The Wilson Family of the Clan Gunn
Written and researched by Margaret nee Knight Sypniewski, B.F.A.
(Thanks to Bill Manley and Jim Arnott, my cousins, for submitting their notes)

My grandmother, Elspeth ("Alice") Lawson (nee Wilson)

to whom this page is dedicated

"A Scot is still a Scot, no matter in what land they be"
as sung by Sir Harry Lauder, was one song that always
brought a tear to my grandmother's eye, because Scotland was always in her
heart and she did travel far beyond the sea.

My grandmother made trips back to Scotland to visit her brothers, sisters,
and in-laws. She took a little part of it along with her, and cherished her
heritage until she parted this world.

My grandmother Elspeth Wilson was the 5th born of Thomas Wilson and his second wife, Margaret McFarlane.


John Lawson was christened May 29, 1768, in Kettle Parish, Fifeshire, Scotland. He married June 19, 1784 to Elspeth Lawson, daughter of William Lawson and Isabel Gourlay. This is yet to be proven by anything but the parish records, and the fact that my grandmother knew Lawson was in the family tree, and that she was named after Elspeth Lawson, her great-great grandmother. She signed her name as Elspeth Lawson Wilson on many documents.

I found a Robert Lawson, innkeeper in Cupar, land records. His wife was listed as Mary Herauld in March 9, 1789. Robert's son was a weaver in Colinsburgh. He could possibly be the brother of John?

..........David Wilson was born August 11, 1771. He married Elspeth Lawson (age 20) who was thirteen years younger than him, on November 17, 1804 in Cupar, Fifeshire, Scotland. Cupar is the market center for agricultural produce of the fertile Howe of Fife, and a Royal Burgh with its charter back to 1363. His occupation was given as farm servant on his son's death certificate. He was a ploughman at Rhynd farm, which is located just northeast of Leuchars in Fife. Today Rhynd is an Equestrian Center.

Elspeth was born September 29, 1789 in the parish of Kettle, Fifeshire, Scotland; to John Wilson and Elspeth Lawson.

By 1827, John's father was 56 years of age.


Photo by J.M. Bassett.
Cuplahills Farm - 2000.

Randerston Farm from the air


John was a farm laborer. John was born on March 28, 1827, at Randerston farm. Randerston was originally a 17th century building and lies 2 meters southeast off Crail Road. It is southeast of the village of Kingsbarns and is bounded by the North Sea. He was baptized on April 15, 1827 at Kingsbarns, Fifeshire, Scotland; to David Wilson (farm Servant) and Elspeth Lawson.

Kingsbarn is situated a little inland between Babbet Ness and Cambo Ness. He was christened on March 28, 1827 (in Kingsbarn). He married Jean Murdoch on November 18, 1848, in Dunbog Manse, Fifeshire, Scotland (Kirk Session Record). John Wilson died September 25, 1871, in Cuplahills Farms in the Parish of Leuchars, Balnullowas.. John died of Phthisis (TB) (at age 44 years), as reported by John Constable, M.D. I originally thought that Jean Murdock was born March 6, 1820 in Strathburn, Leuchars, Fifeshire, Scotland, and was baptized on April 2, 1820 in St. Athernase, Leuchars, Fifeshire, Scotland. Her minister was Rev. David Watson. I also thought that Jean was the daughter of David Murdock and Janet Robertson. David and Janet were married on July 5, 1817. I found a David Murdock, in the LDS Parish records. His christening date was January 1, 1818, in Leuchars, Fifeshire, Scotland, and he was Jean's older brother.

A Thomas Robertson was a writer in Cupar, and was involved in a deed sale with John Grieve, a merchant, on June 27, 1766. Now I know that Jean Robinson was not Jean's mother at all (see below).


The Murdock Family

In the 1851 census, John Wilson is 24 years of age and is listed as a agricultural laborer. His wife Jane is age 23 and is shown as being born in Springfield, Cupar Parish, Fifeshire, Scotland. In the September 1871 census, John (44 years) and Jane/Jean (44 years) were living in the cotter houses in Cuplawhills.

