5. McCOLL Family of Mull, Argyllshire: 1793–1894

On the previous page, we saw how the Barr family had roots back to merchants in Edinburgh, and later in Greenock in Renfrewshire. Eventually our line moved to Kilmacolm where Thomas [1] Barr married Jean Morrison from Islay. Thomas died fairly young, leaving Jean to bring up six children. 

N.B. — Throughout this text, all of Robyn’s direct ancestors are marked in purple. All blue text [inside brackets] represents additional information or corrections, and did not form part of the original documents. Copies of the original birth, death, marriage and census records are held by me and stored in the Cloud, and can be made available to interested parties.  When reproducing the baptismal and marriage entries below, I have kept the original archaic spellings and text, and also laid them out to reflect how they appear in the parish records.

We saw in the previous chapter how Thomas [2] Barr had left the family home before the 1851 census, at which time he was working as a farm labourer at “Old Place”, a small holding just a few hundred yards north of his home town of Kilmacolm. At the same time, his future wife was working as a ‘ground servant’ at a farm about 5 km (3 miles) directly north of Newton Mearns and close by Pollockshaws, in Eastwood Parish:

# SCOTLAND CENSUS: Place, Parish, County 1Source: McCALL, Ann [McColl]; 1851 Scotland Census; 562/ 2/ 20; Eastwood, Renfrewshire.

William Tefler; Head; Widower; 61; Farmer (101 acres, 2 employees); born Abbey, Renfrewshire
                          — 13 entries for family and servants —
Margaret McClasplane [McGlashan ?]; Servant; Unm.; 19; House Servant; born Mull, Argyllshire
Ann McCall [McColl]; Servant; Unm.; 19; Ground Servant; born Mull, Argyllshire

Here we first find Ann McColl, after she has left her island home and taken work just south of Glasgow. One of the other servants at Cowglen, 19-year-old Margaret McClasphane (probably McGlashan), was also from Mull, and perhaps they had both left home together to discover the world. Thomas [2] Barr and been working 20 km (12 miles) north-west of Cowglen in 1851, but must have moved to the Eaglesham Parish by 1853, because he met and married Ann there in that year:

1853 SCOTLAND O.P.R. MARRIAGES: Parish of Eaglesham, Renfrewshire 2Source: BARR, Thomas & McCOLL, Ann; 1853 Scotland O.P.R. Marriages; 561/ 20 308; Eaglesham, Renfrewshire.

Thomas [2] Barr & Ann McColl
both residing in this parish were
proclaimed 12th June

Eaglesham was the parish to the immediate south of Eastwood, but this is a fair distance from Gaelic-speaking Mull. Thomas and Ann were soon to move to Glasgow to start their family, but we need to go back to Mull to trace Ann’s lineage.

John McColl & Christina McLean


We know from Ann’s death certificate that her parents were John McColl and Christina McLean, and we easily found this family in the 1841 census:

1841 SCOTLAND CENSUS: Kellan, Island of Mull, Argyllshire 3Source: McCOLL, John; 1841 Scotland Census; 548/ 5/ 3; Salen, Argyllshire.

John McColl; 35; Forester; born Argyllshire
Christy McColl [McLean]; 30; Farm Labourer; born Argyllshire
Ann McColl; 12; Farm Labourer; born Argyllshire
Catherine McColl; 6; born Argyllshire
Chirsty McColl; 4; born Argyllshire
Mary McColl; 6 months; born Argyllshire
Catherine McColl [McLean]; 60; Farm Labourer; born Argyllshire

We have three generations in this record, and everyone over 12 was working on the land. John’s McColl’s mother, Catherine, was living at the house. We have never found any baptisms for the four children, but we had more success with her parents. Chirsty (Christina) was born in Kilninian Parish in the north-east of the island:

1803 SCOTLAND O.P.R. BAPTISMS: Kilninian and Kilmore, Mull, Argyllshire 4Source: McLEAN, Christina; 1803 Scotland O.P.R. Births; 544/ 10 126; Kilninian and Kilmore, Argyllshire.

