The elusive beginning


Detail from John Thomson’s Atlas of Scotland (1832), showing the location of Newmore. National Library of Scotland, EMS.s.712(25).

I often joke to colleagues that William Macintosh is the most significant eighteenth-century imperial careerist and travel writer for whom there is no Wikipedia entry.  At some point I would like to remedy that omission, but only once I feel sure I know some of the basics with certainty (like when he was born and when he died).

Macintosh is listed (under the heading “Eminent Men”) in the entry for the Parish of Rosskeen in The Second (New) Statistical Account of Scotland (1834–45), written by the parish minister, David Carment in October 1838. Carment (who assumed his role in the parish in 1822) notes that Macintosh was “born at Newmore, in this parish, in the year 1738”. Carment further notes, however, that registers of births in the parish date only from 1781. It is, therefore, uncertain how much faith can be placed in the 1738 date.

Baptismal records in nearby areas list a number of potential candidates: a William Mcintosh was baptised in Nairn on 14 March 1736; another (son of James) in Dores (near Inverness) on 31 March 1737; and another (son of William and Issobell [sic]) in Petty (near Inverness) on 8 October 1738.

Whether any of these is my William Macintosh is, at the moment, difficult to say. Would Macintosh’s family have taken him the 60-mile round-trip between Newmore and Petty to be baptised when (presumably) it could have been done closer to home? Should I just give up on my attempts at triangulation and accept Carment’s date as read?

Macintosh’s date of death is, of course, a whole different question.

2 thoughts on “The elusive beginning

  1. Pingback: Mary Macintosh | On the archival trail of William Macintosh

  2. Pingback: The beauty and chill of Achnacloich | On the archival trail of William Macintosh

Leave a Reply