Alexander Esson and Margaret Robertson

by Charles Esson

Alexander Esson’s father, Robert, lived and worked on the farm of Millhead, Logie Coldstone. Essons had been farming at Millhead for some generations and had been in the parish of Logie Coldstone since at least as early as 1696.

Although there is no record of his parents, Robert Esson and Jane Collin, having married, Alexander was not their first child. They had a daughter, Jane Esson, born about 1825. When this Jane Esson was about 16 years of age she married a William Grassick in Tarland (?) they had 4 children but then Jane died, probably before the age of 26.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, farmers in Aberdeenshire used to employ farm workers at Feiing(?) markets held twice a year in most towns. Even if they were happy, young single men didn’t often stay more than one term ( 6 months) on a farm. Only after they married or grew older did they settle down. Alexander Esson (born 1828) was a shepherd all his working life. As a young man, he worked at Ordie (parish of Logie Coldstone), Stroin(Strathdon), Craigmill (Chapel of Garioch), St John’s Wells (Fyvie) and probably several others before settling down with his wife and children for more than ten years at Caden, Culsamond, a few miles southeast of Huntly.

Alexander Esson married Margaret Robertson at Auchindoir. Margaret’s widowed mother was living in Auchindoir at the time. Margaret was brought up in Kildrumney. Her father, James Robertson had been farmer at Lochans, Kildrumney for 21 years.

Alexander and Margaret had 4 children – Annie, Isabella, Jamie and Mary. The three oldest attended primary school in Culsalmond, but the youngest, Mary died at 4 years of age, suffering from pneumonia. Mary is buried in Culsamond kirkyard.

In 1880 the family moved from Caden, Culsalmond to Forvie, Slains. There Alexander, or Auld Sandy as he was to be known, worked for R.J. Anderson, an auctioneer and livestock dealer who lived in Aberdeen, so Sandy, Margaret and their family lived in the farmhouse at Forvie – at Caden they had lived in a small 3 roomed cottage.

Annie lived in Aberdeen for a short while before returning to live at Forvie with her parents and earn money as a dressmaker. Annie never married and lived in Slains for the rest of her life.

Isabella married an Alexander MacAllan, who had farmed at Netherleask, Slains. MacAllan emigrated to Eisborne(or Gisborne?) New Zealand. Isabella followed him amd married him in New Zealand in 1893. They had one son, also Alexander, but unfortunately after Isabella’s son died, her son also died. In her old age, Isabella wrote letters saying how she wished she could return to Scotland, but she was not strong enough to travel. She died in New Zealand in 1952 and is buried at Raukaroa cemetery with her husband and son.