Descendants of Culbokie

We have created this new page to act as a showcase for histories sent to us by descendants of families that once lived in and around Culbokie. The page is very experimental and navigation will be improved.

February 2018

We have been in communication with Elizabeth Jorgenson, Ottawa whose  2x great grandfather emigrated from Culbokie to Canada. She has been trying to understand the geography of the area using our website, various maps, and some old photos in her possession, 

She writes:

I have many questions, but two come to mind... do you know where is  Cnocnofannaig Cemetery?  Was there a Knocknafanaif Church?

I was hoping one of your members could identify some photographs of the Culbokie area taken in 1913.  I am interested  in knowing  whether the buildings are extent and where they were/are located.   The photographs (shown in the Gallery at the foot of the page) were taken at the request of my great-great aunt Dr. Annie Ross who was visiting Culbokie in 1913 to discover the origins of her father and my great-great grandfather Thomas Ross.  I hope to retrace the steps Annie Ross took in 1913 and discover for myself the origins of the Ross family. 

I have lots of data for the Ross family and would like to connect places names with the 1913 photographs and current day Culbokie.  I confess I am completely flummoxed by the variety of place names.  I suspect some places were known by many different names.   I have tried to locate places on Google Maps but with limited success.

Thomas Ross was the last of 9 known children born to William Ross (abt 1782-abt 1851) and Isobel Robertson (- 12 Nov 1830) of Tore, Urquhart.

Thomas was born 12 Nov 1830 in Tore the day his mother died.  The 1841 census shows William Ross and children Donald, Ann, and Thomas were living at Clashcarne, Urquhart.  In the 1851 census William Ross is living with children Ann, Donald, William, and Thomas in Culbokie.   In 1852, Thomas Ross followed his sister Christine Ross Munro to Ontario, Canada who had emigrated about 1846.

Thomas' sister Christina Ross married her first cousin Hugh Munro.  Hugh was the son of Alexander Munro (abt 1777-1844) and Elizabeth Ross (abt 1789-1879).  Elizabeth was the sister of the William Ross (abt 1782-abt 1851).  The 1841 census shows Alexander Munro was the Tacksman at Crochar.

Christina Ross and Hugh Munro spent about 20 years in Ontario, Canada then returned to Scotland, travelled to New Zealand, lived in  Australia for about 3 years and then back to British Columbia, Canada.  I am fascinated by these adventurers!

Siblings Ann Ross (1811-1874 Clashcairn, Findon) and William Ross (1822-1888 Tore of Culbokie) lived together at 5 Clashcairn according to the 1871 census.  Could that be the house in the second photo attached?

I look forward to hearing from you. 

The first was contributed by Ruth and Paris Major.

We have been in communication with Ruth and Paris Major, Martha’s Vineyard, MA who have shared with us their researches into their ancestors who lived in Culbokie in the area known as Knockmisan.

Their ancestor John Urquhart was born there, and emigrated in the mid to late 1780s. His father William Urquhart’s farm & kiln are shown on the Plan. See map in Gallery at foot of the page.

As the descendant of Urquhart, MacKenzie and McCrae ancestors from the Culbokie/Findon area of Ferintosh, we have been fascinated by your articles.

Here is our lineage:

Generation 1. Thomas Urquhart and Margaret Mackenzie (5th great grandparents)

Generation 2.  son William Urquhart and Catherine McCrae

Generation 3.  son John Urquhart  b. 1764 (emigrated)

Generation 4.  son John Urquhart b. 1805, NY

(We descend from daughter Meriah, b1812, NY)

Generation 5. son William Urquhart, b. 1838, CT

Paris and I have spent the better part of the last five years piecing our story back to Ferintosh. I am writing an historical novel about William Urquhart's great grandson, Captain William Urquhart of Essex, CT. The story focuses on Captain Urquhart's first command in 1861-2, and it is based on actual events.

William and Catherine (McCrae) Urquhart whose property is seen on the old 1769 Map of the Estate and Barony of Findon and the home, out buildings, garden, kiln and large kiln field are all shown on that map. I am researching what the kiln field was used for and I suspect, given the period and the availability of coal brought in to Findon Pier that William was, during the time of the "Improvements," involved in making lime for agricultural enhancement, but I am not 100% certain yet. If you know of anyone who is working on the topic of lime kilns or lime fields, please let me know.

During our trip in April 2017 we went to Dunvornie Farm first which was a surreal experience as I could really feel my 5th great grandmother, Margaret MacKenzie's presence. Dunvornie is where William Urquhart's parents, Thomas Urquhart and Margaret MacKenzie were married on May 5, 1717. Their son William, as mentioned, moved up the road to Findon (an area known as Cnocmisan) on the edge of Culbokie where his children John and Catherine grew up.

