Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Home is where...

In a world where international travel is so easy and migration common-place, the concepts of residency and even citizenship have become fluid. The nationality with which one identifies, however, tends to be more firmly fixed.

Andrew BURTON (our 2xgreat grandfather) was born in Ireland in 1866 but moved to Scotland with his family and in 1887 married Agnes CAMERON there. The 1901 Census shows them resident in Glasgow with several children.

By the 1911 Census, Agnes and more children were living in Belfast. At some time in the intervening years, Andrew had died and the family had travelled back to Ireland (but not necessarily in that order). Investigating the dates and places of birth of the younger children led me to belive that the move occured between 1907 and 1910 after his death.

I tested my theory in conversation with an older cousin. He told me I was completely wrong. The shift was much earlier than that and Andrew died in Belfast. But Susan was born in Scotland, I insisted.

"Oh, they all were. Whenever Grandma was near her time, she caught the ferry home to have the baby. That way she made sure that all the kids were Scots!"

Little wonder then that when Agnes applied to migrate to Australia, after a quarter century of living in Belfast, she listed her nationality as Scot. And so did every one of her children!

Our (then four-year-old) grandfather Robert McALLISTER was also identified as a Scot despite having lived all his life in Belfast and having an Irish father who was then resident in Canada. But that is a far more complicated story.

Footnote: Actually Agnes has to nominate herself as Scotch not Scots (after all it was an Australian form).

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