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
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,
at other times as Strahan . (without a "c".)
Clan Strachan web site acknowledges that this (and more)
happens with the spelling.
Perhaps the "ach" in Strachan is hard to
cope with outside of Scotland.
To help, I shall indicate the spellings you have to
The earliest primary record for George is his baptism (only) on the 7th January,1838
the Old Parish Records for Rathen, Aberdeenshire. where his father Rev.William Dovertie
Strahan is schoolmaster.
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
In the 7th June, 1841 Census for Rathen, Aberdeenshire search for the
father William D. Strachan, Schoolmaster,
mother Anne Mitchell,
George age 3
and younger sister Anne
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
On Scotlands People website look for George Strachan (age 13) and find
Strahan in the written image.
Father William Dovertie Strahan was born in Brechin,
(On his Death Certificate. (d.13 Dec. 1875) it says his father worked in
Mother Anne Mitchell was born in Aberdeen.
George Cumine Strahan, now age 13, was born in Alva,
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
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
Being 13 in the April 1851 Census favours a December 1837
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
and on the same handwritten document both parents spelled as
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")