A second Tobago connection

The story of Peter Tait and his ownership of the Concordia Estate in Tobago (D&GFHS Newsletter, July 2012) is in fact a second Dumfries and Galloway connection to Concordia.

The Memorials of St Michaels (W McDowall, 1876, pp226-7)notes the gravestone of Deacon James McKill, although without a date of death.  It also notes his wife, Ann Ferguson, as having died on the 10 June 1803, aged 32; the death of his second wife, Margaret Thomson, on 13 October 1832, aged 70; the deaths of six infant children and the death of his son, Robert, at Concord, Tobago, 1821, aged 31, “much regretted by all who knew him”.

The McKills were resident in Carruchan in Troqueer Parish in the late 17th and early 18th centuries.  Robert McKill was noted as ‘Robert McKill in Carurken papist’, on the baptismal record of his son, William, in 1704. Robert’s son, James McKill, a tailor, was residing in Dumfries, by the time of his marriage in 1713.  Deacon James McKill, whose gravestone has been noted, also a tailor, was the great-grandson of that James.  Each of the intervening generations of Mckills was a tailor, the trade being passed from father to son.  James McKill, husband of Ann Fergusson and later of Margaret Thomson, was a burgess of Dumfries and Deacon of the Trades.  It is possible that only two of his children, Robert and Alexander, survived to adulthood.

Robert McKill was born in 1790 and baptised in Dumfries on 11 April of that year.  At some point in his twenties he emigrated to the West indies.  He is noted on the slave returns of 1819 as Robert McKell at Lucy Vale Plantation, Tobago, on which estate there were 71 slaves.

By 1821 however he has transferred to Concordia where he is noted on the slave returns as Robert McKell,  Manager of the Concordia Estate, within the Parish of St George on the island of Tobago, on which there were on 1st January 1821, 169 slaves.  He died at Concodia on the 21st of November, 1821.

His testament, for which the Executor was his brother, Alexander, was presented to the Commissary Court in Edinburgh on 4th April 1822.  It notes him as a planter in Concordia, Tobago, at the time of his death.  He left an estate valued at £200 but less than £300.  Little else is known of Robert McKill.

His brother, Alexander, was a shoemaker in Dumfries at the time of the legal process which wound up Robert’s estate.  By 1825 he had moved to Gorbals Parish in Glasgow where he married Agnes Urquhart, originally from Fife.  Alexander McKill spent the remainder of his life in Glasgow, dying in the city’s poorhouse in 1870.  Alexander Mckill was my 3x great-grandfather.

Given that Robert McKill appears to have been at Concordia prior to Peter Tait who arrived in Tobago around 1820 but did not purchase Concordia until some 30 years later, it is likely that there was no direct connection although the coincidence is noteworthy.

 

The above article was first published in the Dumfries & Galloway Family History Society Newsletter, issue 75 (November 2012).

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