18 November 2012

Archibald Hume [1796 - 1857], marriage to Mary Gibson

Whilst trying to establish the date on which my three times great grandfather Hugh Hume [1792 - 1861] left Scotland for London I examined the records of his siblings for any helpful information. In the Register of Proclamations for St Cuthbert’s Church, Edinburgh, Hugh Hume is identified as one of the two ‘cautioners’ along with his brother William Hume [1789 - 1861] for the marriage proclamation of his brother Archibald Hume [1796 -1857] and Mary Gibson [1797 - 1874].

Register of Proclamations
20th November 1818
Hume & Gibson
Archd Hume Gentleman's Servant George Street No. 117 and Mary Gibson daughter of Archd Gibson Baker at Dalkeith residing Pilrig House
Hugh Hume Plumber Pauls Work
William Hume do. West Register Street 27
OPR Marriage 685/002 0200 0159 St Cuthberts 20-11-1818

St Cuthbert's Church, Edinburgh

In many parishes it is more common to find a record of the proclamation of the forthcoming marriage than the marriage itself. The proclamation of banns was the notice of contract of marriage, read out in the Kirk before the marriage took place. Couples or their ‘cautioners’ (sponsors) were often required to pay a ‘caution’, ‘pledge’ or security to prove the seriousness of their intentions which would be recovered if the marriage took place within forty days with no scandal attached. Forthcoming marriages were supposed to be proclaimed on three successive Sundays, however, in practice, all three proclamations could be made on the same day on payment of a fee.

What was actually recorded in the registers varied greatly. The information may include:

the date(s) of proclamations;
20th November 1818
the date of the marriage;
the name of the bride and groom;
Archd (Archibald) Hume and Mary Gibson
the parish of each and sometimes
their places of residence;
George Street No. 117 and residing Pilrig House
occupation of the man;
Gentleman's Servant
Occasionally the name of the bride’s father, and
Archd (Archibald) Gibson Baker at Dalkeith
rarely the name of the groom’s father, and
the name of the minister. Occasionally you will find
the names of the cautioners, usually relatives, and
Hugh Hume Plumber Paintwork
William Hume do. West Register Street 27
the names of the witnesses.

Interestingly the information provides leads to other sources which allow us to make suppositions about Archibald and Mary.

Archibald’s address is given as 117 George Street. Checking the Scottish Edinburgh Post Office directories for the years 1816/17 to 1818/19 we find that this premises is the address of John Cunningham esq. Advocate. No doubt Archibald was this gentleman’s servant.

Pilrig House, Edinburgh

Mary Gibson meanwhile, being a woman does not have any information provided about her profession however her address provides a clue. Pilrig House was the home of the Balfour family, maternal forbears of the author Robert Louis Stevenson. The Balfours are described in Memoirs of Himself 1885 by Robert Louis Stevenson as

“My mother’s family the Balfours of Pilrig . . . for near three centuries before my appearance, these Balfours had been judges, advocates and ministers of the gospel.”

As such it would seem likely that the Balfours and John Cunningham were known to each other from their common work in the legal world and it is therefore possible that Archibald and Mary were also servants of their respective masters. Whilst it is not possible to know if Mary was a lady’s maid or simply another servant in Pilrig House I like to think that they met through their common employment.