taken maybe between 1920 and 1945. My father is NOT in it- he maybe took the photo. His brother may be in it if it's taken in Guam during the war. Otherwise it's taken in NZ. My father was based in Wellington, but moved around a lot in his various government jobs. He once was Superintendent of the Rotorua Baths/Spa/Hospital and ended up as a senior statistician in the Bureau in ?Courtney St?, Wgtn. He was a good piano player and hung around with a lot of musicians- maybe with some of those band members. What do you think are the chances of ever solving this odd case?

Robin said...

Hello. Did you find a relative for these documents? Mary McQueen's brother John was my 3rd great grandfather. He emigrated from Scotland to Mauritius and produced a very eminent batch of children, including Dr Daniel Anderson and Rev Samuel Anderson.

courtneycotton01@gmail.com said...

Robin, you didn't leave me a contact email. I'm hoping you'll come back to this blog again and see this. I'll be in contact when you do, or you could email me at the address under my complete profile ------>>>

courtneycotton01@gmail.com said...

Please read this article further to the above family - http://bygonedaysphotography.blogspot.com/2009/01/morro-velho-gordons.html

Robin said...

Hi I have emailed you privately with my email address. Cheers, Robin