*****Scots term for a peasant farmer (formerly in the Scottish highlands for example). Cotters occupied cottages and cultivated small plots of land. The word cotter is often employed to translate the cotarius of Domesday Book, a class whose exact status has been the subject of some discussion, and is still a matter of doubt. According to Domesday, the cotarii were comparatively few, numbering less than seven thousand, and were scattered unevenly throughout England, being principally in the southern counties; they were occupied either in cultivating a small plot of land, or in working on the holdings of the villani. Like the villani, among whom they were frequently classed, their economic condition may be described as free in relation to every one except their lord.

A cottar or cottier is also a term for a tenant renting land from a farmer or landlord. At this time the farm was owned by Henry Stewart of the St Fort Estate in Forgan Parish. Andrew Hain was the tenant farmer there. By March 31, 1901, in Kingsbarns, Station House, Jean, mother of John (now age 45), is living with him, his wife, Elizabeth and their daughter Elizabeth (age 18). Station House was about a mile west of the village, and the track was closed in the 1950's. Jane will die in the home of her daughter, at Holmlea Cottage on Arthur Street, on December 13, 1901 (Sheddons) at age 74 years of age. Her death certificate was registered on December 30, 1901, in Cathcart, Renfrewshire, Scotland.

St. Athernase Church, Leuchars, Fife Scotland
St Athernase was built by the de Quincey family. The church was constructed between 1546 and 1607.
Leuchars is a RAF station community.

  • George Wilson was born October 30, 1853 in Leuchars, Fifeshire, Scotland.
  • John Wilson was born October 28, 1855 in Gallowhill, Balmerino Parish, Fifeshire, Scotland.

Balmerino abbey is now a ruined Cisternian built site. It was founded in 1226 and stands on the south shore of the Firth of Forth. Gallowhill is at the eastern end of Gauldry village.

  • James Wilson was born March 27, 1858 in Balmerino Parish, Fifeshire, Scotland. He appears in the September 1871 census as age 13. Balmerino is near the River Tay. The ruined Balmerino Abbey is nearby.
  • Robert Wilson was born March 12, 1860 in Balmerino Parish, Fifeshire, Scotland.
  • Jean Wilson was born May 5, 1862 in St. Andrews and Leonard, Fifeshire, Scotland. Jean is listed in the September 1871 census as age 9. Jean married George D. McFarlane in Sheddens. In the 1881 census, her mother is living with her.
  • Andrew Wilson was born March 2, 1864 in Kettle, Fifeshire, Scotland. Andrew is listed in the 1871 census as age 7.
  • William Wilson was born April 17, 1866 in Downfield farm, Kettle Parish, Fifeshire, Scotland. William is listed in the September 1871 census as age 5. William died April 10, 1918. Downfield Farmis a couple of miles southeast of Kings Kettle.
  • Elspeth Wilson was born September 3, 1868 in Cupar Parish, Fifeshire, Scotland. Elspeth is listed in the September 1871 census as age 2.

    On the death certificate of Jean Murdoch (mother of the children above), it shows that she was born in 1827 in Springfield, Parish of Cupar, Fifeshire, Scotland. Jean Murdoch died of a cerebral brain hemorrhage, a is a type of stroke, caused by an artery in the brain bursting and causing localized bleeding in the surrounding tissues. ... Untreated high blood pressure is a major preventable cause of brain hemorrhages. Jean died in Homelea Cottage, Sheddens, South Glasgow. Her father is listed as Thomas Todd Murdoch (b. 1805) and Jane Honeyman (1805-1887). Jean (nee Murdock) Wilson's grandparents are James Murdoch and Helen Tullis.

