Stoker Wilson's Family History Page

The McMeikens of North Durham

The website for the Family History of Stoker & Lynn Wilson

The McMeiken Family

The McMeikens are my wife's maternal family. (It should be noted that there is considerable variation in the spelling of the name over the years such as McMechan, McMickan, McMeeken, McMeikan and McMeikin). Furthermore the tendency to repeat the given names, Archibald, Alexander and William throughout the generations can lead to much confusion. The McMeikens in this genealogy originate from Stranraer, Wigtownshire, but many of then moved via Cumbria to North Durham were they formed a considerable community, hence the "McMeiken's of North Durham".

The earliest McMeiken found so far is Ezekial (c1765) who married Jean Baylie in 1781. I've not found much about them.

One of their sons Archibald (c1792) married Margaret Martin (1798). Archibald may have been born in Stranraer and Margaret near there. The 1851 census lists Margaret’s birthplace as Leswalt, Wigtownshire but one researcher says she came from Ireland. The 1841 census lists Archibald as a grocer and in 1851 he is described as a merchant.

They married at Kirkcolm, near Stranraer and had six children. Agnes (1820), James (1822), Archibald (1826), John (1827), William (1830) and Margaret (1835), all with recorded birthplaces of Stranraer. By 1851 the family were living in Queen Street, Stranraer, but of the children only Margaret was still with her parents working as the housekeeper.

The family link continues through Archibald (1826) who married Martha Ann Gilmour (c1829) at Kirkcolm, Stranraer in 1845. Judging by census records they moved around in the early years of their marriage (Wigtown and Carlisle) before settling down in Whitehaven where they spent the rest of their lives. Archibald’s occupation is listed in 1851 as an Agricultural labourer. After which he seems to have become a Carpenter, which took on various forms during his lifetime. He was a Carpenter on his son, Archibald's marriage record (1886). The census information records him as Ship Borer in 1861, Shipyard Labourer in 1871; Ships Carpenter in 1881. He died in 1882. Martha died relatively young in 1869 of Typhus fever with her son Henry.

They had a large family - Grace (1846), Jane (1848), Elizabeth (1850), Mary (1852), James (1854), Archibald (1857), William (1859), Henry (1860), Martha Ann (1867) and Agnes (1869). Mary married Charles Herdman (1849)in 1871, and the Herdman name continued as a given name in the next two generations of McMeiken. The Herdmans moved east, eventually settling in the Stanley area of Co. Durham, where they still have relatives today.

Photo: Archibald McMeiken (1856-1910)
Archibald McMeiken (1856-1910)

My wife's family line continues through yet another Archibald (1857) who seems to have moved to Co. Durham while still a young man. In 1881 he is boarding at West Herrington. In 1887 he was in South Shields for his marriage to Eliza Jane Foster (1864) and the birth of Archibald (1887) his first child. By 1887 he was living in Birtley. By 1899 he had moved to Gateshead and was still there in 1901 for the birth of Martha and Frances. He appears then to have moved back to Birtley where he died. As for occupation He is shown as a Brickmaker on his marriage record in 1886. This is interesting since Eliza's father, William, was a brickmaker. The census returns show a variety of other occupations - a shipyard labourer at 15 in 1871; Coal Miner (1881); Labourer at Brickworks (1891); Chop? digger (Navvie) in (1901).

The eight children of Archibald and Eliza Jane were Archibald (1887), Elizabeth Jane (1889), William James (1891), Georgina (1894), Alexander Herdman (1896), Martha Gilmour (1899), Frances Foster (1901) my wife's maternal grandmother, and Mary Herdman (1906). By and large the McMeiken's settled in north Durham around the Birtley, Washington area where there are still relatives.

To complete our ancestral line, Frances married William Proctor (1891) a widower who had previously married Frances's sister Georgina. And William's brother Henry married a third McMeiken girl, Elizabeth Jane, known to us as "Aunt Lizzie". Frances and William were my wife's grandparents. For more about the Proctor's link see the Proctor vignette.

Note: For those persons deemed to be living no personal details except their names and relationships are excluded from this site.