#33-DNA-1 Robert McCubbin & Margaret McKnight

The Homeplace – Glenfoot, Dunscore, Dumfriesshire

Early Families

Glenfoot nr Dunscore 1

According to the 1777 Irregular Marriage records of his son Robert, James McCubbin lived in Glenfoot, Dunscore, Dumriesshire. At that time Robert and his bride Margaret McNaught (McKnight) appeared before the Kirk Session to have their marriage approved by the church. Roy Spence of Scotland viewed the following Dunscore Kirk Session Minutes of November 1777 –

“To be Compeared before the Session – Robert McCubbin son of James McCubbin, Glenfoot and Margaret McNaught daughter of deceased John McNaught of Holm of Decaith in the parish of (—-)? presently residing at Glenfoot cohabiting as man and wife.”

A second child of James McCubbin of Glenfoot was Elizabeth MCCUBBIN who married Robert McCandlass on 8 Feb 1778 in Dunscore, Dumfries, Scotland. They too appeared before the Kirk session to have their marriage approved.

Marriage Forms and Practices in Scotland

From the time of the Reformation and the founding of the Church of Scotland in 1560, marriage ceased to be a church sacrament. It became a civil matter based upon the consent of adult individuals. How the marriage took place, meaning its form, might have been regular or irregular, but it was a binding union. A regular marriage took place before a church minister following the reading of banns. An irregular marriage came about in one of three ways: by mutual agreement, or by a public promise followed by consummation, or by cohabitation and repute. In all cases, for regular and irregular marriages, both bride and groom had to be free to marry, not within forbidden degrees of kinship and over the age of consent (12 for brides and 14 for grooms). In the Scottish church, “marriage” registers are usually registers of the proclamation of banns; sometimes the marriage is recorded as well. Proclamations were often read in the parishes of the bride and the groom. Sometimes irregular marriages were recorded in the kirk session records because a fine or some other discipline was imposed. Scottish marriage law allowed couples to keep their options open and they did take advantage of being able to marry irregularly, especially in the 1700s. The numbers dropped in the 1800s and change came in 1939, when only the habit and repute form of irregular marriage continued to be recognized by the law  Marriage in Scotland, via Ancestry.com

KKD Parish Map

Robert McCubbin and Mary McKnight had five children born at Troqueer, Kirkcudbrightshire between 1782 and 1792; Robert, William, Margaret, John and Elizabeth. Of those children, we know the most about Robert and John. Robert, who married Mary Carson, ventured to Canada, John married Mary Halliday and lived and died in Kirkcudbrightshire. The McCubbins spread out into other parishes – Kirkgunzeon, Urr, and Dalbeattie.  To this day both the brothers have descendants in England, Canada and the USA. Gone to America was the saying in Scotland (which could mean Canada or the USA).

Kirkcudbrightshire (pronounced Kirk-coo-bree-shire) was a county in the south-west of Scotland. In 1975 the county was abolished and became part of the Dumfries and Galloway region.

Kirkcudbrightshire was the eastern part of the old district of Galloway and was much larger than the western part, Wigtonshire. It was originally increased in size by the annexation of 2 ancient parishes, Dunrod and Galtway, around 1683. By the time of the 1841 census, Kirkcudbrightshire consisted of 28 parishes, from Carsphairn and Dalry in the north to Borgue, Kirkcudbright and Rerrick in the south lying on the Solway coast. Troqueer, a parish in Kirkcudbrightshire lies on the west side of the Nith.The parish has an area of 11,675 acres  It is about 7.5 miles (12.1 km) from north to south and 4.5 miles (7.2 km) from east to west, and is bordered on the east by the Nith. An 1846 account said the parish included some woodland and plantations, but was mainly arable, meadow, and pasture.The Nith, of which the water is beautifully limpid, abounds with salmon, grilse, and herlings, even beyond what is necessary for the supply of the surrounding district. The plantations consist of oak, ash, elm, and other forest trees, with fir and larch; they are carefully managed, and in a flourishing condition”. Samuel Lewis (1846) A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, Published in 2 vols. London

Leaving Scotland

Robert McCubbin, married Mary Carson about 1803. Family folklore tells us that;

Robert was a poor Scottish relative of Captain James Carson of the Dingell who operated his ship on the River Mersey, Liverpool, England. Robert was employed as a ship’s carpenter in Carson’s ship-building yard. Carson’s younger sister by 20 years, and under his ward, was Mary who was in a boarding school. Robert fell in love with Mary and they eloped and married. Carson disowned his sister. She was only 15 years at the time. Within the first year, their first child, James, was born. Fourteen years later, Robert and Mary set sail for Canada with five children, landing in Halifax [Nova Scotia] via Liverpool. For a time Robert was employed as a fine cabinet finisher on ships.