July 23
Allan & Ann McLean in Kilninian had their lawl. daur. Christina baptized.

There are two possibilities here — either the mother’s maiden name was ignored, or both parents had the surname ‘McLean’. However, it was very common in these island communities for cousins to marry, and we did find their marriage:

1793 SCOTLAND O.P.R. MARRIAGES: Parish of Kilninian and Kilmore, Mull, Argyllshire 5Source: McLEAN, Allan & McLEAN, Ann; 1793 Scotland O.P.R. Marriages; 544/ 10 104; Kilninian & Kilmore, Argyllshire.

Decr. | 18 | Allan & Ann McLeans in Kingarera [Kengharair] offer proclamations were married [?]

This seems to suggest they both were ‘McLeans’ and, to confirm, we have what looks like her mother’s baptism in 1767:

1767 SCOTLAND O.P.R. BAPTISMS: Parish of Kilninian and Kilmore, Mull, Argyllshire 6Source: McLEAN, Ann; 1767 Scotland O.P.R. Births; 544/ 10 10; Kilninian and Kilmore, Argyllshire.

Nov. 22
Hugh McLean & Christina McDonald in Kengarvar had their
lawful Daughter Ann baptized.

So, Allan and Ann were likely cousins of some degree. “Kengarvar” is actually ‘Kengharair’, and is in the centre of the north-west peninsula of Mull. We cannot find a marriage record for these parents, but we can find baptisms for most of their children: Duncan (1794); Mary (1796); Margaret (c.1800); Christina (1803); Flora (1805); Archibald (1809); and Hugh (1811).

The story for John McColl is a little different, as he was an illegitimate child:

1804 SCOTLAND O.P.R. BAPTISMS: Parish of Kilninian and Kilmore, Mull, Argyllshire 7Source: McCOLL, John; 1804 Scotland O.P.R. Births; 544/ 10 129; Kilninian and Kilmore, Mull, Argyllshire.

Septr. 9 | [?] McColl & Catherine McMillan in Keilmore [Kilmore] had yr. natl. son John baptized

Here, John is given as a “natural” son, meaning his parents weren’t married, and his father’s first name is missing. Later we are given the conflicting evidence that his father might have been a ‘Donald’ or a ‘John’, but Donald was on his marriage certificate, while John was given by the informant for his death certificate — the living speak better than the dead! 

Years 1851–1910

We know nothing about the family in the decade after 1841 — but, by the next census, John was a widower, and we have no record of Christy McLean’s death. His mother, though, was still living with him and three of his daughters:

# SCOTLAND CENSUS: Place, Parish, County 8Source: McCOLL, John; 1851 Scotland Census; 548/ 5/ 3; Salen, Argyllshire.

John McColl; Head; Widower; 47; Farm Labourer; born Kilninian, Argyllshire
Catherine McColl; Daughter; Unm.; 16; Farm Labourer; born Kilninian, Argyllshire
Christine McColl; Daughter; Unm.; 14; Scholar; born Kilmore, Argyllshire
Mary McColl; Daughter; Unm.; 11; Scholar; born Kilmore, Argyllshire
Catherine McMillan; Mother; Unm.; 60; Formerly Servant; born Kilninian, Argyllshire

We know the eldest daughter, Ann, had left Mull and was working on a farm near Glasgow, and was still two years short of being married (you can find her marriage to Thomas [2] Barr on page 4). It’s interesting that three members of this household are given as being born in “Kilninian”, and the other two at “Kilmore”. Both of these churches had been part of the same parish of ‘Kilninian and Kilmore’ since 1688, so it’s hard to fathom what distinction the enumerator was trying to convey. However, two of this family were not to make it till the following census, and they died within five weeks of each other — first Mary

1856 SCOTLAND STATUTORY DEATHS: Salen, Mull, Argyllshire 9Source: McCOLL, Mary; 1856 Scotland Statutory Deaths; 548/ 4; Salen, Mull, Argyllshire.