When we finally got home to the Vineyard, Paris received a CD she ordered from the National Archives of Scotland with a copy of some sections of the 1769 map of Findon.  We were thrilled to see our ancestors and neighbours (mentioned in a birth registry) actually living in the same neighbourhood, according to the map. By comparing with later maps (1870) we found William's house was still standing and maintained, though no mention of the kiln or field. Paris went onto Google Earth and explored the area around William's home. It was there that she noticed that Burnside Cottage was right across the street from William's Homestead, of which there is now no trace, except on old tattered maps and in our ancient memories.

We had wondered where our immigrant ancestor John Urquhart had come from and what and whom he left behind in Ross Shire. We are still wondering why he left such a beautiful place mid to late 1780's. We suspect that after graduating Kings and Marischal Colleges, in 1782, he and his father William had opposing religious views. In any case, we pick up his trail in 1782 in New Jersey where John was invited to be Headmaster and instructor of New Ark Academy. By 1796 John was ordained an Episcopal Priest in New York. The long, winding road down to us continues...

Geographical definitions

Gone Without a Trace: Except on old maps

The study of names for one location in Findon/Culbokie from before 1764 to about 1906 when the name has vanished from OS maps. William and Catherine Urquhart lived in homestead as tenants in this place and worked a garden, Kiln and Kiln field in this place, as seen on the Findon Estate Map of 1769. Their children were born and raised there.

1.) CNOCMISAN- The oldest way to spell the word we believe, is the one which caught my daughter's critical eye when she was first perusing your wonderful website. (I believe it may be part of your Colleague's address which Paris referred to in her email.)

2.) KNOCKVISICHAN- The place where Catherine McRae Urquhart and William Urquhart's children were born. 1764, 1768. (Spelling of place name the same on both records written 4 years apart.)

3.) KNOCKMISAN- spelling of the Place William Urquhart’s children were born and his homestead, kiln and kiln field were documented in an aerial view as seen on the 1769 Map of the Estate and Barony of Findon.

 *On this 1769 Estate map, just above the place name, KNOCKMISAN, a bit to the right, you find the place name BALAWOCHAR or BALWOCHAR,   Note: BAL(A)WOCHAR may be another attempt to render Bail’ Uachdarach by someone who cannot write Gaelic.

4.) BALUACHRACH - Wm John Watson’s, 1865,  Place Names of Ross and Cromarty,  p. 188, PNRC  as Baile’ Uachdarach – ‘upper town.(Correction from Ken MacKinnon)

          BALUACHRACH - “This name is given in Watson’s, Place Names of Ross and Cromarty, known only by the older generation. Not shown on the 1906 edition of OS maps.” rossandcromartyheritage.org (Info.Under Ferintosh-Place Names,) Watson

5.) BALNACHRACH - “Now known as Findon Mills. It was suggested that there was a clay pit quite near.” rossandcromartyheritage.org (Info.Under Ferintosh-Place Names,) Watson

6) BALUACHNACH - The name given for the place where William Urquhart’s thatched one story Homestead still stood, as did thatched outbuildings, but the Kiln/Kilnfield is not mentioned. The proprietor of the property was Capt. James D. Mackenzie, Mountgerald by Dingwall. Ordinance Survey of 1870.

7.) BALNACKRACH - The name given to the area surrounding the former homestead of William Urquhart. Proprietor, James D. Mackenzie, Map: Ross-shire & Cromartyshire, Sheet LXXVII, 1871-5, Publication date: 1880.

*Our thanks to Ken MacKinnon, for his valuable help with these place names.

If any of you can help with the names of this neighbourhood where our ancestors lived, both with regard to the meaning the place name or its evolution, please forward to us. THANK YOU!

This is so exciting!! I love how in depth your articles go, and the visuals really help to add ‘life’ to the history of the place. I was lost in your articles for three days!.


1913 The house Uncle William [1822-1888] [brother to Thomas Ross] died in
1913 The house Uncle William [1822-1888] [brother to Thomas Ross] died in
1913 The house father Thomas Ross (1830 Parish of Urquhart - 1915 Canada) was born in.
1913 The house father Thomas Ross (1830 Parish of Urquhart - 1915 Canada) was born in.
The site of Knockmisan can be seen on the left-hand side halfway down. It is the triangular patch of uncultivated ground.
The site of Knockmisan can be seen on the left-hand side halfway down. It is the triangular patch of uncultivated ground.