By the fall Robert McCubbin had already started petitioning the Lieutenant-Governor for a Grant of Land. Before Confederation in 1867, Canada consisted of several British colonies: Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Canadas (present-day Quebec and Ontario).

The McCubbin Family in New Brunswick, Canada (1818 to 1827)

Robert, obviously determined to provide a better life for Mary and their children, applied for homestead land.

The following documents were obtained by Walter Davidson who searched the archives at the Bonar Law-Bennett, Provincial Archives, Frederiction, New Brunswick, June, 1999.

Mr. Davidson relates:

“Interestingly, these Archives are among the best kept and indexed in all of Canada. I was able to locate four documents about the 300 acres of land granted to Robert McCubbin in Hampstead Parish, Queens County,  New Brunswick. Specifically these are:

  1. The original petition of Robert McCubbin (September 18th, 1818)
  2. The Surveyor-Generals instructions to lay out the 300 acres of land (June 9th, 1821)
  3. The Title Deeds to this Land (October 18th, 1822)
  4. Indenture of Sale of Land by Robert McCubbin to John Ogden (August 4th, 1827)

In 1827 Robert sold the land for “Seventy seven pounds, ten shillings current money of New Brunswick given to them in a handpouch” by John Ogden the purchaser.

The McCubbin Family in Ontario, Canada

In 1836, Robert bought 200 acres in Chatham Twp, Ontario. At some point, the folklore story goes, Robert was employed in Port Hope,Ontario, later at Bronte near Hamilton. Some of the fine panelling in Dundurn Castle, Hamilton was also his work. Carpentry was a skill that carried on down through the family. We found other McCubbins listed in census records as Carpenter or Apprentice Carpenter.

Robert died in 1873 in Chatham, Kent, Ontario at age 90. His wife Mary died in1865. The land passed to his two sons, Robert Jr. and William McCubbin.

The children of Robert McCubbin and Mary Carson born in Scotland were:

a) James, b.1804,He married Maria Lee, 1831 and had 12 children between 1832 and 1855. This family largely lived in Saltfleet and Brant, Ontario. However, one son Samuel Lee, born 1832, Wentworth, Ontario was the progenitor of descendants who settled on the west coast of Canada.

We know nothing about the following Scottish born daughters of Robert and Mary who travelled to Canada: b) Nancy, b.1806 c) Margaret, b.1811 d) Sarah, b.1815 e) Elizabeth b 1817.

The remainder of Robert and Marys children were born in New Brunswick, Canada and rather more is known about them.

f) The first Canadian daughter, Mary Ann, was born 1820 in New Brunswick, Canada. She married John Traxler, 1837, and lived in Ontario.

g) Robert M, the first Canadian son to be born in New Brunswick, in 1822 married Barbara Elizabeth French on 1847 and lived in Chatham Ontario.  A branch of this family, Fred Railton McCubbin and his wife Bessie Robb moved to Indiana, USA, where descendants branched out into America.

h) William Crockett McCubbin, b. 1825, married Amanda Darby. They had nine children, all born in Chatham, Ontario.

i) Hannah Vannorman McCubbin b. 1828, died at the young age of 19.

j) George Chisholm McCubbin b.1830.

With the sons of Robert and Mary having large families of 9 to 12 children, it is small wonder that the phone books of SW Ontario have more McCubbin names than any other area in Canada. One branch whos family ventured further were two brothers, Ira Case and Franklin, sons of Samuel Lee McCubbin (c. 1832-1894) and Eliza McMullen.

The McCubbin family on the west coast of Canada

Grandson, James Robert McCubbin of Langley, BC, recollected that Ira and Franklin left Ontario and homesteaded in Ladner, BC. Ira married Minnie Elliott about 1890 and had a large family of nine boys and three girls. They later became successful chicken farmers. There were no dikes in those days and when the great Fraser River flood of 1894 occurred, they had to be rescued and taken to Vancouver. They eventually settled there in the Fairmont area.

Doug McCubbin wrote about his grandfather, son of Franklin and Mary Dinsmore, Albert Bert, born 1906, had a dairy farm in Ladner and a trucking company, McCubbin Contracting. Apparently he was quite the achiever.