Mary McColl, Single

died: 3rd July 1856  (2:30 am)     age: 16 years  at: Jarvisfield

father: John McColl, Farm Labourer 
mother: Christian McColl M.S. McLean  [deceased]

cause: Consumption  doctor: Duncan McColl, Surgeon, Salen   last seen: July 3rd 1856
burial: Kilenalen    certified / informant: John McCall, Father, Jarvisfield

… then Mary’s grandmother:

1856 SCOTLAND STATUTORY DEATHS: Salen, Mull, Argyllshire 10Source: McCOLL [McMillan], Catherine; 1856 Scotland Statutory Deaths; 548/ 10; Salen, Mull, Argyllshire.

Catherine McColl, Widow [never married]

died: 10th August 1856  (6:00 am)   age: 82 years   at: Jarvisfield

father: Archibald McMillan, Farmer
mother: Ann McColl

cause: No regular medical attendant
burial: Kilenalen     certified / informant: John McColl, son of Deceased

Tobermory, Mull

Mary, the youngest of John McColl’s children, died of tuberculosis, a rampant disease at that time. And although her grandmother’s cause of death isn’t recorded, TB would be a good guess. Both were buried at “Kilenalen”, which is an Anglicised version of the Gaelic  ‘Cille an  Kilein’. This is a graveyard in what is now a derelict churchyard close to Aros on the east coast of the island, about 10 km (6 miles) south of Tobermory.

“Jarvisfield” was the estate originally owned by General Lachlan Macquarie, the one-time governor of New South Wales, who is known as the ‘Father of Australia’. The estate was combined with the Glenforsa estate in 1836, and then run by Lt-Col Charles Greenhill-Gardyne, who built Glenforsa House (now Gruline House) in 1861.  Our family are known to have lived at Drumlang cottage (later called Glenforsa cottage), which is on the estate at the eastern end of Loch na Keal in an area known as Gruline — this is only a kilometre from Lachlan Macquarie’s mausoleum. There is still a cottage there today.

John was still at Jarvisfield Cottage in 1861, now living with a married daughter and her husband:

1861 SCOTLAND CENSUS: Jarvisfield, Gruline, Mull, Argyllshire 11Source: McCOLL, John; 1861 Scotland Census; 548/ 2/ 2; Salen, Argyllshire.

John McColl; Head; Widower; 55; Agricultural Labourer; born Kilninian, Argyllshire
Catherine McFadyan [McColl]; Daughter; Mar.; 25; born Salen, Argyllshire
Archibald McFadyan; Son in Law; Mar.; 25; Agricultural Labourer; born Gribun, Argyllshire
Mary McFadyan; Grand Daughter; 6 months; born Salen, Argyllshire
Angus McFadyan; Visitor; Mar.; 62; Agricultural Labourer; born Ulva, Argyllshire

Catherine had been a washerwoman when she married in 1860, and Archibald a fisherman; they were both living at Gribun, about 13 km (8 miles) by road to the west. Ten years later, the ‘McFadyens’ were back towards Gribun at Balnahard, again a fishing family, and then with four children. However, before the 1871 census, John McColl was to marry for the second time:

1868 SCOTLAND STATUTORY MARRIAGES: Salen, Mull, Argyllshire 12Source: McCALL [McColl], John & Campbell, Christina; 1868 Scotland Statutory Marriages; 548/ 1; Salen, Argyllshire.

married: 26th March 1868      at: Glenforsa
After Banns, according to the Forms of the Established Church of Scotland

John McCall [McColl, Widower]      age: 61 [63]  years of: Glenforsa
father: Donald McCall, General Labourer
mother:  Catherine McCall  M.S. McMillan  [deceased]

Christina Campbell      age: 43    of: Salen
father: John Campbell, Labourer
mother:  Sally Campbell M.S. Campbell

minister: Mungo Campbell, of Salen     witnesses: John McPherson; Malcolm Black

We have no information about his new wife’s family other than on this marriage certificate, but we find out from later census records that she was born in Tobermory, the island’s main town. By 1871, ‘Jarvisfield Cottage’ was being called ‘Glenforsa Cottage’:

1871 SCOTLAND CENSUS: Glenforsa Cottage, Salen, Mull, Argyllshire 13Source: McCOLL, John; 1871 Scotland Census; 548/ 2/ 1; Salen, Argyllshire.