    There are many Wilson's listed in Cupar deeds: One is a James Wilson, Jr. a tanner by trade. He is listed as living there in 1780. At present, I have no other information about him except his wife was Mary Melville and his only child (at the time), was James Wilson. James Wilson III was born August 10, 1380. Other Wilsons are listed as writers, drapers, merchants, and shoemakers in Cupar.


Thomas Wilson Stationmaster and Elder in the United Free Church, was born March 27, 1851 in Leuchars Parish, Fifeshire, Scotland. He was christened on April 5, 1851 in Leuchars Parish. Thomas was the son of John Wilson and Jean Murdoch.

.......(1) He married (1) Isabella Cossar on June 9, 1876.

Isabella Cossar was the daughter of Robert Cossar (tailor) and Isabella Robertson. Isabella died February 15, 1879 at Bridgend Parish, Bathgate (age 28) of consumption (TB). Most likely Isabella was sick for most of their three years of marriage. ........(2)Thomas Wilson then married Margaret McFarlane on August 8, 1879 in Bathgate, Linlithgow. Their marriage was only six months after his first wife died of TB.

*** I might note that both women were pregnant before they married. I am not sure if this might have been socially acceptable in this time period. Thomas married his first wife four (4) months before she gave birth and his second wife only three (3) months before birth.

I would imagine that there was much gossip in this regard. Maggie was 21 years old at their marriage. Before their marriage, Maggie McFarlane was hired on to do housework when Isabella got sick and could not do for herself. This was an age when men looked for the next wife immediately after their first wife's death, especially if they had children that needed a mother. John Wilson was almost three years of age at his mother's death. Most likely Margaret had tended to young John's needs while his mother was sick? Tom was 28 years old at his second marriage.

Margaret was the daughter of Andrew McFarlane(laborer) and Jane Anderson. Margaret was born May 26, 1858 in Avonbridge, Muiravonside, Stirlingshire, Scotland. She died December 28, 1900 in Station House, Loanhead, MidLothian, Scotland (at age 42), after giving Thomas eight children.

..........(3) His third wife was Mary Henry Rathie. They had no issue.

Thomas Wilson died June 6, 1911 in Station House, Roslin, Midlothian, Scotland (at age 60).

Thomas Wilson's career in the North British Railway was as follows:

  • John was a signalman at Slamanan, Stirlingshire, Scotland, in 1876.
  • A signalman and pointsman at Bathgate, West Lothian,Scotland; from 1879 to 1881.
  • A North British Railway Agent at Marchmont Station, Berwickshire, Scotland; from January 1882-June 1890 (ref: BR.NBR/15/141)



    *********[My grandmother, Elspeth Lawson Wilson, was born at Marchmont Station in 1888].


  • An agent at Newcastleton, Roxburghshire, from June 1890 to August 1899(ref: BR/NBR/15/167)
  • An agent at Loanhead, Midlothian from August 1899 to March 1903.
  • An agent at Roslin, Midlothian, Scotland; from March 1903 to June 1911 (ref: BR/NBR/15/141).

Source: Submitted by my cousin Bill Manley from a letter he received regarding North British Railway Company records, from the Scottish Records Office in Edinburgh on October 6, 1992.

  • Children of Isabella Cossar and Thomas Wilson:

      (1)John Wilson was born October 12, 1876. His mother died on February 15, 1879, when he was three years, 4 months of age. John married Margaret Brown on August 10, 1900 at Dalmeny, County of Linlithgow, Scotland, just four months before the death of Margaret, second wife of his father. John died February 20, 1966 (at age 89 years, 4 mos).

    • Children of Margaret McFarlane and Thomas Wilson:

      (2)Margaret Jean Wilson was born November 12, 1879 in Muiravonside, Stirling, West Lothian, Scotland, at her grandparent's home. No doubt they decided to help their daughter take care of both her step-son and her newborn so that she would not get run-down like Thomas' first wife. Margaret Jean Wilson married Robert Fleming on December 2, 1901. This was one year after her mother's death. Robert Fleming died March 2, ? at High Street, Loanhead, Scotland and was buried in the Loanhead Cemetery on March 4, ? Their son, Robert Fleming later moved to Detroit and lived down the street from his sister, Elspeth. Robert married Jean McNair.

