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Sir George Cumine Strahan

Alas! Not a Brocher!


A computer search on your favourite search engine will show dozens of entries for

Sir George Cumine Strahan

World-wide appointments saw him finally Governor of Tasmania.

All say he was born in Fraserburgh on 9th Dec.1838.

Or was he?

One problem that gets in the way of usual searches is that he and his family members sometimes

are listed as Strachan (with a "c") even when the original handwritten entry is clearly Strahan,

and at other times as Strahan . (without a "c".)

Clan Strachan web site acknowledges that this (and more) happens with the spelling.

Perhaps the "ach" sound in Strachan is hard to cope with outside of Scotland.

To help, I shall indicate the spellings you have to search with.

The earliest primary record  for George is his baptism (only) on the 7th January,1838

in the Old Parish Records for Rathen, Aberdeenshire. where his father Rev.William Dovertie Strahan is schoolmaster.

Search for George Cummine Strachan. Read George Cumine Strahan.

The next significant record, again in the O.P.R. for Rathen is the birth of his sister

Anne Dovertie Forbes, whose birth is given as 3rd July 1839 with baptism on 18th August 1839.

Compare both the above dates with Sir George’s widely stated birth of 9th December 1838.

In the 7th June, 1841 Census for Rathen, Aberdeenshire search for the family;

father William D. Strachan, Schoolmaster,

mother Anne Mitchell, 

George age 3

and younger sister Anne age 1.

This Census indicates, in column 3. that father and son were each born

outside the County, but not where, while Mother and daughter were born in Aberdeen or Aberdeenshire.

(In C1841 Adult ages were rounded down to nearest 5 or 10, and are for the parent ages here.

The age of 3 given for child George would match a December 1837 birth.)

By 1851 the family had moved to Old Machar, Aberdeen where the 31st March 1851 Census

is more revealing in giving  place  of birth,

while being harder to read because of the handwriting.

On Scotlands People website look for George Strachan (age 13) and find Strahan in the written image.

It tells:

Father William Dovertie Strahan was born in Brechin, Angus. 1.

(On his Death Certificate. (d.13 Dec. 1875) it says his father worked in Brechin.)

Mother Anne Mitchell was born in Aberdeen.

George Cumine Strahan, now age 13, was born in Alva, Stirlingshire.

And to complete the family there is Anne Dovertie Forbes, age 11, born Rathen

and Alexander Bannerman, age 8 years, born Rathen.

To show how hard the  1851 Census is to read, the transcription in the "FreeCEN" website

gives "Daverton" for "Dovertie", puts "mm" in Cumine and first spells the town as "Aloa", Stirlingshire.

Trying to be helpful "FreeCEN" goes on first correctly to update the county to Clackmannanshire

and then wrongly "corrects" the spelling to Alloa.(this info. was last checked in  2010.)

A hand-lens, or zoom-in on your computer screen clearly shows the handwritten town as "Alva."

So Sir George wasn’t born in Fraserburgh.

Where did that story start? It is quoted "everywhere"!

With many years spent abroad "Sir George" next appears on the Census for April,1881

as a "boarder" in Westminster, London, where his age is given as 42.

That would match a 1838 birth but not an 1837 birth, assuming December is the likely month.

Sir George’s Death Certificate gives his age as 48 on 17th February 1887 which puts his birth in 1838.

Where and when and why did he lose a year in later life?

Being 13 in the April 1851 Census favours a December 1837 birth-date.

Alas, not a Famous Brocher.  Alva should claim him.


1. The father of Sir George, Rev.William Dovertie Strahan, A.M. is well documented as he became Master of Robert Gordon Hospital in Aberdeen. Born in Brechin, Angus, his Death Certificate has him spelled as "Strahan"

and on the same handwritten document both parents spelled as "Strachan."


George and his brother are listed on the roll of Aberdeen Grammar School pupils.

IGI gives George Cummine Strachan born 6th November 1837, but gives no source for that date.

(above details last checked in 2010.)


 (* "a Brocher"  =  "person born in Fraserburgh")


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