Monday, March 16, 2015

William Ross. Article VI, 16/10/1879 - Rambling Recollections of Berriedale Badbea and Neighbourhood – Part A

Article VI written by Alexander Gunn aka A Native of Badbea was printed in the Northern Ensign on 16 Oct 1879. Part A

“I have given a short sketch of Badbea and Auchencraig – the people and their habits. It may be said, what interest has the general public in either? I am of the opinion they have an interest in both. We are usually anxious to know the character and habits of people living in distant parts of the world, and the character and habits of the inhabitants of the place referred to are as little known beyond a few miles of the place they inhabit as if they lived in the unexplored regions of Central Africa.
Not a few of these unknown, simple people, were the salt of the earth, though unknown to the world, such as John Sutherland, Badbea, and a few others. In Auchencraig there were also men of prayer. Out of the thirteen houses of which Auchencraig was composed, there were several men who were humble Christians, whose everyday life testified that they were men of God, and while they were not numbered amongst “the men,” they could take part in any religious service to the edification of those privileged to hear them.

Your correspondent, “Once Again,” in his “Recollections of Berriedale,” mentions the names of the Rosses, extensive agriculturalists in New Zealand, as Berriedale men. Allow me to correct your correspondent in this manner. They were not Berriedale men. They were born in Auchencraig, their father being William Ross who had his lot about the centre of the town, and where all his family were born. Donald and John, referred to, were full grown men when their father was turned out of Auchencraig, and as their father got a bit of black hill to settle down upon in Badrinsary, Berriedale, which he, by the help of a family of industrious sons and daughters brought to a tolerable state of cultivation, and died there about seventeen years ago, an old man
He was a quiet, industrious man, and much respected by all who knew him.

Badrinsary in the 21st century is still not much more than 'black hill.'
Waste land at Badrinsary.
His sons, Donald and John, went to New Zealand upwards of twenty years ago, and landed in Wellington. Their first employment in the colony was sheep shearing at £1 per day. They were employed by Mr Alexander Sutherland, who belonged to Badbea, and who was a school companion of theirs in their school days, and whose death was noticed in the Ensign about a year ago, as one of the most successful, extensive and enterprising land-owners in the province of Wellington. The Rosses did not settle in that part of the colony, however, but proceeded to the province of Southland, where they settled down, and by their skill, industry and perseverance, became men of portion and of means. About seventeen years ago John Ross returned to this country on business, when he purchased and took back with him the machinery of both thrashing and grinding mills; and singular enough, during that time his respected and aged father died, and he had the melancholy satisfaction of being present to perform the last sad duties to his respected parent.”

My comments :

  • William Ross was born in 1771 in Berrydale and presented for baptism by his father Donald.
  • William Ross married Helen Gunn – date unknown. They had at least the following children: Donald, Christina, John, Ann, William, Elizabeth, David. That such a large family managed to eke a living out of such poor land is extraordinary.
  • In the 1841 census the family are living in Badrinsary having been turned out from their comfortable way of life in Auchencraig by the Laird of Langwell, Donald Horne.
  • The 1841 census shows William Ross age 72 as a Tenant (Farmer) in Berriedale, Badrinsary. At home are Helen his wife age 55, John age 28, Ann age 25, William age 19,  Elizabeth age 16, David age 13.
  • The 1851 census shows the Ross family still in Badrinsary. William is getting on in years at 82. Daughter Christina age 40 is now living at home along with David who is a labourer. Both are unmarried.
  • The 1861 census shows William at 90 years of age. Helen is 75. Christina and David are still at home   Granddaughter Janet Gunn age 18 is in the house.
  • William died in 1862 at the age of 93. Helen lived on a few more years and died in 1868 age 84. How very satisfactory that son John was home from New Zealand and present with his very old father William as he passed away. John signed his father’s death record.

  • By the 1871 census Christina and David are still at the Badrinsary croft. Their parents William and Helen have both died.
  • It is worth noting that while the Cheviot sheep were the cause of the clearances in Scotland, many of those who emigrated to New Zealand farmed sheep in their new homeland displacing native land owners in the process.


  1. Elizabeth "Eliza" Ross - sister Donald, Christina, John, Ann, William, David, Alexander & Louisa emigrated to NZ and married my 3rd great uncle Robert Sutherland.
    16 Nov 1851 • Port Chalmers, Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand
    On board the vessel "Clara" from London, which arrived New Zealand 25/8/1851 in Nelson, and later moved to Wellington and Lyttleton before Otago. Her brothers Donald and John disembarked in Wellington, before travelling south a few years later. She inherited part of Langwell farm in NZ while her husband Robert was appointed Executor of her brother John's will. Her nephew/ later son in law, William Ross, inherited the other part of the farm.
    Elizabeth & Robert had five daughters.
    Her obituary -

  2. Perhaps you may be able to help me with Robert Sutherland's ancestry. His brother Adam is my 2nd great grandfather. He was one of seven children and five of them emigrated to NZ. Their parents were Adam Sutherland of Rinsary, Badinsary, Berriedale and Catherine Sutherland (born Sutherland) of Balnabruich, Dunbeath, Caithness. Adam Snr had a brother William. His father may gave been a William Sutherland of Stemster and a Catherine Sutherland of Dallrangogg, Latheron. I would love to be able to go back further : )