      (3)Elizabeth Wilson ("Liz") was born June 25, 1880 in Bathgate, Kirkton Village Cottage, Scotland; where her mother was a domestic servant. Again Maggie now had three young children and was also working when Elizabeth was born prematurely (7 mos). Most likely this was a result of too many duties at home and at the home of her employer. Elizabeth Wilson married Alex ("Sandy") Thompson. Elizabeth died November 23, 1925 (at age 45).

      (4)Thomas Wilson was born April 23, 1881 in Polwarth, Berwickshire, Scotland. This time Maggie had four children. Tom Wilson, Jr's step-brother John was now 5, his sister Margaret was 1 year 7 months, His sister Elizabeth was only 10 months old, when he was born. Thomas married Ann Smith. Thomas died December 15, 1950 (at age 69).

      (5)Andrew Wilson was born December 17, 1883 in Polwarth, Berwickshire, Scotland, 1 year and nine months after his brother Thomas. Andrew was seventeen years old when his mother died. Thomas married Maria Hood on June 12, 1912. Andrew died June 4, 1968 (at age 85).

      (6)Elspeth Wilson was born April 21, 1888 in Marchmont Station in the Parish of Polworth, Berwickshire, Scotland, 4 years and 4 months after her brother Andrew. Elspeth was only twelve years old when her mother died, and she was then hired out a a maid and tells me she had to carry two buckets of coal up and down stairs each day. Elspeth was a tiny girl and this was not an easy task. She married William Clark Malcolm on June 7, 1915 (at age 27). Elspeth died February 25, 1982 (at age 93), in Wayne County, Michigan. I found many letters in Elspeth's things that showed her signing her name as "Elspeth Lawson Wilson." However, her birth certificate does not show this middle name.

      (7)William ("Willy") Wilson was born October 28, 1889 at Castleton, Roxburghshire, Scotland, 1 year and 6 months after his sister Elspeth. Willy was eleven years old when his mother died. William married Daisy Campbell. William died May 31, 1981 in Loanhead (at age 92).

      (8)Christina ("Tina") Wilson was born July 20, 1893, in Castleton, Roxburghshire, Scotland, 3 years and 9 months after her brother William. Tina was seven years of age when her mother died. She married Walter ("Jack") Lumsdan on August 10, 1916. Christina died September 29, 1921 (at age 28).

      (9)Mary ("Molly") Wilson was born August 22, 1895 in Castleton, Roxburghshire, Scotland, 2 years and 1 month after her sister Christina. Molly was only five years old when her mother died. Molly married James Manley on October 3, 1918. Molly died October 1, 1951 (at age 56).

    See my own page regarding the Wilsons and the Clan Gunn

    For More Information on the Gunn Clan:

    H.A. Gunn Jr., Membership Secretary
    Clan Gunn Society of North America
    751 Amherst Circle
    Sonoma, CA. 95476
    Clan Gunn

    Glenn A. Wilson
    The Wilson Society
    11 Potomac Street
    Littlestown, PA. 17340

    The Gunn Clan Commander:

    Iain Gunn of Banniskirk
    Swiney House, Lybster
    Caithness HW3 6BT


    Family records, LDS Parish records, funeral card of Maggie MacFarlane, Marriage certificate of Thomas Wilson and Margaret McFarlane, Death certificate of Isabella Cossar, 1881 census of Bathgate, and 1891 Scottish Census.

    Related Links:

    Malcolm Family Tree ..... The Malcolm Clan .....Malcolm Photos
    The Rowan Tree ..... Kelso Online.....Dunfermline, Fife
    Scottish Clans, genealogy, and history ..... Scots Origins (General Register Office of Scotland)

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