James Manson1,2

(22 February 1756 - before 1823)
FatherDavid Manson2 (May 1724 - aft. 1771)
MotherHelen J Miller2 (bef. 1735 - aft. 1771)
Relationship4th great-grandfather of Lorna Henderson

BMDB data

     James Manson was born cir. Feb 1756 Lynegar, Par. of Watten, CAI, SCT.2 He was christened on 22 Feb 1756 Par. of Watten, CAI, SCT; Entry reads: Watten 22 Feb 1756, David Manson, Lynegar, and Helen J Miller, spouse, a child James. Wit Alexr Malcolm, Watten and John Miller Strath of Watten.2,3
     James Manson married Christan Georgeson, daughter of Donald Georgeson and Esther Miller, on 29 Dec 1786 Watten, Par. of Watten, CAI, SCT, Entry reads: 3 Dec 1786 James Manson & Christian Georgson in Cogill were contracted in order to marriage and after ordinary proclamations and no objections offered their marriage was solemnized Dec 29th (1786). It is highly likely that Christan and James were cousins, as their respective mothers were both Millers from Coggill when they married their respective fathers.4,5
     James Manson was assumed to have died bef. 1823 ?Coghill, Par. of Watten, CAI, SCT, (this date being based on the 1823 will of William Gunn of Catchery showing that the widow Manson of Coghill owed him £1 11s.)6,7
     Fr 1799 - 1819 Coghill, Par. of Watten, CAI, SCT, a James Manson stood witness to a number of baptisms, some obviously relations, others presumed to be children of friends, namely: two children of his brother William Manson and Christian Young of Coghill - David, 1799 and Helen 1813; William Mowat in 1806, s/o William Mowat and Jean Bain of Gersay; and John Smith 1819 (illeg. son of James' dtr Helen.)

Census/Where lived/Occupations

     In Dec 1786 James Manson was living Coghill, Par. of Watten, CAI, SCT.4 Fr 1793 - 1813 James Manson and Christan Georgeson were living Coghill, Par. of Watten, CAI.8,9

All the other info

     James Manson witnessed the baptism of William Smith in 1794 Par. of Watten, CAI, SCT; entry in OPR reads: William Smith in Auchentoft had a son begot in uncleanness betwixt him and Esther Georgeson baptized and named William witn. William Gunn in Catchery & James Manson in Coghill.10
     The Statistical Account, written in 1799, around the time when James would be in his early 40s, paints the following picture of Watten:
healthy climate with sharp pure air, snow seldom lying for any length of time; eels and trout in the loch; declining population (from 1435 'souls' in 1745 to 1230 in 1792), attributed partly to crop failure in 1782 and 1783, but also to the "more easy and frequent intercourse with the more southern counties, where wages of every kind are thought more inviting"; no village or "manufactory" in Parish, so all employed "in the business of farming", including the tradesmen; extensive corn fields, moors and commons giving extensive pasture to small black cattle, sheep and horses; produce grown mainly "bear (barley) and oats (both black and grey although the latter is of poor quality) with some gentlemen farmers sowing some white oats where the land is good, but these were thought to be "more liable to be shaken"; grass, turnips, pease and beans, with trials of wheat; crop rotation is for 1/3rd bear, 2/3rds oats, in constant rotation, no fallowing, which the writer blamed on aversion to holding land by lease in order to be free "to remove at any term they choose" but added that it was common to see the son succeed the father and "end his days within the walls of the same dwelling in which he was born";
     Most farms were described as 12-20 acres infield, 2-6 outfield, 1 to 2 meadow and a liberty of common, the rent being from 2 to 3L sterling and 6 to 9 bolls oatmeal, plus some feet of "custom peats", the number being in proportion to the distance from the moss, from 8 to 12 or 13 fowls and the cutting down of an acre or an acre and a half of corn; some farms were now beginning to be combined into larger units; after the harvesting, the next work was the provision of fuel for winter, the cutting, winning and carrying home the peats being very time consuming; the houses use as little wood as possible as it is in short supply, and the flock is also housed in night time, generally 4 to 6 little horses, 16-20 black cattle and 20-30 head of sheep;
     Distilleries seem to be a recent invention "Neither their constitutions, nor morals, are gainers by this new branch of business"; surplus grain is sold, as are young cattle, but the latter are generally poorly fed and bring in little (the main diet is given as oat and bear meal, with what milk can be afforded, little butcher meat is used, and vegetables are a few cabbages and potatoes); milk cows and oxen give a tolerable price, and horses more, which is inducing farmers to use larger horses than the original breed of the country; spinning also brings in some money, but the women are in the fields at least 8 mths in the year, most families sow what linseed they think will be needed for their own wearing;
     "prejudicial customs" included the free roaming of cattle for substantial periods of the year, regardless of sown crops; "character" included being fond of dress, rather to excess, and was given as a reason why the young men in general showed such a relish for a military life.11
     The family of James Manson had lived in the Parish of Watten for many years, the earliest recorded instance being the marriage of James and Euphan (Malcolm) in 1721. The families are subsequently reported as living (over time) as farmers at Lynegar, Banks of Scowthell (Scouthal), Achoy, Winless, Cogle/Coghill, then Gersay/Gearsay/Gersa. In the 1860s this began to change.
     First to leave the area was probably their grandson Robert, son of Donald and Bel (McAdie) who headed for the bright lights of Edinburgh where he was a joiner. This was probably around 1860, or even earlier.
     Next to leave, and for further afield, was his brother Donald who left for Australia, then New Zealand, where he was a gold miner in 1864. During the 1870s, their grandson James (Henderson), son of Bel and David jumped ship on the East coast of Canada, settling eventually over on the West Coast. Then in 1875, siblings George (married to Catherine Fraser) and Bel (married to John Bain) both grandchildren of James & Christan emigrated to New Zealand with their families. There doesn't seem to have been much, if any, contact between these NZ based families and that of Donald who had arrived 10 yrs earlier, but they were all settled in the Otago/Southland area.12