He built a gillnetter fishing boat, was a renowned marksman, a member of the Pacific Coast Militia Rangers in World War Two; Chairman of the Delta Schoolboard from 1945 until 1955 and he was a judge at the Horse Races in Ladner. I don’t know the details but my aunt sent me a copy of his invitation to Queen Elizabeth 2’s coronation.”

More about the west coast McCubbins in The CUB Report 2013.

More Branches and Twiglets in Canada

Robert McCubbin and Mary McKnight, raised their five children in Troqueer, Kirkcudbright. Their youngest son, John, born 1789, married Mary Halliday. Two of their sons, William and John had descendants who left Scotland. John, born 1846, another lad on this tree, grandson of John McCubbin and Mary Halliday, had migrated to Canada in 1894 and in the census of 1901 we find him living in Montreal City, Quebec.

John is listed as an Agent. He could speak English and French. Earlier in Lancashire, England, he had appeared as a Tea Merchant and Travelling Draper in the census records. Some of his descendants appear in the records of Sault Ste Marie and Thunder Bay, Ontario.

To Bombay, India and on to Canada A brother of John, was David, born 1860 in Kirkgunzeon, Kirkcudbright, Scotland. He is one of the few McCubbins who ventured into India, pre 1900.  He married Clara/Clarissa Shaw on 29 Mar 1888 in Bombay, India. On the birth register of his son David in 1890 he was listed as an Inspector of Police. The couple emigrated to Quebec, Canada and raised seven children there.

On to the USA

Another descendant of John McCubbin and Mary Halliday was William, married to Jane Davidson. He was working as a carpenter, living with his wife, and son (an apprentice carpenter), in the census of 1860 in Madson, Indiana, U.S.A.

Other states in the USA where we found descendants of James McCubbin and Margaret McKnight, in the early 1900s, were California, Illinois, New Jersey, Utah, Michigan and Missouri.

Occupations and Accomplishments

Various members of this family were listed as Carpenter, Homesteader, Farmer, Railway Labourer, Woodcutter,  Detective, Tea Merchant, Travelling Draper, Inspector of Police, Chef, Machinist, Electrician. Women were listed as Agricultural Labourer, Seamstress, Domestic Servant, Housekeeper. Son Robert related, Alva Emerson McCubbin was employed as an Electrician with the Telephone Co, Vancouver. He met Jessie, who worked as a telephone operator for BC Telephone Co, Fairview Office, by talking to her on the phone when he was working on repairs. They married in 1912.

Military Service

As related by son Robert James McCubbin Bob;

For a time, Alva worked as a plainclothes Detective for the Vancouver Police Dept.

In World War One he was with the Black Watch Regiment then transferred to the 72nd Seaforth Highlanders, a Vancouver regiment, formed in 1914 in Vancouver. Alva served overseas in France; was badly mustard gassed. He moved to Merrit, B.C in 1925 where he assisted in the first 25 cycle power system in town, operated from the Nicola Pine Mills.”

Bob (born Vancouver, 1923) also tells about his own experiences in the military.

When he finished his fourth year of high school in 1942, he joined the Canadian Army attached, on liason to the RCAF #3, Jericho Air Station and the #11 CDN Army District Depot, Vancouver.

“We left Halifax and hit very rough water for three days – amidst icebergs – and green water coming over the bow. There were 98 servicemen stuffed into a large cabin. We slept on the floor, the tables, and in hammocks. The ship was fast – a runner, which met up with a U boat pack and so ran south to the Azores before finally getting to Liverpool. We were then transported by train to Aldershot where more training and advanced battle training was done south of London.

Bob served in England at bomber bases and then in London. One morning, on arriving at work, he discovered the building next door completely destroyed by a V2 rocket. Toward the end of the war in May 1945, Bob served in France with the RCAF.

After returning to Canada Bob studied education at university. He was appointed Principal of Fort Langley Secondary School – a position he held until retirement.

6 Generation Descendancy Chart 


Special thanks to Walter Davidson for his research at the Bonar Law-Bennett Provincial Archives, Fredericton, New Brunswick.

Tom Goez, Bill McCubbin, Christine McCubbin, Doug McCubbin, Barry McCubbin, Leslie McCubbin, Phyllis and Walter Davidson, Wendy Lee, Sharon McCubbin, great grandaughter of Frederick Railton McCubbin, shared pictures from McCubbin Family Bible which was handed down to her.

Next #41-DNA-1 John McCubbin & Elizabeth Beggs