John McColl; Head; Mar; 66; Farm Labourer; born, Ulva, Argyllshire
Christian McColl [Campbell]; Wife; Mar.; 47; born Tobermory, Argyllshire
Neil Campbell; Boarder; Unm.; 62; Quarryman; born Kilmichael, Argyllshire

All of John’s children had by then left home. You will have also noted by now that the names ‘Christian’, ‘Christina’ and ‘Christy’ seem interchangeable, and this was the same for the first wife and one daughter as well. The boarder, Neil, we presume is an older brother, uncle or cousin to John’s new wife, although ‘Kilmichael’ is on the mainland near Lochgilphead at the head of the Mull of Kintyre. At this time, his oldest daughter, Ann, was living at Port Dundas Road in Glasgow, with five children. I wonder if she ever kept contact with her family on Mull, and did she even know her father had remarried? Whatever,  John McColl was still ant Drumlang Cottage when he died from heart disease in 1878:

1878 SCOTLAND STATUTORY DEATHS: Salen, Mull, Argyllshire 14Source: McCOLL, John; 1878 Scotland Statutory Deaths; 548/ 5; Salen, Argyllshire (R.C.E. Vol 1 p.14, 11 April).

John McColl, Agricultural Labourer
(Married to Christina Campbell)

died: 20th March 1878    age: 70  [73]  years   at: Glenforsa

father: John [Donald] McColl, Agricultural Labourer (deceased)
mother: Catherine McColl  M.S. Bell  [McMillan] (deceased)

cause: Disease of Heart [from R.C.E.]    doctor: Duncan McColl, Surgeon, Salen
informant: Christina McColl, Widow (Present)

Wrap-up for the Island of Mull

Christina Campbell was to live on as a widow for almost 10 years after John McColl died. In both 1881 and 1891 she was still living at Jarvisfield, and working as a farm servant. By 1891 she was reported as a “pauper”, and this was the first year the census asked about languages — Christina spoke both Gaelic and English, and it is likely her husband did as well. She died of a “tumour collapse” in February 1894, aged 74, and a neighbour was the informant on her death certificate.

The second daughter, Catherine, lived on at Balnahard Cottage as a fisherman’s wife. She had seven children between 1860 and 1878, but her husband, Archibald McFadyen, died sometime after the 1901 census. Like her step-mother, she spoke Gaelic and English, and died of an unknown cause in May 1909.

John’s third daughter, Christina, married a ploughman called John McDonald at Glenforsa Cottage in 1865. He came from Achadashenaig, near Aros, but nothing else of this couple has ever been found. She did not appear in any census in Mull after 1851, so, it seems they may have left the island, and perhaps migrated to the New World — no descendant has ever popped up in our Ancestry connections.

Our story now continues with the eldest daughter, Ann McColl, who who married Thomas [2] Barr in 1853 in Renfrewshire just before moving to Glasgow:

1853 SCOTLAND O.P.R. MARRIAGES: Parish of Eaglesham, Renfrewshire 15Source: BARR, Thomas [2] & McCOLL, Ann; 1853 Scotland O.P.R. Marriages; 561/ 20 308; Eaglesham, Renfrewshire.

Thomas [2] Barr & Ann McColl
both residing in this parish were
proclaimed 12th June

Their eldest daughter was to marry into the Galt family and make her way to Brisbane in 1883; Thomas and Ann would follow in 1886.