External links

     James Manson belongs to a DNA tested line. There may be more information available on DNASurnames under the DNA project for his/her surname/line.


Christan Georgeson (bet. 1756 - 1761 - bet. 1823 - 1841)
ChartsMy pedigree chart
Ancestors & siblings of Les Henderson
Paternal ancestors of Lorna
Paternal timeline

My Caithness ancestors

Last Edited5 Jul 2013


  1. Birth baptism marriage: Watten, CAI Dist 43/2, Baptism 1796 Donald MANSON, extracted Oct 1994.
  2. Birth baptism marriage: Watten, CAI Dist 43/2, MANSON/MILLER Baptisms, extracted Sep 1994.
  3. P K Bain, "EM BAIN, Pat Dunedin," e-mail to L McIntosh, MANSON/MILLER baptisms ex LDS film 0101974 Watten Parochial Registers, Dist 42, baptisms and marriages 1714-1854, rcvd Aug 2003.
  4. Birth baptism marriage: Watten, CAI Dist 43/2, Marriage 1786 James MANSON/ Christian GEORGSON, extracted Oct 1994.
  5. "Lorna's Family History Musings", Dec 2003.
  6. GRO, SCT, BDM searches at GRO SCT: Death 1859 Helen MANSON, trans ?Stuart 2002?
  7. MANSON www & Misc. Corres. Will 1823 William GUNN of Catchery, extract rcvd from Katherine LINEY (e-mail address) Jun 2004.
  8. BAP: MANSON/GEORGESON, Watten ex OPR, 1793 +, Filed in sources folder & notebooks.
  9. P K Bain, "EM BAIN, Pat Dunedin," e-mail to L McIntosh, From Wick OPR, film 101975 MANSON/YOUNG baptisms, rcvd Aug 2003.
  10. Kristine DUNDAS (37807), "EM GEORGESON/SMITH ex Kristine D," e-mail to Lorna Henderson, Bap. 1794 William SMITH, from the Watten OPR, transcr. rcvd May 2004.
  11. Misc. corres. and web searches, CAI, SCT Statistical Account of Wattin, 1791-9, written by Rev Joseph TAYLOR, Vol 11 p259ff, http://stat-acc-scot.edina.ac.uk/stat-acc-scot/…, extracted Aug 2003.
  12. "Lorna's Family History Musings", Aug 2003.
  13. BAP: MANSON/GEORGESON, Watten ex OPR: Sep 1994, 1793 +, Filed in sources folder & notebooks.
  14. Scottish BMDB entries (from 1855), http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/index.php, Dth 1881 Christina MANSON, reg. Watten Dist 42 #4, copy d/loaded Jan 2007.
  15. Letter, Carole MELLOR to Lorna Henderson, rcvd Feb 1994.
  16. Birth baptism marriage: Watten, CAI Dist 43/2, Bap 1799 John & Jannet MANSON, rechecked Nov 2003.

E. & O. E. Some/most parish records are rather hard to read and names, places hard to interpret, particularly if you are unfamiliar with an area.