COAT OF ARMS
Alexander Coulthart (c. 1753-1807) of Dumfrieshire, Scotland and Distington, Cumberland, England
This story goes back to Alexander Coulthart who appears on the scene in Distington, just north of Whitehaven, in Cumberland, England. Alexander was born c. 1753 - his granddaughter said in Dumfriesshire. This is born out by Alexander's will when he uses the Scottish term "seisine" for handing on rights to his nephew, also named Alexander, son of an unnamed brother. The documents have been searched but no record has been found of either Alexander.
Alexander married Mary Wilkinson of St. Bees on 19 October 1795 at St. James Church, Whitehaven. Mary came from a family with long links to the area and her sister had married into a Whitehaven family with shipping and stone mason links. Mary was baptised 30 April 1757 at St. Bees and was therefore some 38 years old at the marriage, Alexander being about 42. It was a first marriage for Mary and probably for Alexander too as he does not mention in his will any children of a former marriage.
Alexander was a Stone Mason and they started married life at Barngill House, Distington which is being restored by its present owners, after a period of neglect, to the state in which Mary and Alexander would have commissioned and furnished it. The house was part of the Lonsdale Estate as was so much of that part of Cumberland but the deeds show that it was built about the time of Alexander and Mary's marriage, possibly by Alexander and his workmen. It is a substantial, two storey house of the Georgian period.
Despite Mary's age, they produced three children, Robert (later Rev. Robert) in 1797, Martha (named after her maternal grandmother) about 1799 and Alexander junior (Alex) about 1801. The children were apparently baptised at the High Meeting House in Whitehaven, the records of which no longer exist. We have Robert's baptismal date as he has to provide this information before being ordained.
Alexander senior died in 1807 and was buried in Mary's home village of St. Bees. It was apparently a very fine tombstone, crafted either by himself, his workmen or another colleage. This tombstone confirmed that Alexander was a Stone Mason, as read by other members of the family and not a Mariner as read in later years by Alfred Coulthard. The tombstone, along with several other family graves has now "disappeared" from St. Bees Churchyard. There is a large stack of huge gravestones on top of each other in one section of the graveyard so it is hoped that one day these will be restored to a place where they can be read.
After Alexander's death, Mary promptly moved the family to Sandwith near St. Bees and certainly in later years the family had quarries and a small farm in that village. She also changed the spelling of the surname to Coulthard, under which name she made her will and was buried in 1814 with her husband. From Alexander's death onwards this family became entirely English in their speech and outlook.
As their eldest son was only eight at the time of Alexander's death, there was no question of him inheriting his father's business and so his tools and equipment were left to the nephew Alexander, mentioned above. There is no indication as to whether or not this nephew lived in Scotland or elsewhere but presumably he was also in the trade and near enough by for him to collect or have collected the tools, if he wished to have them.
Apart from this there is no clue to Alexander's parentage and place of birth. From the Scottish naming pattern it would appear likely that his father's name was Robert. Despite many searches over the years no other family for him either in Cumberland or Scotland has been found.
The Children of Alexander Coulthart and Mary Wilkinson
Robert Coulthard (1797-1868) married late in life to Henrietta Neate. He was a Fellow of Queen's College, Oxford and became a clergyman in Berkshire.
Martha Coulthard (1799-1845) married Clement Mossop of Rottington Hall near St. Bees. The Mossops were well established yeoman farmers in the area. Unfortunately both Mary and Clement died young as did all but two of their children. Descendants of their two surviving daughters would be named Brewin and MacQueen.
Alexander "Alex" Coulthart Junior (1801-1847) married Catherine Fox of St. Bees. Her family was also well established yeoman farmers whose parentage can be traced back to the 1500s. Her uncle, Rev. John Fox, who married them, was Provost of Queen's College, Oxford. Alex farmed at Sandwith until ill health forced him to retire to a cottage in St. Bees owned by his father-in-law. They had two children. William Alexander (1828-1833) who died, from family recollection, from scalds received after pulling a pan of boiling water off the stove. Robert, born 1829 at Sandwith, died 1880 in Liverpool.
If you have additional information about these English families or their Scottish origins please send it to: firstname.lastname@example.org or write: Terry Meinke, 1004 Ridgewood Lane, Palatine, IL 60067 U.S.A. so this webpage can be updated and/or corrected.
If anyone has any family information that might identify Alexander Coulthard's origins please contact Jill Coulthard at email@example.com or write: Jill Coulthard, Millbrook Station Road, Verwood, Dorset BH31 7PU, UK. Please do not send Jill random sightings of the surname but only solid evidence on either Alexander senior or his nephew Alexander. It may even be that some of his family emigrated and have left records. More information on Alexander and his descendants can be found on Jill's website at www.geocities.com/jillcou.
Page last updated 09/23/2000. © Copyright 2000. Terry Meinke. All rights reserved.